• IACONA Andrea
  • IBE-ANYANWU Emmanuel James
  • Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen)
  • Ibn al Warandi
  • IBN GABIROL ( Avicebron)
  • Ibn WARRAQ
  • IBSEN David Allen
  • IKERD John
  • IMBERT, Claude
  • IMM Jeffrey
  • INGE William Ralph
  • INGERSOLL, Robert
  • IONESCO Eugene
  • IQBAL, Allama Muhammad
  • Ireneaus of Lyons

  • IACONA Andrea *

    (Contemporary Italian philosopher)


    The theory of Timeless Truth


    According to the theory of timeless truth, the truth-value of a sentence at a time is insensitive to variation of temporal perspective. Suppose that the following sentence is true today: (1) There is a sea battle. The theory entails that the following sentence was true yesterday: (2) There will be a sea battle tomorrow. Similarly, it entails that the following sentence will be true tomorrow: (3) There was a sea battle yesterday. This means that (1) is true today no matter whether we ‘look’ at it from a temporal perspective that differs from the perspective we have on today. The truth-value of (2) yesterday and the truth-value of (3) tomorrow depend what the truth-value of (1) today depends, namely, the way things are today. (1)–(3) may be regarded as different descriptions of one and the same fact. Since that fact is in no way dependent on time, the same goes for the truth-value of (1)–(3). This is the sense in which truth is said to be timeless.

    At least two things must be clear about the claim that truth is timeless. The first is that the claim concerns utterances, that is, sentences at times. To say that ‘p’ is true at t is to say that it is true that p at t. If one utters ‘p’ at t, one says that p at t; hence, what one says is true if and only if p at t. For example, if one utters (1) today, one says that there is a sea battle today; hence, what one says is true if and only if there is a sea battle today. Timeless truth is taken to be a property of things said by uttering sentences, rather than of sentences themselves. So a tensed use of ‘is true’ is acceptable when truth is ascribed to sentences: one can say that a sentence is or was or will be true. For a tensed ascription of truth to a sentence is equivalent to a tenseless ascription of truth to the corresponding utterance. Thus, ‘(2) was true yesterday’ is equivalent to ‘the thing said by uttering (2) yesterday is true’.                      The second thing that must be clear is that timelessness is not quite the same thing as eternity. To say that an utterance is timelessly true is to say that its truth is in no way relative to time. The ‘is’ in ‘is true’ is like the ‘is’ in ‘Two plus two is equal to four’. So ‘is true’ is not to be read as ‘is true at every time’. Truth at every time, eternal truth, may rightly be ascribed to sentences. For example, the sentence ‘Two plus two is equal to four’ is eternally true in that, for every time, it is true at that time. But what is said by uttering the sentence at this or that time is simply true. Obviously, this does not mean that it makes no sense at all to say that an utterance is eternally true. The fact is rather that, in saying it, nothing is added to the claim that the utterance is true. The simplicity of the theory of timeless truth lies in the logical symmetry it postulates between past and future. The thought that underlies the theory is that past and future do not differ in logically relevant ways.


    *See Internet Iacona Amdrea , Timeless


    IBE-ANYANWU Emmanuel James *

    (Contemporary Nigerian intellectual)


    Religion’s hubris of truth is the fundamental cause of religious terrorism


    Every religion insists that it holds the ultimate truth: other religions or worldviews are evil, false. Each religion knows, for sure, how man came to be; how phenomena came about; how the world will end; etc. Each has no doubts about the certainty of its truth claims. People who dispute any such claims are going to hell: Christians are going to the Muslim hell; Muslims, Buddists, Judaists and the rest are going to the Christian hell. Each of them is brandishing the ultimate truth, yet these truths are divergent.

    Let us understand first, that religion, just like science, philosophy, mysticism, etc., is one of man’s early attempts at making sense of the world and explaining the human condition. But science and philosophy, for instance, even with their conquests in explaining life, are hardly arrogant: they admit their errors and limitations, and accept that the quest for the ultimate truth is an ongoing enterprise. They understand that phenomena and Nature evolve; they know that to reach absolute certainty in our knowledge of the world is to have retrogressed, not to have progressed. For, reality is a journey, not a destination.

    Not so with religion. It knows precisely everything. It does not admit error or accept that reality is relative, that most people in contrary belief systems are there out of their innocent pursuit of the same God. Armed with this arrogant certainty, religion sets forth to demonize contrary worldviews, and has succeeded in dividing the world into competitive kingdoms – or rather, ‘wardoms.’ Everybody is trying to save everybody.

    Some Muslim sects do not have the time for door-to-door or street evangelism. They know that bombs are louder than loudspeakers. And they get busy. Bombs are evangelical loudspeakers that kill. For the Islamist terrorist, the ideology is simple: all men must convert to the ‘truth’; nations must implement the ‘true’ laws of God, the Sharia.

    Be that as it may, religion’s hubris of truth is the fundamental cause of religious terrorism. If religions, from start, had accepted the validity of contrary others, knowing that everyone was just trying to reach truth in ways open to them, we would not be having this problem. The Muslim would know that the Christian and the others, just like him or her, are partners in the quest for ultimate truth. The Christian would not term anyone an “unbeliever.”

    Religious branding, a product of this truth arrogance, is part of what we have to fight against in our effort to contain terrorism. It’s unrealistic, I know. Everyone is going to continue insisting on their truth claims. But while we deploy military solutions in fighting terror, let us begin also to preach, in our different religions, that we are all on the search for ultimate truth. Little by little, we could get more people to understand the relativity of religious truth.


    *See Internet Ibe-Anyanwu Emmanuel James



    Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen) *

    (Persian scientist and philosopher, 965-1040)

    Scientific authorities in their search for truth are not immune from error

    The scientist Ibn al-Haytham was a devout Muslim. He wrote a work on Islamic theology, in which he discussed prophethood and developed a system of philosophical criteria to discern its false claimants in his time.  He attributed his experimental scientific method and scientific skepticism to his Islamic faith. The Islamic holy book the Qur'an, for example, placed a strong emphasis on empiricism. He also believed that human beings are inherently flawed and that only God is perfect. He reasoned that to discover the truth about nature, it is necessary to eliminate human opinion and error, and allow the universe to speak for itself.

        In his Aporias against Ptolemy, Ibn al-Haytham commented on the difficulty of attaining scientific knowledge:"Truth is sought for itself but the truths, he warns, are immersed in uncertainties and the scientific authorities (such as Ptolemy, whom he greatly respected) are not immune from error...". He held that the criticism of existing theories holds a special place in the growth of scientific knowledge: "Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency."

        One should not accept by pure faith Ptolemy's words in everything he says, without relying on a demonstration or calling on a proof. No doubt, experts in the prophetic tradition have the right and duty to have faith in Prophets. But this is not the way that mathematicians have faith in specialists in the demonstrative sciences.         Ibn al-Haytham described his search for truth and knowledge as a way of leading him closer to God: "I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge."

    See Paul Lagasse (2007), "Ibn al-Haytham", Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth ed.), Columbia                                 


    Ibn al Warandi *

    (Iraqi critic of Islam and religions, 827-911)

    The intellect alone, not prophets and miracles, is the judge of truth

    According to Ibn al Warandi – who has been called the Voltaire of Islam - God has bestowed upon human beings the gift of intellect, by which they can judge right and wrong, true and false. If what the prophets announce corresponds to what the intellect decrees, then prophets are superfluous. If it contradicts what the intellect decrees, then one should not listen to them.      

        The sciences are mentioned by Ibn al-Rawandi as proof for the sufficiency of the intellect. According to him, people developed the science of astronomy by watching the skies. They did not need a prophet to teach them how to watch. It is absurd to assume that without prophetic revelation people would not have learned  all the skills that they have  acquired by the assiduous application of the inborn human intellect and power of observation.

        Ibn al-Rawandi ‘s main book, the “Zumurrud”, is a biting criticism of prophecy in general and of the prophecy of Muhammad in particular; he maintains  that the religious dogmas of Islam are not acceptable to reason and must, therefore, be rejected; the miracles attributed to the Prophets, persons who may reasonably be compared to sorcerers and magicians, are pure invention, and the greatest of the miracles in the eyes of orthodox Muslims, the Quran, gets a similar treatment: it is neither a revealed book nor even an inimitable literary masterpiece.

    * On Ibn al-Rawandi, see the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1971, Volume 3, E J Brill, Leiden,



    (Sufi Muslim Philosopher, Spain, 1165-1240)

    The monism of the pan-unity of truth  

         The writings of Ibn Arabi deal with mystical philosophy, the main concern of which is  to determine the path that leads to truth. How can man’s divorce from truth be overcome? He gives three answers which appear to be fundamentally different. The three different views of the universe are represented as three successive stages of cognition, three approaches to the search for truth.                                                                                                     The first point of view is that the world and Truth or the world and God are absolutely separate. The world is not true and Truth is not the world. In this case the absolute Truth resides outside the world and this means that the existence of the world is absurd. Therefore the being of the world is possible only if God sustains it. The vision of a self-sufficient world, subsisting outside God is not possible. There must be a relation between God and the world, Truth and the world.

         A new vision is necessary which asserts that that the world is steeped in Truth. The world is a manifestation of God. Truth is in the world, but as the world is plural one needs to arrive at an understanding of the unity of Truth. It is a differentiated unity of truth. At this stage one can perceive the differentiation of unity but not unity itself. We see Truth in the world but we do not  yet see the world in Truth.

         It is only at the third stage, the third perfect vision of Truth, that one can assert the absolute identity of Truth and the world. The statement “Truth is the world” is transformed into “the world is Truth”. Now we see only Truth: it is no longer a question whether what is before us is Truth or the world. There is only Truth and nothing but it. The world is immersed in Truth. Now we decipher what “to be Truth” signifies. Truth is seen not as the one-all source and basis of plural beings, but as plural pan-unity.  “To be oneself” is to be everything simultaneously. The person who sees ‘Truth in the world’ is still  deprived from seeing ‘the world in Truth’. But at the  third stage there is absolute identity between any part of Truth and all of Truth as a whole.  A new understanding of the unity of truth is reached: it posits the all-inclusiveness and  pan-unity of all things.  The differentiated unity of Truth has vanished.  

        Though Ibn Arabi uses the terms ‘knowledge’ and ‘cognition’ with regard to Truth, the content of these terms is not totally epistemological. To know Truth at the highest stage means ‘to be Truth’. Man can come to know Truth to the extent that he is Truth. For Ibn Arabi the cognition of Truth is as ontological as it is epistemological.  If one desires to know more, one must also ‘be’ more. Ibn Arabi thinks that every human being is endowed with the gift realising Truth in itself behind all the appearances. To participate fully in the Truth, to become a part of it, it is necessary to overcome one’s own limitedness, to step outside it in order to become Truth itself, thereby acquiring the capacity to be any one of its manifestations. The individual must dissolve his own self, ‘expire’ in truth, in order to ‘see Truth in Truth through the eye of Truth’. Such is Ibn Arabi’s  monism of the absolute pan-unity of Truth.

    * See Andrey Smirnov, Ibn Arabi and Nichlai Berdiaev: The Path of Truth,  Russian Studies in Philosophy, Winter 92-93, Vol.31, n.3, Armonk, New York 1993, p. 7-15


    IBN GABIROL ( Avicebron) *

    (Spanish Jewish philosopher, b.1020)

    Truth  is not the exclusive purview of any religion

        Central to Ibn Gabirol’s thought was the notion that truth and righteousness are not the exclusive purview of the Jewish people, and that one should acknowledge and embrace words of wisdom regardless of their source. He  was a tremendously far thinking philosopher, exhibiting open-mindedness unheard of in his contemporary Jewish milieu. Presaging a multi-culturalism that has become prevalent in modern times, Ibn Gabirol believed that "truth  and righteousness were not the exclusive purview of the Jewish people, and that one should acknowledge and embrace words of wisdom regardless of their source."  This tolerance was based on the Ikhwan as-Safa ( an anonymous group of authors who resided in Basra, Iraq), influenced by Neoplatonic and Aristotelian thought and linked to the early  Shī‘ī Islam which showed an unprecedented tolerance towards other religions, going far beyond the limited standards of early Islam. Proposing more than just passive acceptance of other creeds, the Ikhwan as-Safa almost demanded a total lack of enmity towards all religious viewpoints, accepting the teachings of all philosophers and wise men, regardless of their religious provenance. Ibn Gabirol based his ideas on this openness - which made him so accessible to medieval thinkers from the other Abrahamic faiths.

    See Oesterley, W. O. E. & Box, G. H., A Short Survey of the Literature of Rabbinical and Mediæval Judaism, Burt Franklin:New York, 1920



    (Andalusian Islamic philosopher, 1105-1185)

    Philosophy, as a product of human reason, is able to achieve  truth without the need for religious symbolism

         Ibn Tufayl is the writer of a philosophical novel called Havy Ibn Yaqzan. The fundamental point of the story is that scientific knowledge, which leads to the highest form of human knowledge, can be achieved by human reason. This human reason is unaided neither by society’s conventions nor by religion. There is no ambiguity that religion, in the context of the story, is viewed as a means created by man in an attempt to convey the truth.  Ibn Tufayl intends to distinguish between the religious truth and that of philosophy with a conviction that philosophy, as a product of human reason, is able to achieve knowledge or truth without the need for the symbolism that which religion depends on. He admits, however, that religious symbolism is suitable for the understanding of the multitude, since different people have different conceptions of life and therefore require the assistance of different instruments. Religion is simply one of many instruments that have been created and utilized by man in order to find the truth. Certainly, truth carries different meanings amongst different people, and is affected by different contexts, and can be described as rarely pure and never simple.

         In exploring Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, where truth is a focal element of the story, Ibn Tufayl demonstrates the relativity of the meaning of truth by showing the contrary conceptions of Hayy and Absal. Truth is shown to be found only when one reaches an understanding of the existence of God and his role as creator, the existence of the Universe and the eternity of the world. How one arrives at comprehending those concerns relies on the individual’s context and surroundings, as demonstrated by the differing environments in which Hayy and Absal lived. From the interaction of those two characters, one can witness the philosophical dialogue between faith and reason and hence understand the instrumentation of religion and the methodology of its application by different people.   


    * Ibn Tufayl's Hayy ibn Yaqzān: a philosophical tale
    , translated with introduction and notes by Lenn Evan Goodman. New York: Twayne, 1972.


    Ibn WARRAQ *

    ( Pen name of a contemporary Pakistani critic of Islam)


    “To Islam alone has been granted the truth” : the totalitarian nature of Islam The totalitarian nature of Islam is nowhere more apparent than in the concept of Jihad, the Holy War, whose ultimate aim is to conquer the entire world and submit it to the one true faith, to the law of Allah. To Islam alone has been granted the truth: there is no possibility of salvation outside it. Muslims must fight and kill in the name of Allah.

    Jihad is “a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of the Prophet Muhammad. It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Qur’an and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims”.

    In the Qur’an (VIII.39-42) we read: “Say to the Infidels: if they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God’s.” Those who die fighting for the only true religion, Islam, will be amply rewarded in the life to come.

    However apologists of Islam argue that the Real Islam has nothing to do with violence. Indeed there may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism: at most there is a difference of degree but not of kind. All the tenets of Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the Hadith – Islamic fundamentalism is a totalitarian construct derived by Muslim jurists from the fundamental and defining texts of Islam..

    There are enormous differences between Islamic fundamentalism and any other kind of modern fundamentalism. It is true that Hindu, Jewish, and Christian fundamentalists have been responsible for acts of violence, but these have been confined to particular countries and regions. Islamic fundamentalism has global aspirations: the submission of the entire world to the all-embracing Shari’a, Islamic Law, a fascist system of dictates designed to control every single act of all individuals. Nor do Hindus or Jews seek to convert the world to their religion. Christians do indulge in proselytism but no longer use acts of violence or international terrorism to achieve their aims. Islam, on the contrary, justifies any means to achieve the end of establishing an Islamic world.

    Few Muslims have shown themselves capable of scrutinizing their sacred text rationally. Indeed any criticism of their religious tenets is taken as an insult to their faith, for which so many Muslims seem ready to kill (as in the Rushdie  affair). Muslims seem to be unaware that the research of western scholars concerning the existence of figures such as Abraham, Isaac and Joseph or the authorship of the Pentateuch applies directly to their belief system. Furthermore, it is surely totally irrational to continue to believe that the Qur’an is the word of God.


    * Ibn warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim, foreword by R. Joseph Hoffmann, Prometheus Books, 1995, hardcover, 428 pages,


    IBSEN David Allen *

     (Contemporary Unidentified American author)


    There may be truth in both faith and fact but it is important to understand the distinction between them


    Surprisingly large number of people confuse beliefs with facts. Most of this confusion is rooted in that there may be “truth” in both fact and faith. For me, beliefs can be based in fact, but in no way require proof. However, I believe that facts are empirically verifiable proof and should trump beliefs in most all situations.

    I believe in facts. I trust that scientists have used empirical data to determine climate change, evolution, and how cancer might spread throughout my body. .

    I also love to believe. It is important to me in defining who I am, and how I see the world. There are certain things that I trust to be true with little evidence for it. 

    I believe the key to understanding the presence and importance of faith is in knowing that having faith in something means no proof is required. It is easy, and comforting. This is often the case when it comes to religious views. In fact, the nature of religion is based on the fact that no proof is required. This is because religion covers ideas and topics that are beyond the ability of human perceptions or understanding.

    Religion is based not in fact, but in an unquestioning belief, trust, or confidence, that does not require proof or evidence. The belief is true, but is not necessarily backed up with facts. Though archaeological facts may prove certain aspects of a religion, the larger questions about human existence after death, intended miracles, and intelligent design of the universe are beyond the sorts of investigative studies we normally associate with "proving" something. Religious concepts beyond the physical can only be taken on faith. And faith is only a weakness to someone who sees the physical world as more important (or more "real").

    Both belief and fact involve some concept of the truth, but belief does not really hint at whether something has been proven or not (or whether it even is provable). In other words we can believe something to be true, even if there is little provable fact in its truth.

    The biggest conflicts happen when someone’s belief is in direct misalignment with fact. For example, “do you believe in evolution?” is a flawed question. Evolution is science; it is not something you believe in because science isn’t about belief. It’s about demonstrable facts. You can believe in creationism, but you can’t believe in evolution.

    I believe in faith and fact. But I do believe that faith can and should be trumped by fact, and that you either accept the facts or you can deny them and hide behind unassailable belief. But most of all, it is important to understand the distinction between beliefs and facts


    IKERD John *

    American Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri)


     Our common sense is our insight into the true nature of things The true nature, or “higher order,” of things never changes.  Being “pure knowledge,” it is the part of the constant reality of the universe.  We can see this higher order reflected in the world around us and in the lives of other people.  However, our observations have meaning only because we may have some intuitive understanding of the true order from which things emanate.  We can never gain an understanding of this higher order through observation, because we can observe only imperfect examples.  Instead, true understanding must come about by other means – means which may be referred to as insight, intuition, or better yet, by using our “common sense.”

    Many scientists today believed that through logic, reason, and scientific observation, we can discover “truth” – we can find “true knowledge.”  Many scientists today reject anything that cannot be “proven” empirically, through observation or experiment, as irrational superstition.  If you can’t prove it, it simply is not true.

    In relying on our common sense, we need not reject science as a means of gaining knowledge or understanding of the things around us.  But we must reject the proposition that there is only one way of knowing or understanding. We must use science to “clarify and refine” our common sense, but not allow science to replace it.  We must be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom that science is the key to all knowledge with a more enlightened concept of science that respects common sense as our only source of “true knowledge.”

    Common sense is something that we know to be true, regardless of whether we have experienced or observed it ourselves or have been informed of it by others.  Conventional wisdom may include some things that make common sense.  However, things “make sense” to us only if we somehow know they are true – only if the truth of it is validated by the spiritual or metaphysical part of us rather than by the logical or reasoning part of us.  Some people choose to deny their spirituality, and thus, their common sense, and instead rely solely on logic and reason.  But, we all have access to common sense – we possess it in common.  But, we are each free to use or not use it.


    * John Ikerd, A Return to Common Sense, Paperback – 31 Mar 2007


    IMBERT, Claude *

    (Contemporary French logician and editor of ‘Le Point’)

    Agnosticism before truth: my only conviction

        The only  right belief is an unbelief: the conviction that knows only its powerlessness to know the truth  with no claims to impose  any ‘truth’ on any one. One feels at ease only with agnostics who have the sense of the limits of human knowledge without being discouraged in the face of evil and injustice. However, genuine agnosticism does not militate on the side of ‘free-thinkers’. Preaching atheism is ridiculous and absurd for nothing is more vain than to make a belief out of unbelief. To be reluctant to official dogmas and the intimidation of absolutes gives one the pleasant satisfaction of free–lancers. To live in uncertainty, undisturbed by doubts,  has something fertile while living with certitude smells foul….

        The desire for absolute certainties – whether in the symbolic truths of religions, the rationalism of the enlightenment or the ways of Oriental wisdom – is morbid and neurotic. Most of the time people ‘believe’ wrongly or too much. They would be wiser to live with doubts rather than false certainties.  

        We attend today  in the West to the collapse of Christianity. It is not a novel phenomenon for  it began centuries ago and the full impact of it is not yet being felt by many. We do not yet understand the historical importance of the end of a certain ‘metaphysics’ where the Christian God was giving meaning to individual and collective life. But we should not confuse Christianity with Deism. The decline of the former does not imply the disappearance of the religious phenomenon. Our century is not irreligious, it only replaces one religion by other religious forms.  

    * Imbert, Claude, Ce Que je Crois,  Paris , Bernard Grasset, 1984


    IMM Jeffrey *

    (Contemporary American human right  activist)


    The universal truths of human equality and liberty.


    In America, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These truths are not confined merely to America’s borders or to American citizens. We view these as universal truths for all of humanity.

    Universal truths are not an option for some, but not for others. Universal truths apply to everyone. Universal truths are not relativist, they are absolute.

    We need respect for different cultures and values. We need respect for diversity among humanity. We need tolerance for each other’s differences. We need equal opportunities as well as equal rights. But we won’t get there by forgetting the truths that we must all share on human equality and liberty. We can’t promote diversity of cultures without singularity in human rights. Because if we fail to prioritize the truths that we must all share on human rights, then we open up our support of cultural diversity to cultures of hate, cultures of oppression, cultures of totalitarianism, cultures of fear, and cultures of death.

    All men and women are created equal – not all cultures are created equal. Cultures that defy the natural laws of human equality and liberty do not seek diversity; they seek destruction of our human rights. Our priority must be for a UNIVERSAL culture of human equality and liberty. It is our universal culture of such inalienable freedoms that binds us together as humanity.

    The universal truths of human equality and liberty unite us together as humanity. While we may have different cultures, values, and ideas, without accepting these universal truths, ultimately we will lose what it means to be a human being. The universality of the human rights of equality and liberty is an essential truth necessary for peace and harmony. Equality and liberty are non-negotiable and universal to all of humanity. Our hope for human peace and harmony can only be found in the defense of these inalienable human rights.

    Peace and harmony among humanity is dependent on our mutual respect, understanding, and acceptance of such universal equality and liberty for all of humanity. The hope for the future depends on our willingness to demonstrate our commitment to such universal truths.


    *See Internet Imm Jeffrey




    INGE William Ralph *

    (British ecclesiastic and religious thinker, 1860-1954)


    A plea for mysticism, a kind of spiritual philosophy, a quest for knowledge of the truth


     Inge criticizes contemporary culture on account of its preoccupation with material progress; against this, he pleaded for an end to the separation of fact and value. He maintained that Plato taught an abiding truth when he instructed us to seek reality beyond what is present to the senses; and only a culture that is based on the invisible but eternal values of truth, beauty, and goodness is securely founded. These values are in turn grounded in God, the ultimate spiritual reality, so that Inge's plea was for a religious attitude toward life. The model for such an attitude is provided by the mystic, who penetrates the phenomena of the sensible world to the realm of values and whose soul ascends toward union with God.

    However, this advocacy of mysticism is not to be understood as escapism or as a denial of the reality of the world of the senses. Inge considered himself in some ways more of a realist than an idealist, and he insisted that any adequate philosophy must take account of the findings of the natural sciences. Mysticism, as he understood it, does not imply emotionalism or irrationalism. Mysticism is itself a kind of spiritual philosophy, a quest for knowledge of the real. If today there is a conflict between the rational and the religious approaches to reality, this is because modern rationalism has become too narrow in its understanding of reason. A genuine rationalism takes account of values as well as of facts; this is the kind of rationalism that flourished in the earlier tradition of Western philosophy, and such a broadly based rational philosophy conduces to the same results as the mystical insights of religion. Both lead, Inge claimed, to "perfect knowledge of the Perfect", the truth of Truth.

    Inge steeped himself in the history of mystical and religious thought, but there was one particular school that seemed to him to approach his ideal of combining genuine rationalism with mystical insight and that therefore strongly attracted him: the Neoplatonism of Plotinus.


    * Inge W.R.   Mysticism in Religion, 1947 ISBN 0-8371-8953-5


    INGERSOLL, Robert *

    (American orator and lawyer, 1833-1899)

    All the sciences are hungry for truth except theology

        For Ingersoll the noblest of occupations is to search for truth. Through countless years human beings have groped and struggled towards the light of truth but they have been hindered and deceived  by augurs and prophets, enslaved by chiefs and kings.

        Truth is found by investigation, experiment and reason.  The truth-searcher must examine all questions presented to his mind without prejudice, desire or fear. He should care nothing for authority, nothing for names, customs or creeds, nothing for anything that his reason does not say is true. Freedom, discussion, honesty are the friends of truth. Truth loves the light and the open field.

        All the sciences - except Theology – are eager for facts and hungry for the truth. Theology is the only dishonest science, the only one based on belief and credulity. Several great theologians, such as Luther, have been the enemies of reason. Theologians must defend their creed, their revelation. They cannot afford to be honest. They have not been taught to be honest but only to believe and to defend their beliefs.

         The mind of students of the science of theology is poisoned and paralysed. They believe what they hear: no reasons are given, no facts, no evidence is presented, nothing but assertion. If they asked  questions, they are silenced by more solemn assertions and warned against any critical approach. In a theological seminary the destruction of the mind is complete. When the student of theology leaves the seminary, he is not seeking the truth. He has it. He has a revelation from God and he has a creed in accordance with the revelation. His business is to stand by that revelation and to defend that creed.

        Nothing should be taught that cannot be demonstrated. There is no authority in churches, in numbers or majorities. The only authority is Nature, the facts that we know. Facts are the masters, the enemies of the ignorant, the friends of the intelligent.  Intelligence is the only light, the only lever capable of raising mankind. The books filled with the facts of Nature are our sacred scriptures. The force that is in every atom, in everything that lives and grows and thinks, is the only possible god, the truth of the book of Nature.

    * Ingersoll, Robert, The Truth (1897),  Ingersoll Greatest Lectures, The Works of Robert Ingersoll, Dresden Memorial Edition(IV,71-111)


    IONESCO Eugene *

    (Romanian b. French play wright, 1909-1994)


    The truth of the absurd in human affairs; truth is the chaos of life


    Ionesco’s philosophical premise is the concept of the absurd in human affairs.  He concentrates mainly on showing his audiences the mutual isolation of human beings and the meaninglessness of the daily actions which constitute the major portion of their existence on earth. He interprets human life as follows: “Absurd is that which is devoid of purpose… Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost; all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless.” Through Ionesco’s eyes, the world and existence are grotesque, absurd, ridiculous and painful; the absurd is not to be found inside existence:  it is itself the very essence of life.

    For him the rational mind and logic are absurd; they have little relation to the truth (which is the chaos) of life. Intellectuals are fools. Most organized radicals are not only clowns but robots—ready under pressure to swing from extreme Left to extreme Right. The conventional middle-class gentleman is a moron; the smooth little subaltern of the business community is a fraud; favored hirelings of the status quo are grotesque; the sweet young thing whom we regard as the sweetheart of the world is spineless. Ultimately, they all turn into monsters of blind energy, cruel forces of destruction.

    Philosophically this may be an unsound, as well as an unsatisfactory, position. Humanly, it is quite understandable: many people the world over feel both lonely and afraid of others…. Ionesco's merit as an artist is that he finds theatrically telling means to reflect this contemporary fright.

    The meaning of his plays is never explicit. His work is characterized, instead, by what may be termed a purposeful vagueness. His plays, in other words, are full of possible meanings, but void both of specific polemic purposes and of solutions. Ionesco is not committed to a point of view because he realizes that all points of view are useless. His plays are demonstrations of the incongruity between the human condition and the human being's desires. As such, they are true tragedies, for tragedy, as Ionesco himself points out, lies in the unbearable. His plays are "demystifications." They strip the veils off man's everyday actions and expose the unbearable, tragic impasse beneath. Reality is tragic, Ionesco tells us, and it will always remain so, no matter what form the masks take.

    Ionesco uses the device of nonsense speech as a means of showing one aspect of the absurdity of everyday life through the breakdown of semantics. Since everyday life, whether absurd or not, depends for its coherence entirely on the coherence of speech patterns, it follows that if our speech patterns are absurd, everyday life in general is absurd as far as we are concerned. Even if the world appears ordered and coherent to everyone, Ionesco is saying, it is still absurd because each person is trapped inside his own individual cell by the inadequacies of his means of communication.


    *See Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1969.



    IQBAL, Allama Muhammad *

    (Indian Muslim philosopher and lawyer, 1877-1938)

    The truth about of man: not self-negation but self-affirmation, for truth is not  submission to fate

    Instead of negating the self, like most Sufis, the Muslim philosopher Iqbal believed in asserting one's sacred Selfhood, and believed that this Selfhood held unlimited potential. He argued that the ultimate purpose for man is not to have one's ego absorbed by God and negated so that one loses his identity, but instead that man absorbs within his self as many of God's qualities as possible. We are to "capture" the attributes of the angels, of the prophets, of God Himself.  

        We must not lose our individuality and claim to be helpless. Instead we must assert our individuality and we must use our individual self as the animal with which we will do our work, travel the path and 'change the world'. Iqbal believed every individual had the power to change the world, that we were not helpless puppets on strings, controlled by God, "earning" our actions from the heavens.  

        Iqbal's "individual self" philosophy runs contrary to the traditional theologian's or devotional Sufi's view. Iqbal's self is like a drop of water, but it would not be a drop drowning in the limitless ocean; rather it would be a drop that remains outside the ocean and yet, claims to be a part of the ocean. Devotional Sufism encourages the drop to lose its individuality, but for Iqbal the ego  of the individual drop is something sacred. It retains its independence with respect to the ocean, while confessing its atomistic essence to  be the same as that of the ocean.  

        Sufism says: "if the world does not agree with you or suit you, you should agree with the world". But Iqbal says: "If the world does not agree with you, arise against it!". 'The world' for him means the destiny and life of human beings. Iqbal argues that the genuine Quranic Islam has substituted "heavenly fate" in which the human being is nothing, with "human fate" in which the human being plays an important role.  There is no "heavenly fate". There is "human fate", where the divine determination of the universe depends on the deeds of man.  

        Iqbal is against the prevalent tenet of Islamic 'submission' and is the champion of the Supreme Ego. Iqbal is an exponent  of the concept of the Superman (Insan-i-Kamil). This Superman is an effective instrument for the execution of the will of God under total obedience to the ordinances of God. This absolute Ego is the creative infinite Spirit. He believed that the Absolute Ego is both immanent and transcendent in conformity with the philosophy of Tauhid as accepted in the Quran and based on the nature of God.  

    * Iqbal, Muhhamad. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Kitab Bhavan, 2000.


    Ireneaus of Lyons *

    (Christian theologian and apologist, 2d century AD)

    The truth about the original state of humankind: a process of maturation

    Irenaeus comes up with a very different explanation than Augustine and the  theory for the enigma of sin in the world. Essentially, his perspective says that the story of Adam and Eve is really an allegory for all humankind rather than a literal history (the Hebrew term "adam" means simply "mankind"). Following from this thought there was no original state of perfection (as Augustine claims), and therefore no "fall from grace," but rather a developing of the human person and the culture over time to reach this perfect state.

        Irenaeus  gives a different reason for our human tendency toward sin. Since we have been born into a world full of sin, it is only natural that we will sin. Individuals, societies and systems within societies constantly sin. When we, as children, are surrounded by these actions we cannot help but succumb to them ourselves, which further perpetuates the system of sin. This is the "original sin" Irenaeus speaks of.

        The human race was not initially born into a state of perfection. Irenaeus saw the first humans as infants, and ever since then the human race has been developing and progressing toward a state of perfection. This is the end to which humanity is hopefully striving. Jesus, both fully human and fully divine, is the fulfillment of this perfection of humanity.    

         Hence Irenaeus' explanation of the human tendency to sin differs from  Augustine's "fall from grace." It changes the view of "original sin" from a tragic condemnation to a hopeful development. For Irenaeus, sin is an important aspect of divine pedagogy - not that God actually instigated sin directly, but he set up the world in such a way that sin was extremely likely to take place, and could be treated as one possible way of making Adam realise his dependence on God.

        Irenaeus repeatedly insists that God began the world and has been overseeing it ever since this creative act; everything that has happened is part of his plan for humanity. The essence of this plan is a process of maturation: Irenaeus believes that humanity was created immature, and God intended his creatures to take a long time to grow into or assume the divine likeness. Thus, Adam and Eve were created as children. Their Fall was thus not a full-blown rebellion but rather a childish spat, a desire to grow up before their time and have everything with immediacy.

        Everything that has happened since, has therefore been planned by God to help humanity overcome this initial mishap and achieve spiritual maturity. The world has been intentionally designed by God as a difficult place, where human beings are forced to make moral decisions, as only in this way can they mature as moral agents.

        Irenaeus is of the view that Adam and Eve were children in the garden, not adults. They were not made fully fledged perfect human beings in a static sense. Creatures only learn things over time and so in the Garden they were effectively small children (and maybe even physically so). Hence their disobedience was not calculating adult rebellion. It was the weakness and ineptitude of the young. It was tragic, but just a little bit less culpable.                              For Irenaeus 'perfection' can only exist in God. God doesn't become more loving, or wise, or good, or just. But creatures exist in time. They change, that's what it means for them to be creatures. So, for Irenaeus, we can't really be made fully. Simply by virtue of being creatures we must start out as all humans do, needing to grow in wisdom, stature, and be made perfect (or complete) through the process of living life.

        Thus, for Irenaeus, Adam is set up with a pristine beginning point to undertake the task that God set before him. This task involved growing into maturity by experiencing temptation and overcoming it. He doesn’t start with everything, but he starts with everything he needs to embark upon the task of growing into the image of God.


    *See Grant, Robert M, "Irenaeus of Lyons,". Routledge 1997.


    IRIGARAY Luce *

    (Belgian born philosopher, b.1930)

    “Truth” exists in the interaction between the two free subjects, female and male. It cannot come from one of them alone.

    Irigaray demonstrates how philosophy, since ancient times, has articulated fundamental epistemological, ontological, and metaphysical truths from a male perspective that excludes women. Irigaray  criticises the favouring of unitary truth within patriarchal society. One of her key thoughts is ‘the logic of the same’ or phallogocentrism, a concept expressing how society’s two gender categories, man and woman, are in fact just one, man, as he is made the universal referent.

        According to Irigaray there is no doubt that the most appropriate content for the universal is sexual difference. The whole of human kind is made up of men and women and nothing else. The problem of race is in fact a secondary problem, and the same goes for other cultural diversities – religious, economic and political ones. Sexual difference probably represents the most universal question we can address. Our era is faced with dealing with this issue because across the whole world there are only men and women.

        She deplores that ours is a civilization without any female philosophy or linguistics, any female religion or politics. All of these disciplines have been set up in accordance with a male subject. The assumption is that a human being is only a man, or that men and women are identical in every way.

        She writes : “Man   dreams of being the whole. He dreams that he alone is nature and that it is up to him to undertake the spiritual takes of differentiating himself from his nature and from himself.”

        Human Nature is Two: male and female. Unless you believe that men and women are identical in every way – including physically – you have to accept that the universality of “the human being” does not exist. No one nature can claim to correspond to the whole of the natural person.

        Man sets himself up as the ‘divine’, and woman is the ‘animal’ nature. It is almost as if in the absence of God, man has placed himself in that place. It would seem then, that human kind has not reached the age of reason. It is still suspended between divinity and animality.

        If there is any “truth”,  it exists in the interaction between the two free subjects, female and male. It cannot come from one of them alone. Neither woman nor man can manifest or experience a totality. Each gender possesses or represents only one part of it.

                 The division of male and female is not secondary or unique to human kind. It cuts across all realms of the living, without which we would not exist. Without sexual difference there would be no life on earth. It is the manifestation of and the condition for the production and reproduction of life…. Not taking it into account would be a deadly business.

    * Irigaray, Luce. An Ethics of Sexual Difference. Trans. Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993.


    ISAAC the SYRIAN *

    (7 th c. theologian, born in Qatar)

     The path to truth is not natural knowledge but knowledge born of faith

    According to the teaching of St. Isaac the Syrian, for human knowledge the most vital problem is that of truth. Knowledge bears within itself an irresistible pull towards the infinite mystery, and this hunger for truth that is instinctive to human knowledge is never satisfied until eternal and absolute Truth itself becomes the substance of human knowledge until knowledge, in its own self-perception, acquires the perception of God, and in its own self knowledge comes to the knowledge of God. But this is given to man only by Christ, the God-Man, he who is the only incarnation and personification of eternal truth in the world of human realities.

        There are two sorts of knowledge: that which precedes faith and that which is born of faith. The former is natural knowledge and involves the discernment of good and evil. The latter is spiritual knowledge and is "the perception of the mysteries,'' "the perception of what is hidden," "the contemplation of the invisible."

        There are also two sorts of faith: the first comes through hearing and is confirmed and proven by the second, "the faith of contemplation," "the faith that is based on what has been seen." In order to acquire spiritual knowledge, a man must first be freed from natural knowledge. This is the work of faith. It is by the ascesis of faith that there comes to man that "unknown power" that makes him capable of spiritual knowledge. If a man allows himself to be caught in the web of natural knowledge, it is more difficult for him to free himself from it than to cast off iron bonds, and his life is lived "against the edge of a sword."

        When a man begins to follow the path of faith, he must lay aside once and for all his old methods of knowing, for faith has its own methods. Then natural knowledge ceases and spiritual knowledge takes its place. Natural knowledge is contrary to faith, for faith, and all that comes from faith, is ‘the destruction of the laws of knowledge'--though not of spiritual, but of natural knowledge.

        The chief characteristic of natural knowledge is its approach by examination and experimentation. This is in itself "a sign of uncertainty about the truth." Faith, on the contrary, follows a pure and simple way of thought that is far removed from all guile and methodical examination. These two paths lead in opposite directions. The house of faith is "childlike thoughts and simplicity of heart," for it is said, "Glorify God in simplicity of heart" (Col. 3:22), and: “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Natural knowledge stands opposed both to simplicity of heart and simplicity of thought. This knowledge only works within the limits of nature, "but faith has its own path beyond nature."

        Faith can  "bring forth all things out of nothing," while knowledge can do nothing "without the help of matter." Knowledge has no power over nature, but faith has such power. Armed with faith, men have entered into the fire and quenched the flames, being untouched by them. Others have walked on the waters as on dry land. All these things are "beyond nature"; they go against the modes of natural knowledge and reveal the vanity of such modes. Faith "moves about above nature."

    *See Catholic Encyclopedia: "Isaac of Nineveh"




    (Greek rhetorician , 436-338 B.C.)

    Truth is consensual, created by rhetoric, the art of persuasion

         For Isocrates, the test of all virtue or truth lies in that which wins men 's approval. He argues that it is through rhetoric that we can approximate truth, at least a consensual truth. A man who is trained in rhetoric is trained in truth, and in the creation of that truth through oratory. In Antidosis he writes, “Thanks to speech, we educate the fools and put the wise to the test; for we consider the fact of speaking rightly as the greatest sign of correct thinking”. For Isocrates, there is no absolute truth only consensual truth created by rhetoric.

        Philosophically, Isocrates made a distinction between the philosophy of theoretical knowledge and that of correct opinion. He proposed that the philosophy of opinion was truer and consequently more valuable because it aided in human action, while theoretical knowledge was a mere mental exercise valuable only as a preparation for true philosophy. Rhetorical training was the best way to teach virtue, since it helped men live and act rightly.

        Plato’s view was that Truth is pre-existing and reachable: it precedes representation in language; thus rhetoric has to be subordinated to philosophy. Truth is to be “found” and not “composed,” so language and representation are secondary issues rather than primary issues. For him, rhetoric and oratory are always suspect because their end is persuasion rather than truth.  But the Sophists, and Isocrates, took a different view. Although Isocrates   criticized the Sophists for their amoral approach to rhetoric, he  denigrated the philosopher tradition’s endless pursuit of truth as useless speculation.  Instead, he argued that the orator was the true philosopher seeing as the proof of philosophy is the ability “to speak well and think right”.   

    *See :Isocrates. The Rhetorical Tradition. Second Edition. Ed. Patricia BiBedfzzell and Bruce Herzberg. ord/St. Martin's, Boston, 2001.


    Jean Mercier