(French theologian and philosopher, 1860-1932)
The name of Laberthonnière evokes the controversies linked with the modernist movement in the Catholic Church at the turn of the XXth century. His conception of philosophy was a pragmatic one. The aim of philosophical doctrines is to give sense to life, to human existence, so that every such a doctrine is a moral work. It gets worked out by living, it is not a collection of abstract propositions linked together and derived from a collection of abstract principles; the truth of such a doctrine cannot be an abstract truth. Its truth is to be viable.
Laberthonniere contrasts Greek philosophy which deals in abstract essences with Christianity concerned - he claims - with the active inwardness of life. Its truth is not something external to be reached by intellectual contemplation, but something intrinsic to be grasped in living. Religious truths are of no value to us if they are merely external; they must be recreated in ourselves. The external formulations of belief are to be taken into experience and their truth lived out there. The ‘truth’ of the biblical story of the fall of Adam, for instance, is not the objective truth of a remote and unverifiable event, postulated as an abstract explanation of the origin of sin. It is the truth of an event which we experience – an event which has lasted till our time. Likewise Christ is not a fact or a problem of past history, but a present reality whom the believer experiences as the truth and the life.
Thus for Laberthonnière faith should not be conceived as the submission to an external authority, but as an experience of life, including goodness and love, the divine graces that allow the believer to participate in the divine life. He emphatically denounces the influence of Greek philosophy on Christian truth. He directly attacks thomism which he accuses of “aristotelism”. He even denounces the ‘anti-christianism’ of thomism. He deplores the confusion of the Church with the ecclesiastical authority, the absolutist conception of an authority which idolizes dogmatic truths and sidesteps the Christian virtue of charity. He does not reject dogmatic truths as such but subordinates them to the law of Christ which is the unconditional love of the neighbour.
*See: Ngindu Mushete, Le probleme de la connaissance religieuse d'après Lucien Laberthonniere, Kinshasa : Faculté de Théologie Catholique, 1978.
(French theorist of psychoanalysis, (1901-1981)
A psychoanalytical concept of truth: Truth is inscribed in the deception of the analysand's speech.
Truth is one of the most central, and yet most complex term in Lacan's discourse. His approach is exclusively psychoanalytical. The aim of psychoanalytic treatment is to lead the analysand to articulate the truth of his or her desire. Truth is not already there, it does not await, in some preformed state of fullness, to be revealed to the analysand by the analyst, but is rather constructed in the dialectical movement of the treatment itself. Lacan always speaks about "truth" in the singular, not as a single universal truth, but as particular truth, unique to each subject. For him truth is only a meaningful concept in the context of language: "It is with the appearance of language that the dimension of truth emerges." Lacan interprets the Freudian psychoanalytical theory on the basis of structuralist linguistics. For him the unconscious is not a bunch of biological instinctual drives (Freud) but a system of linguistic signifiers. The role of psychoanalysis is to unveil the hidden structure of discourses that are dreams, neurosis, etc. The nature of the Ego is nothing else than discourse and it is in the structure of these discourses that one can speak of truth and falsehood, not in the conformity to experience and reality. The purpose of psychoanalysis is not to rediscover reality but “truth”, a truth without content, a truth of discourses, consisting in the formal knowledge of the hidden laws of the languages that express human psychism. The subject under analysis embodies a succession of false discourses to which , thanks to psychoanalysis, are substituted true discourses, of a strictly formal truth.
Truth is intimately connected with deception, since lies can often reveal the truth about desire more eloquently than honest statements. Deception and lies are not the opposite of truth: on the contrary, they are inscribed in the text of truth. The analyst's role is to reveal the truth inscribed in the deception of the analysand's speech. The false appearances presented by the analysand are not merely obstacles that the analyst must expose and discard in order to discover the truth; on the contrary, the analyst must take into account errors and mistakes.
• See Parrain-Vial, Jeanne, Tendances nouvelles de la Philosophie, Paris, 1976
The supreme good is attainable only through the knowledge and worship of God, that is, through religion. Religion, not philosophy, leads to happiness. Man differs from the beasts essentially in this that he is an animal religiosum. This is his chief excellence.
It remains that philosophy deals with conjecture only; for that from which knowledge is absent, is entirely occupied by conjecture. For every one conjectures that of which he is ignorant. Therefore they do not know the truth, because knowledge is concerned with that which is certain, conjecture with the uncertain.
Having overthrown all false religions, and having proved the systems of philosophy to be false, Lactantius turns his attention to the exposition of what is for him plainly true religion and true wisdom, which for him is Christianity.
* Lactantius,The Divine Institutes, Books 1-7, The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 49, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press,
(Indian Hindu scholar, b.1926)
Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism): the eternal and everlasting truth
Santana Dharma is a universal religion which embraces all other religions as it is eternal and everlasting. A narrow scheme of sectarian or exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and for a set purpose. At last it has to go away one day but not so with the Santana Dharma.
Santana Dharma has no beginning. No body can say when it started. It is without a beginning and so without an end. It is eternal and everlasting. That which has a beginning, has also an end, as all beginnings have an end also.
Sanatana Dharma has no founder. All religions are known by their founders or prophets but this is not the case with Sanatana Dharma. It neither has any prophet to begin it nor any book or authorized scripture told by the prophet who got revelation.
We see that the religions with books have got the largest number of followers and those without books are rare and scarce. In both these classes of religions, we find that the truth is the result of experience of a particular person – Jesus, Mohammed sahib or Buddha and Hindu seers. All of them experienced truth and that they preached. All religions are built upon direct experience of this experience. But there is a difference. Others have the founders of this experience known as the first founder of the religion and after their name the religion is known. The other difference is that they now claim that the experience the prophets had, is now no longer possible. So we have to rely on "Belief”. Sanatana Dharma differs with other religions on this point. Sanatana Dharma is not based on spiritual experience of any single individual or any such revelation. It is based on realization, on intuition, and experience of a number of seers, sages and mystics who realized the Infinite and were illuminated. It does not owe its origin to any one person or prophet nor does it adhere to any papal authority or dogma. It does not built around one man as its centre though it is not opposed to philosophies build around personalities and prophets. It believes in scientific precision and experiments to arrive at truth any time and many times. So it believes in free expression of thoughts and enquiry into the fundamentals even. It is therefore a tolerant religion, granting freedom of Enquiry and Expression, seeking evidence.
Sanatana Dharma is not limited to the teaching of any particular people or class of people or any form of worship. It is a comprehensive way, a law of Being ever praying to be with the Absolute. In this respect, it absorbs all religions, faiths, forms of worship and even diverse kind of rituals and customs into its fold. It makes unity in diversity or solidarity in diversity.
In Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma), there has been no such obsession to accept any such metaphysical philosophy of other religions that a particular religion is necessary for salvation and non-acceptance is heinous sin which may result in eternal punishment in hell. The Hindus never were for conversion, rather, their mission was to make the world Arya-like, which means that the individual, what ever his creed or religion be, should lead a life of righteousness and be gentle and religious minded. The Hindu belief is that God is one and the ways to God are many. It grants freedom to individuals and does not command. It simply tries to lead them from darkness to light. It reveals that there is one Truth and one true religion. Ekam Satya, Viprah vividhah vadanti – The truth is one and wise men describe it in various ways. It is the eternal truth within the Self.
*See Dr R.K. Lahri, The Hindu way, 2007
(Hungarian philosopher of science, 1922-1974)
On the “truth” of scientific theories : a critique of Popper’s dogmatic falsification
According to Lakatos, Popper has grasped the full implications of the collapse of the ideal of proven truth, and thus has arrived at the position that the proper scientific procedure is not to try to prove theories for that cannot be done in any case but to try to disprove them. Science consists of conjectural or refuted theories, never proven ones. To the position that science consists in proven truth, Lakatos assigns the name `justificationism." To the other position that the proper scientific method is to seek to disprove conjectures, Lakatos assigns the name "falsificationism”. Since justificationism has been seen to be logically indefensible, the philosophers of science have arrived at the conclusion that "all theories are equally unprovable" writes Lakatos. But many scientists and philosophers were unhappy with the conclusion that all scientific theories are unprovable, and sought to lower the standard from proved truth to probable truth. Lakatos writes: “Of course, replacing proof by probability was a major retreat for justificationist thought. But even this retreat turned out to be insufficient. It was soon shown, mainly by Popper's persistent efforts, that under very general conditions all theories have zero probability, whatever the evidence; all theories are not only equally unprovable but also equally improbable. The hallmark of Popper’s ‘dogmatic falsificationism’ is the recognition that all theories are equally conjectural. Science cannot prove any theory. But although science cannot prove, it can disprove: it "can perform with complete logical certainty (the act of) repudiation of what is false," that is, there is an absolutely firm empirical basis of facts which can be used to disprove theories. However Lakatos proceeds beyond to show that dogmatic falsificationism itself is untenable because it rests on false assumptions. Dogmatic falsificationism requires that a scientific theory, to be scientific and not "metaphysical," must specify conditions under which it would be disproved. But the best scientific theories do not specify such conditions. Instead of Dogmatic falsification Lakatos suggests the notion of Sophisticated falsificationism, which takes us away from making decisions about theories in isolation and towards considering them in company with others. A theory is not to be rejected as falsified until a better one comes along. Although we might find that a number of experiments are conflicting with a particular theory, we know that this is never enough to dismiss it. Instead, we wait until a new theory is found which tells us the same things as the old one but without the difficulties (some or all). This gives us a notion of growth or development of theories in place of the dogmatic falsificationism that either accepts or rejects them in single instances. It also means that the so-called "crucial experiment" of dogmatic falsificationism – one that decides the issue at a stroke – is superseded by the realisation that no experiment can be crucial, unless interpreted as such after the event in light of a new theory for which it offers corroboration.
*Lakatos Imre, Proofs and Refutations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1976
(American philosopher of language, b.1941)
Lakoff and Johnson present and describe the power and impact of metaphors. To do so they need to dispel what they believe are the false understandings concerning the nature of a metaphor. Metaphor is for most people a device of poetic imagination and rhetorical flourish - a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. Lakoff and Johnson believe this conception of metaphors is invalid.
They claim that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, and not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. Hence their book's title: 'Metaphors we live by'. Lakoff and Johnson are saying that metaphors come out of our process of articulating our understanding of reality.
The ordinary human conceptual system is fundamentally metaphorical, they argue; metaphors are the predominant mode of cognition. The evidence for their assertion comes primarily from linguistics, and they give numerous examples of the metaphors that are employed by humans in everyday discussion and interactions with others. But they emphasize that metaphor is not just a linguistic notion, they claim that human thought processes themselves are largely metaphorical.
Lakoff and Johnson believe that a proper appreciation for metaphor will cut through the interminable conflict between objectivists and subjectivists, and they advocate an "experientialist" alternative that highlights the importance of metaphor in our thinking, language, and action. Where objectivists and subjectivists would both play imagination off against reason, and see metaphor in opposition to logic, Lakoff and Johnson propose metaphorical thought as "imaginative rationality." In their view, rational thought is infused with metaphor, and our poetic imagination is rationally grounded.
Objectivists claim that metaphor is purely literary; we can know and say things without metaphor, but metaphor gives us striking ways to say things. They fear that if thought is inherently metaphorical, we have no access to objective truth, since metaphor extends like a veil between the observer and the world he observes. Objectivists believe that things can be defined "in themselves," apart from any consideration of how human beings interact with those things. But Lakoff claims that meaning and truth always depend on understanding. We cannot distill "meaning" from a statement by siphoning off the persons who mean, the persons to whom meaning is communicated, and the cultural circumstances that make the communication possible.
On the other hand subjectivists embrace the imaginative play of metaphor. For them as much as for objectivists, however, metaphor is not a necessary mode of knowing. Metaphor is imaginative, but for subjectivists as much as for objectivists, imagination is opposed to reason and objective truth. According to Lakoff and Johnson neither objectivism nor subjectivism gives a satisfying account of how we know and how we talk. They reject the notion of "objective truth". They insist that metaphors alter our basic reality, and thus alter the sense in which things can be said to be true or false.
They summarize their "experientalist" theory of truth as the understanding of a statement as being true in a given situation when the understanding of the statement fits the understanding of the situation closely enough for the purposes at hand. The correspondence between a statement and that state of affairs is mediated they say by the understanding of that statement and the state of affairs. In addition, truth is always relative to the conceptual system used to understand situations and statements. Further, the understanding of something involves putting it into a coherent scheme relative to a conceptual system. Their theory of truth does not require a notion of "absolute" truth, and most provocatively, individuals with different conceptual systems may understand the world differently, and have different criteria for truth and reality.
* Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphor we live by, University of Chicago Press, Paperback edition, 1980
Contemporary American philosopher)
Faith is to accept a statement as true without evidence : it is an act of destruction
When accepting a statement as true, there are two basic methods. The first is reason. It is when the known evidence points to the statement being true, and when the truth of the statement doesn't contradict other knowledge. The second is faith. It is when one accepts a statement as true without evidence for it, or in the face of evidence against it.
There's a lot of confusion about what exactly faith is. Many people confuse belief with faith. It's said that if you believe something, you must be taking it on faith. This is a denial of the fundamental distinction between reason and faith. It pretends that evidence for or against an idea is irrelevant.
The result of using faith consistently is the complete inability to think. Without any criteria for accepting a statement as true, every random idea, whether true or false, would be just as likely to be accepted. Contradictions would exist. No higher level abstractions could be made. Faith nullifies the mind. To the degree ideas are taken on faith, the process of thinking is subverted.
Are there any ideas we take on faith? As a friend once asked, if we've never been to Afghanistan, how do we know it actually exists? Even if we were to meet people from Afghanistan, they could always be lying. This is taken to be an act of faith, since we have no direct evidence for the existence of Afghanistan.
This is mistaken, though. The evidence we have for accepting the existence of Afghanistan does exist. The evidence is based on the knowledge that other people have shared. First, there is universal acceptance of the fact that it exists. It is possible that everyone on the planet is lying, but there is no evidence for that claim. Also, there is reason to believe that if Afghanistan didn't exist, people from the bordering countries would say so.. Furthermore, there is absolutely no known evidence that it doesn't exist. There is no known motive for the entire world to try to trick us. So in fact, the evidence we have suggest it does exist. Acceptance of it is an act of reason.
There's an important distinction here, though. When we accept the evidence from others, we must have reason to believe that they know the truth. In the case of Afghanistan, I mentioned bordering countries. But there are people who claim to have been there, or that lived there.
Other cases are fundamentally different. When someone claims to have supernatural knowledge, or the ability to gain knowledge in a way that you are unable to, their claims cannot be considered valid. If someone claims to be able to speak to their god, and tells you what god demands, you have no reason to accept it as true. In fact, it should be rejected. If he claims to have knowledge which you are incapable of achieving, his beliefs must be rejected. If one has to accept the knowledge of others, he must use reason in order to decide which others to listen to. Again, if there is no evidence or contrary evidence for accepting a person's beliefs, it is not an act of reason. It is an act of faith.
Faith is an act of mental destruction. If there is no evidence for a claim, then accepting it is irrational. It is more likely to be false than true (since there are more false ideas than true ones, being that there is only one reality). Building a structure of knowledge on such a flimsy foundation will leave it shaky and unstable. Eventually, even if confronted with evidence against it, one's mind will be so dependent on the belief that fear of one's world view collapsing will encourage one to reject the evidence. When this happens, one acts against reality. This is an act of destruction.
* See Internet Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands, co-authors of “ Importance of Philosoph”
(American philosopher, b.1956)
The truth or untruth of mystical experience ? A very important epistemological question about mystical practices is: how do we know that what we perceive in them is truthful or accurate? We may come up with any host of supporting evidences, but the fact remains that what one experiences individually in the privacy of meditation is circumscribed by that feature: it is a private, personal experience. The devoted mystic will say that his or her experiences are authentic (because of the utter certainty of the encounter) and the experiences of others, especially if they belong to a rival group are misguided, secondary, or illusory. So what we actually have in effect here in terms of truth claims is not essentially different than that of a fundamentalist.
The primary difference between a fundamentalist Christian and a mystically inclined person, especially when it comes to evaluating their ultimate truth claims is this: both think they have uncovered the truth. The former by the revealing "Word" of the Bible; the latter by the manifesting inner "Word" of the higher region.
The mystic is never calling into question or doubt his/her own truth claims. Why not? Because just like the fundamentalist he or she is not trained to severely doubt interior revelations of truth, primarily because they appear so real when they occur. Yet even here the person most vulnerable to deception is our self. Paradoxically, the most certain and overwhelming an inner experience appears to be the less likely we are to look for more mundane causations. In other words, the very topography of a mystical encounter tends to blind one from looking for alternative explanations for its originations.
To strike a sociological note, it becomes fairly apparent that culture plays a significant role in the ultimate interpretations of inner experiences. What at first glance appears to be a simple, sweet path to enlightenment, turns out to be on closer inspection a political contest over religious claims—claims that have been transformed by the cultural landscape of when and where they take place. We may wish that mysticism was devoid of culture, or personal bias, or religious prejudice, but it is almost wholly entrenched in it. Why? Because we never apprehend inner lights and sounds and beings divorced of their interpretative network. In other words, our socially conditioned minds are always flavoring, always transforming, always contextualizing whatever we perceive, whether those sights are inner or outer. And it is exactly when my experiences are personal and internal that I am most subject to error.
However the mystic may potentially be better off than the mere believer, who only reads but never actually engages in technical spiritual practices, because he or she gets firsthand experiences of alternate realms of consciousness not merely descriptions of them. But this does not mean that the mystic has experienced the "truth" in all its purity and that the mystic somehow "knows" the efficacy of other spiritual teachers or paths. No, what the mystic does in fact know is rather quite simple: a different state of consciousness which he or she interprets according to his/her cultural or religious background. On that score, mystics are on the right track; it is better to experiment than simply speculate.
*Lane, David Christopher (1994), Exposing cults : when the skeptical mind confronts the mystical, Garland reference library of social science; Religious information systems series, vol. 10., Garland Pub.
( American cosmologist, b.1952)
Any reasonable definition of "absolute truth" amounts to tautology
To perceive one and the same reality, human beings need a kind of "absolute knowledge" wired into their minds and nervous systems. The structure and physiology of their brains, nerves and sense organs provide them, at least in part, with elementary cognitive and perceptual categories and relationships in terms of which to apprehend the world. This "absolute" kind of knowledge is what compels the perceptions and logical inferences of any number of percipients to be mutually consistent, and to remain consistent over time and space. Without the absoluteness of such knowledge - without its universality and invariance - we could not share a common reality; our minds and senses would lie and bicker without respite, precipitating us into mental and sensory chaos.
Absolute knowledge is absolutely true, and absolute truth is the definitive predicate of absolute knowledge. That is, if something is known with absolute certainty, then it can be subjected to tests affirming its truth, while if something can be affirmatively tested for truth, then it is known with certainty by the tester. This applies whether the tests in question are perceptual or inferential. Where knowledge can denote either direct embodiment or internal modeling by an arbitrary system, and test denotes a straightforward systemic efficacy criterion, knower and tester can refer to reality at large. In this generalization, truth and knowledge are identical.
Given the fact that absolute knowledge is a requisite of our collective ability to sustain a perceptually consistent universe, it is nothing short of astonishing that there are people who react with incredulity or derision at any mention of its possible existence. Their attitude seems to be that the very idea smacks of "hubris”. The truth, however, is that hubris is nowhere more evident than among those holding irrational opinions in contempt of logic, and denying the existence of absolute knowledge is a case in point.
Has any kind of absolute knowledge ever been scientifically formulated? Yes, in the form of logical tautologies. A tautology is a sentential relation, i.e. a formula consisting of variables and logical connectives, with the property that it is true for all possible assignments of Boolean truth values (true or false) to its variables. From mathematics and physics to biology and psychology, logical tautologies reign supreme and inviolable.
* Langan Christopher Michael, The Art of Knowing, Mega Press 2002
(German Philosopher 1828-1875)
There is no truth to enlighten us about the essence of the world
In his History of Materialism, Lange holds that the materialists are quite right in declaring all phenomena, including our thinking, to be the product of purely material processes, but, conversely, matter and its processes are for him themselves the product of our thinking. He writes: “The senses give us only the effects of things, not true copies, much less the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves together with the brain and the molecular vibrations which we assume to go on there."
It is Lange's conviction that all scientific endeavour that does not limit itself to the evidence of the senses and the logical intellect that combines these elements of evidence must remain fruitless. That the senses and the intellect together, however, do not supply us with anything but a result of our own organization, he accepts as evidently following from his analysis of the origin of knowledge. The world is for him fundamentally a product of the fiction of our senses and of our intellects. Because of this opinion, he never asks the question of truth with regard to the ideas. A truth that could enlighten us about the essence of the world is impossible for Lange. He believes he has obtained an open road for the ideas and ideals that are formed by the human mind and that he has accomplished this through the very fact that he no longer feels the need of attributing any truth to the knowledge of the senses and the intellect. Without hesitation he considered everything that went beyond sensual observation and rational combination to be mere poetic fiction.
* Lange Friedrich, The History of Materialism and Criticism of Its Importance, London: Trübner & Company. 1877-1881
(Contemporary American writer for BahaiTeachings.org) No Faith is Final: the Unwarranted Religious Claims to Absolute Truth
A human view of truth, one that is dynamic and relational, enables religious people to embrace and affirm foundational truths without necessarily solidifying the words into static, absolute, propositional statements. Conversely, religious convictions that become locked into absolute truths can easily lead people to see themselves as God’s agents. People so emboldened are capable of violent and destructive behavior in the name of religion.
We’ve all seen this concept play out gruesomely in the modern world, as fundamentalist and overzealous “believers” wage war on each other, become terrorists who randomly kill innocent people and insist, through violence, intimidation and “holy war” that they are right and everyone else is wrong. This kind of divergence from the originally peaceful and loving teachings of faith can happen to any religion, and fundamentalist sects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have all fallen prey to such religious violence and terror. This horrible outcome of religious zealotry, prejudice and fanaticism, inevitably emerges from a claim to final and absolute truth.
Baha’is strongly believe in two basic verities that underpin the entire message of the Baha’i Faith — religious truth is not absolute but relative; and Divine Revelation is not final but progressive. In fact, the Baha’i writings carefully, consistently and repeatedly stress that no Faith is final.
Baha’u'llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, cautions people “of insight” not to allow their interpretations of the Holy Scriptures of past Faiths to prevent them from recognizing the newest Manifestation of God. The Baha’i teachings say that followers of each of the great Faiths have sometimes allowed their devotion to its founder to believe that they possess the final Word of God, and therefore to reject the possibility of the appearance of any subsequent Prophet. Repudiating the claim of any religion to be the final revelation of God to man, disclaiming finality for His own Revelation, Baha’u'llah inculcates the basic principle of the relativity of religious truth, the continuity of Divine Revelation, the progressiveness of religious experience.
See Internet David Langness
(Chinese philosopher, author of Tao Te Ching,, c.600 B.C.)
The question of truth is not explicitly treated by Laozi. However one can surmise that he would have agreed with a kind of correspondence theory of truth upheld by metaphysical realism.
The Tao, the Way is the “nameless”, it refers to the thing-in-itself reality. What is “named” refers to the use of language. For Laozi there is a reality beyond the description of human languages. The thing-in-itself cannot be spoken of: “The Way is for ever nameless. Only when it is cut are there names. As soon as there are names, one ought to know that it is time to stop.” (Tao-te-Ching, XXXII, 37) Still Laozi does not hesitate to use language and concepts to depict the Way. A good deal of the Tao-te-Ching is devoted to describe the Way. Laozi depicts the Way as being the origin of the universe, as well as its creator. Even sometimes he talks about the Way as the essence of the universe. In any case the Way exists prior to the introduction of human conception and language, it is therefore a nameless mind-independent reality.
Laozi accepts also the realist interpretation of the notion of truth, namely a correspondence relationship between human conception and reality-in-itself. He thinks that when our thought corresponds to the Way, then our thought is considered true. However the correspondence he thinks of has little to do with the propositional treatment of knowledge of metaphysical realists. For Laozi truth is not propositional, the correspondence he seeks is not a relation between our statements and the Way. It is a relation between our conduct and the Way. We can give a close-to-being-true description of the Way when our good behaviour meets the standard of the Way. Our descriptions are bound to be inadequate but they can be viewed as giving an approximation to how the world actually is. Moreover for Laozi there is only one true description of the way the world is, not many, even though our language can only give an approximation of truth. The descriptions Laozi gives of the Way are inadequate, they are nonetheless regarded as the only true description of the Way. “My words are very easy….but people are ignorant, hence they fail to understand me. Those who understand are few.”
* See The Daoist Conception of Truth: Laozi’s Metaphysical Realism, JeeLoo Liu, SUNNY College of Geneseo (Internet)
(Contemporary American homeschool blogger)
Christianity is exclusive: the only true religion
It is commonly considered “correct” to view all religions as having equal value. This is one meaning of the term "pluralism." I would like to explain why this is impossible for a believing Christian.
In the Bible, Jesus tells us: " I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well." (John 14:6-7) If the Bible is the inerrant Word of God revealed to us, and the Bible tells us that the only way to the Lord is through belief in Jesus, then it follows that no other religion – no other path to the Lord – can be legitimate. Therefore, it is not possible for a believing Christian to give equal credence to all religions, although our popular culture demands that we do so or else risk being considered “judgmental” or “intolerant”.
It is not “intolerant” to believe something is true, and other things are not true. It is a firmness and unwavering of belief. Tolerance does not mean giving equal credence to a variety of options, but rather allowing other options to exist unmolested. No Christian would suggest that believers of other religions should be destroyed. We are instructed to be beacons of light, leading others to Christ through sharing, caring, and love.
We, as believing Christians, are to offer the light of the Word as a beacon in the darkness for nonbelievers, touching our light to the wick of their souls until it finally bursts into the flame of Christ. We are not to be bulldozers destroying the faiths of others with words or actions. We are to allow them to come to Christ through our personal sparks.
We cannot give equal credence to other religions because to do so would be to deny the supremacy and sole authority of God. Christianity is an exclusive religion. It does not allow room for other beliefs.
Christianity also does not allow mutation. You cannot, as many people have tried, transmute Christianity into what you wish for it to be. It may sound nice to say Christianity is an all-inclusive religion, but this not true.
Although it is not popular to say one set of beliefs is correct and others are incorrect, for a believing Christian that is the truth. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the light, and there is no other way to the Lord. To accept all religions as having equal validity is to deny the basic tenets of Christianity.
* See Internet LAPAN Kathy
(French sociological theorist, b.1947)
Latour is concerned with the process of creation of scientific facts and technological artefacts – not on the results. He studies science-in-the-making instead of ready-made-science. For him this is a more accurate way of studying science: putting cause and effect in the right order: a fact is not a fact because nature says it so, but our construction of facts brings about our understanding of science.
Within the traditional model of scientific realism, concepts are said to be discovered rather than created. Mainstream studies of science and technology assume that a scientist discovers facts that are there in the natural world. Contrary to this view, Latour advances the notion that the objects of scientific study are socially constructed within the laboratory - that they cannot be attributed with an existence outside of the instruments that measure them and the minds that interpret them. In that sense Latour is a “constructivist”, still he reproves “strong” social constructivism for giving special preference to social elements, such as social groups and interpretation processes, on which its explanations are based, whereas natural or technical elements, such as natural forces and technical devices are prohibited from being explanatory elements in explanations.
Latour contrives what he calls the “actor-network theory”. Actor-network theory does not accept the argument that concepts are capable of mirroring reality but it rejects also the postmodern assertion that all truth claims are of textual and exclusive linguistic origin. Actor-network theory looks at the ways in which concepts are crafted and spread; the means through which some statements become more encompassing than others; and, finally, the ways in which some claims are made to be truer than others. In other words, actor-network theory is concerned with the practices which make some claims larger, stronger, and more resilient than others.
For the actor-network theory any statement about the world begins as a fragile assertion made by an individual or a small group. In order for a fragile assertion to become accepted truth, it must enroll enough allies and enlist sufficient resources to establish a strong and encompassing construction.
Latour models the processes of discovery and invention as the creation of black boxes. As soon as many people accept a new theory or a new machine, it works, and it becomes a ‘black box’. People accept it and use this black box for their own theories and machines. So facts are true because people accept them – and not the other way around. The outcome of this process is determined within an actor-network in which actors influence each other, try to find allies and create bonds between one another. In Latour’s model these actors can be human or non-human. Human actors are the scientists, engineers, financiers, etc. Non–human actors are machines, instruments, experimental tests, etc.
The forces in such an actor-network determine whether a fact becomes true or false, or whether an invention becomes successful or not. If the bonds are strong, the theory or machine is accepted and becomes a black box. Strong statements succeed in becoming a“matter of fact” which every one takes for truth. What began as a fragile, local, soft, and subjective statement has now been transformed by objectifying practices and network formation into a resilient and universal truth.
* Latour, Bruno, Science in Action, Harvard University press, 1987
(American philosopher of science and epistemologist, b.1941)
Pessimistic induction: science is unable to achieve truth-like theories
Many think that our knowledge has progressed because we have rejected false beliefs in the past and replaced them with true beliefs. However it is possible to draw a very different conclusion from this history of human knowledge. The philosopher of science, Larry Laudan, has turned this idea into an argument for skepticism about scientific knowledge. He calls it the “pessimistic induction.”
Inductive reasoning is reasoning from past experience to the future, something that is done all the time. Laudan’s inductive argument is that because all of our claims to knowledge in the past have turned out to be false, we should draw the conclusion that our current claims to knowledge are also false. He thinks that the lesson from history shows that it is neither possible for us to have knowledge, nor that there is progress.
He claims to have shown not merely that successful empirical theories, almost inevitably, turn out to be false but that this is frequently so because such theories contain terms which do not refer to real entities, structures or processes. What basis, he argues, can we have for faith in explanatory soundness if it is perfectly possible that the explanatory entities involved do not actually exist?
Laudan rejects the view of scientific realism, which points to the success of scientific theories in predicting and explaining a variety of phenomena in order to argue that from this we can infer that our best scientific theories provide true descriptions of the world, or approximately so.
Laudan argues that if false theories can be empirically successful, then the realist’s truth-based explanation of success is a non-starter and the explanationist defense of realism comes unglued. Furthermore, if past successful theories are false, it is likely that currently successful theories are false; indeed wholly false—not even approximately true—because in all probability the entities to which they refer do not exist, just as in the past cases. This ‘pessimistic induction’ from past cases of successful-but-false theories to the status of current theory, bodes ill for explanationist realism. It undermines not just the realists’ view that currently successful theories are approximately true, but their view that the greater success of current theories shows that they are more truth-like than their less successful predecessors. On Laudan’s reading, the history of science exhibits a series of more or less successful but false theories with little continuity or cumulatively in their ontological commitments and truth-content. From this relentlessly anti-realist perspective, true theories, or ever more truth-like theories, are simply not something science can achieve.
According to Lausan antirealism has a perfectly plausible explanation of scientific success: it is what scientific theories have been selected for. Scientific theories are evaluated by their success in making predictions, enabling us to control nature, etc. We dump less successful theories in favor of more successful ones. In any case we have no reason to believe the Realist's claim that our currently successful theories are true or approximately true.
* Laudan, Larry. "A Confutation of Convergent Realism." Philosophy of Science Vol. 48, No. 1, 1949. Science and Relativism: Dialogues on the Philosophy of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 173pp.
(Contemporary American Baptist minister)
Truth is the final arbitrator on any subject. It is the final judge of every life.
What is truth? It is defined as that which conforms with fact or reality. It is genuineness, veracity, or actuality. In a word, truth is reality. It is how things actually are. Theologically, truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Truth is the self-disclosure of God Himself. It is what it is because God declares it so and made it so. All truth must be defined in terms of God, whose very nature is truth.
First, truth is divine. Ultimately, all truth is God’s truth. Truth is from above. It is not of this world. Truth can be known only by divine revelation.
Second, truth is absolute. Without God, there cannot be any absolutes. Without absolutes, there can be no objective, universal truths. Without absolutes, truth becomes subjective, relative, and pragmatic. Without absolutes, truth gives way to mere personal or cultural preferences. But to the contrary, all truth is absolute because God is absolute truth. Truth is exclusive, not inclusive. Truth is discriminating as it excludes what is not true. Truth is incompatible with and intolerant of all error
Third, truth is singular. That is to say, truth is a single entity. It does not exist in bits and pieces of unrelated ideas or disconnected data.. Because truth is one body of truth, it is always internally consistent. It never contradicts itself. Truth always speaks with one voice and is always in perfect agreement with itself. Truth presents a singular worldview. It presents one origin for the universe, one problem of the human race, one way of salvation, one way of holiness.
Fourth, truth is objective. This means that truth is not subjective. It is not discovered by personal feelings nor determined by private intuitions. Instead, truth is propositional. It is conveyed in narrowly defined words that have rational definitions and is stated in precise terms that communicate real meaning. Because truth is objective, it is impartial, unbiased, unprejudiced, and non-partisan. It speaks to all people in all places the same.
Fifth, truth is immutable. God does not change and neither does His truth, which cannot be true today but not true tomorrow. Truth is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Right is always right and wrong is forever wrong. The world changes. Kingdoms rise and fall. But truth remains unchanging.
Sixth, truth is authoritative. Truth does not stammer or stutter. It speaks with the supreme authority of God Himself. It always makes demands upon us and never offers mere suggestions. It never presents just one more option to consider. It is never intended to be simply interesting. It never speaks to tickle our curiosity. Instead, truth speaks with the voice of sovereignty..
Truth has the final word in all matters, telling us how to worship and how to walk. It is the final arbitrator on any subject. It is the final judge of every life. All people are measured by the truth. Every life is weighed in the balances by the truth. Every destiny is marked by the truth. And so the truth will have the final say in every life.
*Lawson Steven, What is truth ? From tabletalk, | September 2010, see Internet
(French social psychologist and sociologist, 1841-1931)
People can easily live without truth but cannot live without certitude.
From the confusion between truth and certitude the greatest conflicts of history have been born. People can easily live without truth but they cannot live without certitude. The simple certitude is a belief, truth is knowledge. Unfortunately the fact is that the man deprived of certitude would be like a boat without a rudder, a machine without an engine. Truth for the great majority of people being what they believe, it is above all with beliefs that one must govern the people.
Not able to live without certitude, man always prefers the less defensible beliefs to the most justified negations. One rarely finds some one ready to expose his life for a rational truth, but there are thousands ready to be killed for a belief. Belief, being neither rational nor voluntary, none of the absurdities it teaches would be able to do harm to its propagation. The absurd and the impossible have never prevented a sufficiently strong belief to provoke action.
Contrary to democratic ideas, psychology teaches us that the collective entity, called the crowd, is much inferior to the individual person. All illusions are easily accepted by the crowd and from the fact that they become collective illusions they acquire the force of truth. Illusion creates quickly certitude. Illusory or real, certitudes produce action. Once they reach a certain degree, mystical, religious and political beliefs become irreversibly destructive. In politics and in religion, the dream of the convinced has always been to massacre without pity those who do not think as they do.
One of the strength of the convinced believer is not to discuss the rational value of his beliefs. Scientific truths are universal truths. Religious and political certitudes taken for truths are usually transitory convictions issued from passions and feelings that have nothing rational in support of them. In scientific matters, to be believed one must give proofs. In politics, the speech of a skillful orator is enough to create imaginary certitudes.
When a question raises violently opposed opinions, one can be sure that it belongs to the domain of belief and not of knowledge. Intolerance is the necessary companion of strong convictions.
* Le Bon Gustave, La psychologie des foules. 1895; English translation The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, 1896
(French biologist and philosopher of science , 1869-1917)
The absolute value of science : the only truth
For Le Dantec, science has an absolute value and science only. That is why he professes to adhere to “scientism”. For the kind of scientism he adopts, science is supposed to be “absolute” and impersonal, excluding all relativism, and able to solve all human problems without exception.
Le Dantec is an admirer of Renan’s l’Avenir de la science in which he finds the description of the “age of science”, an age “ which will necessarily coincide with the religious age, insofar as having access to a more perfect state, science will be the all comprehensive understanding of human nature and thereby will bring a definitive answer to the problems which religions had vainly tried to solve”. Renan’s dream became Le Dantec’s creed when he writes: “I believe in the future of science and I believe that science alone will solve all the questions that have meaning” For Le Dantec science created by man, can study the whole man.
He does not hesitate to affirm that for him “The word philosophy should not have in the XX c. any other definition that the one of science. It is no longer possible to accord the least credit to the eloquent sophists who constructed incoherent systems on formulas full of obscurities. Outside science, one cannot hope to build any edifice that has any chance to last.”
* See Moreau (Jacques), L'œuvre de Félix Le Dantec ,125 p., Paris, Larousse, 1917
(Russian philosopher, b.1959)
The coherence theory of truth does not involve rejection of realism.
Though the correspondence theory of truth does involve realism, the coherence theory of truth does not involve rejection of realism. Coherentism does not intersect with realist/anti-realist controversy: it just induces another domain of analysis.
The question relevant to whether or not one is a correspondence theorist of truth is one's analysis of the relation between the bearer of truth value and the relevant feature of the world that determines truth. This obviously goes together with the realist approach.
This is not the case with the coherence theory of truth. The only relevant question is the analysis of truth, and so possible ontological commitments one might wish to impute to coherentists are irrelevant unless they are an essential part of that analysis (even though some coherentists or anti-realists might also have odd ontologies).
Correspondentists might argue — and they do — that the coherence theory is not a theory of truth at all ; they hence proceed from an assumption that they know what truth is, i.e. they have a definition of truth. And of course, they know what truth is: it is correspondence to facts. Indeed, the coherence theory of truth is not a theory of correspondence to facts. But coherentists never said it is.
The realist/anti-realist controversy does not conclude about the existence of an external world, since both realists and anti-realists can agree that in a way it exists. The question is whether general types and categories are "figments of the mind" or are "real", i.e. belong to this external world. Accordingly, one is not a coherence theorist of truth just because one holds that there are no truths without minds and their representations The realist conception of truth acknowledges that truth presupposes representation, and representation presupposes minds. The fact that minds are necessary for truth, then, does not entail anti-realism, and neither does a coherence theory of truth.
* See Internet Maxim Lebedev
(French spiritual author, 1900-1990)
Ideologies are the enemies of truth
1. An ideology is a system of thought that attributes significance to the totality of which the individual is a member. It is the the fruit of cerebral systematisation, never the fruit of personal experience. It is the product of age-old traditions mixed up with fabulating imagination. Imposed from the outside, it sterilizes human potentials. It suspects all human values when they are not at the service of the ideological goal. People enslaved by an ideology become sectarian ‘in the name of truth’.
2. However a certain amount of “ideology” is necessary at the start of human life when the immature individual is in need of guidance. It is beneficial but only for a time. Soon the mature person resents the presence of the tyrannical ideology. There is a critical phase in every human life when all past certainties are put in question. The hitherto accepted ideology becomes all of a sudden a stranger to the individual’s essential requirements. There occurs the clear perception of the failure of the old ‘paradigm’ to answer the vital questions of existence. This is the critical as well as the disturbing and painful moment for the fundamental option of the mature person. It puts an end to all his uncritically accepted beliefs of the past. The ideology on which he had built his life crumbles down and he is now left alone in search of the truth of life. He readily abandons all abstract, grandiloquent and pretentious but ambiguous projects in favour of simple, humble relationship with reality and the world of concrete persons. In the absence of all ideologies he becomes a derelict but this inner poverty prepares him for the obscure discovery of the absolute truth within himself : God.
* Légaut, Marcel, L’Homme â la recherche de son Humanité, Paris, Aubier, 1971, Chap.7
(German philosopher, 1646-1716)
1. Leibniz classified the truth into two kinds: first, the truth that can be found logically through reason, and second, the truth that can be obtained through experience. He labelled the former as eternal and necessary truths, or truths of reason, and the latter as truths of fact, or contingent truths. - Necessary truths are those obtained by reason without any consideration of real existence. They are self-evident truths, the a priori rational truths (of logic and mathematics, for instance) not the a posteriori empirical and factual truths. Because these truths are necessary their opposite is impossible. The knowledge of necessary truths is expressed in what we call ‘analytic’ judgements in which the predicates are logically included in the subjects. He held that what guarantees truths of reason is the principle of identity and the principle of contradiction - Contingent truths are those obtained by recourse to facts and experience. They are the truths of existence, expressed in judgements of existence. Because these truths are contingent their contrary is possible. According to Leibniz contingent truths are based on the principle of sufficient reason. Nothing that exists and nothing that happens can be without sufficient reason, that is, without a determining reason which allows to explain why things came that way rather than another. Still this does not mean that we, human beings, are capable to find the reason and the cause of all that is and occurs. That is why for us these truths are called contingent truths. 2. However contingent truths are not contingent for God who knows and wills everything that exists. The divine sufficient reason has determined him to create the world as it is, and that means, for Leibniz, the best possible world. God knows a priori from all eternity the contingent truths that are contingent only for human beings who discover them a posteriori by experience. The sufficient reason for things to happen as they do is unknown to human minds but known to God who has a full understanding of the world he has created as the best possible. This means that when the sufficient reasons of all that exist and occur are known – as is the case for the divine knowledge – the distinction between necessary truth and contingent truth becomes irrelevant. God alone has a full understanding of the subject so that for him there are no contingent truths. Thus the view held by Leibniz is that contingent truths are linked to the imperfection of the human mind. Strictly speaking contingent truths are necessary truths in which necessity is not perceived on account of the finitude of human knowledge. This shows that for Leibniz the essence of truth is identity and that all true propositions are necessary. The difference between necessary and contingent truth is essentially related to the imperfection of human knowledge, not to knowledge as such. The human mind, owing to its limited and finite character, is able to know that necessary propositions are necessary but is ignorant of the necessary foundation of contingent propositions. Leibniz upholds the rationalist view that ultimately the truth of all propositions is founded on identity and necessity and the truth of reason is the ideal truth.
* See Campbell Richard, Truth and Historicity, Clarendom Press, Oxford, 1992, p. 222-240
(Contemporary American author)
My truth versus The truth.
I have been thinking quite a bit the last few days, about what it means to tell the truth. Although I pride myself on being a truthful person, and I am reaping the benefits of being truthful in my life, I have been more savvy about discerning the various types of truth there may be in my life.
First type of truth, is MY truth. My truth means, that the story feels and seems real, based on what my perception is. Or, based on what I want to see happen, or what my expectation is for the outcome.
Hence, my truth is not always THE TRUTH. My truth now, however, is a bit more evolved. Although my Ego loves to jump in and impulsively blame others for why my life isn’t going so smoothly at times, I tend to tell my truth less often about others. Now, my truth is about what is accurate, right and fair for me. This can also be tricky, however. For, in speaking up for what my truth is, meaning, what is true for me only, it can sound a bit self centered. Me, me, me. However, that is not the intention. The intention is merely to speak from my own point of view, without assuming the point of view of others, nor expecting others to feel the same.
The truth, meaning a general concept of fact that can apply to more than one person, is what I am opening my eyes to more often lately. In the past, the only truth that I was willing to embrace was my own. I often did not take into account, that the world could exist very sufficiently, based on principles other than my own. I had to face up to the fact that other people can offer thoughts about life that are accurate and profound and that could even work for me.
The fine line that I get to walk now is discerning between what the real truth is; at the same time that I am owning my truth. So, being honest in my intention and words, when speaking for myself, yet also having the wisdom to see the full truth about any life situation.
I am forever learning, growing, and changing as I progress in this life. The beauty of that is, that I don’t ever have to remain stagnant, I get to keep expanding every moment that I allow the lessons to come to me. The more that I expand, and the more truth that I embrace, the more free I get to be.
*See Internet Vanessa Leigh
(Russian Marxist theoretician, 1870-1924)
The objective truth is given to us in our sensations and the philosophical concept that expresses it is the concept of matter. Matter is the name that designates the objective reality given to man in his sensations and which exists independently from him. This is the truth of materialism opposed to the idealist viewpoint which does not recognize the objective reality behind the sensations. The source of human knowlegde is matter which makes knowledge to be true knowledge.
Thus matter, for Lenin, is not a construct from sensations but an objective reality independent of consciousness. Our sensations directly copy this reality and therefore objective truth is possible. However historical conditions impose limits to the knowledge of this absolute truth. It is through praxis that knowledge is able to come nearer to the truth. The concept of matter worked out throughout the history of the sciences is not the absolute truth; rather it is the philosophical category of matter which is the absolute truth because it designates the objective reality that exists independently of human conscience. All that the sciences know of matter are only approximations, relative to the conditions of the knowledge of the time. This is not relativism, because it is always the same objective reality that progressive scientific knowledge endeavours to understand by practice and experimentation.
* Lenin, Matérialism et Empiriocriticism, Oeuvres, Paris, Editions Sociales, t.14, p.132-133
LENOIR Frédéric (French philosopher and sociologist, b. 1962)
Two different concepts of truth: Buddhist and Christian
Both Buddhism and Christianity emphasize the necessity to discern between what is true and what is false. Christians feel themselves depositories of the ultimate truth. They attribute to the truth of their message an absolute, transhistorical and immutable character. On the contrary Buddhists do not pretend to be the depositories of a divine truth; they establish a subtle distinction between absolute truth and relative truth. They admit that if the absolute truth exists, it is not accessible in concepts or words. In other words as long as one has not reached the great Awakening, as long as one is limited by one’s mental categories, one can acknowledge nothing more than relative truths. Such a view, which paradoxically explains the success of Buddhism in the West, necessarily leads to a much more peaceful missionary attitude as well as to a certain pluralist conception of religions, different from the exclusivist or inclusivist comprehension of Christianity. This is the reason why the Dalai Lama never ceases to tell Westerners that they must not change their religion and be converted to Buddhism. In contrast, the Christians feel depositaries of an ultimate universal truth revealed by Jesus Christ, that they are bound to transmit to all human beings. That is why the Pope holds a view totally different than the Dalai Lama in encouraging the Christian missions in Buddhist and other non-Christian lands.
* Lenoir Frédéric, La Rencontre du bouddhisme et de l'occident, essai, Albin Michel, 2001
(French philosopher, 1814-1862)
The first truth is “ to affirm freedom freely”
Lequier is in search for a first truth and he finds it in freedom. Man must have the ability to attain truth as well as falsehood: this must underlie the quest for truth, and freedom is thus a condition of the possibility of knowing truth as well as of being mistaken. But then freedom is faced with a "double dilemma." Either causal necessity or freedom is a fundamental truth, and each doctrine must be asserted either necessarily or freely. If necessity is the true doctrine, my affirmation thereof is eo ipso necessary, but since neither doubt nor belief relative to evidence would function in that determination, doubt results. If necessity is true but I affirm freedom, then in addition to my inconsistency (for my affirmation is made necessarily), there is only a subjective foundation for knowledge and morality. Given the truth of determinism, erroneous as well as true judgments are necessary, and any supposed distinction between them is illusory. According to the hypothesis of freedom, if I freely affirm global necessity I am fundamentally inconsistent. Finally, if I affirm freedom under the same hypothesis, not only is my affirmation consistent with the hypothesis but I have a foundation for knowledge and morality. Under the double dilemma, the only satisfactory alternative is freely to affirm freedom—this is Lequier's "first truth." Freedom is essentially the power to add some novel reality to the existing world. Causality must be explained through freedom and not vice versa.
But then, in extending these doctrines to theology, and taking as axiomatic the concept that freedom, responsibility, and moral and religious values depend upon choice-decisions, Lequier holds that an omniscient God does not know future contingents, since, in relation to any divine experience, they are not yet existent. To be knowable is to be determinate, and if all were known "from eternity," then all would be eternally determinate, and time and choice-making would be illusions. Far from viewing divine power as absolute total control, Lequier insists that the only power worthy of God is the far greater one of creating self-creators. It is not religiously desirable to affirm that God be wholly immutable and eternal. Lequier's theology is thus that of an eternal-temporal being, his omniscience and omnipotence being relative to the irreducible contingency and self-creativity in the world.
* Lequier Jules, La recherche d'une première vérité, Paris, 1865
(French mathematician and philosopher, 1870-1954)
The immanence of truth
The “truth” of religious dogmas
The “immanentism” that Le Roy favours denies the capacity of reason to reach beyond the order of phenomena. His favourite principle is “ Un au-delà de la pensée est impensable” i.e. “What is beyond thought is unthinkable”.
When dealing with the problem of God’s existence, he holds that God is not the object of scientific or philosophical knowledge but of experience. God’s revelation – if at all – can only be produced within the human conscience. If God can be known, it is only by experience. As experimentation is impossible, the God-experience has to be immanent, implied in the practice of life. It is the religious need and the human anxiety that give assurance that God exists. There is no proof of God but faith in him. If God exists, it is because he corresponds to the requirements of the subconscious.
Le Roy extends the doctrine of “immanentism” to the field of religious dogmas. He introduces the distinction between “constituted” revelation and the “experience” of revelation. The former refers to the religious scriptures, doctrines and traditions, necessarily linked to historical contingencies of time, mentality and context. The latter, the “experience” of revelation, is found in the depth of man’s conscience, being perceived by his spiritual intelligence and inner intuition. Such an experience is possible only on the basis of an inner predisposition. For Le Roy a revelation that comes to us from the outside - as is the case with “constituted” revelation – is heterogeneous to our being, spiritually unassimilable and therefore meaningless.
It follows that an intellectualist interpretation of religious dogmas must be rejected. Le Roy suggests that a dogma is to be understood in two senses. First, it has a negative sense: it safeguards against possible errors, without defining any positive truth. Second, a dogma is prescriptive: it is a rule of “practical conduct”. It does not demand any intellectual assent to something but enjoins to act in a certain way. Thus Le Roy proposes a practical interpretation of dogma. He is a pragmatist for whom discursive reasoning never gives a true picture of reality, but only an abstract scheme which we find useful for some of our practical purposes. He brings religion into close connection with moral action. The dogmatic formulations of religious belief are only symbols of the needs and aspirations of the moral life.
* Le Roy, Edouard, Le problème de Dieu, Paris, 1907; Dogme et Critique, Paris 1907
(German philosopher of the Enlightenment, 1729-1781)
1. According to Lessing, there is a gulf between historical probabilities and the demonstrable truths of reason. No historical proposition can have more than a problematic certainty. No historical truth can be demonstrated. This is Lessing’s attack against the kind of historical defence of Christian doctrines that the theologians of his day were making use of. His famous dictum was :”Accidental truths of history can never become the proofs of necessary proofs of reason”. Testimony about the past is not important history, not leading to truth but only probability and therefore irrelevant. Historical evidence is not enough upon which to rest rational beliefs. To ground "metaphysic and moral ideas" on "historical truth" is to move from one class of truths to another and that is something that one should not be prepared to do. Lessing supported the principle of analogy by which only those events in the past which are reproducible for the individual in the present should be considered as plausible. He saw the past separated by a great gulf across which nothing could be transferred. Human witnessing alone is insufficient evidence for past events which cannot now be experienced. That is, an event of the past which has no analogy in the present can only be regarded as extremely improbable. Not only don't we have access to a complete set of facts upon which to base absolute conclusions, but what we call history is a subjective interpretation of those facts rather than an objective description of "what really happened".
“Important” history is understood by Lessing as “my own historical existence”, my personal experience of the Christian message. There lies the truth of religion and not in the “historical” proofs of the theologians. Historical truths that deeply affect the life of the person cease to be merely ‘accidental’ but become necessary for him. In other words the ‘historical’ truths of revelation can become real truth only if they are personally interiorized and assimilated. It is not as historical truth but through experience that the historical element in Christianity can assume the power of “proofs”. If the so-called historical truths do not speak to the heart of present-day man, they are no truths at all. Religion is not true because Prophets and Apostles taught it, but they taught it because it is true. The tradition handed down to the posterity in writing must be explicable by the inner truth it must contain. “What does it matter to me whether the legend is false or true. The fruits are excellent”, wrote Lessing.
2. According to Lessing‘s the so-called possession of the truth must be replaced by a search for truth through public debate. He writes: “It is not the truth that a man possesses, or believes that he possesses, but the earnest effort which he puts forth to reach the truth, which constitutes the worth of a man. For it is not by the possession, but by the search of truth that he enlarges his power, wherein alone consists his ever-increasing perfection. Possession makes one content, indolent, proud... If God held all truth in his right hand and in his left the everlasting striving for truth, …. and said to me : “ Choose”, with humility I would pick on the left hand and say : ” Father, grant me that. Absolute truth is for Thee alone”.
* Lessing, G.E. Theological writings, , III,34 , quoted in Campbell, Richard, op. cit. , p. 269-272; see Barth, Karl, Protestant Thought, Clarion Book, Simon & Schuster, N.Y., 1959, p. 118-149
(Lithuanian-born French philosopher, 1906-1995)
1. The principal concern of Levinas’ philosophy is the ethical question of how the self meets the Other, whether human or divine. The Other belongs to a region beyond the horizon of the self. Other selves, other subjects exist out in the exterior. But knowledge is limited to the interior of conscious life. There is in knowledge an impossibility to get out of the self. Ideas are always my ideas and subjective interpretations. Ideas for Levinas are not representations of an “other” reality, they are the product of human cognition in the act of understanding. They get their truth value by how well they fit within an already familiar system of references. To know is to assimilate, swallow, possess, make what was other part of the self. Knowledge makes equal what is new; it is a denial of differences, a reduction of the foreign to the familiar, a reduction of Truth to one’s own truth. Knowledge has often been taken as the being all and end of human existence, beginning with the Greeks who were the first to define the “real and true” world as the known or knowable world.
2. But the fact is that “Others” exist. The Other stands before us beyond knowledge and the rational order. For the one who reduces everything to theoretical relationships, the Other does not exist. The Other is present to consciousness in what Levinas calls the ‘face to face situation’. The face of the Other resists my power to assimilate him/her into knowledge, it resists possession. Personal responsibility is born of this situation which reveals the fundamental ethical dimension of human existence. The Other intrudes upon the rational order and interrupts my project of possessing the world. The order of rational truths, the domain of the familiar or the ‘Same’, is deeply shaken up by the intrusion of the Other, the stranger. My truth clashes with his truth.
Our modern society is a world in which people find themselves side by side rather than face to face. Society, through the use of media and other technological forces, spread news as universal truth, the truth from a “global” perspective. Levinas’ view of sociality is radically opposed to the concept of a society in which truth is one and the same for all because individuals are the same. Society, for Levinas, is not a collection of anonymous beings but an extension of the interpersonal, the community of humans in a face to face situation.
3. Levinas emphasizes the radical opposition between two models of society, between ‘totality’ and ‘infinity’. In the first , the main concern is allegiance to the State, the civil order, a metaphysical abstraction that has taken on a life of its own and is characterised by its adherence to abstract truth and a rational order imposed on the individuals. In this society the Other has been handed over to be murdered by a society of anonymous individuals, each of whom is freed from the perspective of responsible relationship. The entry into this blind, social order, the domain of abstract truth, defaces the Other or simply ignores him/her. Levinas vigorously denounces all neutral and impersonal element that would destroy the human person: all idols and totalitarianism of the Hegelian type, the Machiavelic State, the unity of a truth imposed by violence.
To the impersonal totality of being reduced to “the Same”, Levinas opposes the irreducible otherness of the human Other. He pleads for pluralism, diversity and the respect of differences. The face to face situation with the Other urges philosophy to transcends the horizon of comprehension and the search for the abstract truth in knowledge. The fact of the Other’s existence reveals that philosophy is more than the desire for theoretical truth: it is the wisdom of interpersonal love.
Levinas’ concern is that we have enclosed ourselves in a world of "immanence". We have reduced everything to our being-in-the-world. Sociologists tell us that our truths are the products of our own social constructions of reality. Psychologists remind us that many of our truths are projections of our own inner desires. Heidegger claims that all our knowing reflects the ontological condition of being-in-the-world. All this, for Levinas, speaks of an ‘immanent’ truth, which only serves to dull the voice of the truth that comes from outside, from somewhere beyond being. We no longer know how to speak of transcendence, the voice of otherness, the desire of infinity. the revelation of the Other who is the truth “from outside”, not the truth immanent to our being-in-the-world.
* Levinas Emmanuel, Totality and Infinity, an Essay on Exteriority, Pittsburg, Duquesne University Press, 1969
(English literary critic and Christian apologist, 1898-1963)
For Lewis the human intellect is incurably abstract. Yet the only realities we experience are concrete - this pain, this pleasure, this person. While we are bearing the pain and enjoying the pleasure, we are not intellectually apprehending pleasure or pain . When we begin to do so, on the other hand, the concrete realities sink to the level of mere instances or examples: we are no longer dealing with them, but with that which they exemplify. This is Lewis' basic dilemma - either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste -or, more strictly, to lack one kind of knowledge because we are outside it. As thinkers we are cut off from what we think about; as tasting, touching, willing, living, hating, we do not clearly understand. The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off: the more deeply we enter into reality, the less we can think.
According to Lewis, the solution of this tragic dilemma is found in the use of myths. In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction. The power of the myth lays in its appeal to the imagination, rather than to reason. Still Lewis does not put forward the imagination as the organ of truth, but as the organ of meaning, and meaning for him is the antecedent condition of both of truth and falsehood. He calls himself a rationalist. For him, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.
What the mind apprehends and labels "truth" is merely an abstraction, something removed from its subject. Truth is a description of a thing, not the thing itself. Myth is not, like truth, abstract; nor is it, like direct experience, bound to the particular. A myth is a story that is an imaginative expression of the deepest meanings of life - meanings that are illusive when one attempts to express them. Through myths we are not knowing, but tasting; but what the tasting turns out to be a universal principle. The moment we 'state' this principle, we are admittedly back in the world of abstraction. It is only while receiving the myth as a story that we experience the principle concretely. "When we translate we get abstraction - or rather, dozens of abstractions. What flows into us from the myth is not truth but reality (truth is always 'about' something, but reality is that 'about which' truth is), and , therefore, every myth become the father of innumerable truths on the abstract level. Myth is the mountain whence all the different streams arise which become truths down here in the valley.
*C.S. Lewis and the truth of myth, Freshwater ,Mark Edwards, Lanman Publisher, Unniversity Press of America, 1988
Lewis explains that there are three elements in knowledge, or three phases of the relation of mind to the objects of thought.
1. First, there is the kind of knowledge which we have in abstract mathematics, and the kind of truth which concerns purely logical implications. There is this type of truth for all concepts so far as they are precise and clear. Our knowledge of such truth possesses certainty and finality because it requires only clarity of thought and is entirely independent of experience. This is a priori truth, which is deduced purely from the conceptual element in experience abstracted from any particular application to experience.
2. The second phase of the mind's relation to its objects is the element of the purely given in experience. Of this by itself, there is not truth or knowledge in the ordinary sense. It is not knowledge in the usual meaning of that term, because it is ineffable; because there is nothing in such direct apprehension which calls for verification; because by itself it has no reference to action.
3. The third element or phase - the element which distinguishes our knowledge of the external world - is the active interpretation which unites the concept and the given. It is such interpretation alone which needs to be verified, or can be verified, and the function of it is essentially practical. Truth here is not fixed, because interpretation is not fixed, but is left for trial and error to determine. The criteria of its success are accommodation to our bent and service of our interests. More adequate or simpler interpretation will mean practically truer. Old truth will pass away when old concepts are abandoned. New truth arises when new interpretations are adopted.
The pragmatic view that "truth can change" does not imply what is "given" changes, but that under different conceptual interpretations different beliefs will be regarded as true. At just this point, however, we may easily fall into misapprehension.
Most of the paradoxes and many of the difficulties of the pragmatic point of view cluster about this notion that the truth can change. What is it that is new in such a case? The given, brute-fact experience which sets the problem of interpretation is not new. What is new is the application of the concept, or system of concepts, to experience of just this sort. The concepts are newly chosen for interpretation of the given data.
Of course, to some extent, as human experience grows, often the "given" does change; we continuously have to deal with new observational data. Change does not take place without the added spur of newly discovered phenomena which complicate the problem of interpretation.
Thus on the one side, we have the abstract concepts themselves, with their logical implications. The truth about these is absolute, and knowledge of them is a priori. On the other side, there is the absolute datum of the given. But it is between these two, in the determination of those concepts which the mind brings to experience as the instruments of its interpretation, that a large part of the problem of fixing the truths of science and our common-sense knowledge has its place. Wherever such criteria as comprehensiveness and simplicity, or serviceability for the control of nature, or conformity to human bent and human ways of acting play their part in the determination of such conceptual instruments, there is a pragmatic element in knowledge.
In brief: Lewis argues that if truth is defined by what we experience, and what we experience is a function of the conceptual scheme by which we order the given of sensory perception, the "truth" will be relative to conceptual scheme, which is itself justified only pragmatically, never finally, by appeal to some allegedly necessary and universal foundation.
* See E. M. Adams, The Philosophy of C. I. Lewis, ed. Paul A. Schilpp (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1968)
(American once “imperator” of the Rosicrucian organization, 1904 - 1987)
The Rosicrucian teachings on what Truth Is: the “Cosmic Truth”
The Rosicrucians recognize one outstanding thing, and that is that certain things or conditions are absolute truths, never decreasing in their value as such, but remaining absolutely reliable and dependable. As Rosicrucians we know also that certain principles are truths, but at the same time we know that these truths do change in a certain way, do alter. They do not, however, in the change, lose their original value. These truths alter with our ever-evolving understanding of Cosmic principles. With further knowledge, our understanding of certain truths changes, step by step, in relation to our previous knowledge, but divine truths lose their value at no time; they always become more understandable. Divine truth is always proved to us as such by the very evident falsity of contradictory statements, and it differs in this essential thing from truths of the mundane world. The Rosicrucians divide truths into those of the objective plane and those of the spiritual or divine plane.
On the objective plane in the material world, truth is but shapeless clay in the moulding power of our objective reasonings. In understanding this, we realize that we must not be positive in affirming that certain results of our objective reasoning are absolute truths, unchangeable, since as we increase our state of objective knowledge, we are bound to alter our judgment and thus affect the truths originally accepted. Our science of today is an example of this. That which was accepted yesterday as truth, is today rejected in lieu of more presentable hypotheses. We must be most willing to discard it when our future experiences show its falsity.
On the other hand the truths which never alter as truths but which constantly add to their splendor, are those which are Divine, and which are not received through the objective mind, but through the psychic self. The glorious virtue of Cosmic truth lies in the fact that as we grow in Cosmic understanding, we prove rather than disprove them. This truth comes to us, not through sense perception, but through meditation and revelation. When we are inspired with an ideal from within, that ideal is a Cosmic truth.
As we go about manifesting it and making it applicable to our affairs, we confirm and prove it to ourselves; thus it becomes absolute, irrevocable Cosmic truth. Though various individuals, schools of thought, philosophies and religions interpret Divine truth differently, and these apparently seem to conflict, you may easily determine whether the truths presented by these different schools and religions are actually Divine in nature. If there is a similarity in the creative results produced by these different schools in the application of the truths, as they know them, that is sufficient endorsement to anyone, that those truths are Cosmically inspired.
* Lewis Ralph, Truth? What is it? The Rosicrucian Digest. November 1929
(Unknown author) Reality is truth, and truth is reality. And that is the absolute truth.
The question is whether or not truth can really exist in and of itself. Can there ever be an absolute truth? Or is truth instead determined by the perceptions and beliefs of those around it? To use the old adage: If a tree falls in a forest when nobody is around, does it still make a sound? That question technically has an answer. No, it doesn’t. Sound is what is created when the vibrations travelling through the air enter your ear and are converted into a recognizable form. Without something to perceive it, there is no sound, though there is the potential for sound. But then you get into linguistics: why can’t the word sound mean anything which can be sound? The tree falling still creates vibrations which are recognizable as sound. Is that sound really non-existent, simply because it is not recognized as a sound?
The answer to that question depends on your understanding of and beliefs on language. There is no fact one can state on language and the interpretation of words, simply because language is an artificial construct. It cannot exist except by consensus. Vibrations rumbling through the air have only the meaning we grant them, and we are each of us free to decide how to interpret them.
With or without observers, the tree will fall and vibrations will be sent through the air. True, without any observers, for all intents and purposes the tree did not make a sound. But physics, but reality, did not change. It remained absolute.
It is important to look past the complexities of language when discovering the truth. By debating the meaning of the word ‘sound’ in the tree question above, you are missing the philosophical point – that of whether there is a reality independent of perception. If there is, it means that all questions have an answer, and that it is theoretically possible to end all arguments. If not, then everything is open to debate.
The simple act of thinking, of believing, does not affect reality. That is the most essential part of understanding absolute truth – getting past the natural confusion of language.. Language is irrelevant - the intended meaning behind the words is what is important.
The greatest misunderstanding of truth comes about, when people ask, can you have an absolute truth about whether or not one thing is better than another? The answer is that you can’t. By their very nature, words like ‘better’ do not have absolute answers. They are defined by being entirely subjective. No one can say what ‘better’ means – they can only say what they think it means in a specific situation.
Does this mean, then, that there are multiple truths on entirely subjective topics? No. There are never multiple truths. Instead, there is no truth in matters of opinions. There is no truth to be uttered when asked the question ‘Which is the best sport?’ because ‘best’ has no inherent meaning. No fact of reality can answer that question. And so there is no answer. There may very well be proposed answers, proposed truths, but these are not truths. These are opinions, ideas, perceptions, beliefs. Not truth. Sometimes, there is no truth.
All truths are absolute, but not everything is true. Reality does not change for people, nor is reality whatever people think it is. Reality is truth, and truth is reality. And that is the absolute truth. That which is not absolute is not a truth. Truth is what we can be sure of, what can be explained and defined. Truth is facts, truth is what we can know. Truth is what can be stated when you strip away all the interpretation that naturally comes with language and the expressing of thoughts.
*See Internet Liam St.Louis, 2011
(Contemporary American philosopher)
The difference between knowledge and truth: certainty is not necessary for knowledge .
Certainty is not necessary in order to have knowledge and that brings to our attention the difference between knowledge and truth. Many philosophers believe that we require certainty for knowledge; this often fails to discern between knowledge and truth although it is central to our argument here that certainty is not necessary to have knowledge. Epistemologists are concerned with the extent to which a person holds some degree of knowledge, and to hold a degree of knowledge, it would follow that a person would hold some degree of truth. To ‘know’ a truth, however, we would require proof, since truth is an absolute indicator and for knowledge to be true is to hold that knowledge is indubitably veridical. Any attempt to ‘prove’ both epistemic and non-epistemic truths would merely be a justification for believing in that truth, and is not equivalent to conclusively proving, that a truth is in fact, true. Hence, truth is non-epistemic and is a metaphysical understanding that cannot be accessed through epistemic means, and knowledge entails a pursuit towards getting closer to non-epistemic truth; but of how close we can never be certain, because we have no access to truths.
It is not a necessary condition for a person to be certain to have knowledge. It must first be understood that certainty is an epistemic state, and to be ‘certain’ is to have maximal and conclusive justification towards ‘knowing’ a proposition. If it follows that when one is absolutely certain about knowing a proposition, and hence conclusively justified in knowing a proposition, it must mean that he has immediate access to the truth of his knowledge, and that his knowledge is indeed veridical and indubitable. But how can we be conclusively justified in knowing something when truth is metaphysical? As humans, we simply do not have the means to access the truths of our knowledge for reasons such as the fallibility of our senses and the constant change in empirical methods employed to help bring us closer to the truth.
To be certain in order to have knowledge is impossible as it would require us to access metaphysical truths, and should therefore not be a necessity in order to have knowledge. Otherwise, we would deny humans any form of knowledge at all.
All of the arguments above advocate a fallibilist standpoint that we do not need to have certainty in order to have knowledge. Even our justified beliefs are made on basis on limited evidence so they cannot be conclusively justified; hence we cannot have certainty. We may only get closer to truth through knowledge and have knowledge without certainty, but we will never be able to achieve certain knowledge or certain truths.
We must make a clear distinction between knowledge and non-epistemic truths, it is indeed central to our discussion on whether certainty is required to have knowledge. Certainty as a form of conclusive justification can never be obtained because it would entail accessing metaphysical truths, and knowledge therefore can be obtained even without being certain of it.
*See Internet Jason LIM
(American Lutheran theologian, 1923- )
Lindbeck identifies three theories of religion: the “traditional cognitivist” model, the “experiential-expressive” model and his own which he calls the “cultural-linguistic” model. Each theory identifies a particular concept of truth: either objective or subjective or relative truth.
The first sees doctrines as propositional, speaking in term of correspondence between realities and the doctrines they refer to. Doctrines are ontologically true affirmations, truth claims about objective realities. Their truth is independent of the subjective dispositions of those who utter them.
The second, the experiential-expressive approach disengages doctrinal language from any ontological reference. It reduces doctrines to expressions of experience and emotion. It interprets them as non-informative symbols of inner feelings and existential orientations. Doctrinal disharmony between the various religious traditions are not truly in tension – they do not refer to different ontological realities – but are merely different external expressions of a common “preconceptual experience”.
Lindbeck’s own approach is the cultural-linguistic alternative, in which neither doctrine nor experience are the foundations of religious knowledge. His approach is not based on the cognitive or experiential-expressive aspects of religion. Instead it puts the emphasis on those areas in which religion resemble languages with their correlative forms of life and are thus similar to cultures.
Lindbeck rejects the two first approaches. On the one hand he assumes that there is no commonality in experience. Religious experience and its interpretation are shaped by the external factor of doctrine. On the other hand doctrines themselves function like sets of rules for the practice/form of life in a particular religion. What matters for Lindbeck is not what the doctrine says but the way the doctrine functions. A religion for him is like a language or a game in which the doctrine defines the rules. One does not grant to grammar a metaphysical or ontological bearing. It is measured or eventually modified in function of its usefulness. It is meaningless to confront the rules of a game to an external reality. The ‘truths’ of these rules are not found outside themselves, but in the system that regulates them. In the same way religious doctrines generate and structure the life and thought of a believing community much more than they are its products.
Lindbeck discards the question of truth and the reference of doctrines to reality. In defining doctrines by their regulative function, he shuts up every religion in its own logic. It is meaningless to ask whether the rules of tennis are truer than the rules of bridge. Debates between differing religious doctrines are futile if each represents a different grammar.
In his discussion of the issue of the plurality of faith Lindbeck shows his concern for ecumenism. He is convinced that the doctrinal results of the ecumenical discussions of the last decades make better sense in the context of a cultural-linguistic view of religion. It looks as if ,for him, any approach that is not conducive to ecumenism is wrong. Therefore he speaks negatively of the cognitive and experiential approaches of doing theology, which according to him, are unable to bring religions in fruitful dialogue. Religious truths can only be of the cultural-linguistic type.
* Lindbeck, Georges, The Nature of Doctrines: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1984
(Contemporary American theologian)
The evidences for the existence of absolute truth
The first evidence is that there is the human conscience, that certain “something” within us that tells us the world should be a certain way, that some things are right and some are wrong. Our conscience convinces us there is something wrong with suffering, starvation, rape, pain, and evil, and it makes us aware that love, generosity, compassion, and peace are positive things for which we should strive. This is universally true in all cultures in all times.
The second evidence for the existence of absolute truth is science. Science is simply the pursuit of knowledge, the study of what we know and the quest to know more. Therefore, all scientific study must by necessity be founded upon the belief that there are objective realities existing in the world and these realities can be discovered and proven. Without absolutes, what would there be to study? How could one know that the findings of science are real? In fact, the very laws of science are founded on the existence of absolute truth.
The third evidence for the existence of absolute truth/universal truth is religion. All the religions of the world attempt to give meaning and definition to life. They are born out of mankind’s desire for something more than simple existence. Through religion, humans seek God, hope for the future, forgiveness of sins, peace in the midst of struggle, and answers to our deepest questions. Religion is really evidence that mankind is more than just a highly evolved animal. It is evidence of a higher purpose and of the existence of a personal and purposeful Creator who implanted in man the desire to know Him. And if there is indeed a Creator, then He becomes the standard for absolute truth, and it is His authority that establishes that truth.
*See Art Lindsley. True Truth: Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World
(Chinese master of Zen school of Buddhism, died 866)
The truth of one’s own being: even Buddhism comes from illusion.
For some time, Linji had perceived Buddhism and its teachings as a bunch of ideas, separate from himself. He had always searched for the truth outside of himself. Now, in a flash, he experienced existence as it is in itself, and he realized the emptiness of thoughts, words, and philosophical explanations. He now understood the truth of his own being, and that his own question about Buddhism came from illusion.
Linji’s teachings encouraged people to have faith that their natural spontaneous mind is the true Buddha-Mind, and to enter simply and wholeheartedly into every activity. He was particularly famous for encouraging his students to free themselves from the influence of masters and doctrinal concepts, in order to be able to better discover their own Buddha-nature. Famed examples of Linji's iconoclasm include the following: “Followers of the Way [of Zen], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.”
Linji's teachings encouraged people to have faith that their natural spontaneous mind is the true Buddha-Mind, a pure state of being in which one does not obstruct, block, withhold, or repress anything. Still freedom from attachment does not mean to be without feeling, but instead means entering wholeheartedly into all activities and being completely at one with any situation. This is the enlightened way to live an ordinary life. When Linji's students told him they were searching for deliverance from this world, he would ask them, “If you are delivered from this world, where else is there to go?” He advised his student to live simply and wholeheartedly. “I am telling you, he said: there is no Buddha, there is no law, no practice to follow, no fruit to obtain. What are you searching for? Blindmen are you who wants to place a head on your head! ”
Buddha, Dharma, and all the profound Buddhist scriptures themselves are of no particular importance; of real importance was the One who considered them. Lin-chi taught that realization is attained by clear perception and union with the "true man," the unchanging One, the Light pervading all ten directions. Pure Mind is the "true man," the real Buddha.
* See Watson, Burton, The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi: A Translation of the Lin-chi lu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
(British philosopher of science and epistemologist, 1954-2007)
Agnosticism is not a live option for scientists embedded in their practices. The scientific activity of explanation itself supposes truth.
On the sceptical arguments in philosophy, Hume had said that ‘they admit of no answer and produce no conviction’. What he called our ‘natural instincts’ are stronger than any philosophical argument. Lipton’s view is that this applies to science as well. Scientists are spontaneous realists and in many cases cannot but immerse themselves in the world of theory, believing a great deal of what they say. To be sure, they are capable of a limited agnosticism, treating a particular hypothesis as only a conjecture or as a model, but a comprehensive refusal to believe any scientific claim not entailed by the data seems nearly a psychological impossibility.
Scientists' natural realism is neither surprising nor pernicious. Science is a practice that has assertion making at its heart, and to assert a claim is to say the claim is true. Moreover, scientific inferences are often driven by asking how good an explanation a given hypothesis would provide of the phenomena if it were true, and then, if it would be good enough, inferring that is true. Indeed, the activity of explanation itself supposes truth. Science aims to explain why, and an actual explanation is not just a good story, but a good story that is also true. Thus, in so far as scientists take themselves to be providing actual explanations of the phenomena, they are taking themselves to be saying things that are true.
Perhaps all this assertive practice arises from systematic overconfidence, with scientists systematically believing and claiming more than the evidence could warrant. Even if this is the case, it may not be as bad as it sounds. Overconfidence may be the price for almost any cognitive activity, and it may encourage the enthusiastic defense of ideas that are worthwhile but otherwise would have died a premature death. Of course, it may also lead to dogmatism, but probably not if the scientists in the next laboratory are equally confident in an incompatible hypothesis. The dispute between two confident but opposed groups may promote greater progress than a uniform agnosticism. Even dogmatism may have an essential role in scientific development. Kuhn has argued that it is only through the unquestioning acceptance of a great deal of theory (if only temporarily) that the kind of esoteric and articulated research which characterizes mature science is possible at all. The philosopher has many alternatives to realism, but the practicing scientist may not.
If philosophy did have any impact on scientists, it would be pernicious, depriving them of the kinds of commitment and confidence upon which their practice depends. There is no obligation for scientists to consider the critical views the philosophers. Just as people can use their eyes to acquire knowledge without understanding how vision works, so scientists can generate knowledge about the world without understanding how science works. What is required for knowledge is the de facto reliability of the methods we deploy, not our understanding of how those methods work or some demonstration of their reliability. If scientific practices are taking us towards the truth, then they are generating knowledge of a mind-independent world that is also independent of any philosophical account or justification; and if those practices are not taking us to the truth, that situation will not be reversed by philosophy. On the other hand, there is little risk that the study of philosophy will handicap scientists by turning them into destructive skeptics about their own practices. Scientists' natural instincts are too strong for this.
*Lipton Peter,"The Truth about Science", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. (2005), 1259-1269.
(Contemporary American professor of philosophy)
According to Marxism, objective truth is nothing but a bourgeois trick
Marxism maintains a theory of truth which radically contradicts the tradition of the occidental world. Truth, according to this theory, is a function of Progress. Whether a claim, a theory or a philosophy contributes to man's mastery over the universe and to his emancipation from his dire past, it is true; if it does not contribute to it, it is false, no matter how empirical, scientific or lofty it may be.
According to Marxism, objective truth is nothing but a bourgeois trick. Truth is by its very nature partial: what retards or even hinders Progress is always false and in most cases a conscious lie. In other words, Marxism is an ideology which makes of its bias a precondition of truth. It explicitly admits that it is one-sided and partial, indeed party-minded, yet it claims that this is the only way in which reality may be grasped as it should. After all, Marxism knows of no "impartial spectator"; there is no God to the absolute knowledge of whom we might be invited to adjust our views. Even science is not objective in the sense most people think of it; after all, it is nothing but an instrument to master reality. Thus, there exists only one legitimate point of view: that of the survival of mankind, of the self-constitution of the human species, of the creation of the finite god. Whatever serves it is true and good; whatever hinders it is false and evil. There exists no objective morality and there cannot exist any disinterested pursuit of truth.
* See internet Lobkovitz Nikolaus
(Canadian theologian, 1936-1999)
1. Lochhead rejects what he calls “the ideology of isolation”. An isolated community is autonomous in its construction of reality. It defines reality for itself. It is not able to take seriously the existence of other views of reality. It claims that its view is the true one. It possesses the truth and excludes all other truths. The communities that do not share their views are either ignorant, deluded or liars. This model of truth as something that is possessed excludes all possibility of dialogue.
2. The sociology of knowledge reveals that the view of reality which individuals and communities share is a social construction. The way true and false are defined is dependent on the social context. To come out of the isolation imposed by the constraint of closed social structures, honest truth-searching people must dialogue with each other. Lochhead calls it “the dialogical imperative”.
Dialogue for truth should be properly understood. Indeed it is too often conceived as a process of sharing truths, in which case the dialogue is reduced to nothing more than being alternating monologues between two traditions. Genuine dialogue must be a process of discovering the truth. One discovers in dialogue something that neither side held before. Dialogue may begin by sharing but sharing is not the aim of the dialogue. The real intent of dialogue is the discovery of something new.
For a better understanding of the role of dialogue in the search of truth, Lochhead makes a comparison between Plato-Socrates and Martin Buber on this topic. According to Plato and Socrates, truth is within man and dialogue is the method to get that truth out, through challenging questions and answers. Dialogue helps to remember the truth that is already within. It is only the means to explicitate and actualize an implicit truth. But according to Buber – and Lochhead agrees with him - the role of dialogue is more than the actualisation of a truth that is already inwardly present. Dialogue brings out the truth. Truth is not possessed implicitly before the dialogue. Truth is not a by-product of the encounter. Truth is in the encounter, in the I-thou dialogue. Truth is not implicitly in the “I” or the “thou” prior to the dialogue but in the “I-Thou” dialogue itself.
3. Lochhead is concerned with the discussions on religious truth which have identified three positions: the exclusivist, the inclusivist, and the pluralist positions. According to him this threefold division has left no real room for the possibility of genuine dialogue, as he understands it. Therefore he sets out to distinguish an alternative possibility, which he called the dialogical option, sometimes called the “fourth option”. His chief point is that the possible validity of religions and the degree to which they may contain truth and salvation, is not an a priori matter, but rather an a posteriori or experiential question. One must go, see, and engage in the dialogue, but this can be done only with the eyes of one’s own religion. There is no sense of a theologically or philosophically neutral point of view from which to judge. Such an interfaith dialogue is not only an interesting option but a moral imperative. Only dialogue is an approach to the religious other as a beloved neighbour. Lochhead recognizes the importance of religious differences and eschews the notion that the purpose of dialogue is negotiation for agreement. There can be various logical results to interfaith dialogue, ranging from ongoing disagreements to new truth discovered together in the midst of the conversation.
* Lochhead, David, The dialogical Imperative, SCM Press, London, 1968, p. 8, 47-51, 74-75
(English philosopher, 1632-1704)
Real truth is in the joining of contingent facts: it is purely empirical.
1. Locke’s concept of truth is a reaction against and a rejection of the rationalist view according to which reason has an intuitive apprehension of truth. According to Descartes the principles of mathematics, discoverable by pure reason, are the paradigms of truth. Truth is of the necessary and the unchangeable. But for an empiricist like Locke the contingency of the world must be taken in earnest. He rejects the self-authenticating truths of reason because prior to empirical experience the mind is tabula rasa. There is no innate knowledge and no innate ideas bringing the universal assent of human minds. There are no self-evident truths. Therefore the source of truth is not reason but sensory experience.. The human mind knows things by the intervention of ideas, that is, for Locke, everything that is in the mind, any thought. The source of thoughts or ideas are particular sense objects external to the mind. All that exists are particular individual realities. Locke adopts the nominalist view that there is no knowledge of universals. The universal is a mental fabrication through abstraction and has nothing to do with knowledge. 2. Truth and falsehood are found in propositions in which two ideas are joined or separated by affirmation and negation. Locke defends a correspondence theory of truth. Truth is in the judgment that joins or separates contingent facts signified by the ideas of the mind. But he also makes the distinction between real truth and verbal truth. Verbal truth is when there is agreement or disagreement between ideas without regarding whether these ideas have an existence in nature. Such truths are necessary but useless and trifling. They do not convey real truth. Real truth is obtained when our ideas have an existence in nature. Real truth are established by our knowledge of existence, which is always knowledge of particular individual realities. True knowledge can never go beyond the particular. Those who speak of true universal propositions, should be aware that these propositions have nothing to do with reality and existence and that they do not increase our knowledge. Such propositions are necessary but mere verbal truth, never conveying real truth. Real truth is only about the contingent: it is expressed by the joining or separating of contingent facts.
* Locke, John, An Essay on Human Understanding, Nidditch ed., Oxford, 1985; See Campbell, Richard, op. cit. , p. 202-221
(French biblical scholar and philosopher of religion, 1857-1940)
The Gospel has not entered the world as a unique absolute truth
Loisy, the main representative of Modernism in the Catholic Church, was a radical historicist, in that he did not believe it was possible to transcend the limits of one's own historical period and that attempts to do so were illusory. For that reason, the historic creeds and other doctrinal statements could not remain permanently valid, reflecting as they do the times in which they were formulated. Loisy did not considered that the gospel had entered the world as an unconditioned absolute doctrine, summed up in a unique steadfast truth.
He denied that Christianity possessed any permanent and absolute essence; rather he saw it as a living and ever-changing process. He contended that it was quite legitimate for Christianity to evolve, as it had done, into the fully fledged form of Catholicism, and believed the protestant theologian Harnack to be mistaken in thinking that, by stripping away what had developed over many centuries, he would find a solid and primitive kernel of essential Christian truth. As Loisy saw it, the Gospel was not a message set in unchangeable words which were equally applicable to people of all centuries. Christianity, he claimed, was a living faith which, though always linked to the historical circumstances of its birth, had to be perpetually reshaped and given fresh verbal expression in order to remain a genuine path of faith in later ages.
For Loisy, dogmatics must change with history and knowledge in order for truth to be revealed. Knowledge and interpretations change, therefore the Church should acknowledge that dogma changes. The Church is a constantly changing entity and that as the Church changes so does dogma, "But in so acting, she continues in the way she has walked from the beginning, she adopts the gospel to the constantly, changing condition of human life and intelligence". If truth is unchanging, the elements that define it, and represent it, must change so that truth will remain constant. There is one truth, and humans come closer and closer to that truth through history and developments and knowledge. “Truth, he writes, does not enter our brains ready-made; it makes itself slowly, and we cannot say that it is ever complete. The human spirit is always in travail. Truth is no more immutable than man himself. It evolves with him, in him, by him; and this does not prevent it from being the truth for him, but it is even the only condition on which it is truth.”
Loisy believed that truth could not be changed, but the representations of this truth could be changed. As the church evolved according to changes in the world, dogma changed also. Loisy makes a strong point that to try to know Jesus purely by what is written in the gospel is a mistake, because he claims the only way to know him is through his work. For Loisy the Kingdom of Heaven is the essence of Jesus’ message, because everything after Jesus’ death and resurrection leads to this. The aim of both the Church and Jesus is to bring to fruition the kingdom of God. For Loisy what is inherited in the past is developed in the future. He suggests that the gospel merely lays the groundwork for what we will come to know about Christ through his work which is seen in the apostles and the Church, which will ultimately lead to the coming kingdom.
* Loisy Alfred, The Gospel and the Church, 1902
(Canadian philosopher and theologian, 1904-1984)
The way to truth is none other than the best use of one's own subjectivity
1. A subject may be needed to arrive at truth. But once truth is attained, one is beyond the subject: one has reached a realm that is non-spatial, atemporal, impersonal. Objective truth is virtually unconditioned. Whatever is true at any time or place, can be contradicted only by falsity. That is why we say that truth is “objective”. However if truth is intentionally independent of the subject, ontologically it resides only in the subject. The subject is capable of intentional self-transcendence, capable of going to something utterly different than himself. Before reaching the self-transcendence of truth, the subject is under the laborious process of coming to conceive, understand and weigh the evidence. Such activities are not independent of the subject, of times and places, of psychological, social, historical conditions. The fruit of truth must grow and mature on the tree of the subject, before it can be placed in its absolute realm.
An important source of neglect of the subject is found in scientific and philosophic conclusions which necessarily follow from self-evident premisses. There is no need here to be concerned with the subject. For the rationalist notion of pure reason, everything is demonstrable, everything is black or white, objectively true or false. But those concerned with the truths of life may not be fascinated by the objectivity of truth to the point of disregarding the very conditions of its emergence. They do not think of truth as so objective as to get along without minds. They know that an exaggerated view of the objective truth tends to overlook that truth exists formally only in judgments and that judgments exist only in the mind.
2. One of the basic problem of Lonergan’s philosophy and methodology is to account for both objectivity and subjectivity in the search for truth. According to him, the objectivity of truth is reached when the human subject makes use of all its potential: psychism, intelligence, freedom. Lonergan wants us to trust in our subjectivity. Often today when one speaks of subjectivity, it sounds as if it is about some one who does search for truth but remains shut up in his own world. But for Lonergan subjectivity is the stronghold that allows one to face any question. For Lonergan the way to truth is none other than the best use of one’s own subjectivity. Contrary to the sceptical stance of many, Lonergan trusts that the human subject is capable to uncover the intelligibility of the real. Objective truth is an ideal to be continuously approached, the recurrent desire and universal goal of any one who wonders. Clearly we can never know the unconditional truth. Still an objective worldview, that is, a progressively more intelligent, reasonable and responsible worldview, is possible and for Lonergan an objective worldview is the fruit of subjective authenticity.
* Lonergan Bernard, A Second Collection, Darton, Longman & Todd, london, 1974, p.69-73
(Contemporary American Freelance Writer and Life Coach)
The truth about your own beliefs is that they aren't The Truths, they're Your Truths.
What are beliefs and how can they be so powerful? Beliefs are simply the thoughts you hold in your mind about something. A dictionary definition is "any cognitive content held as true." The brutal truth about your own beliefs is that they aren't The Truths, they're Your Truths. They're simply the thoughts you've accumulated over the years that you hold to be true.
Core beliefs are your thoughts about yourself and how you fit into the grand scheme of life. Core beliefs can be helpful, such as "I'm a generous person, enjoying helping others." Or they can be harmful to your growth, such as "I'm not as good as other people." The latter core belief is called a self-limiting belief because it will limit what you allow yourself to attempt and experience.
Challenging your self-limiting core beliefs can change your life once you understand the truth about beliefs. Because beliefs are simply the thoughts you hold true about something, they are subject to challenge and change—you can explore the facts of a situation and come to a different conclusion, a new truth.
What if many things you believe about yourself and life—your limitations, fears, weaknesses, how to get ahead—are wrong? What if you could start anew, with the eagerness for life of a two-year old but the experience of maturity? How would your life change?
You can get a fresh start on life and become the person you want to be by honestly challenging core beliefs about yourself and life. Many, perhaps most, will be true, but any beliefs that are falsely limiting your personal growth are prime targets for change.
Since beliefs are simply the thoughts you hold in your mind about something, even core beliefs you've believed true for decades can be challenged and changed. Challenging core beliefs belong in your personal development plan.
*See Internet Jerry lopper
(German Biblical scholar)
The two questions raised by Loretz are first: What is the concept of truth found in the Bible? and second: Is this concept of Biblical truth the equivalent of what we mean today by ‘truth’?
1. Truth in the Bible means fidelity and reliability (mostly of God in his relationship to humanity). It conveys the idea of permanency and stability throughout all changes. The opposite of this concept of truth is lying and infidelity. The Bible is a book that records God’s faithfulness to Israel. The truth of the Bible is that the Scriptures do not deceive human beings in regard to salvation. Biblical truth does not mean inerrancy, freedom from error, whether historical or factual. The Bible must not be regarded as perfect history writing. Truth in the Bible is not the recording of the facts, exact and free from errors. To take it like that would be to apply to the holy Scriptures a concept of truth that belongs to the Greek and Western history of ideas. The concept of inerrancy of the Scriptures is a theological doctrine that has no basis in the Bible itself. According to the Bible we have to uphold the truth of God in the sense of his faithfulness, not as providing us with a “true” representation of the outside world.
2. Whether particular statements of the Bible, viewed in isolation, are true or false in our sense, depends on us to judge with our own criteria. This is an open question and we are free to draw our own conclusions. What is sure is that in the course of history the question of the truth of Scripture has come to be considered and treated in categories of thought which are foreign to Scripture itself. St Augustine is responsible for having introduced the idea of inerrancy, the “sine errore” theory of Biblical truth. It is in the name of this theory that Galileo was compelled to retract his views on heliocentrism and condemned. According to Augustine the Bible is the truth and, for him, that meant that it provides the perfect and absolute knowledge about nature and history. The influence of his ideas on inerrancy persisted throughout the Middle-Ages and it has survived to the present. However the effect of the advent of the Copernican system has been that the place and role of the Bible in human knowledge was radically transformed. Exact science began to be looked at as a greater power to convey truth than the Bible. The Bible ceased to be the book which gives an accurate account of the history of humanity. This course of events had the fortunate effect to stimulate theologians to look at the Bible more closely and to become aware that in no sense does Scripture itself claim to be inerrant in Augustine’s sense of the term. When speaking of the truth of the Bible one should go back to the Semitic concept of truth, which is that God has worked, is working and will work for the salvation of man.
* Loretz, Oswald, The Truth of the Bible, Burns & Oates, London, 1968, p.81-94, 141-170
(Afghan - Iranian American mathematician, b.1921)
‘Fuzzy logic’: a logic tolerant of imprecision and partial truth.
Science deals not with reality but with models of reality. In large measure, models of reality in scientific theories are based on classical, Aristotelian, bivalent logic. The brilliant successes of science are visible to all. But when we take a closer look, what we see is that alongside the brilliant successes there are areas where achievement of human-level machine intelligence is still a distant objective. Why is it so? One of the principal reasons is the fundamental conflict between the precision of bivalent logic and imprecision of the real world.
In the world of bivalent logic, every proposition is either true or false, with no shades of truth allowed. In the real world, as perceived by humans, most propositions are true to a degree. Humans have a remarkable capability to reason and make rational decisions in an environment of imprecision, uncertainty, incompleteness of information and partiality of truth. It is this capability that is beyond the reach of bivalent logic—a logic which is intolerant of imprecision and partial truth.
A much better fit to the real world is fuzzy logic. In fuzzy logic, everything is or is allowed to be graduated, that is, be a matter of degree or, equivalently, fuzzy. Furthermore, in fuzzy logic everything is or is allowed to be granulated, with a granule being a clump of elements drawn together by indistinguishability, similarity, proximity or functionality. Graduation and granulation play key roles in the ways in which humans deal with complexity and imprecision. In this connection, it should be noted that, in large measure, fuzzy logic is inspired by the ways in which humans deal with complexity, imprecision and partiality of truth. It is in this sense that fuzzy logic is human-centric.
Unlike traditional or classical logic, which attempts to categorize information into binary patterns such as black / white, true / false, yes / no, or all / nothing, Fuzzy Logic pays attention to the "excluded middle" and tries to account for the partially true and partially false situations which make up 99.9% of human reasoning in everyday life. It builds upon the assumption that everything consists of degrees on a sliding scale-whether it be truth, age, beauty, wealth, color, race, or anything else that is effected by the dynamic nature of human behavior and perception. The question Zadeh always insists upon asking is not “Is it true or false?”, but "To what degree is something true or false?". Zadeh looks around him in the real world which he finds pervaded by concepts which do not have sharply defined boundaries, where information is often incomplete or sometimes unreliable.
In quest for precision, scientists have generally attempted to manipulate the real world into artificial mathematical models that make no provision for gradation. They have tried to describe the laws governing the incredibly complex behavior of humans, both singly and in groups, in mathematical terms similar to those employed in the analysis of inanimate systems, which, in Zadeh's view, has been, and will continue to be, a misdirected effort.
*Lotfi Zadeh, 1975. Fuzzy logic and approximate reasoning. Synthese, 1975; 30: 407–428.
(Contemporary German theologian and philosopher)
It is of the essence of truth not to be limited to the particular and the temporal. Truth is transtemporal and immutable, it is semper verum , always true. What is true at a certain time, at a certain place remains absolutely true for all times and places.
On the other hand the consideration of the human truth reveals its subjective, partial, historical character. It does not appear as ‘always true’, semper verum, but as ‘once true’, semel verum. The problem about truth is ridden by the tension between the two extremes of the semel verum and the semper verum, relative temporality and transtemporal absoluity.
The first extreme is found in Protagoras’ saying that man is the measure of all things. Truth is referred to the semel of every singular person. Truth is subjective and relative. But it is clear that when the semel or the singular is fixed in its isolation, truth comes to nothing. Hegel was right in recognising that the pure singular is unintelligible. The second extreme is found in Parmenides. He demanded that one follows the way of thought as the way of truth which belongs to immutable Being, the semper verum. The semel for him falls totally outside the truth. Likewise Plato confronted the semel of becoming to the semper of Being. The two extremes stood side by side without penetrating each other. An identical shift from the semel to the semper is discernible in rationalist philosophies.
Lotz ‘s contention is that truth does not require, to remain truth, to be liberated of the semel in general, otherwise it would lose its human character. Human truth is realised in the semel penetrated by the semper or in a semper concretised through the semel. Although the semel verum changes with the being that corresponds to it, it contains necessarily and absolutely an always immutable truth. He who maintains that there could be a semel verum without semper verum would thereby suppress the semel verum itself as true. What is “once true” is always true without reserve. The semper verum is already inseparably given in the semel verum. So much must be said when considering the semel and semper in their objective sense.
In the subjective sense, truth is accomplished by every human being who discovers it. But his vision is limited and his encounter with truth is subject to his individual perspective. Truth as a subjective opinion is a semel verum which has no way of being a semper verum . All comprehension and commmunication become impossible. But then such a semel verum, the opinion of every individual, is no longer the truth. For in the subjective as well in the objective sense, the “once true”, to be true, must necessarily include the “always true”. This is possible only if we are ready to go beyond the particular perspective of individuals in order to reach a semper verum at least relatively contained in the semel verum. We penetrate in the absolutely always true provided we go beyond all limits of times and particular social structures. The semel verum is true, even in its subjective sense, only on the condition that it contains the semper verum.
The fact is that nowadays the relativist vision does not concede to man the semper verum. Historicity, we are told, leads to relativism and excludes the semper verum. But Lotz rejects this assumption for it would lead to the giving up of truth altogether. The limitation of human perspectives does not entail a loss of the absolute. Rather it reveals that human beings are called to a constant struggle for the absolute in the relative. They stand in the truth all the more that their particular perspectives are open to total being. The transcendent foundation of all perspectives has a determining influence on the particular perspective. Being radiates in the human particularity which is totally open to it. Thus the semel verum and the semper verum penetrate each other. The transhistorical semper verum is accessible to us in the semel verum of the words and concepts of a given epoch. We approach the beyond history in a historical way. The truth of an epoch, the historical semel verum, communicates only a fragment of the transhistorical truth. It enriches itself constantly. It is not a new truth that takes the place of an older one, like a stone thrown at the side of another. On the contrary there is an organic growth, no revolution but evolution. The partial aspect of the semel verum contributes to the progressive unveiling of the semper verum.
To conclude: the semel verum, in so far as true, essentially contains the semper verum.
* Lotz, Johannes, Problématique du “Semel Verum-Semper Verum”, in L’Infallibilité, Ed. Enrico Castelli, Paris, Aubier, 1970, p.455-470
(English philosopher of science, b. 1929)
In his "Minds, Machines and Gödel", Lucas maintains the falseness of Mechanism - the attempt to explain minds as machines. For the mechanist, to talk of a machine (either human or artificial) 'producing something true' has to be construed on his thesis as being 'proved-in-a-formal-system' of some sort : anything a machine could produce as true would have to be something that is provable-in-the-system. Thus for the mechanist who regards men as something less than men, namely machines, their concept of truth is nothing more than provability-in-a-given-system.
Against Mechanism Lucas argues that no matter how complicated is a machine, it always correspond to a formal system which is rule-bound. He makes use of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem which says that "for every formal system there is a truth which it cannot produce as being true, but which a mind can". It shows that it is implausible to reconstruct truth as provability-in-a-given-system.
Gödel's theorem shows that in any system consistent for simple arithmetic there are formulae which cannot be proved in the system but that human minds can recognize as true. Lucas points out in his turn that Gödel's theorem applies not only to arithmetical systems but also to machines because a machine is the concrete instantiation of a formal system. For every machine consistent and able of doing simple arithmetic, there is a formula that it can't produce as true but that we can see to be true. But then human minds and machines have to be different. Should a human mind work as a formal system, it would be rule-bound. It could not have random or creative thoughts. It could only act according to a set of predetermined rules.
The most fundamental consequence of Lucas' claims - which has interesting implications for philosophy -is that truth is not the same as provability; truth outruns provability. It is one thing to be provable and another thing to be true. And if truth can outrun provability, reality can outrun knowledge. Therefore verificationism according to which a statement is true only if it can be verified is wrong.
* Lucas, J.R., Minds, Machines and Gödel, in Philosophy XXXVI, 1961, p. 112-127
(Greco-Syrian satirist, 125- 192)
The comic sophistry that the false is the truth
Lucian of Samosota, an important figure in the early history of science fiction, considers fiction as potentially superior to philosophy and to scientific cognition. He delights in exposing false views and misdirections in "philosophy".
In his True Tales he writes that he presents falsehoods and that he deals with poets, historians, and philosophers who have done the same. He claims that his own lying is superior to that of philosophers because it is not presented as though it were truth: to admit that one is lying is to be truthful. The comic paradox is that falsehood can be a form of truth (telling the truth that one is lying) just as Socratic ignorance can be a form of knowledge (knowing that one does not know).
Lucian reminds his readers that thinking and believing are different and distinct kinds of mental activity and that it is best not to confuse them. He tells them that his tales are utterly false to fact, and he makes them so blatantly false to fact that they are constantly secure from the tentacles of belief. That means that readers are entirely free to think. They are not compelled to think, as readers of philosophy feel themselves to be; but they are free to do so if they choose.
Lucian presents philosophers as practitioners of cognition who serve their cognitive methods much more than they serve truth. From this and from his presentation of philosophy as the servant more of its own ends than of truth one can conclude that Lucian looks upon philosophy as anticipatively subject to belief, which all too frequently breeds unawareness. Conversely, he looks upon fiction as serving truth by means of its constant sustenance of awareness. In True Tales he turns belief upside-down: "One must not believe in any of the events about which I write…. I shall state only one truth, and that is that I am lying”.
Lucian asserts his veracity as he narrates his "true tales": "I hesitate to say, lest you call me a liar". His assertions are false, and yet they are true to his prefatory admission of falsehood. His literary fantastic voyage are appreciable in proportion as we infer his comic sophistry, namely, the false is the true.
*See : Swanson, Roy Arthur: “The True, the False, and the Truly False: Lucian’s Philosophical Science Fiction”, Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3 , pp. 227-239
(Roman poet and philosopher, 98-55 AD)
The infallible truth of sensations
1. On the Nature of Things is Lucretius' personal statement of truth to an ignorant audience. Lucretius maintained that he could free humankind from fear of the gods by demonstrating that all things occur by natural causes without any intervention by the gods: he is clearly committed to Naturalism.
He had compassion for those people who do not understand the mechanisms of the universe that gave them birth. He felt these ignorant and unfortunate people need religion to explain where they came from, why good things sometimes occur, and what could possibly shield them from the misfortunes they see fall upon others. “All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.”
Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura demonstrated that Truth cannot be found in messages from another world, and taught, instead, that truth is derived from the relations among phenomena as they are observed in nature.
There is an irreconcilable opposition between the truth of the laws of nature and the falsehood of the old superstitions. The happiness and the dignity of life are regarded by Lucretius as absolutely dependent on the acceptance of the true and the rejection of false doctrines. In the Epicurean system of philosophy he believed that he had found the weapons by which this war of liberation could be most effectually waged. Following Epicurus he sets before himself the aim of finally crushing that fear of the gods and that fear of death resulting from it which he regards as the source of all the human ills.
2. Lucretius affirms that the senses are always reliable, even infallible: nothing can refure sensations , everything must be built on them, even reason itself. He rejects both skepticism and dogmatism, because the first denies the validity of sensations and the second affirms the primacy and independence of reason. He does not demonstrate the truth of sensations, which would be a logical contradiction, he simply posits the impossibility to refute them, while adding that reason is based on them. All arguments to combat sensation are futile. As the senses are always true, if there is error, it comes from the mind, of what the mind adds to sensations when it judges.
Senses are the first to have created the notion of truth, they are irrefutable besides being also the criterion of every true and false judgments.
* Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, (1951 verse translation by R. E. Latham), introduction and notes by John Godwin, Penguin revised edition 1994
(Contemporary Dutch-American philosopher)
1. The traditional definition of truth as the agreement of mind and reality expressed in the judgment is preceded by an event in which truth is unveiled. Phenomenology is interested in the truth that precedes the truth of the judgment. That truth is possible because of the light of man’s subjectivity through which the matter judged is unconcealed. Without the light of subjectivity, everything would remain in darkness and no judgment would be possible..
2. Phenomenological truth is rooted in man’s subjectivity. Still that does not mean that the subject invents the truth in an arbitrary way. The subject is not the Lord of being, only its shepherd, to use the well-known expression of Heidegger. Subjective truth has an objective side. To say that truth is relative to the subject does not lead to relativism. It is only the affirmation that phenomenological truth is always human truth, not a truth in itself independent of man’s subjectivity as found in Plato , Scholastic philosophy or Descartes.
3. Phenomenological truth is therefore historical truth, a truth born with man, a never finished event, a constant disclosure of meanings, a never-ending development. Moreover such a truth is a particular phase of the knowing subject‘s particular history and a particular phase of the collective history of mankind in search for truth in which every personal history is contained. There is no truth which does not have a future, for every truth opens new gaps.
4. Still phenomenological truth must be said to be trans-historical as well as historical. The historicity of truth does not imply the rejection of absolute truths. Phenomenologists discard the concept of absolute truth only in the sense of ‘absolutism’ of truth, which ignores the relativity inherent in history. To avoid all forms of ‘absolutism’, the phenomenologists uphold that the absolute aspect of truth must not be affirmed separated from the relativity and historicity of truth. Every truth, always relative to the subject, acquires a transhistorical value as well as a transhistorical intersubjective validity. In that sense can one speak of truth as eternal and immutable. The immutability and eternity of truth is brought about by man at a historical moment. Truth’s historicity excludes that truth is ‘finished’; it does not mean that to-day’s truth will be tomorrow’s untruth. Today my truth is immutable and, nonetheless, unfinished.
5. As for the criterion of truth it is found is the fruitfulness of the subject’s dialogue with reality. Here Luijpen adopts the view of the pragmatist theory of truth. Truth can be distinguished from untruth by the sole criterion of fruitfulness. He observes that. physical science uses the same criterion: a theory or hypothesis is provisionally true if it explains experience . If the hypothesis is wrong, the scientist’s dialogue with reality will come to a halt. Still, admits Luijpen, in ordinary life, the matter is not so easy to assess. Man cannot escape making mistakes in religious, social, political life. The dialogue with reality must continue for a long time before one realises one’s error and realises that one lived in untruth. The same criterion applies to religious truths: it is the criterion of fruitfulness for man’s self-realization. An untrue religion does violence to man.
Still it is not clear and evident what is meant by fruitfulness as a criterion of truth for man to achieve self-realisation. Luijpen’s answer to the question is that the truth about man’s essence must be decided. Of course man does not decide to be existent, free, etc. But he has to decide to realise himself in one way and not in another. He has to choose between various modes of “having to be”. Thus the question cannot be evaded: what makes him opt for the decisions he has made? Where to find the criterion of truth about man’s essence? Is there something outside man ( as Heidegger seems to have suggested) which decides about the truth of man ‘s essence, so that he has only to listen to it in order to find the truth? Luijpen candidly admits:” Here I see no light whatsoever”.
* Luiypen, Existential Phenomenology, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh, 1960, p.133-170
(Hungarian Marxist philosopher, 1885-1971)
The truth that matters in art is the truth that concerns man: art must reveal the truth of the human condition
The task of art, Lukacs says, is to ‘de-reify’ reality. The writer must free it from the illusions imprinted in it by capitalism by showing the objectivity of man’s world. A real work of art stands on its own as a real presentation of that objective world. It reflects an objective world where man lives and experiences the miseries of life. It manifests all that is significant in the area of life it tries to depict. In real life, there are real people, real suffering, and real struggles.
Lukacs argues that “the basis for any correct cognition of reality, whether nature or society, is the recognition of the objectivity of the external world, that is, it’s existence independent of human consciousness”. Applied to literature, it speaks of the objectivity of the external world as the substance of every work. The truth that matters, for him , is the truth that concerns man. It is a work that understands man. This understanding results from the conception of a perspective. This perspective refers to the truth of man’s world. Art must ge grounded on that truth. But modernism’s theoretical and practical conception of the world is not faithful to the real conditions of man. Its basis of action is not the essential nature of man’s real problematic. The man found in modernist art forms is not the man who suffers from the political and economic tragedies of his time. It is the function of art to make us see, however painful it might be, the sufferings of men, the sufferings of real men, and not the artificiality of modern life. Art must uncover the undercurrents in the real world of man.
Any literary piece or artwork must express reality and send the message of truth it represents to those who involve themselves in its evolution through time. Thus, art must go beyond the mere expression of beauty, for art is also about real life. Art must express the human problematic. It is the duty of the writer as an artist to reveal the truth of the human condition. After all, man writes for his fellow human beings. It is the writer’s ultimate obligation to tell his readers the truth of human life.
* Lukacs Georg, History & Class Consciousness, Merlin Press, 1967
(Polish logician,1878-1956 )
Lukasievicz is known for his criticism of the traditional bivalent logic. According to this classical logic all propositions are either true or false. It adopts uncritically the postulate of ‘determinicity’. Trivalent (and polyvalent) logic arose from the fact that propositions that describe future contingents cannot be declared either true or false. Trivalent logic rejects the presupposition of decidibility of binary logic. It wants to account of the fact that in many cases it is not possible to declare the truth or falsity of an assertion. Trivalent logic is the outcome of the knowledge of the limits of binary logic, and of all ways of arguing in terms of either/or. The postulate of determinicity (either true or false) is being questioned by theories that claim that knowledge is often, if not always, provisional.
Rejecting the principle of bivalence, Lukasiewicz claims that besides truth and falsehood there exist other truth-values, at least a third truth-value. Some propositions are neither true nor false but indeterminate. All sentences about future contingents are not true at the present moment: neither being nor non-being can apply to them. Indeterminate sentences are neither true nor false but ontologically possible. Lukasiewicz‘s intention in his defence of trivalent logic was to argue against the thesis of determinism for which even the future contingent has to be either true or false, thus leaving no room for the possible indeterminate.
Lukasiewicz’s ideas have originated “fuzzy” logic, the name given to the logic that deals for the uncertain and vague notions of the real world. Fuzzy logic is a multi-valued logic that allows the use of intermediate categories between notations such as true/false, hot/cold, etc. It allows to handle the concept of partial truth or partial falsehood rather than the absolute values of truth and falsehood. This means that according to this logic the law of excluded middle is no longer applicable. To the truth logic 1 and false logic O, Lukasiewicz added a logic value of 1/2, which he termed possible. Some other logicians have proposed to use O and 1 for false and true, 2 for unknown possible and 3 for unknowable, etc.
Lukasiewicz has shown that, once we are aware of the prejudices that lie behind the foundation of the classical bivalent logic, we come to realise that this kind of logic , like propaganda, can become a tool for the manipulation of opinion, in compelling people to exclusive choices (either/or) on political, ideological or religious issues.
* Lukasiewicz, Jan, Selected works, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1970
(Catalan mystical theologian, 1232-1316)
A rather startling element in Raymond Lull’s thought is the identification he maintains between theology and philosophy. Scholastics of the XIIIth century maintained that, while theology and philosophy agree, so that what is true in philosophy cannot be false in theology, or vice versa, they are nevertheless two distinct sciences, differing in that theology uses revelation as a source, while philosophy relies on reason alone. Some Arabians had completely separated faith and reason by maintaining the theory of the double truth, the twofold standard of truth, according to which what is false in philosophy may be true in theology. Raymond Lull was carried on by his zeal for the refutation of the Arabians, going to the opposite extreme. He held that there is no distinction between philosophy and theology, between reason and faith, so that even the highest mysteries may be proved by means of logical demonstration and the use of Ars Magna (some kind of mechanical contrivance or logical machine he had invented). As a result Lull removed all distinctions between natural and supernatural truth. However his rationalism was of the mystic type. Indeed according to him, for the understanding of the highest truths reason must be aided by faith, and once faith has flooded the soul, reason enlightened by faith is capable of showing that, for instance, there are three persons in one God. Enlightened by faith, reason can prove the articles of faith in a convincing way. Reason needs faith but faith is as much in need of reason for faith may deceive us unless reason guides it. Relying on faith alone leads to blindness. To find out the truth both faith and reason are mutually necessary.
Lull’s rationalistic mysticism which denies the distinction of natural and supernatural truths was condemned by Church authorities in 1376. The breakdown of the distinction was considered as leading to dangerous consequences.
* Lull Raymond, see Catholic Encyclopedia,Vol. XII, New Advent, New York, art. By William Turner
(American teacher of Transcendental Meditation, (1912-2001}
Truth is experienced through Transcendental Meditation
To find truth, one must experience truth through Transcendental Meditation. Truth cannot be expressed through language. Truth is only understood and experienced by intuition; the self-luminous light of consciousness. To discover the truth brings peace, progress, prosperity, spiritual power and eternity. Untruth brings misery, mental and physical suffering and continued bondage.
The movement of the mind in a righteous way leads to truth. The movement of the mind in a false way leads to untruth. Transcendental Meditation is the instrument to check the mind from lower movement and turn it to higher movement.
If we wished to define truth we would have to say it is that which is. However, we would also have to realize that there are two categories of truth; relative and absolute. Relative truth is that truth that exists within the limitations of time, space, cause and effect. Absolute truth is that truth that exists permanently, everywhere, and is not affected or contradicted by time, space, cause and effect. In relative truth, there is always something depending on something else. In absolute truth, it is dependent on nothing other than itself. It is forever non-changing.
Anytime we consider the relative finite as totality rather than a dependent part, then we experience suffering because a part cannot be the whole. We should not try to make the relative into the absolute, but what we should do is to identify with the absolute. And this we can do through the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
A human is a combination of absolute and relative. In his ignorance he believes himself to be only one aspect, and that aspect is the relative. However, in meditation, the truth is slowly revealed; that we are really eternal, absolute.
To gain a status of absolute truth through Transcendental Meditation, we must be sincere and have the faith to follow through. Thereby we gain discrimination and the knowledge of the Self and the non-self; knowing that which is supportive of life and that which is not; knowing that we have to gain freedom from desire, absence of cravings and increased detachment from the world of objects.
A mind that is attaining a higher level of purification begins to reflect more and more the glory of the Self. It gains an unswerving faith in the Self and the perspective of cosmic consciousness. In this state the mind is free from worries, sorrows, problems and distractions. Tranquility of mind is attained. We gain mastery over the senses. We also gain spiritual strength, endurance and wisdom. Now we see what is true and what is not true, because we have moved away from relative truth to absolute truth.
See Internet Charlie Lutes.
(German theologian and reformation leader, 1483-1546)
One of the central questions of philosophy is the epistemological question: how do we know what is true? Is it by the use of reason unaided by revelation that we can make a determination of truth? Is it by observation or experience? Luther took for granted the primacy of God’s word in the determination of truth. He dismissed the authority of philosophers and Church theologians in favour of Biblical revelation. He adopted the principle of “sola scriptura”: only the word of God (the Bible) is true.
Luther raised the problem of the criterion of religious truth when he challenged the epistemic authority of the Catholic Church. He attempted to show that the Church was corrupt by its own standards, by its own criteria, and specifically by its “rule of faith” that gave the Popes and the Councils of the Church supremacy in the determination of what is true to belief. According to Luther the authority of scripture outranks all other authority. Through his central doctrine of “sola scriptura”, he challenged the traditional epistemic authority of the Church. He established a new criterion of truth: whatever the individual conscience is compelled to believe from reading the holy scripture is true. He considered human individuals autonomous and responsible adults capable of thinking by themselves. Thus he made subjective certainty the criterion of religious knowledge. To the objection that the so-called scriptures are not necessarily the word of God but a compilation of human written texts, Luther’s answer is that the scriptures themselves attest to their own authority. They are self-justifying. Luther did not bother that there could be a logical gap between subjective certainty and external truth. Moreover he optimistically expected that sincere and autonomous readers of the scripture would always agree in their understanding of the texts.
* See Althaus, Paul, The Theology of Martin Luther, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1966
(Cntemporary unknown author )
No religion has a monopoly of truth: there is truth in all.
The differences in the teachings of the various religions are due largely to the inevitable spread and adoption over time of degraded and corrupted versions of the teachings in place of the original. Subsequent followers and students not being of the same high order as their Prophets, their understanding was less than perfect. Consequently, as they passed on to the succeeding students their flawed interpretations, the original and true divine teachings were effectively replaced or obscured. Further, aggravated by differences in language and culture caused by a lack of communication between the various peoples of the world, sad but true, misinformation and confusion is now pervasive and widespread.
However, with increased communication and racial integration, and as everyone of us continues to push forward in our development, all these differences will eventually be resolved and the real teachings will reemerge and come together, united in the One Truth.
Regardless however, the different religions represent the many faces of God and His divine teachings. To different people, God reveals Himself in different ways.To the Hindus, God lays stress on the knowledge of self in its various aspects. To the Shintoists and the Taoists, He teaches selflessness and simplicity. To the followers of Confucius, He stresses goodness and social service. To the Buddhists, He espouses a "Middle Way" of life. In addition, the realities of the spiritual worlds beyond Earth have largely been confirmed through the mystic experiences of the more advanced adepts belonging to both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths.
To the Jews, He is Yahweh, the One God with human attributes. And over the centuries, in line with the spiritual development of man, He became transformed, through the teachings of Jesus Christ, from the jealous and vengeful God of the Old Testament prophets, to the God of love and justice, truth and beauty of the present generation.
To the Muslims, He teaches the principles of mutual help, the furtherance of good and the repression of evil. Further, Allah enjoins that in their trials and hardships in life, the Muslims should predispose themselves to submit to His divine will. It is inferred here, of course, that Allah is all-powerful and just: that He loves us all; and like a good father to his children, He sends us only the very best. Therefore, we really should welcome or, at least, be resigned even to hardships and sorrows because although we may not understand now, they have a divine purpose under heaven, a counterpart spiritual benefit all according to His divine will.
In all of these religions, emphasis is on love, righteous living and the development of character. This is the essence of all religious teachings. This is what is important. And with righteousness, truth unfolds.
But in the pursuit of truth, no one and no religion has a monopoly, because there is truth in all. And in order to attain to the whole, we must draw from each of the parts. For all men are God’s children. We are, all of us, part and parcel of the One God. And nothing and no one exists outside God. We are one.
*Luz Angel, see Internet
(Contemporary American philosopher)
There has been a lack of success of theories of truth to explain the nature of truth. The main reason for it is that these theories are assuming that the question “What is truth?” has a single answer. Most of the players of the contemporary debate over truth share an unnoticed allegiance to a certain type of monism: truth has but one underlying nature – if any nature at all.
This alethic (that is, truth-related) monism, so natural to philosophers, runs contrary to the way most people think about truth. They think that different sorts of propositions can be true without being true in the same way. Intuitive thought is that moral propositions can be true all right; but their truth is of a different kind than that of propositions like ‘the cat is on the mat’. Alethic monism is an artifact of philosophers, not a result of common-sense practice.
The reluctance of philosophers about a plurality of kinds of truth seems to be that it implies a plurality of truth concepts. And a plurality of truth concepts entails that the word “true” is ambiguous and equivocal. Statements could be true in completely different senses.
Lynch’s thesis is that the conceptual (semantic) account of truth must be uniform across context. But it does not imply that our account of the deep nature of truth must be similarly uniform. We can be monist about the concept of truth while being pluralists about its underlying nature. The concept of truth must be seen as the concept of a multiply realizable property.
Truth is a functional concept; it has a functional role. A function is a type of job. A functional concept is the concept of a property that plays a certain role. One of the most basic platitudes about truth is that “a proposition is true when the world is as that proposition says it is”. This platitude specifies truth’s “job”, its functional role of “saying it like it is”. One should not attempt to read it as the key to truth’s deep metaphysical nature (or lack thereof).
For instance, ‘head of state’ is a functional concept. It consists in performing a certain job. But this job varies according to countries, traditions or individuals. The functional role of being ‘head of state’ is performed differently but this does not imply that the concept of ‘head of state’ is equivocal. In the same sense, for the functionalist about truth, truth talk is not equivocal, because the concept of truth is everywhere understood as naming a particular functional role. Nonetheless, what realizes that role may vary from context to context.
To be true is to play the truth role. But functionalism allows that this role might be realized or occupied by different properties. For the functionalist view, it is a fact about the concept of truth that no matter what discourse I may happen to be engaged in, what I say will be true just when it has a property that plays the truth role for that discourse.
However we want not only to explain the concept of truth but also know what truth is or about the property of truth. We cannot say that the truth role is realized by different properties in different contexts. For if we do so, we would no longer be able to talk of truth simpliciter; truth would be equivocal. We should rather say that the property of truth can be realised differently in different contexts. Thus propositions about the physical world might be true in virtue of their correspondence with mind-independent objects, while the truth of legal propositions might be realised in virtue of coherence and convention with the legal system in place.
In every discourse, the concept of truth is the property of having the property that plays the truth role for that discourse. The functionalist theory is thereby consistent with monism. But it satisfies also the pluralist intuitions for to have the property of truth is to have a property that can, by its very nature, be realized in multiple ways. In this sense the functionalist theory is ecumenical for it does not dictate in advance how truth will be realized in various discourses. To specify how truth is realized, we must look at the particulars of our thought.
* Lynch, M.P., The Nature of Truth, Bradford Books, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2001, p.723-748
(French philosopher, 1924-1998)
The postmodern shift from truth to efficiency as the goal of knowledge
1. The concept of “metanarrative” is central in Lyotard’s dealing with the problem of truth. Metanarratives are comprehensive world views understood to be accurate and true understanding of reality. Whereas modernists believe in metanarratives, postmodernists do not give them any credit. They reject them on account of their claim of having truth that transcends the individual or culture and which can give one knowledge of reality as it is. Lyotard defines postmodernism as “incredulity towards metanarratives”. For him all truth is a social construction and therefore all “grand” and expansive accounts of truth, meaning and existence are cast aside as “metanarratives” because they claim for more than they can deliver. When all the great speculative systems are dead, all that remains are “little” stories accepted as true by different groups and cultures.
2. According to Lyotard societies are now entering the post-industrial phase and that means that the condition and character of knowledge is altered. Premodern knowledge is narrative. This is the case with religion and myth. They constitute knowledge by virtue of their function of transmitting sets of rules that establish the social bond, not by virtue of their corresponding with ‘facts’. Narratives legitimate themselves through their function of social unity. Modernity is the denial of narrative knowledge which is replaced by science which is supposed to produce truth. Unlike religion and myth science requires an external source of legitimation. Science establishes ‘metanarratives’ as source of legitimation. Modern science appeals to the grand narratives of speculation to legitimate itself. It developed the view of itself as the source of enlightenment and the source of truth. Possessing scientific knowledge implied that one could get behind mystification and superstition to reveal the facts and truths about the world. Science claimed that it needed no further justification. But today’s Post-modernity exposes cracks in the facade of science’s grand meta-narratives. Lyotard draws the list of these supposed-to-be ‘cracks’. He concludes that scientists have no more access to the truth than philosophers, historians or theologians. Like anybody else scientists are story-tellers. Science is a sub-set of story-telling as it is made up of language games which generate particular forms of narrative. Lyotard rejects the modernist view that science is a superior form of knowledge.
3. For Lyotard the computerization of society – a key aspect of post industrial society - shifts emphasis from the ends of actions to their means. This spirit is reflected in the altered character of knowledge. Truth requires proof, proof requires observation, but human observation is limited and technology is required. The pivotal role of information-driven technologies in post industrial societies results in the denial of the criterion of truth in favour of efficiency. It alters the game rule for science. The true/false distinction is replaced by the efficient/inefficient distinction. The new basis of knowledge for post-industrial society is performativity. It marks a distinct shift from modern knowledge whose goal of truth necessitated the use of grand narratives to legitimate themselves and establish their monopoly of truth. The criterion of legitimation in the age of computerisation is efficiency, which no longer requires metanarratives since it is self-legitimating.
Knowledge ceases to be an end in itself. Knowledge as the pursuit of truth is abandoned and its value is therefore not determined by its truth-value but by its exchange-value. Science becomes a commodity and a force of production. Hence there is a shift away from truth as the goal of knowledge. The only credible goal of knowledge is power. Scientists are no longer “purchased to find truth, but to augment power”. Lyotard argues that it is performativity which brings the pragmatic functions of knowledge clearly to light.
* Lyotard, Jean-François, The Post-Modern Condition: a Report on Knowledge, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, 1979