(German philosopher, 1743-1819)
The philosophical message of Jacobi is that philosophers are temperamentally inclined to reconstruct reality according to the requirements of rational explanation, in total disregard of the requirements of existence. They are possessed, as it were, by a logical fanaticism that leads them to mistake the abstractive principles of explanation for principles of existence. Since the individuality of things is the first victim of this confusion, yet individuality is the necessary condition of all existence, it follows that in the world as reconstructed by philosophers there is no room left for truly existing subjects, responsible for their actions and related to one another as person to person. Jacobi’s insistence on the primacy of immediate existence over reflective conceptualization makes it possible to interpret his position as a case of proto-existentialism, developing themes that Kierkegaard will explore later.
Jacobi's obvious agenda was to attack the rationalism of the much vaunted Enlightenment humanism, based as it was on the ideal of pure rationality. He denounced the devastating effects of a thought based on the demands of reason alone.
He took great interest in the philosophy of Spinoza who, according to him, pressed the logicism of the philosophers to its ultimate limit, and thus drew from it its inevitable conclusions. In his eyes Spinoza stood as the philosopher par excellence. He pointed to Spinoza as an object lesson of all that is wrong with philosophical reason. He is known to have said that “philosophy equals Spinozism, and Spinozism in turn equals atheism”.
For Jacobi, if there is an objective truth at all, the existence of real facts must be made known to us otherwise than through the logical faculty of thought. All mediate thoughts imply the consciousness or intuition of immediate truth. Philosophy must resign the hopeless ideal of a systematic and purely rational explanation of reality. It is a mere prejudice of philosophic thinkers, a prejudice which has descended from Aristotle, that mediate or demonstrated cognition is superior in cogency and value to the immediate perception of truths.
* See Lévy-Bruhl, La Philosophie de Jacobi, Paris, 1894
(French geneticist and philosopher, b. 1925)
The truth is not in what one must believe (the Creed) but in the authenticity of living (the Sermon on the Mount).
One does not possess the truth, but searches for it. The important is not that our discourses be true, but that they be sincere. Let us forget the word ‘truth’ and replace it by ‘authenticity’. The fanatic is certain to possess the truth. He is constrained by this certitude. Therefore he is unable to take part in dialogues and exchanges. He looses the essential of his personality. He is no more than an object ready to be manipulated.
The fundamental sin of religions is to make adepts who do not ask any more questions. Religions claim to bring answers to all questions. They want the believers to enjoy the comfort of their certainties. The scientific attitude is just the opposite. The ever growing scientific knowledge of the universe (the below realities) has had no repercussions on the religious attitude concerning the beyond realities. Religions should have adapted themselves to these new visions. But they are repugnant to do so because they claim to possess the truth or even a revealed truth. Their dogmatism prevents them to benefit from the systematic attitude of doubt which has so much contributed to scientific progress. The radical change of our discourse concerning the below should have had repercussions on the discourses evoking the beyond. But nothing of the sort has happened. Religious institutions have always been reluctant to modify the least dogmatic assertions by fear of introducing cracks in the whole edifice.
Jacquard says that he does understand the necessity to “believe”. For him the answer to the existential anxiety cannot be found in faith but in commitment. “I am ready to adhere with enthusiasm to the project proposed 2000 years ago by the man named Jesus”, he writes. What counts for him is not what one believes in or not, but the consequences of belief on our way of living together. One must abandon the Creed and rediscover the sermon on the mount, which does not specify what one must believe but how one must live. “I willingly keep the Gospel but I have no need of the Creed. Why should one value a document (the Creed) produced in 325 under the supervision of the emperor Constantine, more concerned with political power than faith?”
There is no need to wait for a revealed truth to know how to conduct one’s life. It belongs to humanity in common to decide what is to be done or undone. Jacquard admits that he is an agnostic, that is, aware of his inability to say anything of what is conventionally called GOD. Still he is not an atheist, that is, some one who knows that God does not exist. To be a ‘gnostic’ means being able to speak. To be an ‘a-gnostic’ means that if God exists, one is unable to say anything about him and therefore one should keep quiet on the subject.
*Jacquard, Albert, Dieu ?, Stock/Bayard, Paris, 2003, Petite philosophie à l'usage des non-philosophes , Éd. Québec-Livres, 1997
(Korean born American philosopher, b.1934)
Any epistemic theory requires truth as the object of knowledge
Kim Jaegwon is a critic of the "naturalized" concept of epistemology popularized by Willard Van Orman Quine (see Quine), for whom there is no problem of truth. Kim argues that "naturalized" epistemologies are not proper epistemologies as they are merely descriptive in scope, while one generally expects an "epistemology" to make normative claims about knowledge. Kim claims that epistemology requires normative nature, and mere description (à la Quine) cannot account for justified belief. The status of descriptive belief remains as belief, not knowledge. As such, naturalized epistemologies cannot be used to answer many of the questions one would expect theories of knowledge to elucidate.
Kim argues that Quine is moving epistemology into the realm of psychology, since all statements without the normative are purely descriptive (which can never amount to knowledge). For Kim any epistemic theory requires truth as the object of knowledge. The idea of "justification" is the only notion (among "belief" and "truth") which is the defining characteristic of an epistemological study. To remove this aspect is to alter the very meaning and goal of epistemology, whereby we are no longer discussing the study and acquisition of knowledge. Justification is what makes knowledge valuable and normative; without it what can rightly be said to be true or false? We are left with only descriptions of the processes by which we arrive at a belief.
According to Kim, epistemology and knowledge are nearly eliminated in their common sense meanings without the normative concept of justification. This concept is meant to engender the question "What conditions must a belief meet if we are justified in accepting it as true?". That is to say, what are the necessary criteria by which a particular belief can be declared as "true" (or, should it fail to meet these criteria, can we rightly infer its falsity)?
*Jaegwon Kim, "What is 'Naturalized Epistemology'?", Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 2 (1988): 381-405.
(Indian religious system, 500 BC onward)
Jaina philosophy holds the theory of relativity of knowledge, or syadvada. The word ‘syat’ means probable, may-be, in the sense of ‘relative’. Reality has infinite aspects which are all relative and we know only some of these aspects. All our judgments are relative, limited and conditional. Whatever is said can never be more than a particular view-point, relative to other view-points. Therefore the word ‘syat’ – ‘relatively speaking’ - must always precede all our judgments. Absolute assertion, whether affirmative or negative, must be ruled out. All judgments are double-edged: they are partially true and partially false.
Jaina philosophy distinguishes three kinds of judgments: durniti, naya and pramana. ‘Dur-niti’ is a bad judgment mistaking a partial truth for the absolute truth. ‘Naya’ is a neutral statement which does not specify whether it is absolute or relative. ‘Pramana’ is the valid judgment in which the partial truth it expresses is known to be partial through the qualification of the word ‘syat’. Indeed ‘syat’ is the symbol of the truth that knowledge is always relative. To reject ‘syat’ is to embrace unwarranted absolutism.
Syadvada is also known as ‘an-ekantvada’, or the doctrine of manyfold aspects. An-ekantvada describes the world as manifold (“an-eka” or not one), an infinity of viewpoint depending on the time, place, nature and state of the one who is the viewer and that which is viewed.
Through its doctrine of Syadvada, Jainism extends its famous doctrine of ahimsa (non-violence) to the realm of the mind: Syadvada is ‘mental non-violence’, the practice of which can play the supreme role of bringing harmony among conflicting ideologies and thus foster universal brotherhood. One of the most famous motto of Jainism - taken up by Gandhi - is: Ahimsa paramo dharma, that is, Ahimsa is the highest religious duty. Ahimsa is a way of approach that provides the scope for accepting different viewpoints on the basis that each reveals a partial truth about reality. Ideological disputes are due to mistaking a partial truth for the whole truth. The Jaina doctrine of Syadvada is an invitation to respect other doctrines than one’s own by warning against the use of “eva” or “only” beyond its prescribed limits and to search for truth patiently and non-violently. It is the humble attitude of tolerance, justice and respect for others’ view.
However old critics of Jainism have forcefully objected to the Jaina epistemology. They have pointed out that Jainism has mistakenly refused to make the distinction between the empirical and the absolute. They argue that the relativism of truth and knowledge applies only to the empirical world and not to the absolute reality. Moreover, if all truth is partial – as claimed by Jainism – then Syadvada itself is only partiallly true and therefore partially false.
* Sharma, Ch., A Critical History of Indian Philosophy, Rider, London, 1960, p.51-56
( Hungarian born American scientist and historian of science (b. 1924)
Christianity's objective view of truth made possible the rise of modern science
The historian of science, Stanley Jaki, thinks that one of the least understood truths today, in both camps of science and theology, is the particular nature of the faith necessary for science. He makes the daring claim that the Christian God is necessary for man to have science at all. Science for him presupposes a monotheistic faith whose rational foundations are in concordance with the major presuppositions in science itself. Other cultures and civilizations lacking those presuppositions have witnessed a stillbirth of science, since they failed to take into account the law of nature. Only a theology focused on a personal, rational, absolutely transcendent Lawgiver or Creator-God could give rise to modern science and its many successes. Science, claims Jaki, was built upon the foundation of a Biblical world view. He asks in his book, ‘Science and Creation’, why it is that the development of science took place in Europe between 1250 and 1650 and not in any of the great civilizations of antiquity, even though many of them had long periods of relative stability, and were able to develop technology to a considerable degree. Jaki surveys the civilizations of ancient Babylon, Egypt, China, the Hindus, the Incas, the Aztecs, and the Mayas, in an attempt to determine what kept them from developing a true science. He replies that scientific research requires certain basic beliefs about order and rationality. He claims that the elements needed for the birth of science came into existence through the Judaeo-Christian belief in an omnipotent God, creator and sustainer of all things. Within such a world view it becomes meaningful to attempt to understand nature, and this is the fundamental reason why science developed as it did in the Middle Ages in Christian Europe, culminating in the brilliant achievements of the seventeenth century. The scientific quest found fertile soil only when the faith in a personal, rational Creator had truly permeated a whole culture, beginning with the centuries of the High Middle Ages. It was that faith which provided, in sufficient measure, confidence in the rationality of the universe, trust in progress, and appreciation of the quantitative method, all indispensable ingredients of the scientific quest. Christianity's objective view of truth made possible the rise of modern science. Science cannot flourish in a world view which excludes a creator and order of the universe. If there is no order in the universe, there can be no science, because the very purpose of science is to study that order. If the presupposition of materialism persists, we can be certain that science as a field will progressively become an unfruitful area of endeavor. *Jaki, Stanley. The Savior of Science. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990.
(American pragmatist philosopher, 1842-1910)
Truth is the workableness of beliefs. Beliefs become true when they satisfy our needs in the long run
1. W. James rejects the “lazy” tradition of the theoretical truth understood as conformity of thought with a static reality. This classical theory of truth is based on a wrong understanding of both mind and world. On the one hand the ‘world’ is not complete in itself; rather it is a laboratory open to experiments. On the other hand our thoughts are not a passive mirror of wordly realities. The mission of the human mind is not to imitate and reduplicate. Rather it must elevate, increase, be inventive and creative. Our thinking is true when it is beneficial and advantageous in a practical sense. W.James introduces the pragmatic theory of truth. True is the opposite of useless, disappointing, unreliable, unverifiable, contradictory, unreal in the sense of unpracticable. Truth is anchored in a theory of ‘good’ and ‘value’. The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief. Truth, for James, is one species of good, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good, and coordinate with it. 2. According to W. James’ pragmatist approach, truth is produced by the action of human subjects. “Truth is nothing but this, that ideas (which themselves are but parts of our experience) become true just in so far as they help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience”. The truth of an idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it. Truth happens to an idea, it becomes true, it is made true by the events. He still holds the view that truth is the ‘agreement’ of thought with reality provided that this agreement is not understood as some sort of static relationship but accounted for by a process of verification. Thought is subordinated to action. Hence the speculative concept of truth is rejected. Truth is not a passive contemplation of reality. This does not mean that truth is arbitrary; on the contrary, truth is conformity with reality, not in copying it but in guiding us and allowing us to come to grip with reality in a successful way. Truth is the workableness of belief. 3. James’ theory does not presuppose a denial of the correspondence theory. He admits that a statement is true in virtue of a relation of correspondence with reality or fact. But he has his own way to understand that correspondence. Correspondence is a relation between one part of experience and another. The first part is my subjective statement which the pragmatist understands as my plan of action. The other part is the objective reality. If my plan of action leads to the objective reality, my statement is true. It is the verification of my idea or statement by the objective reality which makes it true. The process of verification itself makes my idea or statement to be true. This is the way in which W. James understands “correspondence”. An idea or a statement becomes true, it is made true by events. True ideas are those we can verify and corroborate. But then what about ideas and statements that could be verified but which have not been verified? James says that they are only 'potentially true'. So called timeless truths prior to any verification are not truths yet but potential truths. James objects to the traditional view of correspondence that it cannot give an account of itself without referring to what would validate it. But then the question arises: does the validation serves to make a statement to be true, or only to show that the statement is true? James is sometimes criticized for having confused 'making' with 'showing'.
* James, William, The Meaning of truth, Harvard UP, Cambridge, Mass., 1975 , p.196-121;; see Thayer, H.S., Meaning and Action, Bobbs-Merril , New York, 1968, p.147sq., F.Copleston, History of Philosophy, Vol.VIII, London, Burns & Oates, 1966, p.. 334-340
(Philosophe francais, 1908-1985)
The desire of reason is to circumscribe truth with its principles and find solution of problems on the basis of these principles. But the reasoning process functions only within the boundaries of finite closed totalities. Truth, on the contrary, is an opening to infinite totalities and therefore it has to be discovered by other means than those described by rationalist philosophies. Truth belongs to a totally different order than the order of reason and logic. Jankélévitch names this other order a nescio quid (‘I-do-not-know-what’) which is of another nature than what can be understood by reason. He claims that we can have the intuition of this nescio quid in spite of the impossibility to analyze it.
Elsewhere Jankélévitch expresses his view in discerning two different meanings to the notion of truth: ‘grammatical’ truth and ‘pneumatic’ truth. The reading of a text, for instance, can lead to two different ways to understand it, two different types of truth. One can give to the text a literal meaning: the grammatical or literal truth of the text. But one can interpret the text in its deepest spiritual meaning: the pneumatic truth. In the latter case another vision is apprehended, another order is revealed. The distinction of the pneumatic and the grammatical explains the distinction of love and justice. Justice which enforces the literal application of the laws refers to the grammatical and love to the pneumatic. The truths of justice often contradict the ‘good’ truths filled with goodness and love. Even more, one should say that truth without goodness is a lie. The kindness of love is necessary in a world of justice and without it justice becomes unjust. The means that Jankélévitch proposes to discover the pneumatic truth behind the grammatical truth is intuition, because reason (logos) is inapt to grasp the spirit (pneuma).
The person who passionately searches for truth is a person who loves. Truth can be false: a truth without love is a blind truth. Love thinks big. Its vision is broader than the narrow truth of justice. Benevolence and goodness come first and truth is subordinated to them. Love is what gives truth to the truths. It is the keystone of all human actions. It transfigures everything it touches. Love is necessary and sufficient to transform evil into good, error into truth.
* Jankélévitch, Vladimir , Le Paradoxe de la Morale, Paris, Flammarion
(German philosopher, 1883-1969) Existential truth is unique, historical and personal. Still dialogical communication is essential for the authenticity of truth.
1. For Jaspers the truth that matters is the existential and not the cognitive truth. He is not interested in the universal, compelling cognitive truth of reason, the truth that stands outside time and history, the truth in general, the same for all, the rational and factual truths of scientific knowledge, of no concern for philosophy because it is nobody’s truth, in the sense that it is a truth that satisfies no one. On the other hand, there is the existential truth, not of knowing, not of reason, but the being in the truth. Such existential truth is never universal, always unique, historical and personal. It is always “my” truth, which I perceive as absolute but it cannot be the truth of someone else. It is impossible to fix it in categories, systems or doctrines. Existential truth cannot be final, it constantly tends towards a plenitude never fulfilled. Jaspers denounces the danger of translating the truths of personal existence in doctrinal formulations and rational systems. He calls this tendency the “temptation of catholicity”, that is, the refusal to acknowledge the necessary historical and existential character of truth and the affirmation of an absolute universal truth, the same for all. “Catholicity”, which transforms “my” truth into a universally valid truth, leads to exclusivism and intolerance. It is the expression of a will to power to impose one’s own truth on others.
2. Truth is authenticity, it is to be oneself in freedom, to be genuine, not to ‘play some one or something else’, not to be under compulsion of any sort. Only the self that is really free is true. It is not that “Truth will make you free” but rather that “Freedom will make you true”. The existential truth has nothing to do with knowledge, but all with freedom. Large number of people live a false life under the accepted compulsion of ideologies. systems, traditions and religions. The problem of truth is to liberate from slavery and invite people to live in the truth, that is in freedom.
3. Dialogical communication is essential for the authenticity of existential truth.
It seems that there are as many truths as individual selves and that each one lives ‘in his own truth’. Does this not lead to sheer subjectivism and solipsism? Jaspers refutes the objection saying that ‘my’ truth and the ‘truth’ of others are not many truths and therefore it is vital for every one to enter into communication and dialogue with others on the subject of truth. No individual can pretend to be in the truth unless, first, he makes himself understood by others, and, second, he listens to and learns from the truth of others. I have access to my truth only in relationhip with the truths of others. I cannot be in the truth in isolation. To be genuinely true, truth must be communicable and participable.
Both scepticism (there are many truths, each one has his own) and dogmatism (my truth is the only truth) must be avoided through the practice of dialogical communication. Dialogue for the truth is a never-ending process as well as an indispensable struggle. But the paradox is that the unity of the participants in truth can never be achieved because each one remains always what he(she) is and the others remain what they are. A perfect consensus, in which the ideal of a universal truth could be achieved, is unattainable. The universal can never replace the singular. Reason can never replace existence without destroying it. Existence as well a truth are bound to remain plural. One can only say that existential truth tends towards unification by communication but it never reaches it.
Jaspers concludes that the philosophy of existence ends in failure. It is the human condition to tend and aspire for an unattainable unity. Existential truth is bound to remain singular.
4. The historicity and temporality of existential truth.
Existential truth is incurably limited, temporal, partial, historical - while cognitive truth is final, atemporal, transhistorical. The historicity of existential truth demands that the absoluteness of truth be attained within relativity. No particular historicity (or orthodoxy) can claim to reach the transhistoric truth. The historic relativity is the locus, the bearer of absolute truth. Transcendence dwells in existence. The absolute truth lives in the relative.
It is the will to communicate in dialogue that is the only way and criterion of absolute truth. It fosters the growing awareness of one’ s own particularity as well as of one’s relationship to transcendence. It manifests also that truth, being bound up with communication is a developing truth. It is not something permanent that degenerates into determinate knowledge. No communication can reach its goal, for it is ever unfulfilled.
5. The truth of religions: the ciphers
Religions propose doctrines, rituals, beliefs. Jaspers call them the ciphers of transcendence. They are not realities, objects of knowledge, nor even the reality of Transcendence but its language, the bearers of the message of Transcendence in all religions. The role of these ciphers is vital for it is in them that Transcendence is manifested. They are a call to human beings to go beyond the knowable and the secure. They are an appeal to man’s freedom to participate in Transcendence. But ciphers can become perverted when they are regarded as embodied Transcendence. The signs and symbols are taken for the reality. This is the sin of idolatry. For ‘captured’ transcendence is ‘lost’ transcendence.
The truth of religions can be saved provided they abandon their claim to dogmatic exclusivism and accept to regard their doctrines and rituals as the ciphers and symbols of Transcendence. Religious traditions must be retrieved from fixations. Still Jaspers’ rejection of all religious orthodoxies is not the rejection of the particular cultural expression of each religion.
* Jaspers, Karl, Reason and Existence, Marquette University Press, 1969, p77-109; see Dufrenne & Ricoeur, Karl Jaspers and the Philosophy of Existence , Paris, Seuil, 1949, p.195 sq
(Contemporary Indian Technical Operations Analyst)
Truth according to Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi said: "The soul of religions is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms.'' For him, the moral order which governs the universe is Satya and the process by which life is continued is ahimsa. All religions are nothing but appropriations of Satya under the condition of cultural limitation and human finitude. Thus religions as cultural and historical phenomena are more or less true. They are equal in the sense that no single religion has the absolute or exclusive truth. He said: "Religions are different roads converging on the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads as long as we reach the same goal? In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals.''
It is Gandhi's creative and constructive genius that inextricably blended the two traditions of the Truth of Sanatana Dharma and Ahimsa of Jaina Dharma. He insisted on the praxis of religion , for him religion and morality are inseparable. After a long study and experience he discovers and concludes that all religions are true. All religions have some error in them. All religions are almost as dear to him as one's own close relatives. He too believed that all religions are God-given, and therefore stressed the necessity of religion.
All truths are not merely true ideas nor ethical values but it is primarily and inevitable connected with human existence. Many a time it is a matter of one's own conscience. People, as a rule, fail to see the beauty in Truth. Whenever men begin to see the beauty in truth, the true art begins. Hence, as Gandhi, one must seek truth; beauty and goodness will then be added.
According to Gandhi, this religion of Truth underlies all genuine religions of the world: "All faiths constitute a revelation of Truth”. It lends all religions the basic unity they possess. Gandhi has compared this fundamental religion to a tree with many branches you may say religions are many; as tree, religion is one.' 'Now the question may arise: If God is one and truth is one, how can, and why should, there be many religions? The answer is that for Gandhi, this religion of Truth is an abstract reality and it becomes concrete by taking on specifications like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. according to the circumstances and needs of the various peoples of the world. For, he says: "Truth will appear to most sincere and conscientious Hindus, Mussalmans and Christians as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity respectively as they believe them.''
All of Gandhi's life was, thus, a relentless search after truth. In this he stubbornly refused to be dictated to by any external authority. He realized early in life that truth becomes freedom, power and dynamism only when it is personally discovered and personally assimilated.
*See Internet Jayabalan A.
( Contemporary Indian writer and author on Hinduism)
The concept of truth in Hindu scriptures: no absolute truth except Brahman and the self.
Whatever thoughts and opinions we entertain in our minds, there is always another opinion and another thought, or there are multiple opinions and multiple thoughts, which may either contradict it or compliment it. Even in matters of religion, we have no unanimity. The scriptures may agree on certain points, but in many fundamental aspects, they are as divergent as human nature itself. It is difficult to ascertain physically what the scriptures say about the metaphysical truths. Yet millions of people everyday hold on to their beliefs and opinions tenaciously, refusing to step outside of their habitual thought patterns and constricted opinions and give themselves a chance to see the reality around them differently from different perspectives.
In our world, there are many aspects to truth. We consider truth either relative that is true in relation to something else or absolute that is true under all circumstances, independent of other things. There are eternal truths and temporary truths.
Relative truths are conditional, contextual, provable, temporary and relational. Because they depend upon certain conditions and factors, they may be inconsistent and unreliable. While relative truths may be actually half-truths or untruths masquerading as truths, absolute truths are different. They are impervious to the fallacies and limitations of the human mind and intellect. Absolute truths are transcendental truths, in knowing which the mind and the senses play no role at all. They are independent of the mind, independent of intelligence, independent of logic, independent of perspective, independent of the senses, independent of the objects, independent of the subject, independent of proof, independent of conditions, and independent of memory. An absolute truth is indestructible, indefinable, indescribable, eternal, immutable, self-existent and permanent. If we go by this definition of truth, the whole world and all the knowledge that we hold in our minds do not qualify as truth. Nothing that falls within the domain of the mind and its faculties also qualify as absolute truth. Hindu scriptures therefore consider the phenomenal world as illusory and false, and hold only God and the Self as true. Satyam is that which contains Sat or Truth. Sat is that which is true, constant, real, actual, not in a limited way, but wholly and eternally. According to the Upanishads, God or Brahman and the individual Self alone qualify to be That, which is everlasting and absolutely true.
From a philosophical perspective, in Hinduism truth must have some characteristics in order to be accepted as truth. Truth must be universal, indestructible, constant, independent, the source and cause of everything. Therefore our world, our lives and our very existence do not qualify as truth. There is nothing here or on other planets or the entire universe, which fits perfectly in the concept of truth as envisaged in Hindu scriptures.
* Jayaram V Think success, 3 volumes, see Internet
(American political philosopher, third USA president, 1743-1826)
Truth can stand on its own and strive without political support
Jefferson felt that the way to get to the truth of any matter would be to foster and encourage free thought, logic, debate and reason. He felt that if anybody were to engage in rational inquiry, they would eventually find the truth of religion, which for him is supposed to be Christianity. Christianity thrives in a state of rational thought and critical thinking, Jefferson argues, for it was the free inquiry promoted by the Roman Empire that permitted Christianity to grow in the first place, and the free inquiry and rational thought of 14th and 15th century Europe that allowed for “corruptions of Christianity” to be “purged away. Truth, Jefferson said, can stand on its own, and that “it is error alone which needs the support of governments”. And thus, he argued directly against an establishment of a state religion, because this would halt rational thought and discussion, which would slow the pursuit toward truth, and he felt that anything that slowed the pursuit of truth was fundamentally bad.
On several occasions, he expressed his thought on the subject. "Truth and reason are eternal. They have prevailed. And they will eternally prevail; however, in times and places they may be overborne for a while by violence, military, civil, or ecclesiastical." "Truth will do well enough if left to shift for herself. She seldom has received much aid from the power of great men to whom she is rarely known and seldom welcome. She has no need of force to procure entrance into the minds of men." "It is error alone which needs the support of governments. Truth can stand by itself." "I hold it... certain, that to open the doors of truth and to fortify the habit of testing everything by reason are the most effectual manacles we can rivet on the hands of our successors to prevent their manacling the people with their own consent." "If virtuous, [the government] need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting the truth, either in religion, law, or politics”.
* See Sheridan, Eugene R. Jefferson and Religion, University of North Carolina Press, 2001
(Contemporary American pastor)
Truth is absolute, but our knowledge and grasp of truth is not absolute
On October 17, 2005, Stephen Colbert invented a new word, “truthiness” in efforts to define and articulate the growing ideological movement known as relativism. He stated, “It used to be everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore, facts matter not at all. Perception is everything…truth is “what I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.” It’s not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true."
In his insightful book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Teens, Christian Smith provided extensive research from today’s teens to find out where they really stand on life, truth and religious beliefs. When asked about truth and religion only fewer than one third of teens believed that one religion is true.
• 60 percent were convinced that many religions were true
• 46 percent of Christian teens claimed that one religion is true
George Barna’s Real Teens, revealed that the majority of our youth (81%) have personally adopted the view that “all truth is relative” to the individual and determined within their personal circumstances. Yet, the ironic thing is that unless truth is real, such statements like: “Who am I to judge?” “Each person decides for themselves.” are (in themselves), absolute statements that are viewed as absolute truth!!!
Paul Copan makes this point in his book, Is Everything Really Relative? He writes “After all, if we attempt to reject it, we’ll do so on the basis of reasons we take to be true, and not false. But if objective truth, reality, and morality exist, then this has certain implications for me. It means living in accordance with these truths rather than pretending they don’t exist”.
So, what is TRUTH?
•Transcendental—Truth is discovered not determined by humans. (gravity)
•Real—Truth corresponds to reality. (Accurately expresses an actual state of affairs.)
•Unchanging—Truth is absolute and exclusive. It never changes even though our beliefs of about truth change. (Flat earth vs. Round earth)
•Transcultural—Truth is for all people, at all times and in all locations. (2+2=4)
•Honest—Truth is telling it like it is.
In summary, people do not determine truth based upon knowledge and perception of what we believe truth to be. Instead, it is the truth about truth that truly changes our understanding of what truth really is. Therefore, it is not humans who change truth, but truth that changes us! A good example of this is science. Science is neither absolutely true nor is our knowledge of the truth in this world absolutely certain. Therefore, truth may be absolute, but our knowledge and grasp of truth is not absolute because we are finite creatures who are in the process of growing and learning the absolute nature of truth.
*See Internet Jimenez Jason
(English philosopher, 1868-1938)
The coherence theory of truth, called for by metaphysical absolute idealism
According to Joachim, the staunch defender of the coherence theory of truth, facts are all experienced facts, and propositions are all asserted propositions. Both the judgement and the referent of judgement are mental. Therefore the correspondence of judgement and ‘bare’ facts is ruled out. There is only correspondence of structure between two kinds of experience.
The totality of our experience is some sort of system. The nearer we come to achieving a complete account of our experience in a system of judgements, the nearer we approach to the truth. We endeavour to reach truth in the reconstruction of the totality of our experience. Truth is not a predicate of particular propositions or judgements, it is rather a predicate of the total system of judgements. However Joachim recognizes that absolute truth is an unrealisable goal; the best we can ever come up with is partial and incomplete truth. As the knowledge structure expands and comes closer to completion, any given judgement in it becomes more true. Truth, on this view, admits of degrees. We must see the judgements as elements in a rational structure which is constantly being enlarged and therefore is approaching ever closer to a complete account of the totality of our experience, but never coincide with it. Truth is the ideal of the complete faithfulness of such a structure of judgements to the totality of experience.
Error represents a partial truth which is superseded as the system of judgements become more complete. Error is a kind of stage we go through on the way to fuller truth. Error is distortion that results from a partial view.
Joachim argues that the coherence theory of truth is superior to all rival theories. At the same time he is ready to concede that the coherence theory meets with difficulties. The main difficulty is that truth as coherence means ‘absolute experience’. An adequate theory of truth as coherence would have to provide an intelligible account of absolute experience, the all-inclusive totality, and to show how the various level of incomplete experience form constitutive parts and moments of that totality. But it is impossible that these demands be met at any stage of human knowledge. For every stage is the result of finite experience and can be at best only a partial manifestation of the truth.
This difficulty shows that the ultimate reason why Joachim sticks to the coherence theory is a metaphysical reason. It is Joachim’s absolute idealism in metaphysics that demands the coherence theory of truth in logic.
* Joachim, H.H., The Nature of Truth, p.175-178, see Matser Pieces of Wolrd Philosophy, Ed. Frank Magill, London, Allen & Unwin, p773-780; History of Philosophy, Copleston, Vol.VIII, London, Burns & Oates, 1966, p.234-236
(French philosopher and theologian, 1286-1328)
Double truth or insincerity ?
Whenever confronted, in his analysis of Aristotle, with a conclusion severely at variance with some doctrine of Christian faith, John of Jandun appended an apologia of the following kind: "It must be noted that, although the dicta are … according to the principles of Aristotle and the Commentator, it must be replied firmly according to faith and truth that the world is not eternal." Similar passages abound in John's commentaries; whenever conclusions of reason arrived at in the logic of Aristotle and Averroes differed from the dictates of Christian dogma, John introduced statements proclaiming the consistency of the reasoning but immediately ceding truth itself to the preeminent demands of faith.
Such remarks have had two interpretations. First, John has been indicted, with other so-called Averroists, as holding a theory of "double truth" - that is, that statements of faith, on the one hand, and conclusions of reason, on the other, can be simultaneously true, yet contradictory. This charge has been discounted effectively by Étienne Gilson: no medieval writings maintaining such a self-inconsistent view have yet been found. Medieval thinkers never stated more than the position that although reason can systematically reach certain conclusions, Christian faith is nevertheless the final arbiter of truth when such conclusions conflict with matters of doctrine. On the other hand, certain of John's disclamatory passages have been interpreted as actually revealing a fundamental religious insincerity. For example, he said: “This is not known per se, nor is it demonstrable by any human proof, but we believe this to be so solely by divine authority and by the Sacred Scriptures. And to the credulity toward things of this kind and similar things, the habit of listening to this sort of thing from childhood adds a good deal.” Or again: “If anyone knows how to prove this and to make it accord with the principles of philosophy, let him rejoice in this possession, and I will not grudge him, but declare that he surpasses my ability.” And finally: “Although every form inherent in matter is corruptible, I say, however, that God can perpetuate it and preserve it eternally from corruption. I do not know the manner of this; God knows it.”
Such statements have been interpreted as indicating a radical insincerity in John's thinking, a covert mocking of Christian faith. Thus, some historians have suggested that John was not merely maintaining a "double truth" but actually affirming the superior reliability of the conclusions of unaided reasoning in the mode of Aristotle and could therefore stand as an early precursor of seventeenth-century rationalism and libertarianism.
* See Gilson, Étienne. "La doctrine de la double vérité." In Études de philosophie médiévale, 51–75. Strasbourg: University of Strasbourg, 1921.
(Pope, 1920 - 2005)
1. Human desire for truth.
God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth. All human beings desire to know and truth is the proper object to this desire. No one can be genuinely indifferent to the question of whether what they know is true or not. Even more each of us has the duty the know the truth about his/her own destiny. Personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognised as final, a truth which confers a certitude no longer open to doubt. However the search for truth does not produce such transparent results on account of the natural limitations of reasons and the imperfection of the truth-seeker.
Philosophy is one of the resources for generating greater knowledge of truth. It is one of the noblest of all human tasks. It manifests in many ways that the desire for truth is part of the human heart itself
Christian believers have a special responsability in the task of the struggle to arrive at truth. It is their duty to proclaim the certitudes arrived at, albeit with a sense that every truth attained is but a step towards the fullness of truth which will appear with the final Revelation of God.
2. Philosophy today.
Unfortunately in modern times the search for ultimate truth seems often to be neglected. Contemporary philosophy is so concern with human subjectivity and pragmatic utility that it has forgotten that the human mind is called to search for a truth that transcends it. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than making use of the human capacity to know the truth, it prefers to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned. It tends to pursue issues – hermeneutical or linguistic – which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, being and God. It rests content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning of human life and showing no concern for central metaphysical issues.
3. Truth and belief
There are different kinds of truths: scientitifc, philosophical and religious. In all cases one should remember that in the life of a human being there are many more truths which are simply believed than truths which are acquired by way of personal verification. This means that the human being – the one who seeks the truth - is also the one who lives by belief, that is, the one who entrusts himself to the knowledge acquired by other people. This knowledge can seem an imperfect sort of knowledge in need of further evidence. But on the other hand belief is often humanly richer than mere evidence because it involves an interpersonal relationship with others which is intimate and enduring. Truths sought in interpersonal relationship are not primirality empirical or philosophical. Rather what is sought is the truth of the person – what the person is and what the person reveals from deep within. Human perfection includes this dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others. Knowledge through belief, grounded on trust between persons, is an important path that leads to the truth. Reason itself needs to be sustained in all its searching by trusting dialogue and sincere friendship.
4. Philosophical truth and revealed truth.
If philosophy is undoubtedly the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life, it should also be considered as an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Indeed besides the knowledge proper to human reason, there exists a knowledge which is peculiar to faith. The truth attained by philosophy and the truth of Revelation are neither identical, nor mutually exclusive. They are distinct as regards their source and also as regards their object. Religious faith is of an order other than philosophical knowledge. It does not intervenes to abolish reason’s autonomy. The truth which God reveals to us in Jesus Christ, is not opposed to the truths which philosophy perceives. On the contrary the two modes of knowledge lead to the truth in all its fullness. The unity of truth, natural and revealed, is a fundamental premise of human reasoning.
* John Paul II, Pope, Fides et Ratio, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican, 1998
(Contemporary American pastor)
On Kierkegaard: the Christian truth can only be true subjectively.
Kierkegaard’s great contribution to the understanding of religious faith lies in his explanation of the necessity of each particular, existing individual to become aware of the subjective nature of truth—as opposed to the objective—in order to become a Christian. For Kierkegaard then, truth as subjectivity seems to imply a relational state of existence and not a set of propositions to be believed, which would be objective truth. The propositions about Christianity, i.e., doctrine, beliefs, historical facts, etc…, if held at all, are meaningful and valid only for the person who is in a relationship of passionate inwardness, or subjectivity. For Kierkegaard, religious truth does not spring from theoretical reasoning.
Subjective truth involves belief in the face of the absurd. Belief in the absurd comes about if what one holds to be true is a paradox. Because paradox involves a seeming contradiction, the absurdity of such a thing is a primary example of holding to a truth subjectively. In fact, there is no other way one can hold to a truth of this kind. Being that there are two kinds of truth, one must acknowledge that to hold to the truth of a seemingly logical contradiction would obviously have to be held subjectively—it could not be held objectively.
The incarnation is just such a truth that can only be true subjectively. In other words, there is nothing to point to or observe that would give us a verifying principle to prove the God-Man, Jesus Christ, was really who He said He was. This truth must be arrived at by faith. And faith cannot come about except through passionate, inward awareness of the absurd paradox one is asked to believe. Therefore, quite simply, a subjective truth is one held personally, with no recourse to scientific or empirically verifiable data.
The way of objective reflection makes the subject accidental, and thereby transforms existence into something indifferent, something vanishing. Away from the subject the objective way of reflection leads to the objective truth, and while the subject and his subjectivity become indifferent, the truth also becomes indifferent, and this indifference is precisely its objective validity; for all interest, like all decisiveness, is rooted in subjectivity. The way of objective reflection leads to abstract thought, to mathematics, to historical knowledge of different kinds. Kierkegaard believed that to engage in objective reflection was to move further away from one’s own humanity. And consequently, further from the truth and God. Above all, religious truth—truth about one’s own existence, eternal state, and faith in God—must be held personally, passionately, and subjectively, which are synonymous terms in regard to Kierkegaard’s view of truth as subjectivity.
*See Daniel Johnson, Quodlibet Journal: Volume 5 Number 2-3, July 2003
(Contemporary American theologian)
All religious paths do not lead to the same destination, i.e. the Truth
Is it possible that Buddhism,Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, etc. represent differing, yet valid, paths to the same destination? Were this the case, there would be no need to argue about which religion is "true". Such disputes would be pointless. Perhaps viewing religion in this way would eventually lead to less religious bigotry and greater cooperation among people of differing faiths.
On the other hand, what if all paths do not lead to the same destination? Religious traditions such as Islam and Buddhism offer radically different views of the world. If all paths do not lead to the same destination then it would seem that each person must make an informed choice which may have significant consequences.
1. Option One: all Paths Lead to the Same Destination. Though each religion may choose its own path, all paths converge at the top of the same mountain. Advocates of this position argue as follows. First, it is intolerant and ethnocentric to assert that one religion is the true religion and others, which disagree, are false. This type of intolerance, it is pointed out, has caused much bloodshed. Second, the contrasting claims of different religions do not prove that one religion is true and others are false. Instead it suggests that no religion possesses the entire truth, but only bits and pieces of it. Thirdly all religions share a common ethical core. Some formulation of the Golden Rule, for example, is found in all religions.
These pluralistic interpretations of religion possess a strong intuitive appeal. Nevertheless, they possess two deficiencies which, in the final analysis, render them unacceptable. First, they are unable adequately to account for the conflicting truth-claims among various religions. Second, in order to avoid the latter problem, they radically reinterpret the beliefs of specific traditions in ways that fundamentally distort these beliefs.
2. Option two: all paths do not lead to the same destination.
The strength of this position is that it takes the truth-claims of religious traditions seriously. It attempts to understand the beliefs of Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Christians in their proper context. Religious founders knew that certain claims they made contradicted the claims of other religions. When two religions make claims which contradict each other, they cannot both be correct. The laws of logic necessitate this. Several objections are typically raised against the claim that all paths do not lead to the same destination.
First, it is argued that such a position is narrow and intolerant. But then, when examining the claims of religious traditions, we must be careful not to confuse tolerance and truthfulness. Claiming that it is intolerant to say that all paths do not lead to the same destination misses the point. The important issue is the truth or falsity of this assertion.
Second, it is frequently suggested that truth is really not that important; what really matters is the sincerity of one's belief. Certainly sincerity is important in the realm of religious belief. Nothing turns off people more quickly than religious hypocrisy. Nevertheless, the sincerity with which one holds a particular belief must be carefully distinguished from the truthfulness of that belief.
Third, even if one path is valid and others are not, it is argued that there is no way to know which path is "true," that is there are no neutral criteria which can be used to evaluate religious traditions. While it is true that adherents of one tradition may reject the teachings of other religions because they fail to cohere with their own teachings, it does not follow from this that there are no criteria which can be used to evaluate religious traditions. At least five tradition independent criteria may exist: (1) logical consistency, (2) adequate factual support, (3) experiential relevance, (4) consistency with other fields of knowledge, and (5) moral factors.
So finally: "Do all paths lead to same destination?" In light of the conflicting truth-claims among various religions, it has been argued that all paths cannot lead to the same destination. Consequently, it is our responsibility to examine the paths before us and make an informed choice.
* Keith E.Johnson, Rethinking the Trinity and Religious Pluralism: An Augustinian Assessment (Strategic Initiatives in Evangelical Theology) [Paperback], 2011
(Contemporary Australian philosopher)
L. Johnson’s purpose is to work out a minimal theory of truth applicable to all cases of what can be said about reality. Truth in the epistemological sense is about whether and how reality can be reached by human knowledge. Our statements are meant to be truth-bearers, though often they can simply be meaningful without being true or false. There are two questions to be examined : first, the meaning and comprehension of the concept of truth and second, the extension of the concept.
1. The meaning of the concept of truth
True statements are those which refer to an external phenomenal reality. The traditional term of “correspondence” is too ambiguous and should be replaced by “referential focus”. Johnson criticizes Austin’s view of correspondence for being too naively objectivist and making use of such ambiguous terms as ‘facts, situations, states of affair’, which are too much ‘things found in the world’. In its stead, Johnson suggests that we say that our statements are true when they establish a referential focus. Through the expression referential focus (rather than correspondence with facts and situations), we indicate that our words are correlated with worldly features as conceptualized and construed by us. Both elements of objective reference and subjective interpretation are combined into one. We come to grip with the real world but according to our own ideas and interests. All our statements are referential but there is no reference without focussing.
2. The extension of the concept of truth.
The minimal account of truth extends over all truth-statements, i.e., all statements that establish a referential focus. It is conventional to divide statements into analytic and synthetic and consequently to differentiate between two types of truth: analytic truth and synthetic truth. But Johnson’s minimal theory of truth does not agree with this dual meaning of truth. Analytical statements are meaningful but non-referential and therefore neither true nor false. The idea that anything can be true by definition is not retained.
The different subject-areas are related to truth in the following way:.
a) Mathematical and logical statements, being analytical and non-referential, should not be called true or false, but valid or invalid.
b) Statements expressing scientific theories have an indirect reference to an outside reality. Being instrumental to understand reality, they have a truth-relevant utility.
c) Metaphysical statements dealing with the non-phenomenal reality can be regarded as a manner of explaining the phenomenal reality in a way similar to scientific theories but at another level of explanation. Therefore they too are truth-relevant because they are instrumental in making true statements about the phenomenal reality.
d) Ethical statements do not refer to facts and situations but to their values and qualities. The referential focusing that we establish in ethics does not stop short at the facts but further and deeper at the value of these facts. Values are not facts, still we are not the creator of values, values have an objective character. We recognize our conscience as the repository of a stable moral order. The truth-condition of reference to a phenomenal reality is fulfilled. In this case the phenomenal reality is the universally acknowledged standards of the moral order of our conscience.
e) Religious statements have to do with a reality other than the phenomenal world of empirical reality and moral values. If we follow the logic of the minimal theory of truth, religious statements are neither true nor false, not even truth-relevant. But then it should be remembered that religious statements are made on the basis of faith, trust and tradition. People in religion make statements because they believe in them, not because they are truth-bearers. Truth is never a matter of faith. One does not believe in truth; one recognizes it.
To sum up: there is only one sense in which our statements are true and that is when they establish a referential focussing, when they refer to an external reality through our conceptual schemes.
* Johnson L., Focussing on Truth, Routledge, London,1992, p.224-266
(Contemporary American Christian writer) Love without truth has no character. Truth without love has no power.
It's not easy, especially nowadays, to keep love and truth together in a balanced way. Our culture force-feeds us a postmodern notion of love. Tolerance, diversity, and broad-mindedness are its defining features. Meanwhile, truth is generally held in high suspicion, if not treated with outright contempt. After all, if the very essence of love is to accept all points of view, how could it possibly be virtuous to believe that one idea is true to the exclusion of all others? Indeed, many in our culture regard emphatic truth-claims as inherently unloving. As a result, truth is regularly sacrificed in the name of love.
As Christians, we need to understand love from a biblical perspective. Authentic love "rejoices with the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6). Love and truth are perfectly symbiotic, and each virtue is essential to the other. Love without truth has no character. Truth without love has no power.
In fact, when radically separated from one another, both virtues cease to be anything more than mere pretense. Love deprived of truth quickly deteriorates into sinful self-love. Truth divorced from love always breeds sanctimonious self-righteousness.
John is the perfect apostle to write on this theme. Jesus had nicknamed John and his brother James "Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17)—doubtless because of their fiery zeal for the truth. At first, their passion was not always tempered with love, and we see a glimpse of that in Luke 9:54, when they wanted to call down fire from heaven upon a village of Samaritans who had rebuffed Christ.
In later years, however, John distinguished himself as the Apostle of Love, specially highlighting the theme of love in his gospel and in all three of his epistles.
And yet, as we see in all his epistles, he never lost his zeal for the truth. He did, however, learn to keep it wedded to a proper, Christlike love.
*Phil Johnson, Posted by PyroManiacs Staff on Friday, August 23, 2013
(American German born philosopher, 1903-1993)
Freedom – the power to say no - is a prerequisite of truth
The sense in which one can speak of an experience of truth may be illustrated by the situation in which one feels moved to exclaim “So this is what it really is!”—such exclamation containing a submerged, if not explicit, “and not this!” The illustration is to convey the at once emphatic and antithetical character of the truth-experience, i.e., that it stands out from the normal flow of acceptance of phenomena and against the background of error and falsehood: this background being itself an “experience” only realized in the act of supersedure by its opposite. In short, we wish to indicate an element of negation. Hence follows, as a first proposition, that the capacity for truth presupposes the capacity to negate, and that therefore only a being that can entertain negativity, that can say “no,” can entertain truth. And since the power of negation is a part of freedom, indeed a defining ingredient of it, the proposition is that freedom is a prerequisite of truth, and that the experience of truth itself is the evidence and exercise of a certain kind of freedom.
The distinction between truth and falsehood, and therefore the idea of knowledge, arises only where the “wrong” perception is not simply supplanted by the “right” one but survives to be confronted as falsified with the right one; or more generally, where two terms are available for comparison, and one of them is accepted as the standard by which the other is judged.
*See Internet Hans Jonas
(Unidentified American internaut)
The integration of both emotional truth and analytical truth.
Emotional truth is about conveying the essence of an issue through a story, a picture, an anecdote, or some other means that engage other people’s empathy, and persuade them about the moral rightness of a particular issue frame. Emotional truth is often found in the movies, political debates, non-profit appeals and other forms of advocacy. It can be extremely effective, but it can also be terribly misleading.
Analytical truth is about evidence, data, statistics, and science. It is about setting up experiments, polling samples, evaluating facts. Analytical truth is often seen as impersonal, abstract, sometimes even, cruel. Analytical truth is used for tough decisions, arguments about numbers, “reality checks” and similar purposes. Interestingly enough, analytical truth is not that compelling in general debates because advocates often bring competing scientific claims to their arguments, and cast doubt about the objectivity of their opponents rationales. This politicization of science drives many science-minded people crazy.
Emotional truth is proactive, visceral, and taps into different parts of the brain than analytical truth does. According to neuroscientists, emotional truth is more primal, and activates “bottom-up” circuits, whereas analytical truth is more complex, and activates “top-down” circuits. If emotional truth sells an argument, analytical truth defends an argument. To borrow from a sports analogy, emotional truth scores points, analytical truth wins in the long-term.
There are some stereotypes associated with both sides. “Literate” professions (i.e. those who make their living from words) like lawyers, academics, and the media, are experts at emotional truth, while “numerate” professions (i.e. those who make their living from numbers) like business people, scientists, doctors, accountants, and economists are experts at analytical truth.
But increasingly, it is becoming clear, that the most effective communicators integrate both emotional truth and analytical truth..
*See Internet Stephen Jordan
(Spanish philosopher and sociologist, b. 1914)
1. The word “truth” conveys three different fundamental dominant meanings, rendered by “aletheia” in Greek, “veritas” in Latin and “emunah” in Hebrew.
In Greek, aletheia, from a-lanthano, means not covered, not hidden, manifest. On the contrary falsehood is a covering-up. Understood in this way, truth as aletheia presupposes the existence of a prior ‘neutral’ state, a latent state. For if there is nothing to uncover and disclose, there is no point to speak of aletheia. Aletheia is that which brings to light what is in darkness.
In Latin, veritas points at the exactness of utterances, for instance a faithful account of a past occurrence, a precise and complete narrative of something that was. This is truth in the sense of ‘veracity’ in telling the truth.
In Hebrew, emunah contains a personal reference. It is the truth in the sense of trust. For instance the true God is the God who carries out all his promises. He is trustworthy and faithful. Emunah, then, refers to a fulfiment, to something expected and that will be.
These three meanings of truth imply a reference to time. Aletheia affects what things are, now in the present. And the present is the tense of scientific knowledge which declares what things always are. Veritas has a primary reference to what was. It concerns past events, which is the mode of truth peculiar to history. Emunah points to the future, to what will be. This kind of truth is prophecy, which is a typically religious concept.
Aletheia, Veritas, Emunah, these three terms denote the distinction between truths of present, past and future: scientific, historical and religious truths.
2. There are four typical ways in which a human being is likely to behave towards the truth.
- The first way consists in living in the ambit of truth in complete solidarity with a set of beliefs taken for absolutely true and with the support of a community of believers. Truth, in this case, is inherited from tradition and is the object of actual possession. There is no point in searching for a truth that is always at the disposal of believers to allow them to live authentically and successfully.
- The second way consists in living in the horizon of truth, that is, in the pursuit of truth because, for instance, traditional ready-made beliefs have failed to convince. The need for truth is deeply felt but it is no longer seen as the object of actual possession. It is considered as an ideal that need relentless search and pursuit. This mode of living the truth, as authentic as the first, is typical of the intellectual, but much less of the believer.
- The third way consists in living in the margin of the truth, a much more frequent situation in a time when large number of people have more concern for pleasure, money-making and power than for spiritual values and authentic existence. The prevailing attitude is not one of opposition to search for the truth but of one of general indifference.
- The fourth way consists in living against the truth. Strange as it may appear, some people affirm and seek falsehood deliberately. Nietzsche is one of them, who wrote: “Why should one search for truth rather than untruth?”. His message has been heard and adopted by the founders of several deviant contemporary ideologies.
* Marias, Julian, Reason and Life, Hollis & Carter, London, 1956, p. 87-112
(Swiss psychologist, 1875- 1961)
Religious beliefs cannot be shown to be true or false. They are the healthy expressions of man's collective unconscious impulses. Jung, the founder of 'analytic psychology', argued that men have a strong need for religious beliefs and experiences. Religious beliefs, he said, cannot be shown to be true, but he held that they cannot be shown to be false either. Whether to believe or not is thus a matter of choice on purely pragmatic grounds. While Freud argued that religions are delusionary and therefore wrong and harmful, Jung contended that all religions are imaginary but good. While Freud considered religion as "the universal obsessional neurosis of mankind," the anti-Freudian Jung termed religion an alternative to neurosis, and expressed his view that it is a healthy outcome. Of course, for the religious believer, God and the spiritual world are realities and the proper end of man is to know, love, and serve God. But while the believer regards this service and love as an end in itself, Jung understands religious claims to truth only as a means to promote peace of mind or mental health. He kept repeating that he had no doctrine and no philosophical system, that he only reported "empirical facts." Jung emphasized that neither the moral order, nor the idea of God, nor any religion has dropped into man's lap from outside, straight down from heaven, as it were. For Jung man contains all this in a nutshell, within himself, and for this reason can produce it all out of himself. The ideas of moral order and of God belong to the ineradicable substrate of the human self. Any honest psychology must come to terms with these facts. They cannot be explained away and killed with irony as Freud wanted to have it. Religion can be replaced only by religion. Jung is known for the importance he gives to the 'collective' unconscious. According to him there are many symbols that are not individual but collective in their nature and origin. These are chiefly religious images. The believer assumes that they are of divine origin, that they have been revealed to man. The skeptic says flatly that they have been invented. But for Jung both are wrong. These symbols are in fact "collective representations," emanating from primeval dreams and creative fantasies. These images are involuntary spontaneous manifestations and by no means intentional inventions. The meaning of human life and institutions depend on man's conscious relationship with the symbols of his collective unconscious.
* Jung, C. G. Psychology and Religion ,The Terry Lectures. New Haven: Yale University Press. (contained in Psychology and Religion: West and East Collected Works Vol. 11)