( American evangelical writer, b. 1939)
The abandonment of objective truth in Christianity
Macarthy deplores that the popular evangelical conception of "truth" has become almost completely subjective. Truth is viewed as fluid, always relative, never absolute. To suggest that any objective criterion might be used to distinguish truth from error is to be egregiously out of step with the spirit of the age. In some circles, Scripture itself has been ruled out as a reliable test of truth.
All this relativity has had disastrous effects on the typical Christian's ability to discern truth from error, right from wrong, good from evil. The plainest teachings of the Bible are being questioned among people who declare themselves believers in the Bible. Even to suggest that a sorting between lies and truth is necessary is viewed by many as perilously intolerant. There is a notion abroad that any dispute over doctrine is inherently evil. Concern for orthodoxy is regarded as incompatible with Christian unity. Doctrine itself is labeled divisive and those who make doctrine an issue are branded uncharitable.
When tolerance is valued over truth, the cause of truth always suffers. Church history shows this to be so. Only when the people of God have mounted a hardy defense of truth and sound doctrine has the church flourished and grown strong. The times of decline in the history of the church have always been marked by an undue emphasis on tolerance—which leads inevitably to carelessness, worldliness, doctrinal compromise, and great confusion in the church.
From the beginning of recorded history until late last century, virtually all human philosophy assumed the necessity of absolute truth. Truth was universally understood as that which is true, not false; factual, not erroneous; correct, not incorrect; moral, not immoral; just, not unjust; right, not wrong. Practically all philosophers since the time of Plato assumed the objectivity of truth. Philosophy itself was a quest for the highest understanding of truth. Such a pursuit was presumed to be possible, even necessary, because truth was understood to be the same for every person. This did not mean that everyone agreed what truth was, of course. But virtually all agreed that whatever was true was true for everyone.
That all changed in the nineteenth century with the birth of existentialism. Existentialism defies precise definition, but it includes the concept that the highest truth is subjective (having its source in the individual's mind) rather than objective (something that actually exists outside the individual). We might accurately characterize existentialism as the abandonment of objectivity. It all began with Kierkegaard who decided that objectivity and truth were incompatible. Faith, he suggested, means the rejection of reason and the exaltation of feeling and personal experience. He coined the expression "leap of faith." Faith to him was an irrational experience, above all a personal choice. He rejected as inherently worthless the belief that truth is objective.
Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity: it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture.
As for ‘mysticism’, it is the idea that spiritual reality is found by looking inward. It is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is its inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous. Mystical experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them.
At the other end of the spectrum, we find people who, sensing the dangers of a religion that points people inward, choose instead a religion that emphasizes external ceremonies and dogmatic hierarchical authority. They decide that the Bible alone is not a sufficient rule of faith for believers, and they put their faith in papal authority and church tradition. They chose the other extreme of reckless faith, the kind that makes extra-biblical religious tradition the object of one's faith. This kind of faith is reckless because it subjugates the written Word of God to oral tradition, church authority, or some other human criterion. It is an uncritical trust in an earthly religious authority—the popes and traditions.
*MacArhtur John, Fool's Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error (2005) ISBN 158134726X
(Contemporary English theologian)
The “hierarchy of truths” in Vatican II
Vatican II’s decree of Ecumenism, art.11, says: “When comparing doctrines with one another, (theologians) should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists an order or ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith”. MacDonald observes that some commentators interpret this text of Vatican II in this way: some doctrines are less important than others. Hence there is no need to defend them with the same rigour. Some doctrines, it seems, would be less “true” than others. Not all “Christian” truths are of equal importance. Some are more and others are less important. Indeed some “Christian” truths deal with the matter of the final goal or salvation, while other truths deal only with the means towards the final goal or salvation. Thus the doctrinal differences among Christian theologians deal mostly with truths on the level of means. According to MacDonald it is essential to have a proper understanding of the expression: “not of equal importance”. “Importance”, he claims, must be understood as meaning “place, order, relation”. “Importance”, in the Vatican text, does not mean “value or weight”. Thus the Vatican’s reference to the hierarchy of truths cannot mean an invitation to play down some doctrines in comparison with others or to surrender some “minor” truths in order to secure agreement on major doctrines. Some theologians have interpreted “hierarchy of truths” as denoting a difference in rank. But that is not the case, argues MacDonald, for whom the expression: “hierarchy of truths” denotes only dependency. What is at stake is not a matter of degree of truthfulness but a matter of variations in the relation to the foundation of the faith.
There is then no justification at all for the creation of scales of importance based on anything other than relationship of dependence. Some doctrines are basic and fundamental and others are totally dependent on the first, but that ‘dependency’ does not render these doctrines less “true” than the basic ones.
* MacDonald, Peter, Hierarchy of truths in Vat.II, Homelitic & Pastoral review, April 19999, 14-21
(Contemporary American Christian minister)
Christian unity must be based on anything less than the absolute truth.
Modern counterfeit unity is at the expense of doctrine, rather than being firmly grounded in it. Unity has become the new found "lowest common denominator" doctrine. Using this shifting standard, in the name of unity, churches and individuals that openly espouse doctrine that have scripturally and historically been condemned as heresy, are now welcomed. For many the lowest common denominator has been reduced to, "If you love Jesus". Little or no concern is given to the fact that the "Jesus" they worship may have little or no resemblance to the true Christ revealed in Scripture.
Only moral and spiritual relativism can state that two opposing views can both be right. This is scripturally impossible. The Bible tells us that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). God is not a God of greys, much less black and white, God is a God of Truth. Absolutely 100% the Truth. Our desire should be to grow in God's Truth, to seek diligently that Truth in the pages of God's Word and to trust that God will reveal that Truth to us through His Word and by His Spirit.
Have you chosen to water down the narrow truths of God's Word, to redefine God's Truth to suit yourself, to accept unquestioned a redefinition by some theologian, teacher, or pastor, when scripture clearly, by context and verse shows otherwise? Or maybe you've added to the Truth, additions based on the ideas of man, or chosen to selectively chose what Truth's you feel apply to you. The bottom line is, that if it's less than the Truth or more than the Truth, it's simply not the Truth.
Jesus told us in His prayer that the real unity of all believers grounded firmly in God and His Truth, will send a message to the world. This message will be divisive. Jesus himself said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to `set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and `a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'" Combine that with Jesus' statement that "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." and you can see that the to live for Christ is costly not cheap - promoting division with the world - but being secure in the knowledge that the true unity of being in the Father can never be taken away in life or death.
*See Internet Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 1995-1997
(Austrian physicist and philosopher, 1838-1916)
Science, according to Mach, is nothing more than a description of facts. And "facts" involve nothing more than sensations and the relationships among them. Sensations are the only real elements. All the other concepts are extra; they are merely imputed on the real, i.e., on the sensations, by us. Concepts like "matter" and "atom" are merely shorthand for collections of sensations; they do not denote anything that exists.
Ernst Mach admitted his debt to Berkeley and Hume. He stated, "The world consists only of our sensations". He asserted that the aim of Science was to describe our sensations, and that the laws of Science merely stated general relationships among our sensations. Anything not directly perceived did not exist; inapparent entities posited to cause sensations were mere "metaphysical speculations" - nothing more than convenient fictions. Therefore Mach, as late as the early 20th century, denied the existence of atoms because they could not be seen, even though they were a necessary postulate in any attempt to explain our experiences.
Mach carried his philosophy to its logical conclusion. Consider the case of a pencil that is partially submerged in water. It looks broken, but it is really straight, as we can verify by touching it. Not so, says Mach. The pencil in the water and the pencil out of the water are merely two different facts. The pencil in the water is really broken, as far as the fact of sight is concerned, and that's all there is to it.
Since science is, for Mach, just the description of facts, it does not aim at finding the truth about reality. It does not aim at finding the truth about anything. Its sole function is the achievement of "economy of thought," the description of the greatest possible number of facts using the smallest possible mental effort. A law of nature is valuable not because it is, in any sense, true but because it is a concise description of a large number of facts.
Mach's "empiriocriticism" arose as a reaction to the speculative German philosophy of the nineteenth century, an entangled, verbose mess of intricate "world-views," having little to do with either empirical evidence or clarity of thought. Lenin was probably right in considering Mach 'a great physicist and a small philosopher'. The view of science as merely a system for thought economy is contrary to the experiences of many great scientists. They experience their acts of discovery as acts of seeing into the hidden workings of nature, not as acts of figuring out how to condense large bodies of information into "economical" packages. One role of science is to explain phenomena, and an explanation is different from Mach's "economy of thought."
* See Mach, Ernst, see " Encyclopædia Britannica". 2007, 8 Feb. 2007
(Italian Political theorist, 1469-1527)
Machiavel’s interest is in political philosophy to which he gives a new orientation. He breaks away from the tradition which had always underlined the affinity between politics and ethics. He is not concerned with the notion of an ideal State but with what exists in reality. He claims that, in wanting to follow what “should be” rather than “what is”, people and States do not survive but ruin themselves.
Machiavel’s intention is to write something useful. He deals with what he calls “the effective truth” of things rather than the imagination one has of them. He denounces the confusion between being as it is and being as it should be, the confusion between the real and the imaginary. Truth is in the facts, not in the imagination: the Machiavelian concept of “effective” truth. One should get rid of illusions and adhere only to what is. The concept of effective truth transforms the concept of justice: what is useful must be considered as just, and not what is morally just be seen as useful. Virtue is associated what strength, not with morality. Effective truth is found only in what is advantageous for the personal interest of the individual.
The basic metaphysical presupposition of Machiavel’s thought is that being is characterised in terms of strength and efficiency and that truth is a matter of the will rather than of the intellect. Knowledge is not a theoretical contemplation of the real that brings nothing useful. Rather, it is the active commitment of the ‘human beast’ whose fundamental drive is selfishness and exploitation of other human beings for the sake of self-survival and domination.
* Machiavel, Il Principe, Bantam classics, 1984
(American (moral) philosopher, b.1929)
Relativism and perspectivism are the temptations of those who despair of intellectal advancement in the search of truth
MacIntyre does not accept the relativist claim that because we are bound to our finite perspectives conditioned by history and social position, we are barred from certainty or absolute truth. Rather, he holds that man has the ability to understand rival perspectives and that rational evaluation and judgement can be made with regard to the strengths and weaknesses of rival world views and ideologies.
He distinguishes two forms of relativism: relativism properly speaking and perspectivalism. The relativist claims that there can be no rationality as such, but only rationality relative to the standards of some particular tradition. The perspectivalist claims that the central beliefs of a tradition are not to be considered as true or false, but as providing different, complementary perspectives for envisaging the realities about which they speak to us. MacIntyre argues that both the relativist and the perspectivalist are wrong. They are wrong because they fail to admit the absolute timeless character of the truth, and would replace truth by what is often called warranted assertibility. Instead of truth, they hold that the best we can attain is the right (or warrant) to assert various statements in various circumstances.
MacIntyre's solution to the problem of how to reach absolute truth from a historically limited position is that attention to history itself may reveal the superiority of one tradition over another with respect to a given topic.
1. The relativist claims that there is no way in which a tradition can enter into rational debate with another. If this were so, then there could be no good reason to give one's allegiance to the standpoint of any one tradition rather to that of any other. To the contrary, MacIntyre claims that the question of a person's allegiance to a particular tradition is far from arbitrary. The intellectual struggle of all those who have changed their minds about the correctness of an intellectual or spiritual tradition is more than ample evidence to the question. It is in this way, for instance, that the people of Rome could come to accept Christianity, and the people of Iran, Islam. Each people saw that their own traditions had reached a point of crisis, a point at which further progress could only be made by the adoption of a new religion.
MacIntyre sees relativism as tempting those who despair of intellectual advancement, and for the sake of intellectual advancement, he sees it as a temptation that must be avoided.
2. The perspectivalist, like the reductive religious pluralist, states that rival traditions provide different views of the same reality, and none can be considered absolutely true or false. MacIntyre objects that the traditions really do conflict with one another, and the fact that they are rivals itself bears testimony to their substantive disagreements over what is true and false. The claim that there is no ultimate truth of the matter is really just a way of avoiding the work that needs to be done in order to determine exactly where and in what respects in each of the rival traditions the truth lies. When the differences in the rivals is so deep that the very principles of rationality are called into question, the rivalry produces an epistemological crisis, but even here, the need and duty to provide a rational evaluation of the rivals remains.
3. MacIntyre shows how rational evaluation of different traditions is possible, although he admits that this evaluation must begin from within a specific tradition. His emphasis on the fact that the starting point of our inquiry is tradition-bound is comparable to a common theme among writers in the hermeneutic tradition, such as Gadamer. The fantasy of universal standards of reason to which all rational beings must submit by virtue of being rational must be abandoned.
But what distinguishes MacIntyre from others who share his sensitivity to context dependency is his robust sense of the truth. The incommensurability of competing traditions, according to MacIntyre, is not as absolute as some have imagined. Logic retains authority, even if its principles are disputed, and what is sought is nothing less than truth.
*MacIntyre, Alasdair, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981, Second Edition, 1984)
(Australian born English moral philosopher (1917-1981)
Mackie proposes what he calls an ‘error theory’ of ethics , which states that all moral judgements are false. He bases it on three arguments.
- The first is the argument from relativity. Moral beliefs are relative to different cultures, therefore they cannot be objectively true. Our culture shapes our particular moral beliefs and not the other way round .
- The second is the ‘argument from queerness’. If moral beliefs were true, moral values would have to exist as ‘queer’ kinds of metaphysical objects. We gain knowledge of the objects of the physical world through our five senses but then by what faculty do we gain knowledge of moral objects? But no such moral objects can exist and therefore moral beliefs cannot be objectively true. The moral skepticism that Mackie defends is the epistemological position that the belief in objective moral values is unjustified and baseless. The world of objective moral truths is a chimera. Like aesthetic judgements, moral judgements are a matter of taste and not matter of truth.
Mackie argues that although moral judgements are apt to be true or false, and that moral judgements, if true, would give access to moral facts, moral judgements are in fact always false. This is because there simply are no moral facts in the world of the sort required to render our moral judgements true. We have no plausible epistemological account of how we could access such facts, and, moreover, such facts would be metaphysically ‘queer’, that is, unlike anything else in the universe we know. As there are no moral facts, moral judgements are uniformly false: our moral thinking involves us in radical error.
- His third argument against moral realism is based on a psychological explanation of the reason why people believe in objective values. People, he claims, have a tendency to objectify values which are actually subjective in origin. The external nature of societal demands and constraints make people think that moral issues are externally objective truths.
* Mackie, J.L. Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, Penguin books, 1976
(Contemporary American theologian)
Truth reveals itself both as transcendental and as propositional.
What is truth? For Edward M. MacKinnon, Truth' can be taken as an abstract way of referring to true propositions. But there is also a deeper meaning, as when one speaks of science as the search for truth or of theology as based on revealed truth. `Truth' in this sense connotes something transcendent.
"Something transcendent”? MacKinnon relates transcendence both to the mystery of the universe, which scientists fathom, and to the mystery of God, upon which theologians reflect. He suggests that both mysteries summon tentative "propositional" expressions of their respective "truth": scientific theories, which represent successive approximations to specialized aspects of the universe, and theological linguistic analogs, which express a human understanding of God.
Thus MacKinnon proposes two meanings of truth: transcendental and propositional. The latter is an explication and approximation of transcendence; the former, the ultimate ground and goal of the search for truth. He argues that transcendent reality is the ultimate ground and goal of the search for truth, but it is a ground which can only be explicated and a goal which can be only approximated by the slow piecemeal process of presenting propositions which we take to be true and hope to be not too inadequate..
Truth has both an absolute and a relative meaning. As transcendental, truth is absolute in the sense that, in a proposition, it always conjures some transcendent reality, which exists rather than existing not. As propositional, however, truth is relative: in a proposition, it directs one to the "true" in the explication, which exists to the extent that transcendent reality is approximated. Both truths, transcendental and propositional, reveal themselves in propositions.
* Edward M. MacKinnon, Truth & Expression (New York: Newman Press, 1971). Ibid., p. 182.
(English existentialist theologian, b. 1919)
1. Truth is polymorphous. Still there is something common to all kinds of truths. In each case there are specific criteria of truth.
Theology is concerned with existential truth, lived truth, not verbal truth. As Kierkegaard wrote, the question is to be in the truth, as much as and even more than to know the truth. However there is need to express theological truth in language and statements. These expressions can only be approximate. Some expressions may be better than others.
Theological propositions are multidimensional and that means that, depending on the method and ‘mood’ of theologians, a variety of point of views – sometimes apparently conflicting – is expressed. Macquarrie argues that a reconciliation of all viewpoints is possible. Sharply differing concepts - of God or Christ, for instance – may not express incompatible points of view but rather differences of emphasis, coming from different traditions. No wonder, since our language can never fully grasp the religious reality. Macquarrie gives three examples of the tension between dimensions of religious language.
- The descriptive-valuative tension, in which the intellectual assent to doctrinal truth seems to contradict the act of existential commitment to religious values. According to Macquarrie, it can be shown that the descriptive and the evaluative-existential dimensions are both essential for theological truth.
- The confessional-critical tension, in which the theological exposition of the deep experience of the believing community seems in conflict with critical theology undertaken as a rigorous science in dialogue with secular studies. Still Macquarrie holds that confessional faith and critical reason are alike necessary dimensions within the discourse of theology.
-The symbolic-conceptual tension, in which mythological and symbolical interpretations seem to conflict with the conceptual truth-claims of religion. Macquarrie upholds that theology that turns to indirect language through the use of metaphors, myths and analogies can also find a way to relate the religious statements to reality.
These tensions manifest the complexity of theological statements in their attempt to express religious truth.
2. According to Macquarrie salvation consists in the fundamental realization that "truth" exists not in the communities and institutions among which we are thrown, but is in us as beings who question and think the nature of Being. The accent rides on the "in us," meaning that the locus of truth is not the proposition, but the human being, who is the clearing within which Being presents itself.
What is called ‘Christian truth’ is not propositional truth. The event of revelation is prior to any propositional formulation of faith: it is the Christ-event of divine self-communication as well as its reception - because one cannot speak of revelation unless it is received. The Christ-event and its reception constitute the moment of truth for the Christian because it is that which, for him, brings into light the realities of human condition and the reality of God.
This event of truth takes place when concealment is removed and something hitherto hidden is exposed and revealed. Moreover the truth-event is appropriated because human beings are open to receive it. This way of understanding truth reminds one of Heidegger’s reflections on truth (see Heidegger). Truth , for him, is the coming out of hiddenness. Dasein, ( man) as openness has the possibility to receive (or miss) the truth. According to Macquarrie, Heidegger seems to suggest that the discovery of truth is not just the result of human striving, does not involve ridding the psyche of all distorting influences so as to hear the truth plainly, but is an event "above and beyond our willing and doing" in which Being gives itself to be known.
This, of course, may be the case for all knowing. What is distinctive in the religious use of the words “revealed truth” is the thought that in this process, the initiative lies with that which is known. It is not man who brings into light what is concealed but rather the other way about: it is that which is known that provides the light by which it is known. This implies that the familiar epistemological situation gets reversed.
3. Our fundamental anxiety in the face of our radical finitude and the precariousness of existence are that which predisposes us to recognize the approach to ‘holy being’ and constitute our capacity for receiving revelation. But what is revealed? The wonder of ‘holy Being’, the creature-feeling in the presence of holy Being, the fundamental religious experience of grace, well described by R. Otto in terms of mysterium tremendum fascinans.
One can describe that experience but one cannot get behind it to know whether it is a valid experience or an illusion. One can only invite other people to enter sympathetically in that experience and then to decide. In the long run that experience falls short of certitude because it is faith and a matter of commitment without demonstrative proof.
* Macquarrie, John, Principles of Christian Theology, SCM Press, London, 1966, 84-95 ; 144-148
(Indian philosopher and theologian, 1197-1276)
Madhva's pluralistic ontology (Dvaita Vedânta) is founded on his realist epistemology, which in turn affects his Vedic hermeneutics. He argues that God and the human soul are separate because our daily experience of separateness from God and of plurality in general is presented to us as an undeniable fact, fundamental to our knowledge of all things. Madhva's emphasis on the validity of experience as a means of knowledge is intended to refute the non-dualist position that the differences we experience in daily life are ultimately a shared illusion with the ambiguous ontological status of being neither real nor unreal.
In Madhva's view, Advaita Vedânta's denial of the innate validity of knowledge acquired through sense perception completely undermines our ability to know anything since we must always question the content of our knowledge. This questioning would encompass our knowledge of the sacred canon, which is accessible to us only through our ability to perceive it and to draw inferences from it. Madhva argues that perception and inference must be innately valid and the reality they present us with must be actually and ultimately real since such a position is the only one that allows us to know the content of the Vedas.
This aspect of Madhva's realist epistemology is important not only because it bolsters Madhva's claim that the atman and Brahman are permanently distinct as revealed to us by experience, but because it means that the sacred texts must be read in consonance with the data we receive from our everyday experience, even though the Vedas present us with knowledge of a supra-sensible realm. Madhva argues that the Vedas cannot teach non-difference between the atman and Brahman or a lack of true plurality since this would directly contradict our experience.
Madhva argues that the doctrine of different levels of truth is incoherent. There is either a world of plural selves or there is not. You cannot have it both ways. Madhva appeals to the unity of truth and assumes the law of excluded middle. A declarative statement (one that expresses a proposition) is either true or false; not neither truth nor false and not both true and false. To claim that the statement "There are many selves" is true for one level but not true for another "ultimate" level just doesn't make sense to Madhva. His critique is cogent because ontological claims either correctly describe states of affairs or they fail to do so. It is difficult to rank levels of truth when the higher level contradicts the lower level.
* See Mercier J.L. From the Upanishads to Aurobindo, Asian trading Corporation, Bangalore, India, 2002
(British popularizer of philosophy, b.1930)
Truth runs deeper than just grammar, language and empirical verification
Magee's basic conviction is that philosophy is hugely important, in that it deals - or should deal - with all our ultimate questions about what the world, and therefore our existence in this world, is really like. He denounces the current philosophies that reduces the quest of truth to a matter of either empirical verification or use of language. His most trenchant attacks are on the Logical Positivists who ruled out as "non-philosophical" any discussion which was carried on in language that did not meet their narrow criteria of meaningfulness. The Linguistic Philosophers, who gradually took over from the Logical Positivists, are even less concerned with the truth or verifiability of a proposition. Instead, they think that the principal task of philosophy is to elucidate the way words are used in practice. They believe that it is not the business of philosophers to go beyond that and to produce any theories: as Gilbert Ryle defined it, philosophy was merely "talk about talk".
Magee describes these philosophers as having all the characteristics of a narrow and intolerant sect. He has the strong conviction that the empirical world cannot be all there is: empirical and linguistic theories had nothing to say about those experiences we have, and have very intensely, which are therefore profoundly meaningful, but whose source we can hardly explain adequately.
Because human beings are part of the noumenal reality, they therefore also experience something of the noumenon, as it were, from the inside, feeling the noumenon at work within them, even though they don't know what it is. That experience is direct and intuitive; it is not the result of reasoning or of perceptions mediated by concepts. It transports into a non-sensory realm and gives a feeling of at-One-ness with something beyond the self, i.e. with the noumenal.
For Magee, the existence of a truth hidden from the self – which, he says, has always been "almost intolerably frustrating" – has been elucidated by great thinkers such as Kant and even more Schopenhauer. Both explained that there must be a reality (the noumenal world) beyond the phenomenal world of which we have experience. That discovery was for Magee an enormous enrichment of the way he understood himself and could establish in some way a connection between himself and the noumenon. There are in fact 'real' problems that run deeper than just grammar and language. Magee thinks that it is somehow around the grappling with these ‘real’ problems that we are to ultimately gain our humanity. Still he has little to say more about that “intolerably frustrating hidden truth”.
* Magee Bryan, Confessions of a Philosopher, Random House, 1998,
(Contemporary Indian philosopher of education)
The ‘perennialist’ concept of truth
Perennialists see the analytic statement as a self-evident truth that may be known apart from all empirical experience. It is, for them, a first principle. And according to the perennialists, man is capable of intuiting first principle or having them revealed to him through revelation.
These self-evident truths open, for the perennialist, a whole realm of truth that cannot be reached by science. For the lay perennialist truth can be know through reason and intuition. For the ecclesiastical perennialist there is, added to these two ways of knowing, the certitude of revelation which is given to man. While intuiting is an activity of man, man is simply the recipient of revelation given from a source external to man.
There is little justification for the argument that the perennialists use of reason is only to support belief. Revelation is simply an independent way of arriving at some truths. The ecclesiastical perennialist would argue that faith is not proof of reason, nor is reason proof of faith. They are simply two routes which, on occasion, lead one to the same truth. For example, the existence of God is accepted on faith despite the five logical proofs of the existence of God given by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theological.Faith and reason are two different and separate realms.
Since the perennialist ontology is teleological, the hard core of reality is logical, permanent, and unchanging. Truth, therefore, is also logical, permanent, and unchanging. Man tends toward knowledge. His mind is basically curious; thus, he needs little special prodding to start him on his epistemological expedition. The perennialist believes that there are certain things that are self-evident and that the structure of knowledge rests upon those self-evident truths that we know.
A self-evident truth is always an analytic statement or one that contains its predicate in its subject. This type of statement is opposed to synthetic statements which depend upon our experience. Analytic statements are logically true. Such statements, however, as the scientific empiricists are quick to point out, although necessarily true by definition, or convention, do not yield knowledge of the experiential universe. This is not imply that they cannot have meaning; it is simply to indicate that they cannot give us new knowledge.
Whenever the question of immutable Truth is raised it is a proper response to ask, “Whose immutable Truth?” The perennialists rely on intuition, revelation and dogma of the Church and at time all three of these have been found wanting. If they were absolute and accurate guides to knowledge and Truth then surely the advocates of other position would long since have been convinced of the futility and error of their positions, and would have been become either lay or ecclesiastical perennialists.
Aside from the question of whether or not we can trust immutable truth, the perennialist philosophy relies on an intermediary of some sort to explain the supernatural. Thus, the perennialists are dependent upon authority. The authority, whether lay or ecclesiastical, is not open to question. Catholics rely for their authority on the dogma of the church and the body or revelation which the church has sanctioned. But the very fact that the church has argued and fought over what constitutes “correct” dogma raises doubts as to the validity of its absolute authority. One can only remember how close Galileo came to flames of a heretic’s death for supporting a position which subsequently became the accepted norm in the civilized world. The lay perennialist, on the other hand, is somewhat less susceptible to the hierarchical authority of the Church. Nonetheless, he too finds his sources of authority in the great thinkers of the past and their statements as to the body of knowledge and Truth.
*See Internet MAHESHWARI V.K.
(Israeli b. American artist photographer, b.1977)
The banishment of truth from the garden of aesthetics
The notion of art as a lie originates in Plato’s approach towards art as a double lie; first, as all objects in our reality are a mere appearance of their true forms. Second, as the lie of art, which copies those objects. This notion has endured centuries of philosophical inquiries for its acceptance of our reality as the basis for all works of art. As elusive as the concept of truth is, once reality is grounded as the measure of truth, art, which copies it, is deemed as a lie.
The acceptance of art as a lie leaves no value to its content in philosophical aspects. It discards all works of art as mere artifacts which do not serve in any way for the search for truth. But Adorno (see Adorno) disagrees and defends the concept of truth in art.
1. Maiman analyzes Adorno’s concept of truth in art. He argues that Adorno sets out against the traditional perception by re-interpreting the concept of semblance. In order to overcome the notion of semblance as a lie, he separates art from the truth of its content by claiming that art is autonomous. He acknowledges that art does draw from reality, yet this semblance is acceptable within the autonomy of art. Adorno refers to the unbreakable connection of art to the empirical world by stating that the difference of artworks from the empirical world, their semblance character, is constituted out of the empirical world and in opposition to it.. By this statement he confirms the status of art as an autonomous presentation, rather than a re-presentation.
Adorno makes it his point that by presenting us with a distorted picture, a negation of what is, or an autonomous reality which is not separated from ours but actually contrasts our reality, precisely by virtue of that conflict, art is able to present us with truth both on an empirical level as well as on a metaphysical level.
On the empirical level, art shows us the distinct conflict of our social reality and art’s reality. Our social reality is not free; it is consumed by laws and regulations; it is preoccupied with social recognition and socially accepted behavior. Art, on the other hand, is free; it has no boundaries, no rules, and no restrictions.
On the metaphysical level, art presents us what we do not usually see. By its autonomy from the empirical world, art has the privilege of exposing a world that cannot exist by any other means. Thus presenting us with its own truth by the forms of its content.
Once art is accepted as holding truth within it and is no longer regarded as a lie, the redemption of aesthetics is established. Aesthetics, possessing the task of finding the truth in art, rightfully redeems its right to exist.
2. However according to Maiman, it is precisely for the lack of rules and regulations that govern the realm of art, or in other words, for its total subjectivity, that he finds the usage of the term “truth” to be an embarrassment to aesthetics. Whether the artist is the origin of the work of art or vice versa holds no bearing over the property of truth. Truth, whether empirical or metaphysical, belongs to philosophy.
But the banishment of truth from the garden of aesthetics is not aimed towards the destruction of aesthetics. On the contrary, the question regarding the “missing ingredient”, that “thing” on which we are unable to put our finger, the “essence” that differentiates art from all other kinds of artifacts, that is the truly enigmatic question of aesthetics. The account of why and how a “thing” becomes “beautiful” is one belonging entirely to aesthetics. But this has nothing to do with truth.
Whether it is inside a painting, outside it, or all around it, a painting will never reveal more than the artist’s inclinations and capability, or the embarrassing interpretation led by the viewer’s own psyche. Whether in opposition, negation, or in sheer proclamation, art will never raise a truer voice then that of the person uttering it.
See internet Maiman Ohad
(German philosopher, 1753-1800)
Human creativity is the basis of truth
Salomon Maimon contended that, though there are such things as a priori concepts, their application to experience is always problematical, and whether they apply can only be found through experience. Hence, the possibility of knowledge can never be established with certainty. Assured truth on the basis of concepts is possible only of human creations, like mathematical ideas, and it is questionable whether these have any objective truth. His thesis is that human creativity is the basis of truth,
He seizes upon the fundamental incompatibility of a consciousness which can apprehend, and yet is separated from, the thing-in-itself. That which is object of thought cannot be outside consciousness; just as in mathematics - 1 is an unreal quantity, so things-in-themselves are ex hypothesi outside consciousness, i.e. are unthinkable. Complete or perfect knowledge is confined to the domain of pure thought, to logic and mathematics. Thus the problem of the thing-in-itself is dismissed from the inquiry, and philosophy is limited to the sphere of pure thought. No doubt, the Kantian categories are demonstrable and true, but their application to the given is meaningless and unthinkable.
Maimon challenged Kant’s theory from within and developed a view which he called "rational skepticism." In contrast with Hume, Maimon agreed with Kant that there were rational a priori concepts, such as those involved in mathematics. In opposition to Kant, Maimon held that the applicability of transcendental concepts to experience was itself something based on inductions from experience. Since such inductions could only be probable, no universal and necessary knowledge about experience could be gained. Kant had assumed that such knowledge existed, and examined how this was possible. Maimon asked whether it existed, and showed that the evidence was always experiential.
The reality of a priori forms of thought is granted but the relation of these forms to matters of fact is always in question. Knowledge (that is, propositions that are universal and necessary, rather than ones that are just psychologically indubitable) is possible in mathematics but not in sciences dealing with the world. Unlike the logical positivists, who were to claim that mathematics was true because it consisted only of vacuous logical tautologies, Maimon contended that mathematics was true because it was about creations of our mind. Its objective relevance was always problematical. Human creativity only is the basis of truth.
Maimon exposes what seem to be the skeptical implications of his rationalism, for while the standards of real thought are available to us as finite cognizers, the satisfaction of these criteria remains beyond our power. According to this skeptical rationalism, the conditions that allow us entry into the realm of reason can never be satisfied in our relations to the sensible world: reason tells us what standards our explanations must meet, but nothing in our experience can discharge these demands. Rather, in our dealings with the sensible world, we must remain Humean skeptics, who can appeal to regularities and customs in our attempts to explain the empirical world, but who recognize that these explanations always remain provisional and unsure, since they never meet the demands of reason.
* Maimon, Salomon. Essay on transcendental philosophy. Translated by Nick Midgley, London, New York: Continuum, 2010.
(Medieval Jewish philosophical theologian, 1135-1204)
The basic thrust of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed is to demonstrate that all truth is one so that the Torah which contains the revealed work of God, has to be interpreted not to be in conflict but to be in harmony with reason.
Truth being marked by unity, there is a necessary harmony between faith and reason, between the revealed Torah and the philosophical system of Aristotle. Conflicts are to be resolved by an allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures. This implies that Reason has the primacy because it has the right to explain, though not to contradict, the Word of God. Maimonides fought against the anthropomorphic reading that interprets the sacred text literally. His opponents went so far as accusing him of agnostic relativism and rationalism: “Maimonides interprets much of the Scriptures as allegories meant to teach philosophical truths”.
In Chapter 51 of the Guide of the Perplexed Maimonides provides his famous parable of the various subjects trying to enter the castle to see their king. Although none can actually enter all the way and see the king face to face, it is not the religious devotees or the theologians who make it in the furthest. Rather, we are told it is “those who succeeded in finding a proof for everything that can be proved, who have a true knowledge of God, so far as a true knowledge can be gained”. It is the philosopher who gets the closest to “the king.” It is only through philosophical development that a man can become a prophet.
* Maimonides, Le Guide des Egarés, Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1970
(American Philosopher, 1911-1990)
Malcolm agrees with Wittgenstein: it is within a language game only that one can speak of justification or lack of justification, evidence and proof, good and bad reasoning. One cannot apply these terms to the language game itself. One can speak of justification within a world-view, but not from outside it. Judged from an outside perspective religious belief is groundless: it is not something that one can prove, rather it is something that one accepts and is ready to live by. Norman Malcolm adopts a version of fideism according to which it is misguided to seek rational grounds for religious belief. Religious belief is groundless; within religious practice it is not a hypothesis for which evidence may be sought, and there is no external perspective from which the religious form of life may be evaluated.
Malcolm identifies two “basic systems of thought”: religion and science. There can be no rational justification of either frameworks. They are two different language games and the claims of one of them cannot be judged by the criteria or rules of the other. Religious beliefs are groundless beliefs just as science which has a set of basic beliefs that are not capable of verification. Such beliefs cannot and should not be rationally justified. They do not need such support. Science, for instance, proceeds from the groundless belief of the uniformity of nature.
But if there are no grounds for belief, how can people be led to belief and find that belief is rational? According to Malcolm believers are people who are persuaded to embrace a particular religion through a two-step process. First, belief has causes, such as education, culture, a personal experience of suffering, etc. Second, within the religious viewpoint they have adopted, within the religious atmosphere in which they are engrossed, believers find internal evidences to correctly interpret the doctrinal content of their faith.
Hence it is meaningless to search for proofs and grounds of religious ‘truth’: proofs must give way to persuasion, and grounds must give way to causes. At the same time religious people have nothing to fear from the outside attack of unbelief. Religion is as internally rational as any other system of interpreting the world. But it is only within the religious weltanschauung that the evidence of so-called “religious truths” makes sense.
* Malcolm Norman, The Groundlessness of Belief” in Reason and religion,ed. Stuart Brown, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1977
(French philosopher, 1638-1715)
Truth can be nowhere but in the divine reason
Malebranche's doctrine of the vision in God was the most unorthodox and controversial theory of ideas of his time. He looked back to the Christian-Platonic and Augustinian model, according to which ideas proper are archetypes or essences in the divine understanding. Human beings have access to these ideas, which serve as the ground of all eternal truths, through a continuous process of illumination that informs their cognitive powers.
Truth is, by its nature, changeless, universal and uncreated. Moreover, truth is higher than, and common to, human minds. Hence, truth can be nowhere but in the divine reason, in God himself. Ideas that are universal, immutable, and infinite can only be those in God's understanding. The vision in God is the only possible explanation for our common knowledge of necessary truth - we are all similarly united with one universal, infinite Reason, in which we perceive the same ideas.
Just as all human action is entirely dependent on God, so too is all human cognition. Malebranche argued that human knowledge is dependent on divine understanding in a way analogous to that in which the motion of bodies is dependent on divine will. Like René Descartes, Malebranche held that humans attain knowledge through ideas – immaterial representations present to the mind. But whereas Descartes believed ideas are mental entities, Malebranche argued that all ideas exist only in God. These ideas, therefore, are uncreated and independent of finite minds. When we access them intellectually, we apprehend objective truth. Since these ideas are in God, they are eternal and immutable, and consequently the only truths worthy of the name will themselves be eternal and immutable. Malebranche divided these relations between ideas into two categories: relations of magnitude and relations of quality or perfection. The former constitute "speculative" truths, such as those of geometry, while the latter constitute the "practical" truths of ethics. Ethical principles, for Malebranche, are therefore divine in their foundation, universal in their application, and to be discovered by intellectual contemplation, just as geometrical principles are.
* Malebranche, Nicolas, The Search after Truth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997
(Contemporary American theologian)
In inter-religious dialogue we make ourselves vulnerable to the truth in an agapeic act of truth.
It is said that truth unity cannot contradict itself. I suggest that truth entails not just unity but community, and it is within the community of truth that the opposition of contradiction gets its meaning and truth. Contradiction does not put us outside the truth, but rather gets its truth from being placed within the network of the community of truth. Truth pluralizes itself, not because it is the fragmentation of a one into a dispersed many, but because there is transcendence to it that can never be exhausted by any finite one or determinate unity. If there is a unity of truth, it must be extraordinarily rich in itself, over-determined; it must be a community within itself and hence not adequately described in the language of unity, which too easily slides back to the unsophisticated ontology of univocal mind.
This means not that the truth of every religion is necessarily of equal value or validity, much less does it mean that the truth of all religions are basically the same. But it does mean that my understanding of truth can never a priori exclude your understanding of it. The true richness, complexity, and depth of such truth require that we always be critically open to the truth of the other as the opportunity to see deeper into the greater fullness of truth. This does not require the a priori surrender of claims to the universality of one’s truth, which actually may be of central importance to the singularity of one’s religion and should not be compromised in the search for religious truth. But is does require possessing a non-univocal notion of universality, or that this universality be asserted provisionally.
What is most important about the truth of being is not what we can know and say about it, but how it affects us, how we relate ourselves to it and participate in it. In this sense, how we relate to the other and the truth of the other is potentially our access to the truth. The truest stance is marked by an agapeic openness to the totality of the religious other. If we understand ultimate truth as agapeic, then we can also put our trust in its emergence through our vulnerability and openness of the dialogical relation. As such, religious truth is not something that needs to be defended or protected. Defense and protection implies that truth is something that we own. But truth does not belong to us; we belong to truth, and especially so when we open ourselves to its agapeic overflow. Agapeic openness to the other is a self-giving of the love of the truth that honors the truth beyond but also within the claims of both the self and the other. As an Christian believer, I am called to share my particular vision of the truth with passion and vulnerability because of my love for it and my wish my neighbor to know my truth. But, I must listen to my neighbor’s truth with equal passion because my love for truth overflows into openness to the other, and because my openness engenders a greater community of openness to the truth. Together in dialogue we make ourselves vulnerable to the truth in an agapeic act of truth.
*See Internet Mann Mark H.Grear
(Hungarian born German sociologist, 1893-1947)
For the sociologist Karl Mannheim the question of knowledge and truth is bound up in political forms of struggle and their views of the world. Hence the title of his main book: “Ideology and Utopia”. ‘Ideology’ for him means that the ruling groups become blind to knowledge that would threaten their continued domination. ‘Utopia’ means that oppressed groups selectively perceive only those elements in the situation which lend to negate it. Both sides are biased in their visions of the truth. But judgements can and must be made concerning the truths of their respective answers.
Mannheim advances a distinctly sociological conception of epistemology. He makes the critical distinction between relativism and relationism. To say that knowledge is relative is to say that “all historical thinking is bound up with the concrete position in life of the thinker”. Relative thinking is the knowledge that comes from the purely subjective standpoint of the knower. This means that subjective knowledge is untrue. It assumes that there is an absolute “truth” that is being compromised.
But Mannheim wants to liberate thought from relativism and to do so he introduces the concept of relationism. Relativism for Mannheim is a dangerous human attitude that most of the time turns into scepticism and its product, social apathy. By “relationism” he means that the grounds of knowledge are not invariant but changes from age to age, from context to context. It is impossible to conceive of an absolute truth that would exist independently of the position of the subject and unrelated to the social order. But this does not mean that “anything goes” – as relativist would say. Once it is understood that historical knowledge is relational, it is imperative to discriminate between what is true and false. It is legitimate and necessary to find out which social standpoint and perspective come closer to the truth. Sociology of knowledge is not satisfied with the philosophical relativism which keeps itself away from evaluation. Sociology wants to evaluate the socially determined knowledge of its members. It adopts the method of dynamic relationism instead of the indifferent philosophical relativism. Mannheim puts analysts into the centre of his relationist conception. These analysts are what he calls ‘free-floating intellectuals’ who have the ability to separate what is ideological and what is not. They are not bound to any class but have common values and the same cultural background that keeps them together. They are not above any class but exist for the whole society to care for its culture. They have the great task to provide their own societies with an acceptable analysis.
For Mannheim the fact that the unfolding of the historical process is cognitively accessible only from various perspectives is simply an aspect of its 'truth'. Far from admitting the charge of relativism, Mannheim claimed that on the contrary his brand of 'relationism' prepared the ground for a new comprehensive perspective capable of transcending heretofore fragmented and partial social and political perspectives. He conceived of sociology as a science of synthesis that aims at a 'complete theory of the totality of the social process'.
* Mannheim, Karl, Ideology and utopia, an Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge, New York, Harcourt, 1929
(Contemporary American “libertarian”)
Common Sense is belief: it never represents the truth
The term “common sense” is often used in political discourse as if it represented the truth. On the contrary, common sense cannot be anything more than a belief. Moreover, citing common sense doesn’t help but rather hurts our chances of convincing others—if that is what we are attempting to do.
Humans have to act to survive or to improve their lives. In doing so we are not just driven by instincts; our consciousness longs for guidance for our thoughts and actions, and wants to be guided by nothing but the truth—not half-truth, but the whole truth. Thus we have a problem, for even the most intelligent, studious, open minds among us can only grasp simplified man-made concepts and partial data (sensory as well as second-handed) for the reality. This is where beliefs come in. We do not have the entire truth, yet we can believe the doctrines which we are attached to and are conceived by other human beings provide the truth for us.
With the illusion of having a handle on truth, we start to form views on some practical matters based upon the assumed truth. After meeting some kindred spirits who share these same views, we deem those views qualified to be common sense. Our egos take pride in our common sense and we further build concepts based on our commonsense views. Soon so much has been built on our common sense that it becomes part of our identity and, for fear of loss of sense of identity, we avoid scrutinizing our commonsense views. In addition, when making an argument, we emphasize it is grounded on common sense, thus implicitly or explicitly dismissing the opposing side for lacking common sense.
In contentious impasses, we have all heard or even said “Our idea is just common sense!” or “They have no common sense!” Indeed, what these emotionally charged words convey is a lack of empathy for people who disagree with us. Changing the minds of those who hold opposing views is extremely difficult; a lack of empathy makes that virtually impossible. Moreover, to spectators who have no emotional attachment to either side of the debate and whose support is contended for by both sides, the claims of common sense are just nonsense.
*See Internet Eric Mao
(Contemporary Indian protestant pastor)
Three kinds of truth: experiential, inferential and revelational
Epistemology is related to knowledge while Ontology is related to reality. Epistemology seeks to understand the nature, sources, and scope of knowledge; Ontology, to understand the nature of reality. Epistemology deals with the meaning of Truth; Ontology deals with the meaning of reality. True or false is predicated of statements only. Real or unreal is predicated of existence. Therefore, logic and semantics are important issues in the study of truth. Truth is mental; reality is essential. Truth is dependent on reality; reality is independent of truth. Truth is usually contextual. There are different kinds of truths that are truthful only within their contexts. For instance, there are poetical truths expressed in statements that would appear total falsehood in any other linguistic context or genre. Truth is that which is known about reality. As such, therefore, truth, in common experience, is substantial. Some mystics would claim to have full possession of the truth of reality through union with it. However, the inadequacy of their knowledge is obvious, since none of them would claim complete knowledge of all reality as if being omniscient.
Truth concerns knowledge of reality and is limited to experience, inference, and belief. In other words, there are only three kinds of “truths”, the experiential (empirical), the inferential (deduced or induced), and the revelational (the believed).
* Experiential Truths are sensational, or such as perceived through the senses, e.g., experience of seeing a bird in the sky, or experience of feeling gloomy.
* Inferential Truths are rational, or such as concluded through reasoning, e.g., concluding, on seeing smoke, that there must be fire there.
* Revelational Truths are belief-related, or such as are believed on through hearing, reading, etc. Much of what we know is based on belief, much of cultural beliefs, historical knowledge, knowledge of current affairs, things that we learn at school, hear from friends, etc.
The reliability or non-reliability of these sources must be determined. But, in some cases, as in ultimate issues that escape our fringes of natural experience, faith is crucial, as it provides meaning and an idealistic framework for life. That is one reason why religious belief is so widespread, and even atheists would not limit themselves to mere reason and experience.
* Domenic MARBANIANG From Epistemics of Divine Reality ©, 2007, see Internet
(French philosopher, 1889-1973)
1. According to Marcel there are two notions of truth corresponding to the two areas of ‘problems’ and ‘mysteries’.
- The area of problems stands before and outside the subject. It is the domain of objective scientific investigations and abstract truths of speculative thinking that neither demand any personal involvement. Truth is obtained by the solution of problems and is in all cases open to verification. It constitutes the field of “the verifiable” .
- The area of mysteries of life covers the whole range of lived, experienced truths, demanding cooperation, participation and consent. In this area the notion of truth is transformed. Truth is no longer the verifiable. Participation which is the source of the content of experience is the source of truth and evidence. Truth is as wide as the range of participation. Philosophy deals with this kind of truth, not with the objective abstract verifiable truth of scientific knowledge but the existential truth of participation of thought to being.
2. Existential truth is participation.
Existential truth is not possession of a system but participation of thought to reality. It is not a “treasure” that one possesses (like people who say that their faith is their “most precious treasure”). Truth must be understood in terms of exchange. The mind must always be open, it can never be closed for it is invited to participate.
Marcel assimilates truth to light. Should one say that ‘the facts produce the light’? This would be absurd realism. One should say that the power of irradiation comes from the subject. The subject illumines the facts and the facts reverberates the light on the subject, exercising a pressure on the subject so that the subject acknowledges the facts. Our affirmations presuppose reality but our affirmations add something to reality. Realism and idealism blend together: object and subject are not antithetically opposed but subsumed in the higher synthesis of participative experience.
3. Truth and freedom : the theme of “painful truths”
Freedom plays an important part in the actualisation of these participations: we can refuse to participate and remain blind to the truth (not so in the case of scientific truths). No one participate automatically. Existential truth is free. Participation comes to us as an appeal, an invocation, which requires a free response. No freedom, no participation; no participation, no truth.
The cases of ‘painful’ truths such as incurable diseases or consoling but erroneous beliefs provides a good example of the role of freedom in truth. We do not want to recognize our mistakes and the unpleasant situations in which we are placed. We stubbornly keep to erroneous doctrines, afraid to face the painful truth of giving up traditional beliefs. What does it mean? It means a refusal to open oneself and participate to reality. This is not a conflict of the self against reality but against the self who rejects reality, a conflict within the self between light and darkness. Why so? Because the darkness is pleasant and the light is unpleasant and painful. This means again that truth is participation and untruth the refusal to participate to reality. We reject the unpleasant truth and prefer the pleasant to what is true.
Existential truth is thus 'consent to content'. Both the subjective (consent) and the objective (content) are involved. The participation which is the essence of existential truth involves both intellect and free will. Truth is not just a matter of acknowledgement of things and facts but an attitude of consent to the facts. In untruth, we lie to ourselves.
* Marcel, Gabriel, Metaphysical Journal, Rockliff, 1952, p. 27-31 ; Troisfontaines, De l’Existence à l’Etre, Paris, Vrin, 1953, p.290 sq
( “Heretical” Christian theologian, 85-160)
To know the truth of Christianity only St Paul can be trusted
According to Marcion, only Paul understood the gospel, having received it as a direct revelation from the risen Jesus. Only Paul could be trusted; the other apostles were tainted by their Jewish heritage. Christianity was not a continuation of the story begun with Abraham; it was an entirely new story. By relying on Jewish Scripture, as much of the church did, Christians were contaminating the gospel, making it a "different gospel." To be truly free, the church had to sever any connection with Judaism.
Marcion wanted to engineer the eradication of Jewish influence on Christianity. For him the church was infected with the disease of the Hebrew Scriptures. “The religion of Jesus is new wine, and it can't be held in the old wineskin.”
Marcion rejected the gospels of both Matthew and John. Matthew's account was clearly filled with the Jewish infection, and both were penned by Jewish disciples who misunderstood Jesus. For what Marcion would call the Evangelicon, he chose Luke's account, primarily because Luke was both a Gentile and an associate of Marcion's hero, Paul, who alone knew the truth.
Marcion declared that Christianity was distinct from and in opposition to Judaism. He rejected entirely the Hebrew Bible and declared that the God of the Hebrew Bible was a lesser demiurge, who had created the earth, but was in fact the source of evil.
For Marcion, many of the teachings of Christ are incompatible with the god of the Jewish religion. Focusing on the Pauline traditions of the Gospel, Marcion felt that all other concepts of the Gospel, and especially any association with the Old Testament religion, were opposed to and a backsliding from the truth. He further regarded the arguments of Paul regarding law and gospel, wrath and grace, works and faith, flesh and spirit, sin and righteousness, and death and life as the essence of religious truth. He ascribed these aspects and characteristics to two principles, the righteous and wrathful god of the Old Testament, who is at the same time identical with the creator of the world, and a second God of the Gospel, quite unknown before Christ, who is only love and mercy. Considering that Luke was Paul's associate, Luke's account must have been the closest one to "Paul's gospel." Marcion edited Luke to conform with what he believed was the truth. Together with Paul's letters to the churches and Philemon, these constituted the entire Bible for Marcion. He had not only placed the "New Testament" writings equal to those of the Old, in his mind the writings of Paul superceded the Old Testament entirely.
* See Wilson, R. S. Marcion: A Study of a Second-Century Heretic, London:Clarke, 1933
( Roman emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-169)
The universal nature of the universe is named truth, and is the prime cause of all things that are true.
From Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations:
“In conformity to the nature of the universe every single thing is accomplished. In the things which are held together by nature there is within and there abides in them a power which made them; wherefore the more is it fit to reverence this power, and to think, that, if thou dost live and act according to this power, everything in thee is in conformity.
Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things which thou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and again other things from the substance of them, in order that existence may be ever new.
Do not look around thee to discover other men's ruling principles, but look straight to this, to what nature leads thee, both the universal nature through the things which happen to thee, and thy own nature through the acts which must be done by thee. Since the universal nature has made rational animals for the sake of one another to help one another accordingly, but in no way to injure one another, he who transgresses nature, is clearly guilty of impiety towards the highest divinity. This universal nature is named truth, and is the prime cause of all things that are true.
Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a system, let this first be established, that I am a part of the whole which is governed by nature; next, I am intimately related to the parts which are of the same category as myself. For remembering this, inasmuch as I am a part, I shall be discontented with none of the things which are assigned to me out of the whole. For the whole contains nothing which is not for its advantage; and all nature indeed has this common principle, but the nature of the universe has this principle besides, that it cannot be compelled even by any external cause to generate anything harmful to itself. By remembering, then, that I am a part of such a whole, I shall be content with everything that happens.
When thou art troubled about anything, thou hast forgotten this, that all things happen according to the universal nature; and forgotten this, that a man's wrongful act is nothing to thee; and further thou hast forgotten this, that everything which happens, always happened so and will happen so, and now happens so everywhere; forgotten this too, how close is the kinship between a man and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood or seed, but of intelligence. And thou hast forgotten this too, that every man's intelligence is an efflux of nature; and forgotten this, that nothing is a man's own, but that his child and his body and his very soul came from nature; forgotten this, that many things are opinion; and lastly thou hast forgotten that every man lives the present time only, and loses only this.
Let people know that a real man is one who lives according to nature.”
* Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, (Penguin Classics) [Paperback] 1964
(German-born American political philosopher, 1898-1979)
Marcuse is concerned with the problem of truth in the context of a critical politico-social theory. He defends a context-independent notion of truth against relativizing tendencies of the sociology of knowledge. His critical thought is dominated by the attitude of refusal of aligning oneself to all forms of alienating socio-political systems. His ethics of refusal of all existing socio-political ideologies contains an inexhaustible hope in perpetual revolution. Every unfulfilled expectation urges one to carry the critical analysis further. There is an endless strife between the structure of reality and the movement of thought in search of truth. The law of the established socio-political reality, is not the law of any theory. The thought that judges reality condemns it. Truth is a challenge of what is, in the name of what should and could be. Truth is the opening of a possible in the order of established facts. Marcuse’s concept of philosophy is a theory about the role that philosophy is destined to play, that is, not a rational justification of what is, but a constant challenge of socio-political situations. This philosophy of the refusal of reality is revolutionary and critical. It does not take reality and reason as the grounds of analysis because neither reality nor reason have any right. Philosophy puts reason in question and is suspicious of it. It refuses to formulate the laws of thought in protecting the laws of society.
* Marcuse, Herbert, L’Homme Unidimensionnel, Ed. de Minuit, Paris, 1968; see Dictionnaire des Philosophes, Paris, AlbinMichel, 2001, p.1009-1012
(Belgian philosopher-theologian, 1878-1944)
Maréchal’s “transcendental Thomism”, having left behind epistemological realism, seeks to find in the workings of the human mind warrant for objective truths. He argues that Kant's critical philosophy could be reconciled with Thomism if the intellect is conceived as a dynamic, rather than static, faculty. Intellectual dynamism is the best way of knowing that an Infinite Being exists. The idea of the all-perfect is derived, not from an analysis of things, but from a Kantian-style transcendental analysis of human subjectivity. Based on a priori intellectual dynamism, reasoning strictly concludes to the Infinite. According to Maréchal human nature is at rock bottom a dynamism to Infinite Being,
In Kant's analysis of the a priori structures of knowing, Maréchal argued, the German philosopher had erred by limiting his account of human cognition to an analysis of the relationship between concrete sense images and abstract universal ideas. In the process, Kant had overlooked a more fundamental a priori structure of consciousness, a structure which a Thomistic theory of knowledge can supply. For Aquinas had penetrated to the reason why we apply abstract, conceptual labels to the things we see, hear, taste, touch, and smel: we do so in order to form judgments about them. And our judgments grasp reality, being and truth. To the reflective mind, Maréchal argued, the alleged human ability to ask endless questions about things and to make endless judgments about them teaches us that the human intellect of its very nature thirsts inexhaustibly after truth, after reality, after being itself.
Maréchal describes the faculty of the intellect as a dynamic appetite for being, restlessly unable to find satisfaction in the judgmental grasp of any particular, limited, contingent reality. The understanding of this person or that event leaves the human mind unsatisfied. It spontaneously seeks more knowledge, other insights, other truths. And this alleged fact teaches us that when the intellect thirsts for being, it really thirsts for Absolute Being and Infinite Truth. Since, furthermore, the intellect provides the will with the objects of spiritual desire, within the spiritual faculties of the intellect and will there wells up naturally an insatiable longing for the divine.
* Maréchal Joseph, s.j. Le Point de Départ de la Métaphysique, I-V, Bruxelles, Editions Universelles, 1944-49
(American philosopher, b. 1924)
Because truth and falsity are context-dependent ideas, one should not be forced to choose between bivalent (true-false) alternatives.
Challenged by Margolis is the ubiquitous assumption of bivalence, that there are only truth and falsity, and that they necessarily exclude each other. He advocates a view he calls "robust relativism". He states that our logics should depend on what we take to be the nature of the sphere to which we wish to apply our logics. On several topics the consideration of "true" and "false" as mutually exclusive judgements is absurd. A many valued logic — "apt", "reasonable", "likely", and so on — seems intuitively more applicable to most interpretations. Where apparent contradictions arise between such interpretations, we might call the interpretations "incongruent", rather than dubbing them true or false.
Margolis states that both the ancient and the modern critics of relativism have made an unwarranted assumption: that what is fundamentally real is unchanging. For Margolis, relativism is not an inherently subversive doctrine; rather it is an honest way to avoid the illusions that issue from invariance and bivalence. He argues that the bivalent mode of interpretation – either true or false - is inadequate for fluxive cultural phenomena; what is needed is an approach that accounts for the multiple ways in which they may be interpreted. He suggests that we might withdraw "true" as an evaluation and keep "false". The rest of our value-judgements should be graded from "extremely plausible" down to "false". Judgements which on a bivalent logic would be incompatible or contradictory are seen as "incongruent", though one may well have more weight than the other. In short, relativistic logic is not, or need not be, the bugbear it is often presented to be. It may simply be the best type of logic to apply to certain very uncertain spheres of our real experiences in the world.
* Margolis Joseph, The Truth about Relativism, Blackwells, 1991.
(French phenomenologist and theologian, b.1946)
The foundation of the truth of being resides in loving and being loved.
Liberating God and the self from the constrictions of metaphysics are fundamental tenets of Marion’s theological and phenomenological work. Love cannot be explained with a metaphysics, therefore Marion pursues it phenomenologically. He claims that love is a defining characteristic of humanity. Since Descartes, philosophy had difficult to deal with love, as an object of study. It looks as if love and philosophy are at loggerheads with each other: what has the primacy in a human being? Res cogitans or res amans? Marion claims that the foundation of the truth of being resides in loving and being loved. Love has the primacy over being: it stands at the heart of philosophy.
He refurbishes Descartes' famous "Cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am) into his own "Amo ergo sum" (I love therefore I am). He argues that Descartes’ Cogito is worse than vain. We encounter being, he says, when we first experience love: I am loved, therefore I am; and this love is the reason I care whether I exist or not.
But then the theology that appears primarily as apologist for God as Being is wasting its time, Marion claims; the most important thing about God is not first that God is and lives, but that God gives. Onto-theology’s focus on the systematic explanation of God’s Being prevents one from being capable of acting as receiver. God is not Being but Gift and as gift, He does not require first that one explains it, He requires that one receives it. God loves before being: it is God's love which gives place to the Being of beings.
For Marion, genuine theology ought to be ‘iconic’. The icon is opposed to the idol. The true God is not the God-idol of metaphysics. Rather, the true God is the God of unknowing: in short, revelation. Marion turns to the great mystics of the Church, particularly Dionysius the Aeropagite and his mystical theology.
His understanding of God as agape is a break, not only with so-called rationalists, but with scholasticism and late modern/post-modern thinkers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger. Nietzsche's twilight of the idols is nothing more than the twilight of particular idols: atheism is simply the refusal to believe in a particular conception of God, not God as such. Similarly, Heidegger's subsuming God to the predicates of Being is equally misguided and blind; in the end, both Nietzsche and Heidegger commit a type of idolatry. The gods they reject are idols. The “death of God”, hailed today by postmodernists, reveals the eclipse of the conceptual idol that themselves had fashioned. The God idol has collapsed and with it the true God has emerged from the ruins – not the metaphysical God who is, but the revealed God who gives.
* Marion, Jean Luc, God Without Being, University of Chicago Press, 1991.
(French philosopher, 1882-1972)
1. Common sense understands truth as some sort of "conformity" between the mind and things, but what is this conformity, and how is conformity possible, given the vast differences between our concepts and statements, on the one hand, and the realities they claim to express, on the other? Maritain tried to solve the problems to which the idea of truth gives rise in introducing the important distinction between “thing” and “object”. He argues that we know truth, not by directly judging the relation of our thoughts to things, but by judging the relation of the objects of our thoughts to things. The failure to distinguish thing and object would forces us to look for a comparison between ideas and things: which is impossible. We cannot directly compare mental states to things because we have no knowledge of things apart from that provided by our mental states. To make the comparison, we would have to get outside of what we know by our mental states.
What does Maritain mean by object? The common use of the word ‘object’ to mean a ‘thing’, is incorrect. The term ‘object’ means primarily the creation of the mind in its reaction with something real. ‘Thing’ is all that is there for the mind to meet. As a thing is known, it becomes an ‘object’.
Thus there is a great difference between an object and a thing. For while the notion of thing is the notion of what is, regardless of whether it be known or not, the notion of object is hardly that. An object, to be an object, requires a relation to a knower, in and through which relation the object as apprehended exists as terminus.
In order to arrive at a proper understanding of what truth is, nothing but identity between objects and things will do. If the relation between objects of thought and things were something other than identity, there would be no way to know that our objects are "true" of things.
Maritain's analysis, then, provides us with nothing less than the solution to the most basic problem for the correspondence theory of truth, the problem of what is the "correspondence" (or "conformity") between statements and things. The correspondence of statements to things is just the corollary of the identity between the objects of our thoughts and things. "Correspondence" cannot refer to anything but the identity of objects of thoughts with things.
2. The fact of the possibility of error shows the disjunction between thought and thing. The way things exist in our mind, is not the same as the way they exist in themselves. The inner world of thought constitutes a world apart from external things, even if it is open to things. The possibility of error arises simply from the disparity in the way things exist in the two worlds. There is a gulf between the conditions or mode of thought and the conditions or mode of the thing. But there is an incomparable unity. For if things were modified by sensation and intellection, there would be no longer any truth, any knowledge. We would have to say – with Kant – that knowledge is related to things but it deforms these things in such a way that they are never known: the unknowable ‘noumena’ of Kant’s idealism.
For Maritain and the realism he advocates, the relation of knowledge is precisely a relation that does not deform: it is a real relation. This is the reason why it is so important to distinguish. the thing and the object. The thing, as thing, exists in itself, whereas the thing is object when it is set before the faculty of knowing and made present to it. The tragedy of modern noetic began when philosophers (Kant) began to separate the object from the thing. The thing became a problematic ‘unknown’ concealed behind the object. We have to affirm that the thing is given with and by the object, and that it is absurd to separate them. Consequently, if error is possible, it is not because thing and object are different and separated, but for other reasons, found in the wrong dispositions of the subject: prejudices, brain-washing, precipitation, etc.
* Maritain Jacques, The Degrees of Knowledge, Ralph McInernay, University of Notre Dame Press, 1999 p.84
(Contemporary American author)
Comments on the five self evident truths of the USA Declaration of independence
In contrast to today’s moral relativism, the Declaration says there is “Truth.” Absolute truth so obvious it earns the label “self evident.” Things like 2+2=4 and the sun rises in the East. Jefferson wrote, and the signers affirmed, that what followed were just such truths. They did so confident that reasonable men of integrity from all times and climes would recognize and affirm them.
First truth: all men are created equal .
Not equality of ability. No one denies there are differences in ability. As such, neither can it mean equality of potential or outcome. Neither is it equality of circumstance. People are born at different times and places. It is equality of the nature of their being. All men – regardless of gender, race, ability or any other qualifier are the moral equal of every other man.
Second truth: men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Independence is revered as God’s idea. Part of the equality of all men is that all were given gifts by God: unalienable rights.
Third truth: among these rights are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. This is not an exhaustive list. There are other unalienable rights. It is illustrative. Unalienable rights belong to all men and are not transient or dependent upon the accidents of culture or time.
Fourth truth: to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Government is transient. Unalienable Rights are not. “Governments” and “powers” are plural as there can be different forms with different assigned tasks. Equality does not demand conformity and allows for differences. The one inviolate trait is that just government does not dictate to the people. Just government is the tool of and is obedient to Independent people exercising their unalienable rights.
Fifth truth: whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new governments..
* See Internet Ken Marrero
(French historian, 1904-1977)
The theory of historical truth has been distorted by the simplistic approach of positivism. It was its mistake to align history on the sciences of nature and to take objectivity for the supreme and unique criterion of truth. In attempting to do away with the personal and the subjective in order to reach a 100% residual of objectivity, positivism has reduced history to meagre statements of facts and dates. It is too easy to contrast the impressive “objectivity and agreement” of experimental sciences with the so-called “contradictions” of history. It is unfair and dangerous to oppose the sciences of nature and the human sciences like history to the point of ignoring the role of the knowing subject in both. Human reason is one even if its applications can differ. Historical truth does not belong to another order of truth than other truths.
The sciences of nature are not purely objective as much as the study of history is not imprisoned in subjectivity. The very existence of historical science refutes the claim. Certain historical problems are simple, those concerning facts of an objectifiable character. But others are more complex, more open to the interpretation of historians. In this field agreement is more difficult to obtain. This does not entail that the vision of the historians is irretrievably subjective. The solution of the problem of historical truth must be found in the overcoming of pure objectivism and radical subjectivism in a synthesis that takes into account the grasp of the objective events of the past as well as the existential situation of the knowing subject, the historian him (her)self.
History is an understanding of the human past through and by human minds which are alive, situated and committed. Historical knowledge is a complex indissoluble mixture of object and subject. Those who take exception to the element of relativity implied in historical knowledge forget that every kind of human knowledge is similarly marked by the situation of the knower. The fact that something of the historian reverberates in the composition of history does not prevent the possibility of an authentic apprehension of the past. History is “true” in the measure that the historian has valuable reasons to trust what he has understood of the documents at his disposal. The truth of history is a function of the scientific honesty and competence of the historian. This means that the historian must provide his readers with the means to control the validity of his affirmations.
The case of historical knowledge is not different than the case of any general knowledge, any experience of others in the present. Dealing with the past is not a task that essentially differs from dealing with the present. In both cases the relative, imperfect, perspectival viewpoint of the knowing subject must be accounted for. The study of history presents itself with the same guarantee of credibility – and possibility of errors - than the rest of human knowledge. The meeting of the past and the meeting of the present in lived experience impose themselves to us with the same value of reality. History is true but that truth is partial: we are able to know things of the human past but we cannot know the totality of that past in the same way that we cannot know the totality of the present.
* Marrou, H.I., De la Connaissance Historique, Paris, Seuil,1954, p. 222-245
( American writer and theologian, 1899-1987))
Christians should have their own ways of thinking about truth.
Marshall’s contention is that Christians can and should have their own ways of thinking about truth and about deciding what to believe. They need not take their truth claims from some other intellectual or cultural quarter. Marshall’s central polemical claim is that much of modern theology has taken an incoherent approach to the justification of Christian beliefs. Modern theologians, he contends, are worried about intellectual respectability, thus they seek some measure by which to decide whether Christian claims are true or false, basically plausible or not. For example, according to some of these theologians, Christian beliefs are justified to the extent that they adequately express certain inner experiences. Others adopt what Marshall calls the epistemic dependence thesis, according to which the primary criteria for deciding about the truth of Christian beliefs must not themselves be distinctively Christian. According to Marshall such procedures have devastating effects. He argues that no philosophical presuppositions of any sort can serve as the basis on which the credibility of Christian beliefs should be judged. Instead of subordinating Christian claims to canons of truth that stand outside Christianity, Marshall proposes, Christian thinkers should argue from an explicitly Christian standpoint. The justifying ground of Christian belief is the Trinitarian God and the Christ of biblical narrative. These beliefs are “central” or “essential” in a descriptive sense. If no one believes such things, then there are no Christians. If people wish to be Christian, then they must hold these central beliefs as epistemically primary with respect to other beliefs. Therefore to decide about the truth of other beliefs, one must see how well they fit, or cohere, with these central beliefs. If Christian beliefs are held, in faith and worship, as epistemically primary, then any attempt to make the justification (truth conditions) of Christian beliefs dependent upon non–Christian beliefs would be irresponsible because it would change their meaning. Christians can and should have their own ways of thinking about truth and about deciding what to believe, they need not take their truth claims on loan from some other intellectual or cultural quarter.
* Marshall, Bruce, Trinity and Truth, Cambridge University Press, 2000
(Cotemporary American right wing Christian minister)
It’s impossible for all religions to be true. Truth is, by nature, exclusive.
In other words, if Islam is essentially true, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity are not. If Buddhism is essentially true,then Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are not. And so on.
How can I say such a thing? Because if you *really* study these religions, it will become clear that each makes bold, fundamental assertions about reality that are not compatible with the others. For example, Hinduism states that divinity is present in everything. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all assert that God is distinctly separate from what he has created. The implications of these different views run very deep, and they are fundamentally incompatible. It’s logically impossible for both views to be true.
So why bring this up, anyway? I would *like* to believe that all religions could be true. I would personally *like* to believe that all paths lead to God. It feels good. It’s a kinder view of the world. It puts everyone on equal footing.
But it just doesn’t make sense. Truth is, by nature, exclusive. There are always more wrong ways to do just about anything than right ways. There are always more wrong answers to any given question than right ones. This really raises the stakes. It puts a real sense of urgency in our search for truth, because it shows that if we’re not careful, we can fall for a half-truth.
If we possess the truth, it doesn’t give us the right to be unkind to those who disagree. It didn’t give Bin Laden the right to declare Jihad, hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center. It didn’t give so-called ‘Christians’ the right to kill people in the Crusades. It doesn’t give us the right to be disrespectful or violent. If you really do have the truth, then you have nothing to fear. You don’t need to burn books or censor speech. Truth is its own best defense.
In your search for the truth, then, know that you’re not just looking for something that sounds good. As with any other kind of truth, it may *not* feel good all the time. Know that you’re looking for something definite, something that will by nature make some pretty bold claims.
Also understand that if someone tells you they possess the truth, they’re not being arrogant. Fact is, they’re either sadly deceived or else they’re right. You can’t put someone down for being deceived, and you can’t fault someone for being right! The real challenge is to discern the difference.
* See Internet Peter Marshall Ministries
(Welsh education reformer, 1954-2010)
Truth is truth, and never changes, but our understanding, our perception of truth changes
Truth doesn't change at its core, only the carriers change, as truth changes. Change is nothing more than opening more to truth, and such a truth changes you forever, from an ego base, to a heart base. This change is the realest thing that will happen to you ever, and this change is real.
Change itself, can be defined in different ways, and all change is real, of and in itself, but the change takes place in the constituent parts, and affects the whole, without changing the whole of the whole. So change is real, but its effect is not real, in that it is not permanent, as all states are forever possible.
Truth emerges from all things including from change. Does truth itself change? Truth is truth, and never changes, but our understanding, and grasp, and perception of truth, changes as we move from not knowing ourselves, and our truth, to establishing ourselves within our own truth. Our truth exists together with all truth.
We need to change ourselves from a position of unknowingly forgetting our truths, to a new position of consciously re-experiencing them in our lives. When we meet a truth even indirectly in our life, that very meeting with truth, then connects us to this truth more directly, reminding us in a way that cements the truth to us from a new version of itself, that is now called wisdom. Wisdom is truth, that has grown from a level of unknowing unconscious truth, to a level of knowing aware consciousness of this truth.
When we can apply our own truths consciously from a life of experiencing change that brings us to our truths, we will then step into the wisdom of changed truth. Truth has changed for us from being unknown and unconscious, to being now a known experienced conscious truth, and a real truth for us. The truth has not changed, but we have changed.
Are we ourselves, also a part of truth? How then did we change, if truth cannot change? Is this contradictory, or not? Truth re-experiences itself in different ways to allow it to connect itself in new ways back to itself. This allows truth to become wisdom. Truth is usually sitting there not serving life, until consciousness takes it from the unconscious, and applies love to the truth, and so wisdom grows, and the point of life then is to grow truth into wisdom, so that life can become alive to its own truths, that have always existed for all time.
Truth never changes, but change changes truth into wisdom for us all, to learn these timeless truths, and to apply them with this always increasing changing wisdom to our lives..
See Internet Steve Marshall
(American philosopher of religion, b . 1932)
Rational beings can evaluate the truth (or untruth) of all world views
Martin holds that, while Wittgenstein may be correct concerning the variety of language games, there must be some common conceptual framework with which the various forms of life or language games can be evaluated – a view that Wittgenstein denies. Martin holds that there must be some criteria for rational assessment. Therefore, analysis and evaluation of all worldviews is possible and ought to be performed by rational beings. He based his claim on the following: a) It is possible to distinguish one form of life from another, b) Each form of life has its own standards, c) External criticism of the various forms of life is possible and does exist. Michael Martin disagrees with the notion held by Wittgensteinian fideists that religions cannot be examined and criticized externally. This external critical evaluation is necessary as the adherents to the faith may be blind to contradictions and problems. Martin contends that an outsider’s eyes are often needed to shed light on inconsistencies.
To the Wittgensteinians, the language of religion is specific to religion. However Martin argues that this is not the case. He makes it clear that it is certainly possible for a scientist and a religious person to hold a dialogue, just as it is possible for a Christian and a non-Christian to do so, or a Catholic and a Baptist to do so. Martin maintains that religious language as a whole is neither compartmentalized from all other languages and the languages of each sect are not compartmentalized from the other sects.
In reply to the idea that a religious belief is reasonable within the language game but becomes unreasonable when viewed from outside the game, Martin says that it is unclear how an argument could be both reasonable and unreasonable at the same time, unless, of course, religious languages are so incredibly compartmentalized. However, the idea of complete compartmentalization is not sustainable. In conclusion, Martin finds Wittgensteinian fideism unsuccessful in explaining religious faith.
* Martin, Michael. “A Critique of Fideism.” Atheism: A Philosophical Justification. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.
(German socio-political philosopher, 1818-1883)
1. Philosophers are much preoccupied by knowledge and the problem of truth, but Marx is not, because for him man is related to the world not by knowledge, but by action. Hence traditional epistemological questions are futile. Truth as a theoretical subject is not his concern at all. His thinking is outside these kinds of topics. Marxism does not claim to be a philosophy but a praxis, a practical activity. Thought must be subordinated to action. Marxism is not another ‘interpretation’ of reality, on the contrary, it aims at ‘transformation’. It is by practice that man must prove the truth. The discussion on the reality or unreality of thought, isolated from practice, is purely scholastic. Speculations out of practice are meaningless.
2. However some contemporary Marxists, wanting to show that the praxis is not blind but guided, have stressed the ‘scientific’ character of Marxism to reconstruct Marx’s position as compatible with a kind of epistemological realism attributed to science. Man’s knowledge is an effort to copy the external reality, it is the gradual unveiling of its objective truth. (See Lenin, Cornforth and Politzer)
3. These contemporary interpretations of Marx’s thought are open to challenge. It is more correct to assume that for Marx there is no absolute truth waiting to be unveiled, but rather an objective historical truth which deploys itself as people construct the world through their social practices. This does not mean a ‘pragmatic' concept of truth according to which truth is the useful and people produce arbitrarily what they wish. Truth is neither in reality nor in the subject conceived of as separate spheres. Truth does not pre-exist the subject and the reality. Truth is constantly being produced as the subjects build up a reality in which they themselves are an important part. Truth must not be measured by the present state of society. Society itself is alienated, it is not a "true" society. So truth is attained both objectively and in people's consciousness only when alienation is overcome and "false consciousness" has been eliminated. Marx is in agreement with Hegel’s thought that truth is a result which will manifest itself only at the end.
* See Campbell, Richard, Truth and Historicity, Clarendon press, Oxkord, 1992, p. 322-327
( Contemporary American environment psychologist)
Truth is both impartial and perfect, while our perception of truth is both partial and imperfect.
Truth is absolute. Perceptions of truth are relative. Therefore, facts, which are perceptions of truth, are relative. That is why truth is singular and perceptions plural. Consider the following statement: The world functions perfectly; our perception of how the world functions is imperfect. We assume this statement to be true because it accepts Universal Laws of cause and effect as absolute Truth, but what are those laws? How do they work? We do not know because our perception is constantly changing as we increase the scope of our knowledge.
Our perceptions grow and change as we mature, but not everyone's perceptions mature at the same rate, which accounts for the widely differing degrees of consciousness with respect to cause-and-effect relationships. This disparity is neither good nor bad; it simply means that each of us have different gifts to give at different times in our lives as we see different truths.
Trying to understand the Universal Laws is the essence of science. But we would not know a "scientific truth" if we stepped on one, because our perception of how Universal Laws work is constantly changing. A "scientific fact" is therefore a fact only by consensus of the scientists, which means that a scientific fact or "truth" is only an approximation of what is. It represents our best understanding of reality at this moment and is constantly subject to change as we learn.
The accepted definitions of truth are only modifications of the definitions of perception. Truth as a human understanding resides in everyone's heart, and it is there one must search for it. Although we must each be guided by truth as we see it, no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his or her own view of truth. In the end, our "detector of truth" is our inner voice. Thus, I find no magic in the perfection of hindsight; it only points out that I did not listen to my inner voice when it spoke the first time.
The truth of the human mind is relative and therefore but a perception of that which is True. If our perception of a truth were in fact the Truth, we would find no such thing as a half-truth. Truth is perfect understanding of that which is. It is neither the spoken word nor the written word, although these may have a ring of truth to them. Truth cannot be defined; it can only be experienced and lived.
*Maser, Chris: "Perception is 'Truth'" accessed Nov. 13, 2009 on www.chrismaser.com/truth
(Contemporary American monk)
The discovery of truth is the fruit of dialogue among seekers
Dialogue is communion among persons who accept their differences and seek unity in the truth. Interreligious dialogue recognizes religious differences within the context of this common search. Unity is seen as both a given and a goal, but on the way the differences have positive value too.
Why do I, a Christian monk, engage in dialogue? Because it is here, in dialogue, that I find truth. Although I find truth first of all in my own religion, I am not forbidden to seek truth and to find it in what other persons and other religions say. But at the same time, I know that truth cannot be found, nor can there be dialogue, in the mixing together or the melting down of all religions into one amorphous mass.
Truth is found in dialogue, because it is found in communion. Truth, by its very nature, demands to be communicated and shared with others, even though sometimes a particular truth can seem impossible to put into words. Only those who seek the truth find it. The discovery of truth is the fruit of dialogue among seekers. Truth is betrayed by thinking that it is some kind of private property I can acquire on my own and for myself alone. No one has a first mortgage on truth. Truth is also betrayed by claiming to possess it in such a way that there is no longer any need to seek it. “I do not believe, I know!” has been taken to be the affirmation of a wise man, and it may be a kind of wisdom. But true wisdom is expressed by saying, “I seek to know, therefore I believe.”
The source of truth, as I know it and seek it, is God, who is existentially a communion and an intercommunication. The religion of the Trinity, Christianity, is a religion of dialogue. The truth of Christianity, as I see it, lies in its capacity for dialogue and communication. If the doctrine of the Trinity means anything beyond the statement that God is one being in three persons, it must mean that Christians are called to be a people in dialogue, seeking truth in such a way that they no longer need to seek it; and saying this, they imply that they no longer need to believe. Only a person of deep convictions can engage in dialogue. Only if I am deeply convinced of what I believe can I remain unthreatened when I discover truth in what others believe.
Apophatic theology, then, leads to silence before God and silence about God—you might call it “adoration theology.” As such, it is a condition for true dialogue and for dialogue in the search for what is true. Dialogue among religious truth-seekers, and especially among monastics of different religions, begins with silence, and then perhaps words can be exchanged. In our search for unity in truth through dialogue, we can best approach and understand our religious differences by the way of unknowing and of silence. Only in this way, I believe, can the recognition of our differences become an integral part of the search and a necessary stage on the way to the goal of unity in truth.
* Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Sponsored by North American Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries of men and women, Dialogue
(Contemporary American philosopher of religion )
Religion only provides deep meaning to moral truth
Mavrodes contends that a reason to act morally would not exist without religion. This assumption is formed on the idea that individuals will not act morally without the deep meaning that religion provides. He contends that in a comparison of secular and religious based cultures, the countries which are more religious are more likely to have stronger morality.
Moral standards must have a strong basis upon which it encourages individuals to act ethically. Mavrodes argues that religion is the only means of providing deep meaning to morality and that morals wouldn’t necessarily exist if religions never developed.
He brings up an additional question: if morality is based solely on religion, what are the motives involved in being moral? His main argument against secular views of morality is that they are superficial. He contends that these moral obligations and things like mind and purpose are much deeper in the religious world than they would be in a secular world so religion must be the answer to why one should be moral.
Mavrodes accepts that secular morality gains meaning through society but maintain his claim that religion provides a more solid and deep reason for people to want to act morally. It is a fact that religions have a history of being able to get people to act in a certain way.
However critics of Mavrodes have pointed out that unless all religious sects are able to agree on what is ethical then individuals will be in conflict with the moral beliefs of other religions. A strong example of this variance is between religions based on anthropocentricism and those which place moral value on being an equal part of the ecosystem. This sort of conflict is not an adequate means of creating a moral basis. Furthermore, this conflict of moral views can lead to unnecessary disdain between religious communities. For morality to have universal application, the means through which it is derived cannot be subjective. Opponents to Mavrodes’ views argue that a secular worldview can maintain a deep sense of obligation and demonstrate that there is no reason to think that morality would not exist without religion. If one concedes that religion has no negative effect on morality, nonetheless religion cannot be concretely deemed the primary basis through which morality is derived.
* Mavrodes George, Belief in God: A Study in the Epistemology of Religion.
(Contemporary American author and scientist }
Faith is just that, faith, it cannot be shown to be true or false
Faith is just that, faith, it cannot be shown to be true or false, we believe what suits us, and there are a great many beliefs to choose from. We can even construct our own personal belief. This page is written in response to all those who have sent me quotes from the bible to support their argument that the contents of the bible are true, that God does exist, and so on. Fair enough, it's up to them to believe in whatever they want and to worship whichever God they prefer, but I strongly defend my right to reject religion in its entirety.
It is of course just as impossible for me to prove that all religions are false as it is for believers to prove that religions are true. However, the following are my reasons for why I do not believe in any religion.
For the vast majority of people their religion is something that was forced upon them at birth and taught to them while at a very young and impressionable age. I do realise that some people find religion later in life as a mature adult, such as born again Christians for example, (note "again"), but they are very much in the minority in the overall world population. Some of us even reject religion as mature adults, even though we were raised in a religious belief. Religion is, to the majority, a belief system that they were indoctrinated into, not one they chose when they were of an age to make their own decisions, because by that time they were already conditioned into the 'faith'. Religion is therefore very much to do with a person's society, culture and history and says little about a person's faith. Faith of course is real, lots of people have faith in one religion or another, it is the truth of religion that I call to question.
By removing God and religion we would throw away our security blanket, but nothing would really change, apart from society, and that must surely change for the better without religious divides. Life would continue as before and end as before. It would create a temporary problem for all those whose theories call upon God to have created the universe, but that would soon change.
Our world is not perfect and never will be, so why not get used to it, because that's the way it is. Religion never has, nor ever will, solve anything. Only we can do that. As for religion, its just make-believe, a heart warming myth to pacify and control the masses who otherwise would not be quite so happy to accept their miserable lot, or their eventual demise. However, we would all be better off without it because no matter how unpalatable the truth may be, it is better than living a lie.
*Mayes Keith "Science, the Universe and God, the search for truth”, 2004 by Authorhouse
(Contemporary Canadian psychologist and philosopher)
Even when Truth manifests, it is always to some degree relative and less than absolute.
Each one of us has a personal sense of truth, a description of what the world is and how and why it functions as it does. This also includes our ideas about who we are and the meaning of life. As we go through life we have experiences and come to perceive or understand things on the basis of these experiences. We also have occasion to communicate with other people and learn something of their experiences and their sense of truth. This gives rise to collective or socially accepted truth. Finally we may come to consider the concept of Truth, which is beyond personal, or even collective, experience. Truth is associated with the fundamental basis of existence, with divinity, spirit, or nature. It is something which is usually thought to exist beyond us and independently.
The relationship of these levels of truth/Truth to each other depends on the fact that we are limited, i.e. individual, beings living in duality rather than unity. In our normal state of consciousness our awareness and understanding encompass only a minute fraction of all that is. This applies to ourselves as well as to what we consider to be other than ourselves. However, these limitations are unique for each of us. Our experiences, and thus our understanding, are always in small ways, if not in large ways, unique. We each have a limited and uniquely different experience of the whole.
We all have our personal truth, which is based on our varied and unique collection of experience. We can come together with others and agree on collective truths, which are hopefully more general and closer to Truth, but not necessarily. There are various revealed truths, attempts by individuals who have had a closer experience than most of the divine to communicate what they have experienced or come to understand. Even these latter cannot be exactly Truth, nor all of Truth. They have to be expressed in the idiom of the day, and told in terms of the culture in which they have become manifest. Truth is at best indicated, or hinted at but never fully expressed, especially in words.
In some complex way all the personal truths are a part of Truth, at least they are part of its manifestation. They all approach it more or less closely, but even those revealed truths that are closest in approach are limited in scope to what is relevant for the place and times of their revelation.
Since we cannot cover all that is by direct experience, we can learn and benefit from what others have seen and done, both because they may have different experiences, but also be cause they may have experience of things that we need to learn. This is where teachers come in. The role of a teacher is being a guide, someone who can say, this is where I’ve been, this is where you can go, play with this and you may learn something. But we still all have to do it ourselves and in our own way. Especially if the teacher has a great deal more experience they cannot give all their experience or knowledge at once. They might tell you, or you might decide, that they have the Truth and if you copy them you can have it too. But this is not possible, as you have to experience it for yourself. No matter how perfect their truth is for them, it will not be quite what Truth is for you. They can however point the way, but only if you can get beyond the specific details to the essence, and find it for yourself can you attain Truth as well.
The manifest world is a world of relativity, a dynamic world in which circumstances are always changing. In the process of manifestation the absolute becomes limited, separate, i.e. finite, and even when Truth manifests, it is always to some degree relative and less than absolute. The manifest (at least any finite portion) can never express fully the unmanifest.
*See Internet Alan McAllistair
(Contemporary American protestant pastor)
The five world views on Truth
The material universe is all that exists. Reality is "one-dimensional." There is no such thing as a soul or a spirit. Everything can be explained on the basis of natural law. Man is the chance product of a biological process of evolution. Man is entirely material. The human species will one day pass out of existence. Truth is usually understood as scientific proof. Only that which can be observed with the five senses is accepted as real or true. No objective values or morals exist. Morals are individual preferences or socially useful behaviors. Even social morals are subject to evolution and change.
Only the spiritual dimension exists. All else is illusion, maya. Spiritual reality, Brahman, is eternal, impersonal, and unknowable. It is possible to say that everything is a part of God, or that God is in everything and everyone. Man is one with ultimate reality. Thus man is spiritual, eternal, and impersonal. Man’s belief that he is an individual is illusion. Truth is an experience of unity with "the oneness" of the universe. Truth is beyond all rational description. Rational thought cannot show us reality.
An infinite, personal God exists. He created a finite, material world. Reality is both material and spiritual. The universe as we know it had a beginning and will have an end. Humankind is the unique creation of God. People were created "in the image of God," which means that we are personal, eternal, spiritual, and biological. Truth about God is known through revelation. Truth about the material world is gained via revelation and the five senses in conjunction with rational thought. Moral values are the objective expression of an absolute moral being.
4.Spiritism and Polytheism
The world is populated by spirit beings who govern what goes on. Gods and demons are the real reason behind "natural" events. Material things are real, but they have spirits associated with them and, therefore, can be interpreted spiritually. Man is a creation of the gods like the rest of the creatures on earth. Often, tribes or races have a special relationship with some gods who protect them and can punish them. Truth about the natural world is discovered through the shaman figure who has visions telling him what the gods and demons are doing and how they feel.
5.Postmodernism Reality must be interpreted through our language and cultural "paradigm". Therefore, reality is "socially constructed." Humans are nodes in a cultural reality – they are a product of their social setting. The idea that people are autonomous and free is a myth. Truths are mental constructs meaningful to individuals within a particular cultural paradigm. They do not apply to other paradigms. Truth is relative to one’s culture. Values are part of our social paradigms as well. Tolerance, freedom of expression, inclusion, and refusal to claim to have the answers are the only universal values.
* McCallum Dennis, The Death of Truth (Bethany)
(Contemporary Australian philosopher of history)
McCullagh counters the recent critiques that doubt the possibility of making true statements about history. Historical truth for these critics would be historically and ideologically conditioned and constituted. McCullagh is a realist philosopher who wants to defend the practice of history from its philosophical opponents, mostly postmodern writers.
For the postmodernists, language has no important or regular relation to the world. Words and texts get their meaning not from their relation to the world but from their relation to other words and texts. Hence descriptions couched in language about what has happened in the world cannot reveal reality. History refers not to the reality of the past but, like language, only to itself. The past (the ‘signified’) is nothing else than the historian ( the ‘signifier’).
Moreover postmodernists claim that, although historical descriptions purport to be about the world, their authors refer not to the real world but to other texts, such as reports and documents about what occurred. These descriptions are not related to the real world, but are products of other texts. “Historians retext the already texted past.” McCullagh agree that historians draw inferences of what has happened in the past from largely documentary evidence, that is, from texts rather than their own direct observations. But, says McCullagh, it is not the fact that descriptions are inferred from other texts which makes their truth suspect. It is suspect only if the evidence does not strongly entail their truth in the first place.
To the other postmodernist objections that descriptions of the historical past by historians can never portray reality accurately because they pick out only general features of what it refers to and that history is impossible because it can never capture the whole, McCullagh points out that the fact that historical description refer only to some aspects of an event and not to others, does not mean that it must be false. It simply means that it is not exhaustive. The fact that a description can never “mirror” reality but remains always incomplete, does not mean that it cannot represent reality with some degree of precision. No historian has ever claimed that his work “mirrors” reality, that his description reproduces the past in all its particularity. Historians certainly claim to have uncovered truths about the past but they have never maintained that these constitute the entire truth about everything.
McCullagh concedes that historians from different cultures may perceive reality differently, but this does not mean that truth is defeated by cultural relativism. The evidence of historical reality is objective, separate and apart from perception and consciousness. Perception does not create reality, rather it is a response to reality. Different cultures may describe the same events in different ways, they nevertheless describe the same event, because these events exist independently of consciousness.
McCullagh’s central argument for the truth of statements in history is the notion that such statements be regarded as correlating rather than corresponding to reality. McCullagh is a realist who defends traditional historiography. Still he does not support a correspondence theory of truth, which is the usual accompaniment of the realist position. Rather he offers a correlation theory of truth, similar to the correspondence theory with a difference. For the correspondence theory, one can check the truth of a description by directly observing whether part of the world corresponds to what the description says. McCullagh’s correlation theory modifies this to take into account the perceptions of different cultures. He admits that the knowledge of different peoples is conditioned by their culture, even though the things in the world are not determined by culture. “A perception of the world is accurate if there is some state of the world such as it would normally cause a person of a certain culture to have perceptions of that kind”. McCullagh’s view is that realism about the world is compatible with cultural relativism of knowledge – a point that correspondists would not admit.
* McCullagh, The Truth of History, London, Routledge, 1998
(Contemporary American Christian apologist)
Why Truth Still Matters
In our secular culture, religion and morality have been relegated to the category of subjective preference rather than objective truth. Truth is considered less important than how something makes us feel. We can always find a study or Web site to back up what we want to be true, whether or not it really is. Stephen Colbert popularized this sentiment by introducing the word “truthiness” on The Colbert Report in 2005. The idea behind “truthiness” is that actual facts are irrelevant. What matters is how we feel since people, not reality, are the final arbiters of truth.
But what do we mean by truth? If we, as Christians, cannot determine the answer to that question, all is lost, for the heart of our faith is the proclamation of the One who is not simply that way or the life, but the truth.” Truth is not an issue Christians can sidestep or ignore, for it is at the heart of our faith. But it is also critical for a healthy church.
Here are three points about truth that may be helpful.
First, people really do care about truth. Since people are image-bearers of God, they inherently know that truth matters, whether they recognize or admit it.
Second, it is vital to teach the nature of truth. Christianity uniquely makes objectively verifiable truth claims. The Apostle Paul said that if Christ has not risen, then our faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14-17). And we have eyewitnesses to back this up (2 Pet. 1:16). While people may have different beliefs about Christianity, it cannot be “true for you, but not true for me.”
Third, we must teach critical thinking. Because of the Internet, people today are exposed to more non-biblical worldviews than at any other time in history. Rather than creating confidence in truth, the exposure to various ideologies has lead to enduring skepticism. The positive side of skepticism is that it creates a culture of questions, which can open up conversations that lead to the discovery of truth. We must not just give people truth—we must also teach people how to recognize truth from error. People today may be tech savvy, but they are not truth savvy. Many think something is true because they read it on the Internet!
There is a battle about truth raging in our culture today. Many outside the church say there is no ultimate truth. Many inside the church say we ought to give up proclaiming truth and focus on loving people relationally. Of course, we ought to love people. But let us not forget that even love rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6).
* See Internet Sean McDowell
(Contemporary American professor of sociology)
An "evolving" but nonetheless universal definition of truth
Truth is not contained within any particular paradigm (all paradigms are riddled with deficiencies), but rather truth guides and enables the process of transitioning from outmoded to "new and improved" paradigms. As is the case with evolving organisms, emergent paradigms may appear to be constructs of an entirely new order. Nevertheless, emergent paradigms maintain demonstrable linkages with their ancestors. The difference is that emergent paradigms have been modified through a process of “redefining reality” to transcend the shortcomings of established paradigms and, thereby, achieve a better "fit" with prevailing environmental conditions.
"Redefining reality" is a process through which individuals can challenge misleading or inadequate paradigms through a combination of astute observation and a creative capacity for ingenious, innovative cognition. The notion of “redefinable reality” posits that there is a universe “out there” that exists independent of human cognition. McGettigan argues that “universal Truth” does exist, but such Truth is not (nor will it ever be) contained within extant scientific paradigms. Rather, “The Truth” extends infinitely into the unlocked mysteries of the expanding universe. In other words, reality is what it is: truth is an intrinsic, inseparable feature of phenomena as they exist independently of human perception. Lies and distortions come into existence via humanity’s vast capacity for ignorance. Although admirable in many ways, our grasp of infinite mysteries remains woefully incomplete. Nevertheless, the process of redefining reality permits admittedly limited human minds to make use of empirical anomalies to transcend the limitations of inadequate paradigms in pursuit of a grander vision of Truth.
The version of “evolutionary truth” that McGettigan advocates asserts that no single person will ever arrive at an ultimate representation of Truth. Instead, humans can access narrow, momentary glimpses of truth through the process of transitioning from outmoded to improved definitions of reality.
According to theoretical formulation upon which the redefinition of reality process is based, in every case it remains up to individual observers to evaluate the veracity of knowledge claims. For example, even the most widely accepted scientific paradigms are, and should be, subjected to intense criticism. An environment that invites criticism of even the most popular theories--whether or not we share dissenters’ viewpoints--is crucial to the process of progressively and legitimately redefining reality. In other words, dissent is an acid test through which to interrogate good ideas and obliterate bad ones. Once again, no theory produced by humankind either has, nor ever will capture “the Entire Truth.” Indeed, precisely because of that limitation, the notion of evolutionary truth is an essential means through which to emphasize that even relatively truthful ideas often can and should be supplanted by better ideas. Evolutionary truth makes it possible to draw constructively upon the strengths of the vast storehouse of existing scientific knowledge in order to evolve, newer and better definitions of empirical reality. No definition of truth can legitimately claim to offer more, nor should be equipped to accomplish less.
*McGettigan Timothy, Good Science: The Pursuit of Truth and the Evolution of Reality, Department of Sociology, CSU, Pueblo
(British philosopher, b. 1950)
“Thick disquotationalism”: the view that truth is a genuine property
McGinn defends a view he calls "thick disquotationalism." The essence of truth, on this view, lies in the fact that for any proposition p , << p > is true> entails < p >. McGinn parts company from orthodox disquotationalists in rejecting the converse entailment, from < p > to << p > is true>, in order to "leave conceptual room for the idea of a propositional speech acts that fail of truth and falsity" .
McGinn argues that truth has a core feature which gives it this remarkable nature: the disquotation feature. This is the feature which allows us to step from *It is true that p* to * p* . Truth is defined as the unique property for which this holds as an entailment. In McGinn's words, "truth is the (unique) property of a proposition from which one can deduce the fact stated by the proposition" .
Focusing on this sort of connection is the hallmark of deflationist theories of truth. Classical forms of deflationism argue that truth is not a property at all, or not a 'substantial’ property. But McGinn argues that the central role of the disquotation feature does not imply any such deflationism. Truth is, according to him a fully robust property, though one whose "essence" is disquotation. McGinn's disquotationalism is thus "thick", as opposed to deflationists whose disquotationalism is"thin."
This means that for McGinn the Disquotational Principle does not lead to the redundancy view. He can resist that by taking the left-hand side (p is true) to express something logically stronger than the right-hand side (p). So the logical form and ontological commitment of the left is stronger than that of the right.
The left side (p is true) contains a predicate denoting a property. It also contains a name denoting a proposition. All this is apparently lacking in the right side (p). Thus adding the truth-predicate increases the expressive power of the language. Moreover the right (p) does not always entail the left (p is true). The thick disquotationalist view is that truth is a genuine property, but such that it can be specified without reference to any property. There is no attempt there to explain truth in terms of some property logically or materially equivalent to it.
To sum up: truth is to be defined as that property of a proposition that entails the fact stated by the proposition. Truth is a robust property, though one whose "essence"is disquotation.
* McGinn, Colin, Logical Properties, Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-924181-3.
(American Internet Christian minister, b 1943)
There are two kinds of truth in the Bible: Literal and Poetic
There are two kinds of truth in the Bible: literal truth, which is material truth; and poetic truth, which is spiritual truth. Literal truth corresponds to material reality as it occurs in the real world of physical matter. Poetic truth corresponds to spiritual reality as it occurs in realm of spirit. We discern literal truth by means of our human understanding, based on the workings of our conscious minds. We discern poetic truth by means of our spirit.
The Bible contains both literal truth and poetic truth: truth of the world, and truth of the spirit. Poetic truth does not depend on a corresponding material reality or event. Material truth does not depend on a corresponding spiritual reality.
All of the parables of Jesus are poetic truth, not literal truth. The parables were never intended to be taken as literal truth, but as spiritual truth. In contrast, the actions of Jesus, as reported in the four Gospels, are literally true. Jesus was born in a stable; His mother was a virgin named Mary; He did teach and preach for several years; He did perform the miracles as described in the Bible, etc. All of these things are literally true. They actually happened in the real world and were documented by humans using their natural faculties.
In the book of Revelation, almost everything is poetic truth. In the book of Genesis, literal truth and poetic truth are intermingled. Literal truths -- facts which actually happened -- are expressed in poetic form. The poetic descriptions are not literally true, but they illustrate the various underlying material realities. The literal truth is that God created the universe in six distinct stages, culminating in the creation of Man. The poetical story of Creation in Genesis conveys this literal truth in poetic form. The literal truth is that earliest Mankind rebelled against God and was cut off from Him. The poetical story of Adam And Eve conveys this literal truth in poetic form.
It is very important for Christians to understand these two kinds of truth in the Bible. Much of the educated world is kept away from Jesus by our failure to recognize the two kinds of truth in the Bible.
See Internet McGinnis LoveAllPeople.org/archives.html.
(Contemporary American professor of law)
Lawyers as the enemies of truth
What is the relationship between lawyers and truth? The issue of truth in the legal system reveals a fundamental tension between lawyers and the public. The public benefits from truth-eliciting rules in the legal system, but lawyers can benefit from truth-obscuring rules. Truth-eliciting rules are an important part of the rule of law, because they assure that courts base legal decisions on relevant factual states of the world. Unfortunately, lawyers often have an interest in truth-obscuring rules because legal complexity and uncertainty can be a source of business. Hence, we face a sad paradox: the class that should be the great guardian of truth in law may instead have the greatest interest in subverting it.
The search for truth is an important part of the rule of law. We inherited both the modern concept of the rule of law and the empirical sciences from the Enlightenment, and both are similarly rooted in an ideal of objectivity. The rule of law requires that society be governed by abstract legal rules whose application is objective, in the sense that it does not vary with the status or rank of the parties to a particular dispute. The scientific idea of empirical truth is also objective in that the real world is the same for everyone regardless of personal perspective or social status.
The beneficial results of the Enlightenment have been as great in law as in science. The rule of law, including truth eliciting rules, is one of the greatest goods a society can enjoy. Coherence, clarity and stability are the hallmarks of the rule of law. Indeed, by reducing the number of uncertainties in our dealings with one another, the rule of law generates wealth more pervasively than any single scientific invention in human history. Truth-eliciting rules similarly facilitate wealth creation by helping courts reach factually accurate decisions, thus increasing both the predictability and effectiveness of law.
Unfortunately, one of the greatest obstacles to maintaining the rule of law, including truth-eliciting rules, is the profound interest that lawyers have in subverting it. As legal rules become less clear, more litigation is necessary to resolve disputes, resulting in higher incomes for lawyers. When rules are frequently changed, clients must consult lawyers more often to understand their legal responsibilities. If a legal rule is incoherent, individuals will have difficulty understanding its essence and will become more dependent on lawyers. If the law expands into areas where it is unnecessary, society will incur additional costs, but lawyers will prosper.
* See Mcginnis John O. Internet
(British Christian theologian,b. 1953)
The objective truth of Christian revelation is particular, not universal
For the evangelicalist McGrath, Christian revelation is particular, truthful, cognitive, and historical. By "particular," he means that Christian revelation is not based on universal truths of reason or a universal religious experience. Rather than universals, Christian faith begins with the unique and definite person Jesus Christ as normatively revealed in Scripture. As narrated in Scripture, Christ is not a universal idea, nor is he validated by any exterior claim. He is his own person, the unique revelation of God. Because evangelicalism centers on the person of Jesus Christ, its particularity is derived from Christ as a definite person.
Evangelicalism does not begin with general ideas or a culturally determined context. It begins with the specific historical revelation of Jesus Christ. This definite revelation can achieve universal scope because God can act anywhere and at any time to reveal himself through Scripture and the preaching of the gospel. Nor does this specific revelation require any prior ideological commitments or worldview. It depends upon God, for only God can reveal God. In this way evangelicalism is able to avoid the pitfall of shackling itself to a transient ideological commitment or philosophical perspective.
McGrath and evangelicalism believe that both Scripture and Christian doctrine express truth. Both bring knowledge of an "external objective reality." He states that liberalism "is especially hostile to any form of particularism, such as the notion of a special divine revelation." Rather than a particular divine revelation, liberalism grounds faith in a universal human experience of the divine. The problem with this, according to McGrath, is that the claim of a universal religious experience cannot be sustained. Such a belief was an Enlightenment idea, a belief lacking widespread acceptance in our postmodern age. Simply put, there is no compelling evidence of a universal religious experience as postulated by liberalism. According to McGrath there is actually very little empirical evidence for a `common core experience' throughout human history and culture. As a result, liberalism fails because it is based on an outmoded concept of universal revelation.
Evangelicalism is about the proclamation of an objective truth with the expectation that this will give rise to a subjective response, that is to say, a response which involves the heart, mind and total being of those who hear it. The Enlightenment notions of `truth' and `knowledge', as critics such as Kierkegaard pointed out with such vigour, fail to engage with human nature in all its fullness, and focus instead on a purely cerebral `faith', devoid of emotion and transformation. Evangelicals believe that the gospel affects the heart, the emotions, the entire self, the inner life, relationships, and the imagination. It entails a transformation, a new structure of existence, a transforming friendship.
* McGrath Alistair,The Science of God: An Introduction to Scientific Theology, London: Continuum, 2004
(Contemporary American philosopher)
The natural theology of beauty, truth, and goodness
The term “natural theology” emphasizes how values in general, and these primary values in particular, demonstrate the reality of spirit in an unmistakable way. However, the natural theology of beauty, truth, and goodness is not to be confused with other, earlier forms of natural theology, such as arguments from design. Integral natural theology is found in the direct experience of spirit that is common to every spiritual path; it does not rely on the authority of spiritual teachers or texts. Integral natural theology seeks to discover the movement of spirit in the world within the immediacy of our own experience. That is, within the exquisite pleasure of beauty, within the exciting wonder of truth, and within the warm glow of loving-kindness, which accompanies all experiences of authentic forms of goodness.
The beautiful, the true, and the good — these are the fundamental values that have been recognized since antiquity as the intrinsic qualities from which all values are essentially derived. They have been called “transcendental” on the ground that everything which is, is in some measure or manner subject to denomination as true or false, good or evil, beautiful, or ugly.
In addition to philosophers, scientists, and politicians, many mystics and spiritual teachers have also championed the idea of these three essential “windows on the divine.” 1. The way of the intellect, or of knowledge — the way of truth; 2. The way of the heart, or of emotion — the way of beauty; and 3. The way of the will, or of action — the way of goodness.
In my experience, the ideals of beauty, truth, and goodness represent philosophy's finest hour — these are the concepts by which philosophy makes contact with the spiritual and helps to define the way forward from a middle ground in between science and religion. The concept of the primary values of beauty, truth, and goodness is a conceptual cathedral. And these concepts do produce spiritual experience in the way that they name and describe the “eternal forms” by which the “gentle persuasion” of evolution enacts the universe's essential motion of consciousness seeking its source.
* Steve McIntosh, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution (Sep 1, 2007)
(Contemporary American writer)
The betrayal of truth in history, past and present
Sure, there’s a consensus on truths such as “two plus two equals four” and “the earth revolves around the sun,” but is there a body of truth to explain the bigger fundamental questions: Who are we? Why are we here? What should we be doing? Is this life all there is?
Today truth has come under the Big Top.. All opinions and feelings are valid and up for grabs, because society no longer considers any truth to be absolute. Instead, there are many beliefs, many realities, many truths.
In the Middle Ages, people wanted to contemplate God, to study God, to understand and advance His will as they saw it. The quest for truth became a function of the dominant religion of the day, Roman Catholicism. The church overshadowed all. In the mind of the average person, there was one God, one church, one truth.
In reaction to the domination and perceived excesses of the church and the medieval system, a gradually rising attitude of secularism brought a new emphasis on the individual’s direct and private relationship with God. There was a resurgence of classical thought, and the church began to be called into question on almost everything. During this early Renaissance period, the search for truth began to shift from religion to science. Whereas truth had always been determined in reference to something else—God, universal intelligence, natural law, reason or nature—man became, to borrow a phrase from the Greek Sophist Protagoras, “the measure of all things.”
This seemingly subtle reorientation created a profound change, however. The world would now be seen through scientific eyes. The right to determine truth would be pulled down from the heavens and handed over to the inductive, quantitative realm of science. This empirical approach lies at the core of our thinking today.
The modern world searched for truth scientifically. Modernism possessed a confident worldview. Believing that nothing exists beyond what our senses can perceive, modernists determined truth as they experienced it. Modernism, with its unconditional belief in objective reality, saw truth as the result of statements that could be either proved or disproved.
Nonetheless it was an idea founded on a false assumption: that the human being is autonomous, his/her own authority. This idea that we alone can determine reality and truth has made truth self-legitimizing. However, although it sounds inspiring and appeals to our basic human nature, it is not a reliable formula by which to determine all truth. Certainly humanity has been misled throughout history by those who have claimed to be the sole arbiters of truth. From the world-ruling empires to the church to the nation-state, these institutions defined and controlled truth but, perhaps more importantly, also controlled the practical applications of truth: morality, ethics, justice, freedom, law, etc. The interpretations of these aspects of truth have had devastating consequences for civilizations of the past. Society’s trust has been betrayed by much error mixed with truth. This is why so many today reject the possibility of absolute truth. However it remains that truth is needed as a starting point from which we can order our lives. We can’t make lasting connections with momentary feelings and emotions. Without truth at our center, our civilization will certainly decline.
*See Internet Michael McKinney
(American evangelical theologian, b 1956)
Postmodern Christians must extend uncertainty to religious truth
The postmodern movement has advanced through academia, society, and now, increasingly, is making its presence felt inside the Church. Some, like Brian McLaren, welcome and embrace this development, and believe that the Church needs to be radically reinvented to continue to function in a new, postmodern era. The hallmark of the postmodern worldview is the belief that individuals, fundamentally, cannot know the truth. A postmodernist holds that the concept of absolute truth lacks meaning because no individual can grasp that truth in all its complexity. Postmodern Christians extend this uncertainty to religious truth. From this disbelief in anyone's ability to know anything with certainty stems an impetus to radically rethink and reinvent the Church.
McLaren asserts that truthfulness about doctrine and even the gospel is no longer certain. He asserts that the traditional desire for truth is only a holdover from "modern-Western-moderately-educated desires." In the postmodern world, McLaren pushes the church toward adopting a pluralistic platform of truth and acceptance. With this platform, the church can overcome any doctrinal conflict or impasse. However, this comes at the cost of the certainty and truth of the traditional gospel message.
McLaren promotes a relativistic position toward other religions when he states, "We don't seek to root up all the bad weeds in the world's religions (including our own), but rather seek to encourage the growth of good wheat in all religions including our own, leaving it for God to sort it all out as only God can do”.
The Bible, McLaren argues, is for the purpose of equipping Christians for good works. However, he rejects such words as authority, inerrancy, and infallibility, as distracting and complicating. Instead, he believes that Christianity has moved beyond foundational principles - the views of knowledge and certainty - to a narrative view of scripture. This narrative view suggests that the traditional view of scripture is limited and distorted and that, instead the church should adopt a developing view of revelation and truth.
Adopting a postmodern worldview, he denies the possibility or even the need for certain truth. McLaren attributes this position to humility. He calls it "a generous orthodoxy, in contrast to the tense, narrow, controlling, or critical orthodoxies of so much of Christian history”
* McLAREN Brian, A New Kind of Christian (Jossey-Bass, 2001)
(Contemporary American business consultant)
The Triangle of Truth: a conflict resolution tool
In every arena of human relationship, we find the “Either/or thinking”. It is the same dynamic over and over again: both sides think they’re right, and don’t want to budge. We’ve been told to compromise, but it never works, because in many cases both sides ARE right. The problem is that they approach the argument from an either/or mind set.
We tend to think of arguments as a straight line, your truth is on one side, their truth is on the other and we’re supposed to meet in the middle. But the Triangle of Truth model is about finding a solution at the top of the triangle: one that supports you both. In most cases our truths aren’t conflicting, they’re complimentary.
We all have people in our lives who drive us nuts. But we often find ourselves so frustrated with their narrow-minded, misguided, either/or way of thinking that we often succumb to same type of either/or thinking ourselves. We start to think that because they are so very wrong about so many things, they`re wrong about everything.
The Triangle of Truth model alleviates this problem because it enables you to see a person`s dysfunctions AND their positive attributes at the same time. The Triangle of Truth enables you to see the REAL truth about other people. Yes they are crazy, AND there’s also another side to them, even if you can’t see it.
The truth is we`re all flawed, AND we`re also all fabulous. Our flaws may camouflage our magnificence, but they don`t negate it. Once you accept the duality of everyone, you can hold onto the idea that they`re nuts AND they`re normal at the same time. The Triangle of Truth allows you to accept both.
The Triangle of Truth is conflict resolution tool, but it`s also a model for igniting creativity, inspiring greatness, and it`s a catalyst for creating new models of success in our work, homes, and communities. The ability to assimilate seemingly conflicting perspectives has been the invisible under-pinning behind our greatest success, public and private.
* McLeod Lisa Earl, The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small , Jan 5, 2010)
(Contemporary Canadian teacher of religion)
There is no essential link between terrorism and absolute Truth
For McMananam it is impossible to deny the existence of a single, universal, objective and absolute truth. The reason is that truth is the very object of the intellect. Without an objective truth that measures the mind of man, all the intellect can hope to achieve is the formulation of an opinion -- remembering that opinion is not knowledge, but something midway between knowledge and ignorance. McMananam rejects Nietzsche’s contention that there is no single, universal and absolute truth. Nietzsche’s claim is so popular that the very idea of "absolute truth" is typically associated with arrogance and an unwillingness to dialogue, not to mention a propensity to violence. Likewise the post-modernists suggest that the opinion that holds for the existence of absolute truth begets an attitude that is at the root of terrorism.
The problem with this claim, however, is that if the mind cannot possess absolute truth, there is nothing in light of which to conclude that terrorism is a bad thing. Only those who in fact possess the absolute truth with respect to the morality of killing have a right to condemn terrorism absolutely.
What moral relativists fail to understand is that terrorism is precisely what their relativism begets in the long run. For the goal of the reasoning process is precisely to arrive at what is certainly and absolutely true. But if it is not possible to possess what is absolutely true, then reasoning is pointless. The only alternative to persuading the mind, then, is to persuade the will.
Now there are a number of methods one may employ to persuade the will, some more clever and deceiving than others. But no method can be ruled out as absolutely immoral, for to do so presupposes the possession of an absolute truth, that is, an objective and universal precept in light of which a certain course of action is ruled out absolutely. And so one may lie, distort, deceive, exaggerate, coerce, threaten, or resort to, all out violence.
The position that there exists a universal, objective, and absolute truth is made to appear as something at odds with humility, dialogue, and reasonable compromise. But once again, this is nothing more than a clever deception that hides the true face of moral relativism.
The problem with terrorists is not that they believe in the existence of absolute truth; rather, the problem is in the content of what they hold to be true. It is precisely this content that gets people killed. Like all moral relativists and deconstructionists, terrorists hold that human life has no intrinsic and absolute value. In other words, human life is expendable.
From the point of view of Christian theology, there is no essential link between terrorism and adhering to the notion of an absolute truth; for Jesus himself said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (Jn 14, 6). And yet Jesus was no terrorist who advised his followers to compel people to submit their lives to him. In fact, he warned them against the abuse of authority: "You know how those who exercise authority among the Gentiles lord it over them; their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you" (Mt 20, 25-26).
*See Internet McManaman Douglas
(American historian, b.1917).
In history, one person's truth is another's myth: the mythistory of historians
Our common parlance reckons myth to be false while history is, or aspires to be, true. Accordingly, a historian who rejects someone else's conclusions calls them mythical, while claiming that his own views are true. But what seems true to one historian will seem false to another, so one historian's truth becomes another's myth, even at the moment of utterance.
The historic record available to us consists of an unending appearance and dissolution of human groups, each united by its own beliefs, ideals, and traditions. Sects, religions, tribes, and states have based their cohesion upon shared truths-truths that differed from time to time and place to place with a rich and reckless variety. Today the human community remains divided among an enormous number of different groups, each espousing its own version of truth about itself and about those excluded from its fellowship.
All human groups like to be flattered. Historians are therefore under perpetual temptation to conform to expectation by portraying the people they write about as they wish to be. A mingling of truth and falsehood, blending history with ideology, results. Historians are likely to select facts to show that we-whoever "we" may be-conform to our cherished principles. The result is mythical: the past as we want it to be, safely simplified into a contest between good guys and bad guys, "us" and "them." Most national history and most group history is of this kind.
With a rigorous and reflective epistemology, we might attain a better historiographical balance between Truth, truths, and myth. Eternal and universal Truth about human behavior is an unattainable goal, however delectable as an ideal. Truths are what historians achieve when they bend their minds as critically and carefully as they can to the task of making their account of public affairs credible as well as intelligible to an audience that shares enough of their particular outlook and assumptions to accept what they say. The result might best be called mythistory perhaps (though I do not expect the term to catch on in professional circles), for the same words that constitute truth for some are, and always will be, myth for others, who inherit or embrace different assumptions and organizing concepts about the world.
This does not mean that there is no difference between one mythistory and another. Some clearly are more adequate to the facts than others. Some embrace more time and space and make sense of a wider variety of human behavior than others. And some, undoubtedly, offer a less treacherous basis for collective action than others. I actually believe that historians' truths, like those of scientists, evolve across the generations, so that versions of the past acceptable today are superior in scope, range, and accuracy to versions available in earlier times.
Thus one may, as an act of faith, believe that our historiographical myth making and myth breaking is bound to cumulate across time, propagating mythistories that fit experience better. If so, ever-evolving mythistories will indeed become truer and more adequate to public life.
Unalterable and eternal Truth remains like the Kingdom of Heaven, an eschatological hope. Mythistory is what we actually have-a useful instrument for piloting human groups in their encounters with one another and with the natural environment.
*William H. McNeill.,The Pursuit of Truth: A Historian's Memoir. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005.
(Austrian philosopher, 1852-1920)
Truth consists in equality or identity of intended and factual objective.
Meinong's account of truth is closely connected with his theory of objectives. What is an objective? Roughly speaking, it is an abstract object which is an object of a judgment. Objectives are beyond existence and non-existence. It follows that objectives subsist or not. Objectives which subsist are facts, for example, that Warsaw is the capital of Poland. On the other hand, the objective that London is the capital of Ireland fails to be subsistent, and it is not a fact; yet this objective is a perfectly intelligible object associated with the judgment that London is the capital of Ireland. That objectives are objects of judgments simply means that they are judged in judgments. From the (modern) semantic standpoint, objectives can be treated as the meanings of declarative sentences, that is they are expressed by sentences. If an objective is considered only from the point of view of its content, that is, independently of any act of any knowing subject, it is called a "pure objective".
Objectives are ideal, not real objects. Like all other (possible) ideal objects, they can merely subsist. An objective which subsists can be called factual — it is a fact . Nonfactual objectives (nonfacts} do not subsist and are thus objects beyond being. “True” in its subjective sense is a relative predicate as it can be attributed only to subsistent objectives in so far as they are apprehended by thoughts (judgments or assumptions). In an analogous way one can also attribute truth to thoughts in so far as they present subsistent objectives (facts). “Truth” in its objective sense, however, simply means a subsistent objective, a fact. Hence Meinong's truth theory is a borderline case of a correspondence theory; it is an identity theory of truth.
For Meinong, the traditional correspondence theory sees the nature of truth in a correspondence between something which has or is a mental content and something which is extramental. This view is rejected by Meinong. He develops a view of truth as consisting in equality (coincidence) of intended (pseudo-existent) objective and factual objective. If an objective is true, both coincide, that is, they are equal. An objective is false, if it is pseudo-existent and non-factual.
* Meinong, A. “The Theory of Objects” in Realism and the Background of Phenomenology, ed. Roderick Chisholm (Glencoe, Ill: Free Press, 1960)
(Contemporary South African author?)
The Truth Is Not Negotiable
There seems to be a lot of confusion around about what the truth actually is. People everywhere are spouting “facts” and debating issues based on their own opinions. It’s fine to share your opinion of course, but what is the point of inventing supposed facts to support it. The truth is no negotiable, if you find yourself debating an issue it can pay to do some research … forming opinions based on emotions that are ignorant of the facts simply makes you sound stupid. I know this sounds like basic advice, common knowledge even, but it is surprising how many people seem to push arguments that are based on nothing..
The truth is not negotiable … once you discover it you will know it. Unfortunately the truth is not available in every situation, if this is the case then it is perhaps better to refrain from judging others and reserve your opinion.
If you cannot prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt, then don’t promote it, and most importantly … do not trust it! The Truth is not negotiable … it is never negotiable, it cannot be changed, it cannot be disproved. It just is.
If you are seeking answers and have been unable to discover any that you feel are satisfactory, then you can carry out your own research by analyzing the findings of other and comparing them. If you are unable to research further than this and your findings are still unsatisfactory, then you may have to accept the fact that some truths have not yet been discovered. The secrets of the universe are vast and it is likely that some things will never be understood.
See Internet Melissamaree, November 12, 2012
(German Jewish Philosopher, 1729-1786)
Judaism and the universal truths of reason
Mendelssohn, philosopher of European enlightenment, holds that the faith of Judaism is identical with universal truth and that the metaphysical themes are common to all men and are universally true. He claims that, although divine legislation belongs to the sphere of revelation, universal religious truth does not.
He writes: “Although the divine book that we received through Moses is, strictly speaking, meant to be a book of laws containing ordinances, rules of life and prescriptions, it also is well known as an inexhaustible treasure of rational truths and religious doctrines. ... All laws refer to, or are based upon, eternal truths of reason, or remind us of them, and rouse us to ponder them. ... Among all prescriptions and ordinances of Mosaic law, there is not a single one which says: you shall believe or not believe. They all say: you shall do or not do. Faith is not commanded, for it accepts no other commands than those that come to it by way of conviction. ... Whenever it is a question of the eternal truths of reason, it does not say ‘believe’, but ‘understand and know’. ... In truth, everything depends here also on the distinction between believing and knowing, between religious doctrines and religious commandments”.
Eternal truths can be achieved by intellectual endeavour. Judaism, according to Mendelssohn, fulfills all the criteria of reason, unlike Christianity with its belief in incarnation. The essential doctrines of Christianity, as the trinity, incarnation, the suffering of the Divine, original sin, vicarious atonement etc., are opposed to the religion of reason: "On the other hand, he writes, I do not find in the Old Testament anything which is equal to these doctrines, which contradicts, according to my understanding, good reason."
Mendelssohn distinguishes between revealed religion and revealed legislation. Judaism, as opposed to a revealed religion such as Christianity, comprises only revealed legislation - laws which govern behaviour - and as such is free of dogmas or mandatory beliefs. God has provided the means for us to apprehend philosophical and scientific truths via our innate powers of reason and observation. All human beings, not only Jews, can grasp these truths, without recourse to a holy text.
The religion of Judaism is no revealed religion in the typical meaning of the term. It does not enjoin Jews to “believe”, but instead to recognize what is true. The spirit of Judaism is freedom in doctrine and conformity in action.
*See Bourel, Dominique. Moses Mendelssohn et la Naissance du judaïsme moderne, Editions Gallimard, Paris 2004.
Belgian philosopher and RC Cardinal, (1851-1926)
Any criterion of truth must satisfy three conditions: it should be internal, objective, and immediate.
In contrast to some Roman Catholic thinkers of his time, Mercier saw philosophy as distinct from theology, and above all as an enterprise that should be free of all apologetics. Without abandoning all tradition, he sought to imbue philosophy with the same ethic of investigation that marked other university disciplines; philosophy must address the people, their times, and their problems. Even when dealing with such questions as truth and certitude, Mercier appealed to human experience. This led to his system of "illationism," which admitted that truth and certitude came from intellectual reflection, but that the content of such abstract thought always had its origins in concrete experience.
Mercier argues that if there is any knowledge which bears the mark of truth, if the intellect does have a way of distinguishing the true and the false, in short, if there is a criterion of truth, then this criterion should satisfy three conditions: it should be internal, objective, and immediate.
It should be internal. No reason or rule of truth that is provided by an external authority can serve as an ultimate criterion. For the reflective doubts that are essential to criteriology can and should be applied to itself. The mind cannot attain to certainty until it has found within itself a sufficient reason for adhering to the testimony of such an authority.
The criterion should be objective. The ultimate reason for believing cannot be a merely subjective state of the thinking subject. A man is aware that he can reflect upon his psychological states in order to control them. Knowing that he has this ability, he does not, so long as he has not made use of it, have the right to be sure. The ultimate ground of certitude cannot consist in a subjective feeling. Finally, the criterion must be immediate. To be sure, a certain conviction may rest upon many different reasons some of which are subordinate to others. But if we are to avoid an infinite regress, then we must find a ground of assent that presupposes no other. We must find we an immediate criterion of certitude.
*Mercier Désiré, Critériologie générale ou théorie générale de la certitude, vol. 4 du Cours de philosophie, Institut supér. de philosophie, 1911.
(French philosopher, 19O8-1961)
Merleau-Ponty is best known for his thesis concerning “the primacy of perception”. All higher functions of consciousness such as intellection and volition depend on the subject’s pre-reflexive, bodily existence, i.e. perception. Perception is the seizure of a sense immanent to reality before any judgment. The phenomenon of perception gives an immediate access to the real. Significantly Merleau-Ponty writes: “We must not wonder whether we really perceive a world, we must instead say : the world is what we perceive”. To seek the essence of perception is to declare that perception is not presumed true, but defined as access to truth. Perception comes before knowledge, it is what knowledge analyzes and decomposes. For Merleau-Ponty truth comes before knowledge.
Merleau-Ponty’s principal goal is to get beyond the intellectual as well as empirical constructs of traditional philosophies, which both, he claims, had ignored the phenomenon of perception. The world as we actually experience it as embodied subjects is prior to all theorising. Philosophy must rediscover the lived, experienced world of perception as it appears before any science or any conceptual reconstruction. Perception is precisely the field where the world is already there before any analysis. The perception of the world comes before all the “truths” that can be said about it. The pre-judgmental “truth” of perception does not analyse or explain; it only describes. It is not the truth of judgements and theories, it is truth as presence and event. It is meaningless to ask if a perception is ‘true’, for truth coincide with perception and perception never fails us but is constantly rectified by another possible perception and this perpetual adjustment to reality is truth.
Hence the subject has not to wonder whether the type of knowledge he has is adequate, whether the result of his mode of knowledge leads to the truth, for truth is not constructed by the subject, it is not a result of the thinking process, but an event which seizes a meaning immanent to the sensible before any judgement. This event of truth is perception itself. There may be later an effort to explain it , but the first, fundamental situation is in the order of perception.
* See Maurice Merleau-Ponty: une Phénoménologie de la Perception, in Huneman, P. Introduction â la Phénoménologie, Armand Colin, Paris, 1997, p.94-122
(American trappist monk, 1915-1968)
Non-violence must commit itself to the defense of objective truth
The practice of nonviolence for a purely selfish or arbitrary end would in fact discredit and distort the truth of nonviolent resistance. Nonviolence is perhaps the most exacting of all forms of struggle, not only because it demands first of all that one be ready to suffer evil and even face the threat of death without violent retaliation, but because it excludes mere transient self-interest from its considerations. In a very real sense, he who practices nonviolent resistance must commit himself not to the defense of his own interests or even those of a particular group: he must commit himself to the defense of objective truth and right above all of man . His aim is then not simply to "prevail" or to prove that he is right and the adversary wrong, or to make the adversary give in and yield what is demanded of him.
The nonviolent resister is not fighting simply for "his" truth, or for "his" pure conscience, or for the right that is on "his side." On the contrary, both his strength and his weakness come from the fact that he is fighting for the truth, common to him and to the adversary, the right that is objective and universal. He is fighting for everybody
Christian non-violence gives us the key to a proper understanding of the meekness which accepts being "without strength" not out of masochism, quietism, defeatism or false passivity, but trusting in the strength of the Lord of truth. Indeed Christian non-violence is nothing if not first of all a formal profession of faith in the Gospel message that the Kingdom has been established and that the Lord of truth is indeed risen and reigning over his Kingdom.
In perfect obedience to the Gospel, the non-violent Christian effaces himself and his own interests and even risks his life in order to testify not simply to "the truth" in a sweeping, idealistic and purely platonic sense, but to the truth that is incarnate in a concrete human situation, involving living persons whose rights are denied and whose lives are threatened.
Christian non-violence is convinced that the manner in which the conflict for truth is waged will itself manifest or obscure the truth. To fight for truth by dishonest, violent, inhuman, or unreasonable means would simply betray the truth one is trying to vindicate. The absolute refusal of evil or suspect means is a necessary element in the witness of nonviolence.
A test of our sincerity in the practice of non-violence is this: are we willing to learn something from the adversary ? If a new truth is made known to us by him or through him, will we accept it? Are we willing to admit that he is not totally inhumane, wrong, unreasonable, cruel, etc.? This is important. If he sees that we are completely incapable of listening to him with an open mind, our non-violence will have nothing to say to him except that we distrust him and seek to outwit him. Our readiness to see some good in him and to agree with some of his ideas (though tactically this might look like a weakness on our part), actually gives us power; the power of sincerity and of truth. On the other hand, if we are obviously unwilling to accept any truth that we have not first discovered and declared ourselves, we show by the very fact that we are interested not in the truth so much as in “being right.” Since the adversary is presumably interested in being right also, and in proving himself right by what he considers the superior argument of force, we end up where we started. Non-violence has great power, provided that it really witnesses to truth and not just to self-righteousness.
* Merton Thomas, Faith and Violence, published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
(French philosopher of science,1859-1933)
The unability of scientific reason to know the truth about reality:
the identity wanted by the intellect contradicts the diversity imposed by nature
Meyerson examines the works of science to determine the psychological nature of scientific thought. His research shows that the psychological need to identify phenomena explains the developments of science. According to him, the scientist strives to reduce the diversity of phenomena to the immutable identity of the structure of his intellect, that is, to cast it in the form of the Same which alone satisfies his need of explanation. The human mind wants to go beyond – in the Hegelian sense – the irrationality of nature. However he knows also that this going beyond is illusory: nature remains Other than the understanding, it can never become its Other, that is, the Same as itself. This tension between the Same and the Other, between the identity wanted by the intellect and the diversity imposed by nature, produces effects on each side under consideration. Indeed the human mind is divided in itself – and thereby other than itself – in the tendency to reduce to the Same and the tendency to respect diversity. On the other side, nature shows itself reducible and irreducible to the Same, in so far as the whole real is not irrational.
Meyerson introduces the distinction between identification and identities. We hope for full explanations (identification) of reality but achieve only partial explanations (identities). He says that all scientific theories are generated this way as they reveal a mix of an a priori tendency to identify and the a posteriori elements of experience that resist total identification.
This means that reason cannot know the real without reducing it to something other than itself. Meyerson is in full agreement with the Kantian view that reality is essentially unknowable or noumenal. The thing in itself cannot be known since the ways of reason spontaneously transform diversity into identity. The explanatory structure of science depends on the discovery of identities in diversity. But that discovery leads to the (Kantian) conclusion that reality in itself is unknowable. On account of the the irrational nature of diversity, some aspect of reality will always remain unknown. The irrational that nature opposes to the human mind’s tendency to identiﬁcation is the sign that nature is not penetrable to reason, that the real is irrational. Meyerson describes the ‘irrationals’ of science as places of recalcitrance in reality, places that refuse to lend themselves to the formula of identification.
* Meyerson, Emile, Identity and Reality, New York, Dover Publications 
(Contemporary Canadian philosopher)
1. Some object to the correspondence theory of truth: how can one describe the relation of language to reality? For as soon as we articulate linguistically that relation, reality is already in language, and therefore it becomes a matter of correspondence between language and language, statement and statement! It seems that the correspondence view must give way to the coherence view which defines truth as the coherence between statements within the framework of language games.
2. There is a point in the coherence theory. Coherence of statements is a necessary condition for truth, still it is not sufficent because the coherentist leaves out a crucial aspect of what we understand by truth, that is, correspondence with what exists, prior and independently of our beliefs. Our notion of true and false in some manner transcends our capacity for recognising a statement as true or false. In other words the notion of truth is different than the criteria and justifications of truth. Facts and evidence of the facts are not the same. The relevant evidences of statements may be lacking or progressively discovered, still that does not mean that truth itself is not in an important sense absolute and unchanging. The truth of statement is a timeless property provided the statement is specified in space and time.
3. Most objections against the correspondence theory derive from the failure to distinguish between two ways in which statements may be said to correspond with the world. Correspondence A deals with the relation between a true statement and the facts. Correspondence B deals with the relation between a true statement and the evidence in experience which tends to confirm the facts. The difference between correspondence A and B is the difference between facts (that make the statement true) and evidence of the facts (which makes the statement worthy to be believed).
Those who reject the correspondence theory think that all correspondence must be of the B type and that the facts of correspondence A are themselves product of mental activity. But then adopting correspondence B means that one underlines only the aspect of evidence. One confuses truth with evidence and success in discovering the criteria of truth. What defines truth and constitutes its nature cannot be reduced to the evidence one can have of it.
* Meynel, Hugo, An Approach to Truth, in Heythrop Journal, 1988, p.192-204
French philosopher and novelist (1922-2002)
Michel analyses what Christianity considers as being the Truth and which he calls the 'Truth of life'. He argues that the Christian concept of Truth is opposed to what people usually consider to be the truth, which Michel calls 'the truth of the world', a concept borrowed from Greek thought.
Truth for him is what manifests itself and thus proves its reality by its effective manifestation either in us or in the world. It belongs to the philosophers to consider the truth which he calls 'the truth of the world'. This truth of the world refers to an external and objective truth, a truth in which everything appears as an object visible in front of our sight and at distance of us, that is to say in a representation form which is distinct from what it shows. According to this conception of truth, life is only an ensemble of objective properties.
But for Michel Henri there is another truth than the 'truth of the world'. Religious faith opens up to a kind of truth inaccessible to minds riveted to the categories of the "being-in-the-world". The dim lights of human reason and experience fade away in front of the light of Christ who proclaimed: "I am the Truth and the Life". The self-revelation of God brings in a light totally other than the lights of the world. That is why the truth of the world and the truth of the faith stand in opposition to each other. This means, incidentally, that reasonable, apologetic Christianity must be abandoned.
In Christianity, Life points to the inner reality which is subjective and radically immanent. The Truth of life - opposed to the truth of the world - is absolutely subjective, which means that it is independent of our beliefs and of our subjective tastes: just like for instance the perception of colour or pain which is not a question of personal preference, it is a fact and an inner experience that derives from the absolute subjectivity of Life. Thus the truth of life does not in any way differ from what makes it true and manifests itself in it. This Truth is the manifestation itself in its pure inner revelation: it the Life that Christianity calls God.
The Truth of life is not a truth relative from one individual to another, but the absolute Truth which is the foundation of our faculties and powers. It is not an abstract and indifferent truth , on the contrary it is for man what is most essential, because only that Truth can lead him to salvation.
* MICHEL Henry, C'est moi la vérité. Pour une Philosophie du Christianisme, (Paris: Seuil,1996)
(Contemporary British theologian)
The end of philosophical truth and the reclaiming of Christian truth
John Milbank is the founder of a movement that has become known as "radical orthodoxy." At the heart of Milbank’s work is the premise that modernity has ended with the dawn of postmodernism and with it all systems of truth based on universal reason have vanished. He sees this end as the opportunity for Christian theological truth to reclaim its own voice. His intention is to overcome what he calls the "pathos" of modern theology, a pathos that lies in its humility. Modern theology has felt it must conform to secular standards of scientific "objectivity." But with the advent of the postmodern critique of reason -- and its recognition that all thought is situated in specific cultural and linguistic systems and that the search for truth is an impossible and even meaningless project -- theology has an opportunity to reclaim its own premises. Then the ‘postmodern theology’ of ‘radical orthodoxy’ would favourably take the place of modern liberal theology.
The pathetic mistake of all liberal theology for Milbank is the establishment of dialogues between the Christian account of reality and what amounts to heretical distortions of that account. Milbank argues that much of modern social theory and philosophy represents a falling away from an integral Christian vision of reality. He claims to be the proponent of ‘neo- Augustinianism’. Indeed in The City of God, Augustine refused a dialogue with what he saw as an essentially corrupt Roman polity. Rather he proposed the fact of Christianity as a rival and an opponent to it. Most Christian theorists have departed, tragically, according to Milbank, from this Augustinian boldness and have tried to come to terms in various ways with the city of man. In terms of modern secular society the so called 'scientific' understanding of human existence and social processes is a falsity, an understanding which in its very concept is anti-Christian and heretical. Milbank opposes the establishment of an autonomous secular terrain independent of theology.
Using the post-modernist techniques of deconstruction, Milbank demonstrates that secular reason has no greater claim to truth than has theology. Secular reason is just that, secular, it does not and can not legitimately challenge theology as a discourse on how things are, or what truth is. It therefore follows that, if Christianity seeks to find a place for secular reason, it may be perversely compromising with what, on its own terms, is either deviancy or falsehood.
* Milbank,John, Theology and Social Theory Beyond Secular Reason, London, Blackwell, 1990
(English philosopher and economist, 1806-1873)
Matters of truth must be freely and openly discussed
In his essay On Liberty John Stuart Mill is concerned with the pursuit of truth. In his chapter on freedom of thought and discussion, he admits that the ultimate goal to be achieved is truth but this can be done only if competing doctrines and opinions are tolerated. The truth is more likely to be discovered in an atmosphere where participants are free to submit their arguments pro and con. The toleration he advocates is about individuals who freely differ in thought and speech, not about doctrines and opinons as if they were all equally acceptable. Truth is one but opinions of people concerning the truth may be plural. What is evil, says Mill, is to silence the expression of an opinion, to prevent free discussion on matters of truth. The unity of mankind in the acknowledgement of all important truths is the highest aim of intelligence. This ideal which is the well-being of mankind implies the necessity of free dialogue in which every opinion has the right of expression. It is only in the collision of adverse opinions that truth has any chance to emerge. Mill lays the foundation of his view on the freedom of expression of opinion on four distinct grounds: a) No one is infallible, b) Even an erroneous opinion may contain a portion of truth, c) Unless a received opinion is earnestly and vigorously contested, it may be held in the manner of a prejudice, d) The meaning of an uncontested doctrine is enfeebled in becoming a mere formal dogmatic profession and preventing the growth of any real conviction.
* J.S. Mill, On Liberty, chap.2, quoted by M. Adler in Truth in Religion, New York, 1990, p.5-9
(American author on Christian spirituality, b. 1971)
The idea of paradigm shifts is not that truth is changing, but that further study is changing our understanding of truth
In reading Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, one can realize its applicability to the ongoing conversation regarding Biblical truth. Kuhn was no philosopher or theologian, he was a scientist, but he proposed scientific paradigms should be allowed to change through a term he coined as “paradigm shifts.”
A paradigm shift would occur when scientists encountered anomalies which could not be explained by the accepted paradigm. All of this seems rather obvious, of course, and yet just like in the theological realm, scientists are not quick to let go of their paradigms. In fact, Kuhn argued when enough anomalies accrue against an accepted paradigm, the discipline in question is thrown into crisis. The crisis will then give way to a new paradigm which is not to be confused with absolute truth, but a current understanding or interpretation of absolute truth, always threatening to be changed by more anomalies. The process was designed, then, to respect truth over interpretation, or truth over the human biases that might distort truth.
Paradigm shifts should not be associated with a theory of relativism. The idea is not that truth is changing, but that further study is changing our understanding of truth.
When theologians throw out anomalies that threaten their paradigms, they respect their interpretation of truth more than truth, or worse, believe their interpretation of truth is actually truth. They use terms like Biblical and heretic to convince themselves and others that their interpretation is the real truth and others are a threat to “the gospel” or to God Himself. This sort of language isn’t helpful or respectful of anomalies, not to mention its behavior indicates a genuine intellectual threat that should be taken seriously, not dismissed as heresy.
What we are encountering in Christian culture today is a paradigm in crisis. Will there be a shift in the way we understand truth or read the Bible? Time will tell. But it would be arrogant of us to dismiss the anomalies. Dismissing anomalies rather than addressing them may be good for existing structures, but it isn’t good for truth. This does not mean anomalies have to be accepted, but rather carefully addressed in a reasonable manner.
*See Internet Miller Donald
(Anglo-Canadian professional in Chinese culture, b. 1968)
Truth in Chinese Religion: one cannot invent the truth, but only discover, renew and transmit it in discourse and conversation.
To trace the origins of “religious truth” we must first note that the guiding religious category is not divinity (God, his being and his attributes) but divination. We are not dealing in the first instance with abstract propositions that relate eternal Being to (corrupt) temporal phenomena, but rather with events of mediation that disclose paths of action.
Religious truths are theochemical prescriptions: methods for transforming the physical body into a cosmically translucent and immortal one. The language of religious truth, then, is not primarily direct spoken communication but written in Chinese characters: signs that encode transformations, simultaneous concealments and revelations.
To understand the development of truth in Chinese religion we must place Confucius in direct relation to this seemingly esoteric tradition. Confucius was not, however, concerned with discovering the proper prescriptions to enact. Language, after all, had already been created; the signs were already there; the classics had already been written; and Confucius claimed to be a transmitter, not a creator. The problem was how to perform them. Interpretation, thus, was not a matter of intellectual comprehension, but authentic relational embodiment or sincerity, the most fundamental forms of which were filial piety and music. Knowledge was “connaître” rather than “savoir.
Learning what is true, noble and is never a matter of sudden enlightenment or divine revelation, but it is nonetheless a source of deep human happiness. Learning and happiness coincide in the visit of friends from distant places, because then one’s horizons may be expanded in the course of discussion and conversation just as one’s memories are being re-‐affirmed. Truth is never to be sought on lofty mountains or experienced in lonely isolation, but always in the pleasurable society of those whose shared cultural background forms the condition for the possibility of rational discourse. Those whose learning and conversation have gained for themselves a certain connaissance of truth and value will, however be marked with a pathetic quality. Although learning is necessarily a social process, it has a deeply private purpose, such that true nobility may not be recognized (zhi) by others. It is between the pleasure of friendship (intimate knowledge) and the failure to be truly recognized (public ignorance) that the delight of learning finds its place. Learning is delightful in the same way that the visit of a distant friend is pleasurable: it is a process of reacquaintance. Truth, whether experienced in friendship, or learned in books, is never new, but always reclaimed and re-‐authenticated. We simply cannot invent the truth, but only discover, renew and transmit it in discourse and conversation.
* Miller James TRUTH IN CHINESE RELIGION A. GENERAL PERSPECTIVES , Boston University, November 18
(American biologist, b. 1948)
The scientific truth of evolution, understood correctly, does not conflict with religious beliefs.
1. Faith and reason are both necessary to the religious person for a proper understanding of the world in which we live, and there is ultimately no necessary contradiction between reason and faith.
HHhow does one reconcile belief in evolution and religious faith? "They don't need to be reconciled," said Miller, who argues that when evolution is understood correctly, it does not conflict with religious beliefs. In Finding Darwin's God Miller states his belief in God and argues that "evolution is the key to understanding God."
The theistic evolution he defends lies between blind evolution and fiat Creation. Blind evolution accounts for life solely in terms of chance, whereas fiat Creation accepts nothing except ex nihilo creation to account for the same things. Theistic evolution states that both contain some elements of truth, but the real truth is somewhere in the middle. In other words, God created by evolution. Still there are differing views as to God’s involvement from just creating matter and natural laws and leaving it to run on its own (Miller), to God actually miraculously intervening at each individual step (intelligent design).
2. Ken Miller is a staunch opponent of the so called ‘intelligent design’ theory, which argues is that all we find in living cells are so complex that they could not have been produced by natural processes such as evolution and that they would require the intervention of an intelligent designer outside of nature to bring them into existence. Intelligent design is in fact an anti-evolution concept that claims some features of nature and living things are too complex to have happened by processes such as natural selection, and therefore must have been put into place as by a higher being—an "intelligent designer." But, argues Ken Miller, the intelligent-design movement, "is basically designed to bring the supernatural into science. And that kind of introduction would destroy both science and religion."
Saying that something has a supernatural cause is always possible, but saying that the supernatural can be investigated by science, which always has to work with natural tools and mechanisms, is simply incorrect. So by placing the supernatural as a cause in science, you effectively have what you might call a science-stopper. If you attribute an event to the supernatural, you can by definition investigate it no further. That is what the intelligent design advocates are doing. It is a negative argument in the sense that their proof of the existence of a designer is the alleged inadequacy of evolution to account for these complex features. What's wrong with that explanation is that it's a contrived dualism. It's an argument that says, "Either evolution can explain everything, and if not we should invoke an intelligent designer." The incompleteness of science would be an argument for a supernatural alternative like intelligent design.
Miller believes the first step to making peace between science and religion is to understand that "science tells us a great deal, but it doesn't tell us everything." According to him, a way to reconcile these differences is to accept that "evolution defines a relationship between creator and created based on a moral independence and free will."
* Miller, Kenneth Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, 2000 ISBN 0-06-093049-7
(Ancient Indian philosophical system)
1. It is the very nature of knowledge to reveal its object. Knowledge cannot fail to give us truth if it is to be knowledge at all. Knowledge is valid by its very nature. Truth is nothing else but knowledge doing its job. The validity of knowledge is intrinsic to knowledge, it is due to the conditions of knowledge itself.
A true knowledge is by itself known to be true. This means that it does not require anything else to show its truth and that the truth of knowledge does not derive from external conditions.
On the contrary falsehood and invalidity are extrinsic to knowledge. While truth is organic to knowledge, falsehood is accidental and always externally conditioned. The invalidity of knowledge is due to some defects in the conditions of knowledge. Falsehood originates not from knowledge itself but from certain conditions and situations other than knowledge itself.
The Mimansa theory of knowlegde is called “svatahpramanyavada” , that is, the theory of self-validity or intrinsic validity of knowledge. All knowledge is presumably valid. Its invalidity is inferred from some defect in the instrument of knowledge or from a subsequent contradicting knowledge. Truth is normal, where as error is abnormal. Belief is natural; disbelief is an exception. The truth of knowledge and the belief that it is true do not require any verification because neither arise from external conditions.
2. The Mimansa doctrine of the intrinsic validity of knowledge is in sharp contrast with the Nyaya theory of the extrinsic validity of knowledge, according to which knowledge is neither valid nor invalid in itself. For the Naiyayikas the question of truth or falsehood arises only after knowledge has arisen and as the result of subsequent test (see Nyaya). The Mimansaka agrees with the Naiyayika only as far as the invalidity of knowledge is concerned: both regard it as due to external conditions.
For the Mimansaka the Nyaya contention that knowledge arises simply as knowledge, meaning that knowledge is neutral and that the question of its validity arises afterwards through test, is absurd and impossible. ‘Neutral’ knowledge is meaningless. We always experience either valid or invalid knowledge and there is no third alternative. Neutral knowledge is no knowledge at all. Nothing can validate knowledge if knowledge is not self-valid. Besides the external validation of a first knowledge would require a second knowledge which itself would needed to be validated by a third, etc. ad infinitum.
* See Chatterjee, S.C. The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge, University of Calcutta, 1939, p.101-110 ; Sharma,Chandradhar, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Rider, London, 1960, p.213-227
(Contemporary American philosopher and theologian)
The human making of truth is a participation in divine knowledge
Miner takes up the theme of creative knowledge, or how we make thought itself. He adopts the “theological” view that human creativity depends upon the creativity of God, and is not merely a human activity – as claimed by ‘secular’ philosophers. He urges us to follow the lead set by Vico (see Vico), who sees creativity as “kindling the divinity” within the human mind.
Miner proposes to defend an account of truth when human knowing is acknowledged to be a matter of construction. Miner considers it an answer to the signal spiritual crisis of the time: "Everything is constructed"—taken as one of the slogan of modernity according to which what is constructed can always be deconstructed. Everything that is woven seems destined to unweave. No wonder, says Miner, the spectre of nihilism haunts modernity.
For Miner "the true and the made are convertible." His thesis is that human making must be founded on a theological version of the principle, interpreting human making as a participation in divine creation, and therefore as a participation in divine knowledge. This approach contrasts with radical modernity which conceives human knowing as a purely secular construction.
Only God creates in the strict sense of ex nihilo. Human making is not analogous to God’s creation of the world, but human planning can bear some analogy to the generation of the divine Verbum, through whom all things are created. Human makers form within themselves the plans to which their artifacts will conform. So to make in time is something like God’s eternal act of creation, even if it ought not be termed creation. Through mindful making, human beings make themselves more like their maker.
Miner agrees with Vico’s claim that knowledge of a thing is demonstrated in the ability to construct that thing. Vico’s epistemology is strenuously theological. God knows the truth of all things, since God creates all: He creates the truth. Human beings also make truth, because the human way of knowing is like God’s way, albeit imperfectly so. God knows things from within. The construction of human knowing produces truth at once different from, yet hinting at, what God knows. "There are truths which the mind does not construct, but there is no mode of access to these truths that bypasses human making”.
* Miner Robert, Truth in the Making: Creative Knowledge in Theology and Philosophy. Routledge, 2004.
( Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community of Pakistan,1928-2003)
Truth, in Islam, is a matter of the heart and conscience, not of force or violence
Mirza Tahir Ahmad was the Caliph of the ‘heretical’ muslim sect , called Ahamadiyya. He strongly argues that people who persecute in the name of religion are totally ignorant of the essence of religion. Religion is a metamorphosis of hearts. Religion is not politics and its adherents do not make up political parties. Neither is it a nationality with limited loyalties, nor a country with geographical borders. It is the transformation of hearts – transformation for the good of the soul. The home of religion is in the depths of the heart. It is beyond the sway of the sword. Mountains are not moved by the sword, nor are hearts changed by force. While persecution in the name of religion is the repetitive theme in the history of human aggression, freedom of conscience is the Qur’an’s repetitive theme.
The Prophet was asked again and again to proclaim: ‘This is the truth from your Lord; let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.’ (Ch.18:V.30) Truth is obviously a matter of the heart; it has nothing to do with force. Once it has been beheld it cannot be blotted out by any power. Hence the Qur’an’s assertion that once truth is known it is our choice to accept or reject it. Yet, elsewhere, the Qur’an says: ‘Verily, this is a reminder: so whosoever wishes may take to the way that leads to his Lord.’ (Ch.76:V.30) No charter of human rights can surpass the clarity of the Qur’anic phrase faman Shaa’ (whosoever wishes). The word ‘whosoever’ is all inclusive. It is surprising that after such a clear declaration anyone could possibly think that Islam supports the use of force.
These are the questions about which we should all think seriously. For suppression, torture, execution, arson and the razing of mosques are not the Prophet’s tradition. The cobbles of Taif, where the blood of the Holy Prophet was spilled, bear witness to the fact that our great Master mercifully did not teach that religious belief was compulsory, that he did not order the burning of houses of worship in the name of worship or the dishonouring of women in the name of honour. Muslims hang their heads in shame and their souls cry out over today’s religious leaders who preach violence in the name of the Prophet.
*See Internet: Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge
(Unidentified Christian apologist}
The objective truth of Jesus Christ
Objective truth, or that which is true no matter what anyone else says, always trumps subjective truth, or that which is true because I feel that it’s true. Of course, it is entirely possible that the truth that I so firmly believe and feel is also that same truth which is also objective. But I could also be entirely wrong if my standard for truth goes no further than myself.
Now add into this mix the debates about absolute truth. Some say their truth is the objective truth, others, with a totally different set of beliefs, say their truth is the objective truth. Even those who claim there is no objective truth assert that there is at least one objective truth (that there is no objective truth), but their position is absurd. Everyone, on some level, believes in some sort of objective truth.
This emphasis on objective truth is what motivated the Apostles of Jesus Christ to go out into all the world, preaching the gospel and making disciples. Jesus Christ was the truth, not a truth.
One of the weaknesses in the modern day church is that we have left off the preaching of objective truth and substituted something that won’t necessarily do the job, subjective truth. It may be true that Jesus has done something for me, but unless I understand the objective truth of Jesus Christ, I am not really going to understand what it is that He did. Sermons filled with endless stories about the preacher betray a very subjective view of the truth. You might get to know the preacher well, but you won’t really learn the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Jesus is not the best way for me, He is the only way for everyone. Jesus calls Himself the truth. Paul states that if anyone contradicts his preaching of Jesus Christ, then they’re wrong. Christians are not called to pick and choose truth based on “what works” – we are called to internalize the objective truth of the Scripture, which is our only infallible source for that truth.
The believer in God’s objective truth found in Jesus Christ will never fall. He may stumble, yes, but he will not fall. Why? Because if Christ is for us, who can be against us? The fact of Jesus Christ, the objective truth of Jesus Christ , is what will hold us when nothing else will. There is a difference between me gripping what I think is the truth, and the true truth gripping me. This is the difference between subjective truth and objective truth.
*See Internet MasterRichardson
(Contemporary Indian free lance writer)
The ultimate truth lies in transcendence: the quest of truth can only be a spiritual problem.
Search for truth is not merely an algorithm of reasons and logic. It leads to a path which ends in a higher level spiritual attainment. Search for truth is scientific to some extent but towards the end it becomes a truly spiritual quest.
Science is that form of knowledge that manages without assuming God as a mystical, otherworldly and transcendental entity. Spirituality is concerned with spirits or in other words those phenomena which are intangible and incomprehensible. Truth is not confined to a definitive materialistic boundary of science. So when there is quest for truth man crosses the world of science and senses to tread into the world of unknowns, the world of spirituality.
In scientific rationality there is no place for subjectivity and perception. All the metaphysical questions take a back stage and science merely becomes a production power. Devoid of metaphysical character, devoid of spirituality and devoid of values science loses its soul. It becomes more and more materialistic and in the process the sufferer is truth. Truth, the transcendental phenomenon, is curtailed to be a merely factual and objective expression of some materialistic situation.
The language of nature that is the ultimate truth is beyond science. It is spirituality. The thin line that separates science and spirituality creates a barrier paramount for man to cross it over. When man crosses this barrier then he understands the ultimate truth. Truth lies in the realm of spirituality; science is a means to attain it.
Truth embodies the phenomena that govern nature, that govern man and his inner and outer being like an invisible and invincible external agency. Some civilizations see this experience as supernatural power, some say this is god, some say this is evil and still some others say this is the Manna, neither God nor Evil. These phenomena are reasons in themselves but beyond any reasoning and objectivity. They are so abstract at level of ordinary man’s visibility but crystal clear at a transcendental level. It is that intangible truth that man is searching for ages but he himself does not know what he is searching for. This truth is there in the philosophy of every religion but man has of lately discarded these experiences and phenomena as unscientific.
With all objectivity and with all scientific knowledge his quest for some ultimate truth is forwarding him to the realm of spirituality only which the philosophy of his religion expounds. The search for truth is never limited to mere objectivity. The ultimate truth lies in transcendence and the quest of truth can only be a spiritual problem.
* Mitrabhanu Mahapatra, Search For Truth Can Be a Spiritual Problem Only, Reference and Education: Science • Published: June 17, 2009
(Contemporary French theologian)
Moingt deals with the problem of truth in the history of Christian churches. He begins with St Paul’s ‘s saying: “Oportet et heareses esse”, in other words: differences of views is what one can expect. Paul’s remark highlights the obligation to engage in dialogue within the churches to allow time for one’s faith to be tested and to acknowledge the right for every one to speak differently from others. One must allow the necessary time for the truth to be manifest in a fraternal dialogue. It is also a warning to those in authority to speak against depriving others of that right and thus to monopolise a responsibility which is laid upon each person individually and upon all in common. During the early centuries the responsibility for the discernment of doctrines was left to the dialogue of the faithful, theologians and church leaders.
But from Nicea and after, the Church Councils changed the procedure and introduced the idea of “orthodoxy” that was no longer consensual but authoritarian. The heavy price to pay for “purifying the faith” and “defending the truth” was the severance from the Church of large portions of believers. So the question is: could the truth have been rediscovered peacefully without the release of anathema (condemnations) bringing in their train acts of sacrificial violence?
Today the climate has changed and a militant orthodoxy has become scarcely tenable. The idea that knowledge of the truth can be totally divorced from the contingencies of history, politics and culture is no longer compatible with modern epistemologies. Through them we have gained a humbler estimate of our ability to know the truth in itself and a more critical historical sense. A germ of this new epistemology is contained in Vatican II ‘s idea of a hierarchy of the truths of faith. Rather than a camp of truth set against a camp of error, the scenery has become one of different constellations of the religious truth. The new epistemology alters the way in the ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. Religious truth is actuated by charity, not by the desire to prove oneself right. Charity means sharing the truth with others, so that the unity of faith be built up. This kind of unity is not uniformity, rather it rejoices in the diversity which each one discovers in the other.
* Moingt, Joseph, Oportet et heareses esse, in Concilium , 1987/4, n_192
( Canadian philosopher, b. 1966) There is no Absolute Truth, but only relative opinion
The Priests of Philosophy have no qualms about claiming that there are “absolutes” or “absolute truth”. What kills their claims is that they cannot define the key words that make or break their argument: ‘absolute’ and ‘truth’.
But since truth ultimately stems from the validation of propositions, it necessitates an observer who must VALIDATE the proposition before they can label it as ‘true’ or ‘false’. It is obvious that the word “truth” is ultimately dependent on a dynamic process that an observer must perform before labeling a proposition as true/false. This process of validation is called PROOF. A proposition labelled as true/false is always dependent on a human observer’s ability to use their magical powers to validate it as such.
Since the concept of truth is ultimately dependent on a human’s subjective use of their limited sensory system, it is easy to understand why all truths are subjective; i.e. opinions. Truth is an observer-dependent human-related concept that is inherently subjective. As such, it necessarily resolves to none other than opinion! This limited anthropocentric concept cannot possibly be objective. Remember: TRUTH = OPINION.
What is “ABSOLUTE TRUTH”? The “absolute” in Philosophy has been conceived by humans to refer that that which is independent, permanent and not subject to any kind of observer, restriction, condition, qualification or relation. It is the antonym of the Philosophical term, the “relative”, which necessitates observers, dependencies, restrictions, references and relations.
So when we put the qualifier of “absolute” in front of the word “truth”,....as in “absolute truth”.... we are actually qualifying the concept of “truth” by necessitating that it is valid in every possible circumstance. This follows directly from the definition of the “absolute”.
When we combine the words ABSOLUTE + TRUTH, it is clearly evident that: We are qualifying the relation TRUTH with the contradictory qualifier ABSOLUTE. We are attempting to impose an impossible attribute or qualifier to “truth”. But the word “truth” is necessarily relational because it invokes an observer who is required to VALIDATE a proposition before he can declare it as “true”. So, what does the qualifier “absolute” demand from an observer’s validation of “truth”?
It is impossible for anyone to validate a proposition in such a way as to show that it is universally valid and WITHOUT relations i.e. valid for EVERY POSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCE! It is impossible for a person to validate a proposition to be free from restrictions related to time, to place or to any person (observer).
So, what do we objectively have before us after this critical analysis of “absolute truth”? 1. We have rationally demonstrated that the word ABSOLUTE actually resolves to none other than the word RELATIVE when subjected to critical analysis. 2. We have rationally demonstrated that the word TRUTH actually resolves to none other than the word OPINION when subjected to critical analysis.
ABSOLUTE TRUTH objectively resolves to none other than RELATIVE OPINION.
* Molineux Stephan, On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion (PDF). October 4, 2007.
(German reformed theologian, b 1926)
Christian eschatology is an essential key to the unlocking of Christian truth.
The thought forms of the Greek mind sees in the logos the epiphany of the eternal present of being and finds the truth in that. Even where the modern age thinks in Kantian terms, this conception of truth is at bottom intended. The real language of Christian eschatology, however, is not the Greek logos, but the promise which has stamped the language, the hope and the experience of Israel. It was not in the logos of the epiphany of the eternal present, but in the hope-giving word of promise that Israel found God’s truth. That is why history was here experienced in an entirely different and entirely open form. Eschatology as a science is therefore not possible in the Greek sense, nor yet in the sense of modern experimental science, but only as a knowledge in terms of hope, and to that extent as a knowledge of history and of the historic character of truth. These differences between Greek thought and that of Israel and Christianity, between logos and promise, between epiphany and apokalypsis of the truth have today been made clear in many fields and by various methods. In order to attain to a real understanding of the eschatological message, it is accordingly necessary to acquire an openness and understanding vis-à-vis what ‘promise’ means in the Old and New Testaments, and how in the wider sense a form of speech and thought and hope that is determined by promise experiences God, truth, history and human nature. It is further necessary to pay attention to the continual controversies in which the promise-centered faith of Israel found itself, in every field of life, engaged with the epiphany-based religions of the world about it, and in which its own truth came to light.
The controversies continue also through the New Testament, especially where Christianity encountered the Greek mind. They are part of Christianity’s task also today -- and that, too, not only in what modern theology has to say for itself, but also in reflecting on the world and in the experience of history. Christian eschatology in the language of promise will then be an essential key to the unlocking of Christian truth. For the loss of eschatology -- not merely as an appendix to dogmatics, but as the medium of theological thinking as such -- has always been the condition that makes possible the adaptation of Christianity to its environment and, as a result of this, the self-surrender of faith. Just as in theological thought the blending of Christianity with the Greek mind made it no longer clear which God was really being spoken of, so Christianity in its social form took over the heritage of the ancient state religion. It installed itself as the ‘crown of society’ and its ‘saving centre’, and lost the disquieting, critical power of its eschatological hope. In place of what the Epistle to the Hebrews describes as an exodus from the fixed camp and the continuing city, there came the solemn entry into society of a religious transfiguration of the world. These consequences, too, have to be borne in mind if we are to attain to a liberation of eschatological hope from the forms of thought and modes of conduct belonging to the traditional syntheses of the West.
*Moltmann Jurgen,Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology, SCM Press, London, 1967
(French bio-chemist, Nobel prize winner, 1910-1976)
The profoundest message of modern science is the defining of a new and unique source of truth as well as a demand for a thorough revision of the ethical premises. Modern science operates a complete break with what Monod calls ‘the long animist tradition’, the old covenant between man and nature. The relationship between man and nature is now broken, leaving nothing in place of that precious bond but an anxious quest in a world of icy solitude. “The ancient convenant is in pieces, and man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the world, out of which he has emerged by chance.”
All the past systems rooted in ‘animism’ existed outside objective knowledge, and that means for Monod, outside truth. They were strangers and hostile to science. In the course of the last three centuries, science founded upon the postulate that objective knowledge has become the only source of truth, has won its place in society – in men’s practices but unfortunately not yet in their hearts. Enjoying all the riches they owe to science, our societies are still trying to live by systems of the old animist values. They are willing to use science but they do not respect it. They refuse to accept the essential message of science. They claim that the objective truth of science and the theory of values are mutually impenetrable domains. But for Monod this is absolutely mistaken.
Ethical values and objective knowledge are not two worlds apart. The principle of objectivity defines one value: that value is objective knowledge itself. To assent to the principle of objectivity is thus to state the basic proposition of what Monod calls ‘the ethics of knowledge’. The positing of the principle of objectivity as the condition of true knowledge constitutes the basic ethical choice. The ethics of knowledge is not based on the knowledge of ‘immanent, religious or natural laws’ which are supposed to impose themselves on man. Now it is man who imposes the ethics of knowledge on himself, making it the axiomatic condition of authenticity for all discourse and action. The ethics of knowledge that created the modern world is the only ethics compatible with it. The only source of truth and the moral inspiration for scientific humanism is in the sources of science itself, in the ethics upon which knowledge is founded and which by free choice makes objective knowledge the supreme value, the measure of all other values.
* Monod Jacques, Chance and Necessity, Collins, 1970, final chapter
(French essayist and philosopher, 1533-1592)
According to Montaigne the disagreements between philosophers and scientists on almost everything cast doubt whether any truth can be reached. That is one reason to justify scepticism and the other is that neither sense experience nor reasoning is able to provide with unquestionable criteria of truth. Reason is an instrument that cannot establish its own objectivity. We utilise it to demonstrate the most contradictory propositions. Montaigne distinguishes science and usage, that is, the search for causes or essences and practical daily relation to the world to enjoy life. Science is futile and vain in its claim to know. It wants to demonstrate. It does not observe but “discover” facts that have never existed. Rather than stick to the facts before them thinkers and scientists want to find causes rather search for the truth. They leave things where they are and deal rather with causes. Reason wants to modify the use we have of the natural world. Like Adam’s sin – to do away with God – the sin of scientific knowledge is that it draws people away from nature. Science is vain in its search for truth..
The claim to know the truth is the product of vanity. The remedy is in the acknowledgement of one’s own ignorance. The best that can be done is to suspend judgement on all theories and attempts to explain reality. The wisest stand to adopt is to accept the dictates of nature and follow the rules and traditions of one’s society. Religions should be accepted on custom and faith. People should remain in the religion in which they were born. Rather than make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, human beings should make the vow of ignorance.
* See Bénatouil, Thomas, Le Scepticisme, Paris, Flammarion, 1997, p.80-84
(British Lutheran theologian, b. 1931)
Christianity is grounded on historically verifiable truths: evidentialism
Montgomery is one of the the leading advocates of the “evidentialist” approach to apologetics. His apologetic system is strongly empirical, with an emphasis on the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. He regards apologetics as a kind of evangelism designed to overcome objections to the saving message of the Gospels. He seeks to do this by grounding Christianity on historically verifiable truths beginning with a demonstration of the reliability of the Gospel records as primary historical documents. He calls historians to suspend disbelief and honestly examine the evidence without prejudging it on the basis of anti-supernatural bias. This line of argumentation leads to the conclusion that Jesus’ resurrection proves his divine claims to be true.
He contrasts the appeals to self-validating faith experiences in Eastern religions with the factual verifiability of the Christian faith: “Christianity declares that the truth of its absolute claims rests squarely on certain historical facts, open to ordinary investigation. These facts relate essentially to the man Jesus, His presentation of Himself as God in human flesh, and His resurrection from the dead as proof of His deity”.
Montgomery presents four reasons for concluding that the New Testament documents cannot be impugned with providing false testimony. (a) There is no reason to regard the New Testament writers as untrustworthy. (b) They had no motive to lie about Jesus, and indeed suffered greatly for their testimony to Jesus. (c) The Gospel accounts differ enough to be regarded as independent yet are not inconsistent with one another. (d) The New Testament accounts have been abundantly confirmed by archaeological and historical study.
Montgomery rejects the presuppositional apologetic which for him actually undermines Gospel proclamation while at the same time removing any need to examine the factual, historical nature of the Christian faith. This renders the Christian incapable of making any meaningful claim to truth.
While the presuppositional apologist can only bring the non-Christian to stare at his feet in despair, evidential apologetics brings the unbeliever directly to the foot of the cross in confidence. The unbeliever does not need a priori dogmatism, but the veracious, reliable witness of the Christian proclamation that God has taken on human flesh, entered human history and died and rose again for our justification.
* Montgomery John Warwick, Faith Founded On Fact: Essays in Evidential Apologetics (Nashville & New York: Thomas Nelson
Contemporary Christian social psychologist)
The nature of Truth does not reside in accurate words and ideas, but in "living" in alignment with the Word of God. Within each epistemology for establishing truth there resides an implication of what "the nature of truth" might be. And in most cases, truth is conceived as a property of accurately stated words, or accurately conceived ideas that characterize world realities. As word-descriptions or ideas align with reality, they are said to correspond. Hence one version of the "nature of Truth" is called the "Correspondence Theory of Truth."
But in assessing the overlap between "correct idea" and "reality," all ideas must necessarily take the form of word-symbols; thus, the correspondence between "correct statements" and "reality" IS where most all theories about "the nature of truth" end up — such is called "Propositional Truth."
Even the epistemology of Revelation tends to trap truth within the limiting confines of word-symbols. It's common for people to view "the words of the Bible" as the truth. When this notion is taken too literally, people unwittingly give priority to representations over referents. Failure to distinguish between Representations versus Referents creates a huge problem: Books of "scripture" are subject to thousands of interpretations.
To bypass the thorny problem of interpretation, we can enter into inquiries of "Truth" from an entirely different perspective and beginning with a different question: Is the aim of sacred scripture to get the idea right, or is it ultimately about getting the application right? Isn't the highest aim and intention of Holy Writ to "live" the precepts? The "nature of Truth" need not primarily reside in accurate words and ideas, but in "living" in alignment with the Word. This means that Truth may be conceived best as a Way of Being. This conception of truth explains why Jesus called Himself the way and "the truth."
The nature of Truth boils down to these two fundamental possibilities:Either Truth as Essence: Truth as Correct Representations; here, truth is a property of verbal and written language; hence, truth exists as essence within a metaphysical realm of immaterial Accurate Ideas. Or Truth as Existence: Truth as the Living Referent to which Correct Representations point; therefore, Truth is the living application of true principles with words bearing witness of Truth.
To put it otherwise there are three possibilities of conceiving Truth: 1. Truth is the accurate alignment of "Mind" with "Reality." This quest for truth strives to conceptually capture Reality with one's mind. Truth is assumed to exist in an abstract realm of correct and accurate Ideas. However, to examine the adequacy of those ideas, one needs to articulate them with words; which lead us to a 2nd possibility: 2. Truth is the accurate alignment of "Word" with "Reality." This quest for truth strives to descriptively capture the world with words. Truth is attained in the overlap between Word and Reality; therefore, this type of Truth is assumed to reside in the abstract realm of symbolic representations. Truth is something that one "tells," and is a property of accurately stated words, correct propositions. The efforts of Science largely revolve around empirically proving such propositions—correctly-stated words (hypotheses). 3. Truth is the alignment of one's Whole Way of Being — Ideas, Intents, Words, & Deeds — with the Way of Truth. Truth is something that one Lives with all Heart, Might, Mind, Strength, and Soul. Truth when conceived in this way bypasses the inherent problems with perception and interpretation. Instead of trying to accurately conceive reality (an impossible goal), the superior aim is for humans to live in harmony within reality. It is the Spirit of God who guides and confirms "The Way of Truth" to one's heart.
* See internet Moody Matt, Changing Your Stripes: The Social Psychology of Situation, Self, & Solutions,
(English philosopher, 1873-1958)
G.E. Moore initiates the rebellion against the prevalent idealist philosophy that held sway in England from 1870 (Bradley and Bosanquet being its main representatives). He appeals to common sense to disprove such basic idealist statements such as “esse est percipi” or “the world of ordinary experience is not real”. Even more, Moore questions the whole nature of any philosophical explanation or justification. “Common sense” knowledge of the facts is true knowledge. Philosophical explanations add nothing to it and are therefore redundant. The task of philosophy is not to explain or interpret our experience but only to clarify what is already known and expose those pretended philosophical interpretations which violate “common sense”. Common sense truths are truths known by every one, known certainly and known immediately or spontaneously before any philosophical explanations. In most cases we know the truth, we have evidence for it , and yet we do not know how it is true, or how it is evident. The task of philosophical analysis is to clarify the meaning of what we assert as true. But philosophy has no repercussions on the facts and truths we aleady know by common sense knowledge. It does not give more knowledge and does not reveal any truth than we already posses by common sense.
Moore explains the common-sense view of truth as follows. "To say that a belief is true is to say that the fact to which it refers is or has being; while to say that a belief is false is to say that the fact to which it refers is not - that there is no such a fact. Every belief has the property of referring to some particular fact. The property which a belief has, when it is true - the property which we name when we call it true - is the property which can be expressed by saying that the fact to which it refers is. This is precisely what I propose to submit as the fundamental definition of truth." (Moore, Some Main problems of Philosophy, 267-280)
Moore admits that the difficulty is to define exactly what is meant by “referring to ". Obviously this expression "referring to " stands for some relation which each true belief has to one fact and one fact only. This relation is essential to the definition of truth. We know what this relation is, we are perfectly familiar with it and hence we can understand perfectly well this definition of truth. This is the most essential point to establish about truth: that every belief does refer, in a sense which we are perfectly familiar with, though we may not be able to define it.
We can give a name to that relation and see how the definition of truth turns out. Moore proposes to use the traditional term of “relation of correspondence". To say that a belief is true is to say that there is in the universe a fact to which it corresponds. Such a statement fulfils all the requirement of a definition. However the use of the word "correspondence" as a name for this relation may perhaps be misleading - just as the word used previously "referring to". Both these words may lead one to think that the relation in question is similar or identical with other relations that are called by the same name. Moore does not want to pronounce himself on that point. The important point, for him, is that it is this relation itself, and not any word by which we may try to name it, that is essential to the definition of truth or falsehood.
Moore concedes that it is not always the case that truth is correspondence to the fact. Some beliefs may be true, in a sense, even if they do not correspond to any fact. All that is important to maintain is that very often when we say that a belief is true the belief in question has the property expressed by the word "true" if and only if it corresponds to a fact. It does account and does not conflict with the many millions of obvious facts. The great defect of some other theories of truth is that they seem to conflict with these millions of obvious facts.
* Moore G.E., Some Main Problems of Philosophy, Collier Books, London, 1953, p.274-312
(English theologian philosopher, 1948-2002)
In the spirit of Wittgenstein’s thought, Gareth Moore opines that a religous truth makes sense for the believer because he accepts the language of his religious form of life, the language of the believing community to which he belongs. The unbeliever has no quarrel with him because he does not belong to the religious community in which specific beliefs are formulated. People have established the rules of their own games and any one is free to enter the fray or refuse to participate and accept the rules and conventions of that game. Religions are such games. One can accept or refuse to be part of the community of believers, accept or reject their specific “truths”. When a person converts from non-belief to belief, he/she enters a new form of life and he/she has to learn how the language of this form of life is used. According to Moore “the priest is the grammatical expert who knows how the language of the Church is to be employed”.
Thus Gareth Moore - after Wittgenstein - adopts a form of coherence theory of truth in religion. It leads to the disconcerting conclusion that such truths are no more than conventional signposts and arbitrary rules of the religious game of life. The concept of religious “truth” is maintained, but the ‘anti-realist’ stand of its proponents like Gareth Moore has emptied it of all substance. No believers would recognize themselves in this interpretation, none of them would agree with Gareth Moore that “people do not discover religious truths, they make them”.
* Moore,Gareth , Believing in God, T & T Clarke, London, 1988, p.287
(English author and statesman. 1478-1535)
Truth in Utopia: religious toleration
Thomas More’s Utopians are not described as Christians, but their religion is described as a monotheistic practice very similar to Christianity. The Utopians are fairly tolerant of diverse religious practices, but they are intolerant of atheists or those who believe that there is no eternal soul or that there is no afterlife. More is no sympathizer of heretics, and he makes a distinction between the level of toleration necessary for truth to emerge and the mandates of uniformity required once the truth has been revealed. Utopus, the old Utopian general, argued that religious war would likely disadvantage the truth, as the true believers were likely to be poor fighters. But once truth is established, uniformity in compliance is expected. The Utopians hold the existence of one God as truth, and they bar any atheist from public office. Uniformity precludes dissent and denies the possibility of amendment.
Because the Utopians have not yet settled on the precise details of God, all of their religious services use common prayers: "no prayers are devised which everyone cannot say without offending his own denomination." The common-ness implies inclusiveness, but Utopian practices do not tolerate the possibility of multiple or relative truths. Moreover, truth is described as something that can be pragmatically approached and conclusively determined.
The law of religious toleration was made by Utopus, not only for preserving the public peace, which he saw suffered much by daily contentions and irreconcilable heats, but because he thought the interest of religion itself required it. He judged it not fit to determine anything rashly, and seemed to doubt whether those different forms of religion might not all come from God, who might inspire men in a different manner, and be pleased with this variety; he therefore thought it indecent and foolish for any man to threaten and terrify another to make him believe what did not appear to him to be true. And supposing that only one religion was really true, and the rest false, he imagined that the native force of truth would at last break forth and shine bright, if supported only by the strength of argument, and attended to with a gentle and unprejudiced mind; while, on the other hand, if such debates were carried on with violence and tumults, as the most wicked are always the most obstinate, so the best and most holy religion might be choked with superstition, as corn is with briars and thorns.
* More Thomas, Utopia, see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(French philosopher and sociologist, b. 1921)
Logical truth is unable to account for the complexity of reality
The overstepping of logic is necessary for truth. We should abandon all hope of founding reason on logic alone and recognize the principle of logic uncertainty. In any case logic meets with contradictions as is for instance the case with the ancient liar paradox, as well as with the theorem of Gödel and the paradoxical behaviour of waves and atoms in quantum physics. Thus Morin stresses that thought would lose its creativity, inventive spirit and complexity if it were subject to logic.
He does not propose to abandon logic, he adopts the view that logic is necessary to intelligibility and verification – but the overstepping of logic is necessary for truth. That logic alone cannot be the foundation of reason, means that true rationality acknowledges its limits and is capable to overstep these limits in recognizing an irrationalizable beyond.
‘Dialogic’ - distinct from logic – is central in the democratic process where one detects the play that allows the confrontation and complementarity of different ideas, in which opposed ideas cooperate and interact against each other. Morin calls this confrontation of ideas the ‘play of truth and error’. He states that democracy has no truth; it is not the owner of truth! In other systems, there is at the top leaders, priests, kings, etc, who brandish their sacred scriptures that they interpret, they alone , and who are the monopolist holders of the truth. But the proper of democracy is that it gives space to the fruitful play (or dialogic) of truth and error, thus respecting the complex nature of reality.
*Morin Edgard, Introduction to the thought complexes , the Threshold, 1990
(USA religious sect), 1850- today)
The concept of truth as understood by Mormonism
“Mormonism,” embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world - and they have a great deal - all belong to the Mormon Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as Mormons are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth.
The Mormon Church is the only true and living church upon the whole earth, not just because of innate theological merit or particular truth-claims but because it is the only church that attempts to circumscribe all truth, to negotiate the greatest range of just and true principles, and to accommodate the truths of the universe (all human beings and their intelligent worlds); in short it is the only church that would do justice to the vast array of human beings, their lives, and their creations, and it worships a God who had revealed such universal and inclusive principles unto it.
The most prominent difference between the Latter-day Saints of Mormonism and other sectarian groups is, that the latter are all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprives its members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-say Saints have no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.
One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may, and that the Saints should gather and treasure up all truths or “not come out true Mormons.”
The upshot of this is that Mormons potentially have the entire world, past and present, as a source for its truths, not just the teachings and revelations of its prophets. One could object and say that Mormons then embrace a host of contradictions and harmful practices and teachings, but this would be to treat truth merely propositionally, and not within the context of divine beings and the worlds they create, including those truths that God has revealed.
Mormonism can uniquely appropriate the act of believing all things because of the way truth primordially operates. With a foundation that respects God, human beings, and their creations as truths, and with a mandate to creedlessly gather all truths, Mormons can be uniquely positioned in an existential orientation toward the world that allows them to love the world and believe the world without being deceived.
* See internet Mormonism
(Unidentified internaut) Truth Is Universal and has nothing to to do with religion
There is a truism that says truth is universal. I agree with this. Saying “The sky is blue” is a universal truth regardless of where you come from. Being moral and respecting the rights of others as the best way to live is a form of universal truth. Such truths allow society a common frame of reference, civilization the ability to remain cohesive, and humans to live their lives in the pursuit of whatever makes them happy.
We can identify with the truth. We can recognize it when we see it. The truth speaks for itself and its source is irrelevant; the ramifications of that truth are what count. Morality is a form of truth applied in our dealings with others. Many people act as if all truth and morality come from religion. It doesn’t. Instead, religion merely borrows philosophical truth for its own purposes, twisting it to fit within a paradigm of control. The fact that various proverbs and parables are attributed to Jesus Christ – or anyone – doesn’t change the value of the information being imparted. People have forgotten this; they’ve placed the messenger above the message. Pinning truth to any mythological savior, deity or religion is unnecessary. Truth is truth, regardless of who says it.
What I’m saying is that no religion is good. More to the point, no religion is best. I do not support any religion of any sort. In fact, I think religion is detrimental to the development of mankind. It encourages blind faith, discourages skepticism (which is a necessary virtue), and is used widely by those with an agenda as a tool of control. Down through the ages, religion has encouraged racism, bigotry, persecution, slavery, and genocide. In fact, the very concept of religion is absolutely incompatible with liberty and freedom because the rights of the individual are always secondary to the dogma of the clergy and their god(s). For these reasons alone, religion should be left behind.
The greatest moral truth: Those virtues which encourage freedom and liberty while upholding the freedom and liberty of others are what hold civilization together and encourage culture to flourish. They are the primacy of man. Historically, religion has done just the opposite. It has discouraged progress while encouraging blind faith in corrupt religious leaders and tyrannical kings who subscribed to their religion. It has made people blind to the things they could accomplish in this life in favor of fairytale rewards in some afterlife
I think it’s clear that humans do not need religion. Truth is universal and has nothing to do with religion, gods, saviors, angels, demons, devils, etc. Nothing at all. These are merely window dressing used to twist the truth into something it’s not. Mankind has the ability to do good selflessly. Doing good because you want to get into Heaven or because you think a divine father figure is watching over your shoulder is a selfish act; it means you are acting solely out of self interest and not simply for the good of the other person.
*See Internet Michel Morning
(Chinese philosopher, 1909-1995)
The intensional truths of Eatern cultures and the extentional truths of Western cultures
For Mou Zongsan the distinction between intensional truth and extensional truth is essential to understand the difference between Western and Chinese cultures. Western culture, he claims, excels in expressing extensional truths. This tradition values knowledge, studies objects, studies nature and establishes science. Once these truths are manifested, they are universal. There could be no English science or Chinese science. Extensional truths are universal; every person in every culture can learn science. The Chinese tradition emphasizes intensional truths. Intensional truth is tied to the subject. But although tied to the subject, as truth it has a certain universality. It pertains to life, for it is in life that we can talk about intensity. Morality and religion must reside in the subject before they can be expressed. We cannot treat this subject as an object of so-called objective study. Now if we take a closer look at the difference between intensional truths and extensional truths, we have to say that they are both truths with universality, but each is in a different sense. We may use another pair of terms to distinguish the two: extensional universality is abstract universality, and intensional universality is concrete universality. Concrete universality (a term coined by Hegel) is something difficult for Westerners to understand, but easy for the Chinese. For example, when Confucius talked about ren, (that is “sympathetic concern”) ren is a universal principle, but you cannot say that ren is an abstract concept. Ren does not belong together with the so-called concepts of science, mathematics, and logic. But ren although concrete, is not a fact or an event. It has universality, a concrete universality. Once Western culture will feel that concentrating merely on extensional truths is insufficient, it may begin to see the value of the intensional truths of Eastern cultures. Mou Songsan does not think that Western culture in general has come to this point yet; it hardly recognize the true value of intensional truths. The Chinese mentality, during the past thousands of years, has always focused in the realm of intensional truths. It has failed to give importance to the extensional aspect of truth which is required to establish science and democracy. This is the difference in Western and Chinese cultures. The Chinese now realize that there are more than intensional truths in life, that they also need extensional truths, so they must thoroughly reflect upon the basis of extensional truths. Western culture needs to do the same and learn the importance of intensional truths. It will take a long time to gradually learn and adjust the different mentalities.
* Mou Zong-san, Nineteen Lectures on Chinese Philosophy and Its Implications, trans. Julie Lee Wei, Lecture 2, see Internet
(French personalist philosopher ,1905-1950)
The difference between existentialist and personalist truth
1. Existentialism and truth . Existentialism which stresses the intensity of the lived singular experience seems to have no place for the universal truth. Truth in general, it asserts, is “nobody’s truth”. In a philosophy that confers primacy to the intensity of inner recollection, there seems to be no room for anything universal that would be nothing more than an illusory abstraction. Each existentialist thinker has his own way of understanding the relation of existence and truth. - Kierkegaard expresses his radical distrust for objectivity and his disregard for the content of truth in favour of “subjective fervour and faith”. In so doing he blockades all the ways of communication, without which it becomes impossible to speak of truth. His subjective thinker, being a loner before God, chooses not to be understood. - According to Jaspers, there is incompatibility between reason and existence, between the universal and the singular. There is no universal truth, not one truth for all. Philosophy must give up extension – the temptation of the traditional view of a universal truth - for depth – the truth that is “my” truth. However Jaspers distances himself from Kierkegaard, for “my truth” is an appeal and an invocation to the other to discover his truth in dialogue. - Heidegger’s world is different, a world in which truth does not transcend the human. There is no being for man to be known except himself. Dasein is his own revealer. Dasein is the truth and there is no truth to discover beyond it. The concept of a universal truth is admissible in so far as all Daseins are identical. Heidegger seems to have gratuitously presupposed that identity. 2. Personalism and Truth
The knowing person is not a neutral mirror of reality. He/she is situated, active and committed. The involvement of the knower is not an obstacle to true knowledge. For truth is not automatic or authoritarian. It gives itself only to those who offer themselves to it by conversion or prior illumination.
However truth is not just subjective - as existentialist would say - it is an objective value and like all other values it transcends subjectivity. Personalism is not another name for subjectivism. The transcendence of truth and the need of communicating the truth imply the recognition of objectivity. The impersonal side of truth must be recognised as a way of approach to the suprapersonal. The personalist approach must be ready to correct the excessive subjectivity of all existentialisms.
However Personalism recognizes the difficulty of linking existence and truth. It welcomes the positive side of the existentialist approach for its rejection of a truth understood as a universal abstract, unrelated to existence. On the other hand Personalism avoids the fatal mistake of those existentialisms which cut off radically existence from truth and intelligibility. It acknowledges that existence contains enough intelligibility as to lead to the grasp of certain truths, albeit not the truth in general, a truth that would be the truth of nobody. Personalism is animated by the spirit of truth intended to break the chain of solitary truth to reach out the level of the suprapersonal truth through interpersonal communication. Still the task is not without danger as it is always open to the temptation of egocentric domination in the communication of the truth. Mounier describes the spirit of truth in the following terms:
"Living thought is a factor of communication and a factor of expansion and conquest. The love of truth is a self-communicating love. A faith that is not missionary is a dead faith. The need for proof, for collective agreement, are basic components of thought….Still the disinterested zeal for truth is blended with an egocentric utilisation of thought….In persuasion the desire to overcome may be stronger than the joy of communicating…..In teaching, some enjoy a sense of domination so much that they transform the service of truth into an imperialism which is one of the most cruel in history.” (Mounier, The Character of Man, p.254)
* Mounier, Emanuel, Introduction aux Existentialismes, Paris, Gallimard, 1946, p.158-170; Personalism, London, Notre Dame, 1950, p.74; The Character of Man, London, Rockliff, 1956, p.253-260
(Chinese moral philosopher, 5th c, B.C.)
The criterion of moral truth: not tradition but utility
Mozi (Mo-tzu), the founder of Mohism during the 5th century BC, taught strict utilitarianism and mutual love among all people regardless of family or social relationships. He promoted a philosophy of universal love, i.e. an equal affection for all individuals. In Mohism, morality is defined not by tradition, but rather by a constant moral guide that parallels utilitarianism. Tradition is inconsistent, and human beings need an extra-traditional guide to identify which traditions are acceptable. The moral guide must then promote and encourage social behaviors that maximise general utility.
In the field of moral teachings, in contrast with Confucius, Mozi emphasized self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual. He observed that, by reflecting on one's own successes and failures, one attains true self-knowledge rather than by mere conformity with ritual. He believed that people were capable of changing their circumstances and directing their own lives. They could do this by applying their senses to observing the world, judging objects and events by their causes, their function, and their historical basis: this was the "three-prong method" that Mozi recommended for testing the truth or falsehood of statements. He tended to evaluate actions based on whether they provide benefit to the people, which he measured in terms of a prosperous economy and social order. Similar to the Western utilitarians, Mozi thought that actions should be measured by the way they contribute to the "greatest good of the greatest number”.
Mohism did not require justification to prove that knowledge was true. Knowledge of something did not require a definition or a description of the object, but simply the ability to distinguish that it was right or not right. Mohists did not seek the essence or definition of right, but only sought how to determine what was not right. They believed this could be done by identifying appropriate models for drawing the distinction between yi (right) and not-yi (not right) and teaching everyone to emulate them. * See Watson, Burton, Mo Tzu: Basic Writings, New York: Columbia University Press, 1963
(Contemporary American author)
All religions are false, none is true
There are six basic responses to religious diversity:
1. atheism: all religions are false.
2. agnosticism: there’s no way to tell which religion, if any, is true. The agnostic thinks religious truths, unlike scientific truths, are unknowable.
3. religious relativism: each religion “works” for its adherents, but there is no truth about religion that transcends tradition. Religions are true or false only in relation to the broader worldviews of their adherents. It says that there is no universal truth about religious claims; each religion is “true” only in so far as it fits within the broader worldview to which it belongs.
4. religious pluralism: all religions are correct, they just offer a different path and have a different perspective on the Ultimate Reality. It says that God is like an elephant surrounded by blind men. Just as the blind men experienced the same elephant in different ways, religions experience the same Ultimate Reality in different ways.
5. religious inclusivism: only one religion is fully correct, but it’s still possible to attain salvation or nirvana through another religion.
6. religious exclusivism: salvation can be attained only through the one true religion; all others are mistaken. Religious exclusivism is the dominant view. Most people think that only their religion is correct and provides the way to salvation.
I am an atheist, though not because of religious diversity.There is no valid inference from “A great diversity of religions make mutually incompatible claims” to “All religions are false.”
*See Internet Muehlhauser Luke
(Contemporary American critic of religions)
The truth shall set you free: no need for coercion or indoctrination
There are some Bible verses I find compelling. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” is one such verse. Ironically, when I left religion, I found this verse to be true. The truth set me free.
While there may be absolute truth, we should be highly suspicious of any person who claims to know it. And, we should resist anyone attempting to enforce their truth on anyone else. In human society, truth should always be negotiated, based on the best evidence and subject to revision. This is the strength and weakness of religion. On one hand, all religions are truth constructs, developed by many people over many generations. In this, religion’s opinions should be valued. On the other hand, all religions eventually demand the acceptance of their truth at the expense of all other truths. In this, religions should be opposed.
This is the irony. If we really believe “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” then there is never any need or justification for coercion or indoctrination. As soon as any religion or movement demands others acknowledge their truth, they reveal their lack of confidence in what they claim. They do not trust their truth to be compelling or freeing. Others must be compelled to believe it. In so doing, their truth brings shackles rather than freedom.
The subjectivity of truth is one of the primary linchpins of the non-religious life. When the religious accuse the non-religious of relativism, the non-religious should freely acknowledge and celebrate this identity. It is this subjectivity that makes it possible for us to be authentic, to live with uncertainty, to be both curious and humble. When it comes to ultimate truth, I’m agnostic. I don’t know. When it comes to subjective truth, I’m confident. I know what is true for me. I have experienced the freedom promised in the Gospel of John. When it comes to negotiated truth, I want a seat at the table. I want to argue for the liberty of all – religious or non-religious – to hold their truths to be self-evident.
In this open market of truths, where no religion, politic or philosophy has the power to compel, I expect truth to gradually evolve and become less subjective. I believe humanity can be freed from its fears, superstitions and mistaken assumptions about the universe. Though we are a long way from it, there may be a day when we can finally say, “We know the truth and the truth has set us free.”
* Mulholland Jim, Leaving Your Religion: A Practical Guide to Becoming Non-Religious
(American theologian, 1904-1967)
1. Only people who are free are able to seek the truth. Freedom comes first. The primary task of the State is not the promotion of truth, but the preservation of freedom. So is Murray’s thesis, that disagrees with the opposite views that privilege truth over freedom. According to some of these views, truth lies primarily in the “supernatural”, known in its fullness through Revelation. Freedom exists precisely so that man can seek such truth. The teaching authority of the Church is a guide to Revelation which is the fullness of truth. The State has no right to be “neutral” in regard to religion. Therefore the Church‘s teaching authority has a claim to a privileged place in the State.
But for Murray this doctrine is unacceptable. If one places truth before freedom, the State might claim that it knows the truth and is entitled to coerce its citizens to accept it. Murray’s opinion in his book “We Hold These Truths” is that a Catholic confessional State, professing itself as such, is not an ideal to which organised political society is universally obliged, and that full religious liberty is to be considered as a valid political ideal in a genuine democratic system. Freedom of religion arises out of human dignity, and in any case matters of religion lay beyond the State’s competence.
“Dignitas Humanae”, the Vatican II document on religious freedom, in which Murray’s ideas played a crucial role, contains a disavowal of the long-standing view of government as having a sacral function, that is, invested with the function of defending and promoting religious truth as such. In this document the function of governments consists in the protection and promotion, not of religious truth, but of religious freedom as a fundamental right of the human person.
2. Furthermore Murray endorses the kind of liberalism, implicitly contained in the First Amendment of the American Constitution, because, he claims, it is a theory that has no truth-content. It is only a commitment to formal-juridical procedures which make possible a free market of religious truths and rational debate about such truths. Therefore the question of religious freedom can be detached from questions of religious truth. The religious clauses of the First Amendment of the American Constitution have no character of “articles of faith” but are rather simple “articles of peace”. They are neutral in respect to the truth and practice of religion. They do not presuppose any particular world-view. In them the affirmation of religious freedom must not be read as an ideology, sanctioning, for instance, a kind of laicist “indifferentism”. Religious freedom does not mean freedom from the claims of truth, it is not a freedom ‘from’ but a freedom ‘for’.
Murray stresses how much the concept of religious freedom of Anglo-American liberalism differs from the European doctrinaire liberalism of religious freedom. In European liberalism religious freedom is understood in ideological terms as entailing “indifferentism” and even closure to religious truths, whereas in American liberalism religious freedom is understood in purely formal terms that maintain an openness to religious truths. Thus in the American context – unlike the European one – it is legitimate and opportune to place freedom before truth.
* Murray, John Courtney, We hold these Truths, New York, Sheed & Ward, 1960; The Problem of Religious Freedom, Theological Studies, Vol.XXV, n_4, Dec.66
(Contemporary Indian philosopher)
According to K.S. Murty, it is impossible to conceive of religion without revelation. Any knowledge of God must be a disclosure by God himself. No man can come to the knowledge of God unless God is willing to disclose himself. Murty calls this knowledge “general revelation” to distinguish it from the “special” revelation of the various religions. The claim of the many world-religions to be in possession of special revelations is unintelligible without a general revelation. On the other hand revelation is not a one-sided activity; it demands each man’s active cooperation in receiving and assimilating what God reveals to him.
Revelation contains genuine intellectual content, it is not mere feeling, it is not “of the absurd”, as Kierkegaard would say. Divine revelation is revelation of Truth. However the revealed truth is not universal truth, but nonetheless absolute truth. The important distinction between universal truth and absolute truth – first made by Jaspers end endorsed by K.S. Murty - corresponds to the difference between intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge. The latter is the truth by which a man lives and integrates himself with reality. It is the primal awareness of a real presence that confronts him as holy and good. This truth is absolute for himself, it is the truth he lives and is not “provable” because it is not external to him. On the other hand universal truth is relative, particular and obtainable by all minds through the compelling force of rational arguments. Universal truth is intellectual knowledge, the same for all, expressible in propositions, whereas absolute truth is particular, personal and existential. Revealed truth is expressible in propositions, but these propositions fail to be universally recognised as true. Unless a man can re-live the truth expressed in these propositions he will not be able to recognise the absoluteness of its truth.
Religious truth is the absolute truth for each individual who lives it but it is not and cannot be a universal truth because truth in religion is not a matter of intellectual knowledge but a matter of personal experience of the divine presence. Thus the problem posed by the existence of many religions, each claiming to be in possession of the final truth, can be solved: in showing that the truth given in revelation is absolute but not universal.
* Murty, K. Satchidananda, Revelation and Reason in Advaita Vedanta, Columbia University Press, 1959, p.284 f., 330
(New Zealander philosopher, b.1940)
Science aims at true theories: ‘modest’ scientific realism
Musgrave takes realism to be, “first and foremost a thesis about the aim of science. It says that the aim of a scientific inquiry is to discover the truth about the matter inquired into.”So he takes realism to be an“axiological thesis”: science aims at true theories.
For Musgrave there is clear motivation for his axiological approach: even if all theories scientists ever came up with were false, realism wouldn’t be threatened. Besides, Musgrave does not think that all our theories have been, or will be, outright false. But he does take this issue (whatever its outcome be) to have no bearing on whether realism is a correct attitude to science.
He takes realism to be a modest philosophical thesis (what he calls“critical realism” or “undogmatic realism”) whose basic commitments are that (1) scientific theories can be true or false, (2) their truth can never be fully established but it always remains conjectural, and (3) their truth is never ultimate in that theories do not offer ultimate explanations of the phenomena. This“modest” view is enough to distinguish scientific realism from instrumentalism and constructive empiricism.
However critics have expressed philosophical worries about the axiological characterization of realism. First, it seems rather vacuous. Realism is rendered immune to any serious criticism that stems from the empirical claim that science has a poor record in truth tracking. Second, aiming at a goal (truth) whose achievability by the scientific method is left unspecified makes its supposed regulative role totally mysterious. Finally, all the excitement of the realist claim that science engages in a cognitive activity that pushes back the frontiers of ignorance and error is lost.
*Musgrave, Allan, Common Sense, Science and Scepticism: A Historical Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press, 1993
(American facilitator, b.1968)
Many of the things that we hold as truth are really only beliefs.
When we believe a thing to be true, like “I am a woman” or “I am forty” or “one plus one equals two”, those truths set us up to build limiting stories around those truths. When we think we know the truth about something, we stop looking at it and start looking at the nature of everything else in relation to it. Eventually, things around that truth shift and change, and eventually even those truths shift and change. When I was five, I held the truth that I was a girl. Much of the time when I talk about myself to this day, I still refer to myself as “just a girl”, even though at other times I identify myself as a woman. Which is true? More importantly, how does that truth help or hurt me?
I would offer that so many of the things that we hold as truth are really only beliefs. Beliefs shift and change over time and are dependent upon perspective and circumstance and depth of knowledge about that topic. The truth that I am forty is really just a belief, because every split second I’m not the same biological age that I was before. One plus one is generally equal to two, but I can also say one group of ten plus one group of ten equals two groups of ten OR it can equal twenty depending on perspective and purpose.
Beliefs can be useful and helpful to us, or they can shake us to our foundation. A belief, if held strongly enough, can be the key to our ultimate demise. When that belief is shown to be false, when we had so much riding on that belief, it can shatter our trust in ourselves and bring the whole illusion of life that we have built up and around that belief crashing to the ground.
So is there really any truth? I say there is, though it’s not a truth that can understand through the mind. This truth is one that can only be grasped by direct experience, and when we do, we are released from all the other fragile truths that have been undermining our efforts in life. When we merge with this truth, we are no longer threatened if someone else doesn’t believe it too, and so we are better able to experience this truth even in volatile situations from a platform of peace.
Even this truth, though, if held onto too tightly, can become a barrier to peace. If we believe we know this truth, and build our lives upon it, it can still all come crashing down. To experience this truth is to realize that we must always reexperience this truth: to hold it loosely and allow it to change and grow and shrink based on this situation. And as it does, so do we. Our experience of life shifts from one of supporting and defending our beliefs to one of experiencing the truth of this moment.
I’d love to be able to write here and say what exactly this truth is, but the very nature of it doesn’t allow for that. The truth can only be felt or it remains incomprehensible. And at the very essence of this truth lies the ultimate paradox: on the one hand, it is the most personal truth you can ever know about yourself, and yet on the other hand it is the most impersonal truth of all. It’s impersonal because it is shared by every facet of life. It is the very essence of life.
*See internet Carolyn Mycue