• SABATIER Auguste
  • SACHS Jonathan
  • SAHAJANANDA John Martin
  • SAMKHYA Dars’ana
  • SAMPLES Kenneth R.
  • SANKARA Saranam
  • SARTRE Jean Paul
  • SAUSSURE, Ferdinand de
  • SAWYER James
  • SCHöNDORF Harald sj
  • SCHAEFFER Francis
  • SCHALL James V.
  • SCHELL Bill
  • SCHELLING Friedrich
  • Schiller, F.C.S
  • SCHLICK, Moritz
  • SCHNEIDER Andrew
  • SCHULTZE Gottlob Ernst
  • SCHUON Frithjof
  • SCOTT David W.
  • SCOTT Koffman
  • SEARLE, John
  • SECUNDO Juan Luis
  • SEEBECK Ruth
  • SEIFERT Joseph
  • SELLARS Wilfrid
  • SEWELL Marylin
  • SHAPIN, Steve
  • SHAVER Dough
  • SHESTOV, Lev
  • SHIELDS Keith
  • SHOOK John
  • SIEGEL Harvey
  • Sikh Missionary Society
  • SINGH T.
  • SIVANANDA Sri Swami
  • SLICK Matt
  • SMART Ninian
  • SMITH Adam
  • SMITH Nicholas
  • SNYDER Tom
  • SOHAIL K. Dr
  • SOKOLOVKI Robert
  • SOLOVIOV Vladimir
  • SOREL Georges
  • SOROKIN, Pitirim
  • SOROUSH Abdel Karim
  • SOUTHGATE Beverley
  • SPENCE Donald
  • SPENCER Herbert
  • SPENGLER, Oswald
  • SPIKES Maryann
  • SPINOZA Baruch
  • SPONG john Shelby
  • SPURGEON C.H. (rev)
  • STACE W.T.
  • STAUNE Jean
  • STEIN Edith
  • STEPHEN Leslie
  • STICH Steven
  • STIRNER, Max
  • STIVER Dan
  • STOVE David
  • StraightArrow Janet
  • STRENG , Frederick J.
  • STROBEL Nick
  • SUAREZ, Francisco
  • SWEDENBORG Emanuel
  • SWIDLER,, Leonard
  • SWINBURNE, Richard
  • SZEKELY Edmond Boreaux

  • SAADYA Gaon *

    (Jewish philosopher, 882-942)

    The truth of reliable tradition and its relation to rational truth

    Saadia set out to remove the doubt and error surrounding the Jewish people’s understanding of the scriptures, in order that they might “live truly and with certainty.” Truth and certainty are the fruits of reason; therefore throughout his work Saadia provided explanations based on reason, working inductively from Scripture.

             Saadia grieved over the fact that in his time many of the believers were clinging to unsound doctrine while many of those who deny the faith boast of their unbelief and despise the men of truth, although they are themselves in error. Throughout his work Saadia discussed the relationship between reason and revelation. He analyzed four modes of “knowing”: knowledge from sense perception, knowledge from reason, knowledge from inference and knowledge from tradition. While the first three types of knowledge came about through a gradual process, knowledge from tradition was a reliable report or testimony, which could be understood immediately by the recipient, and which could immediately be understood as certain truth. Saadia identified scripture and rabbinic law as tradition, revealed by God to Moses and the prophets.

           He distinguished between two types of laws in the Bible:  “laws of reason” and “laws of revelation.” Laws of reason are commandments and prohibitions whose importance could be arrived at independently by any rational human being, such as prohibitions against murder, adultery, theft and dishonesty. Saadia explained that these laws governed situations about which God had “implanted” approval or disapproval in the reason of man. The “laws of revelation” concerned matters on which reason alone passed no judgement, such as the laws about keeping the Sabbath and festival days, Jewish dietary laws, laws about purity and impurity, etc.

            Saadia indicated a direct correlation between the ability to reason and the ability to receive revelation. He claims that God knew that His laws and the stories of His wondrous signs would, through the passage of time, require people to hand them down to posterity, so that they might become as evident to later generations as they were to the earlier ones. Therefore, He prepared in our minds a place for the acceptance of reliable tradition and in our souls a quiet corner for trusting it so that His Scriptures and stories should remain safely with us.

    *See Altmann, Alexander. “Saadya's Theory of Revelation:  Its Origin and Background,” in Studies in Religious Philosophy and Mysticism, Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 1969.


    SABATIER Auguste *

    (French protestant theologian, 1839= 1901)


     The truth of religion is based on nothing else than the personal experience of the believer, and neither on dogma nor sacred scriptures.


    Sabatier described his theory of religious knowledge as "critical symbolism." By this he meant to indicate that religious doctrine and dogma are attempts to symbolize the primary and eternal religious experience (or consciousness) of the believer. He taught that the doctrines of historical religions are secondary, temporal, and transient symbols of this central religious experience. Christian dogmas, then, are necessarily inadequate attempts to "express the invisible by the visible, the eternal by the temporal, spiritual realities by sensible images." Christ and his disciples through the ages have experienced the divine presence of God the loving Father and with it a sense of moral repentance and an inner energy of the spirit. As with all personal experience, no symbolic structure can act as substitute. Such structures are, in every field, merely hypothetical attempts to grasp experience.

    Sabatier held that the cosmologies, legends, dogmas, and statements about the world and man propagated by historical religions in an attempt to express and communicate the fact of religious experience can claim only derivative and relative validity. Moreover, they are conditioned by the state of science and philosophy as understood by those who create such religious symbolism. And just as science and philosophy do not give absolute and final truth, neither does religious dogma—hence the decline of older religious symbolism with the progress of science. God lives in man's consciousness, not in dogmas and cosmologies. Man's need for and experience of God's presence prove his existence. Science and philosophy are masters of their own proper domain.

    To know a thing religiously, Sabatier held, is to experience the sovereignty of spirit and to estimate the object known as a means or obstacle to the true moral life of the spirit. By basing the truth of religion on the personal experience of the believer, he joined the long line of "crisis" and existential theologians of our time.

    An important point of Sabatier’s thought is the rejection of religious beliefs exclusively founded on authority. Every belief must go through the filter of reason and experience, and the mind must open itself to new facts, events and truths, whichever their source. No question is closed or determined and religion cannot be a field protected against critical examination. If the Bible is the work of authors dependent on their historical and social context, such a text is neither supernatural nor the infallible deposit of divine revelation. The book does not possess any absolute authority. The truth of Christianity stands beyond the authority of scriptures and Church institutions.


    * Sabatier Auguste, Religions of authority and the religion of the spirit, Publisher: Williams & Norgate, 1904






    SACHS Jonathan *

    (Contemporary English Chief Rabbi)

    Religious truth, even if absolute, is not universal

    One must give “space” for the truth

          Sachs’ thesis is that there is a difference between God and religion. God is God of all humanity, but no single faith is or should be the faith of all humanity. Only in such perspective can we see the presence of God in people of other faiths. One must distinguish between the particularity of cultures and the universality of the human condition. It follows that religious truth is not universal but will manifest itself in different forms.

            Sachs stresses nonetheless that this does not mean that religous truth is relative. He explains that there is a difference, all to often ignored, between absoluteness and universality. A father may have an absolute obligation by his child, but it is not a universal one. It is not that truth is relative. It is only that no single set of human words, no finite language system, no matter how sophisticated, can say it all, can encapsulate the whole of the divine-human interchange of one set of propositions or , indeed, narratives.

            We must leave “space” for the truth – i.e. the moral and existential validity of the religious “other” – even as we hold firmly to our separate, albeit not necessarily “ equal”, faith traditions. One must show respect for “the dignity of difference”, for the “stranger”, the religious other….

            Holding to the absolute veracity and reliability of truth-claims of one’s own religious tradition, embodied in one’s own historical community, while being open to an alternative expression of “eternal truth” in other, humanly limited but perhaps divinely ordained, religious traditions – this is indeed the great struggle of every religious or philosophical tradition in today’s shrinking world.

            Sachs’ basic message is that we encounter God  in the face of a stranger. It is God himself who creates difference; therefore it is in one-who-is-different that we greet God.

    * Sachs, Jonathan, The Dignity of Difference: how to avoid the clash of cvilisations, Continuum, London , 2002)


    SAHAJANANDA John Martin *

    ( Indian Christian Monk, b. 1955)

    The eternal truth can never be limited to a historical truth.

        John Martin Sahajananda, a  monk  at the Shantivanam Ashram in South India,  embraces the insights of the Indian religious traditions to deliver a profound vision for the renewal of Christianity.

        According to him, in order to understand the place of religions we need to understand the nature of Truth. Truth has two aspects: the eternal aspect and the historical aspect. When Moses asked God about his name, first God said that “I am what I am,” but it was difficult for Moses to understand this eternal aspect of Truth so God revealed to him his historical aspect: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

        The historical aspect of Truth or God is manifested in time and space and it is present in the sacred scriptures. The historical manifestation of Truth is conditioned. The eternal truth can never be limited to a historical truth. The eternal truth always transcends the historical truth. The historical truth cannot bring unity among the religions or humanity. Only the eternal truth can do that.

        Historical truth is like a nest where we are born, where we are protected, nourished and given security until the wings are grown that allow us to fly into the freedom of the infinite space. Eternal truth can never be put into laws or religious beliefs and structures. The difficulty comes when we transform the nest into a cage and imprison ourselves in the cage of historical truth.

        Hence there is a constant need for humanity to move from the historical truth into the eternal truth. The historical truth creates an ego and can thus become an obstacle. In order to move from the historical truth into the eternal truth, we need to see the limitations of the historical truth. Only when we see clearly the limitations of the historical truth or religions can we open ourselves to the eternal truth.

    Sahajananda, John Martin, The Hindu Christ, O books, 2006


    SAMARTHA, S.J. *

    (Indian Christian theologian, 1920 -2000)                                                        

    Truth is always greater than the formulation of truth

    The “either-or” mind-set attitude is outmoded

         In Asian situations where sat (truth) is both being and truth, the goal of the quest for truth is to close the gap between thinking and  being. In an “either-or” mind-set, there is a desperate attempt to keep “being” and “knowing” distinct because of the high value placed on the individual  ego. Today there is  a rather  general consensus that truth can no more be defined in terms of exclusion. A religion that defines itself to be true by excluding others is outmoded. There is a global consciousness that different cultures are drawn together into one community. Truth is not concerned with “an Unmoved Mover” waiting to be discovered, but with a “Moving Mover” involved   in the historic process, but transcending it.  The apprehension of truth at a given point in history cannot claim exclusive validity. It can indeed be valid but not exclusive. No particular response to or formulation of Truth can claim to be unique, final or absolute. We need to grow in truth. The truth received by a particular community of faith can prove itself to be true not by rejecting but by relating itself to the truth perceived by neighbours of other faiths. Therefore Christology, for Christians, is not only a joyful acceptance of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ but also a pilgrimage towards the fullness of truth.     

            Unfortunately the demand for clear-cut expression of truth has often lead to a dependence on words, concepts and rational formulations. Then creeds become substitute for truth and confessions prevent conversations. One forgets that Truth is always greater the formulation of truth. On this point there is a striking contrast between the Christian and the Hindu-Buddhist attitudes. . There are no “heretics” in India in the Western sense of the term. Unfortunately the “either/or” way of thinking and its dependence on credential formulations has made it difficult for Christianity to co-exist with people of other faiths.                                        

            Samartha advocates the pluralism of religious truths. Pluralism for him does not relativize Truth. It relativizes different responses to Truth which are conditioned by history and culture. It rejects the claim of any particular re­sponse to be absolute. The  acknowledgment that no one can hold the truth in the palm of his or her hand is the basic orien­tation of sound religious pluralism. Truth is not identical with our truth claims.

    * Samartha, S.J. Towards a Revised Christology,  Maryknoll, N.Y., Orbis book, 1991


    SAMKHYA Dars’ana *

    (Ancient Indian philosophical system)

    The intrinsic truth and falsity of knowledge

        Contrary to the viewpoints adopted by Mimansa and Nyaya philosophies (see Mimansa and Nyaya), Samkhya philosophy holds the view of the intrinsic validity and invalidity of knowledge. Truth and falsity are inherent in knowledge. A knowledge is made true and false -  and known to be true and false - by the conditions of knowledge itself. Knowledge must have its validity on its own account., must be self-evident. There is no need to have recourse to any criteria  to ascertain the truth or falsehood of assertions.

         The Samkhya  view of the intrinsic  truth and falsehood of knowledge is understandable once it is seen as an application of the Samkhya’s theory of causation that is, sat-karya-vada. According to this doctrine, causation is only a manifestation of the effect that pre-exists potentially in the cause. A cause can produce only that effect inherent in the causal complex. The effect is a reflection of the cause. Therefore the truth and the falsity of cognitions are causally determined  effects of the cognitions themselves. They are to be explained by knowledge itself not by something external to it. Truth and falsehood are inherent in knowledge. Truth can only issue from truth and falsehood from falsehood.  

            According to the Nyaya and Mimansa philosophies the Samkhya view of causation as satkaryavada is senseless because the effect is always somewhat different from the cause. How can validity and invalisity belong to the same thing, in this case, to knowledge, apart from external conditions? If the validity of knowledge is self-evident, how is that there are unsuccessful activities? Illusions are frequent experiences. Validity and invalidity of knowledge are not self-evident, but need the support external criteria.

    * Chatterjee S.C., The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge, University of Calcutta, 1939,  p.83-120


    SAMPLES Kenneth R. *

    (Contemporary RTB Christian American scholar)


    Religious pluralism cannot be true


    Religious pluralism is the view that all religions, certainly all major or ethical   religions, are equally valid paths to God or to ultimate reality. For the pluralist, many religious roads lead to God and salvation.  Some people take the notion of equal toleration of religious expression to mean that all religions are equally true, thus equally valid paths to God. In effect, democracy has been applied to ultimate truth. 

    While the religions of the world do share some common beliefs and especially moral values, fundamental and irreconcilable differences clearly divide them on many crucially important issues. A plethora of views exists just concerning the nature of God (or ultimate reality). Clearly no universal agreement exists among the world's religions as to who or what God really is. The religions of the world are so diverse in belief and in worldview orientation that they defy attempts to reduce them to a single common theme or essence.

    Attempts to reduce a variety of religions to their lowest common denominator usually succeed only in distorting the religions. While some rightly identify similar ethical values as a common motif, upon closer inspection it becomes evident that even the similar moral principles are motivated by, and grounded in, fundamentally different views of the nature of reality. Religion cannot be reduced simply to ethics, for religion makes claims about the ultimate nature of reality (metaphysics), to which ethics appeal for justification. The similar ethical values shared by religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism cannot be separated from the distinctive doctrines promoted by those particular religions.

    Formal laws of logic demonstrate the impossibility that all religious truth claims can be true at the same time and in the same way (the law of noncontradiction: A cannot equal A and non-A). Contradictory religious claims have opposite truth value, meaning that they negate or deny each other. Therefore exactly one is true and the other false.

     Some philosophers and religious scholars believe there is a way of making religious pluralism intellectually tenable. Could it be, perhaps, that the contradictions among the world's religions are only apparent rather than real? That is, maybe all the religions are experiencing the same divine reality but in different ways? The prominent pluralist thinker, John Hick, employs a common Eastern way of illustrating this point, called the elephant analogy. In this analogy, several blind men encounter an elephant for the first time. Each feels a different part of the animal, then attempts to determine truth about the essence of its being. According to this analogy, one may attribute the differences among the world's religions to mankind's inability to grasp the infinite reality of God. Hick's pluralistic theory places the ultimate divine reality beyond the particular deities of the various religions. Ironically, while the elephant analogy attempts to validate the truth of all religions, it really succeeds in showing that all religions fail to adequately reveal God. So rather than affirming religious truth, the analogy demonstrates that all religions, at least in large measure, are false or misleading.

    Pluralist thinkers such as Joseph Campbell have argued that all religions can be simultaneously true because all religions merely make mythical and/or poetical claims, not historical, factual truth-claims. This assertion of course means that the religions of the world are metaphorically true but literally false. However, again, this view flies in the face of historic orthodox Christianity. Whether one is inclined to accept them or not, the truth-claims of Christianity are historical and factual in nature.

    The apostle Peter proclaimed: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pet. 1:16). According to the laws of logic and the historical veracity of Scripture, pluralism, no matter how popular, cannot be true.


    *See Internet Kennth R. Samples





    (Written by an unidentified Indian author)


    The eternal quest for cosmic truth


    Sanatana Dharma is  the original name of what is now popularly called Hinduism or Hindu Dharma.. It is a code of ethics, a way of living through which one may achieve moksha (enlightenment, liberation). Sanatana Dharma represents much more than just a religion; rather, it provides its followers with an entire worldview, way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality. Sanatana Dharma is by its very essence a term that is devoid of sectarian leanings or ideological divisions.

    Sanatana Dharma does not denote a creed like Christianity or Islam, but represents a code of conduct and a value system that has spiritual freedom as its core. Any pathway or spiritual vision that accepts the spiritual freedom of others may be considered part of Sanatana Dharma.

    First and foremost, Sanatana Dharma is anadi (without beginning) and also  apaurusheya (without a human founder). It is defined by the quest for cosmic truth, just as the quest for physical truth defines science.

    The universal flow of Dharma, regardless of what name you call it, whether Dharma or some other name, has eternally existed. It has been before any of the great teachers were born. It is not better than, or alternative to, but is inclusive of all. Dharma is that out of which our earth and humanity itself emerged. Dharma not only is, but always was, and always will be. To live in alignment with, and to know the true nature of that Sanatana Dharma is one of the ways of describing the higher goal of life.

    Sanatana Dharma thereby gives reverence to individual spiritual experience over any formal religious doctrine. Wherever the Universal Truth is manifest, there is Sanatana Dharma — whether it is in a field of religion, art or science, or in the life of a person or community. Wherever the Universal Truth is not recognized, or is scaled down and limited to a particular group, book or person, even if done so in the name of God, there Sanatana Dharma ceases to function, whatever the activity is called.

    Sanatana Dharma comprises of spiritual laws which govern the human existence. Sanatana Dharma is to human life what natural laws are to the physical phenomena. Just as the phenomena of gravitation existed before it was discovered, the spiritual laws of life are eternal laws which existed before they were discovered by the ancient rishis (sages) for the present age during the Vedic period.


    *See Internet Sanatana Dharma






    SANKARA Saranam *

    (American writer and philosopher, b.1965)


    The untruth of all organized religions


      In God Without Religion Sankara Saranam examines the past effects of organized religion and offers more direct avenues to knowledge of God for the present and future. Religions routinely claim to deliver ultimate expressions of truth, often judging followers of other religions as inferior, or worse, dupes of some evil power. Organized religions have done much harm by professing the superiority of their followers and creating such divisive categories as true believers and godless heathens,

    In addition, religious scriptures of all persuasions have imperiled humanity's freedom of thought and pursuit of liberty. Playing on fears of the faithful, scriptural writings exalt those who follow blindly, attack brave questioners who entertain honest doubts, and threaten dissenters with a lifetime of guilt. These writings work insidiously in the minds of the faithful who, intolerant of criticism, have gone on to incite witch hunts and religious wars, resulting in immeasurable bloodshed between religions and within them.

    Historically, some of the greatest evils have emerged from displays of holiness. It was usually zealots, sure they had heard the voice of God, who fueled the fires of fear and hatred, directing them toward religious sects, ethnic groups, racial minorities, and women. Humanity is still suffering from the fanaticism of individuals influenced by canonized books espousing erroneous ideas, theologies based on superstition, unscientific cosmologies, false expectations, and unethical commands.

    Sankara Saranam explores our present understanding of God and  invites people  to worship by wondering rather than believing. He presents "an alternative to organized religion," the theory of self, a nondualistic option for realizing knowledge of God; this theory portrays intuition as a verifiable, repeatable, and unbiased psychophysical science. He weighs the merits of New Age spiritual movements, points out the pitfalls of modern approaches to Eastern spiritual traditions, and illustrates ways to expand the sense of self beyond narrow spiritual identifications.


    Sankara Saranam, God Without Religion : Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths, published 2005 by Pranayama Institute.







    (Spanish-American philosopher and writer,1863-1952)

    Truth is frozen history, a synthetic image of time

         The word 'truth' should be reserved for what everybody spontaneously means by it : the standard comprehensive description of any fact in all its relations. Truth is not an opinion because of the limitation in scope of every human opinion. Rather the truth is the field which various true opinions traverse in various  directions, and not opinion itself. Truth is not in pure intuition or perception: having no object other than the datum, it can neither be true or false. Similarly truth is irrelevant to dialectic. Logic and mathematics are not true inherently, however cogent or extensive. Systems of essences are more or less fortunate and harmonious , but not at all true or false.  Truth is not true discourse because discourse is an event, it has  a date  whereas truth is dateless. The eternity of truth is inherent in it: all truths are  equally eternal. It is the immovable standard and silent witness of all our memories and assertions, the past and the future are one seamless garment for the truth, shining like the sun. Truth is an essence involved in positing any fact, in remembering, expecting or asserting anything. No truth need to be acknowledged if there is no existence, yet on the hypothesis that anything exists, truth has appeared. The complete description of existence, covering all its relations, will be the truth about it. No argument is necessary to support the eternal truth.

            Some people identify truth with their own tenets, they want to express how certain they feel in their beliefs. But there are no eternal tenets: neither the opinions of men, nor anything existent can be eternal: eternity is a property of essences only. Truth is eternal and dateless, but not timeless, because, being descriptive of existence, it is a picture of change. Truth is frozen history. Eternal truth is a synthetic image of time. Still it is more than that because it contains also everything that is not temporal at all.  The whole realm of essence is the whole realm of truth.

    * Santayana, G., Scepticism and Animal Faith,  Dover, New york, 1955, p.262-271



    (Contemporary Indian philosopher)


    Pure consciousness, not the individual illusory self, is the truth


    Searching the truth within illusion with the illusory self, within the illusory experience, has to be an illusion. The illusion is created, and sustained, and finally dissolves as consciousness, which is Soul, the innermost self.  Since, there is no second thing other than the consciousness, the consciousness itself is ultimate truth or Brahman.

    The soul, the innermost self is not subject to any modification, without beginning and end, beyond thought and speech. The soul, the innermost self is the existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, awareness. The soul, the innermost self, is one without a second, complete in itself. It never moves. It is always still, always the same. It is the cause of everything that exist as a reality within the duality, but it itself is uncaused.

    As long as there is the sense of "I' and "mine' within us, there can be no Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana. When one   says "’I’ or me' and "mine' he automatically identifies his- self with his body. This shows that he is ignorant of his real Self, which is Pure Consciousness and which is also the Self of all.  The sign of an ignorant person is in the way he uses the words "I' and "mine'. He says: "I am so and so. I own this much property,' and so on. Thus he always remains ignorant without realizing the ‘I’ itself is ignorance.   Therefore without realizing what is this ‘I’ the ignorance will prevail as reality. If ignorance prevails as reality then the form, time and space will prevail as reality. If form, time and space remain as reality then the birth, life, death and the world will prevail as reality.  If birth, life, death and the world prevail as reality then the duality will prevail as reality. If duality prevails as reality then the three states prevails as reality.   Thus the seeker needs a perfect understanding of ‘what is what’ in order to come out of the prison of ignorance. 

    The Seeker of truth has to get rid of his doubts through deeper inquiry, analysis and reasoning on his own, to realize the fact that, the self is not the form but self is formless. Thus his analysis and reasoning has to be based on the formless not on the form.  By simply going on believing and accepting whatever said by the punditry will not lead one towards the path of wisdom. All the doubt has to be got rid of "by the sword of Self - Knowledge."  The scriptures, yoga are not necessary if one follows the inner (formless) path.  Religion and yoga are not the means to path of wisdom. 

    Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana is the aim of every human being. Since everyone thinks the physical body is the self, their aim is misdirected, and they focus their attention on materiality which makes one feel the duality (waking) as reality.

    Therefore, there is no need to study scriptures, or indulge in God  and guru glorification or performing religious rituals.  Since, they are not the means to acquire non-dual wisdom. It is only waste of time and effort to indulge in those things. The individual self is not real.  The nondual wisdom is based not on the individual self .  Until people hold the ‘I’ as witness, they will not reach the ultimate understanding.


    See Internet, Santthoshkumaar Kumaar




    (American linguists, 1884-1939, 1897-1941)

    The 'real world' is unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group: the illusion of ‘objective’ truth.

    The thesis of linguistic determinism is the view that the language people speak determines the way they perceive the world. All observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe, unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar. Such is the thesis named after the linguists Edward Sapir  and Benjamin Lee Whorf.

        Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the ''real world'' is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group. We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.

        The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that a person's language, through its vocabulary and structure, shapes the way that person perceives reality, thinks and behaves. There is broad truth in the argument that language plays a role in shaping reality. Nonetheless several critics have pointed out that this view of linguistic determinism should not be overstated and collapse into extreme relativism: there seem also to be linguistic universals, or features common to every language; and words are often invented to reflect, rather than construct new phenomena in reality. The so-called "strong hypothesis" of Sapir-Whorf (that language determines thought) is mostly debunked, but the "weak hypothesis" (that language influences thought) is quite arguably true at least in some situations, and there is significant debate over the extent of how true it is and in what situations it is true.

        It is obvious that at least some of us are capable of thinking "outside the box" of language when we make a conscious effort. We are capable of inventing new nouns and verbs to express ourselves if need be. So linguistic determinism must be rejected. But if it is merely a question of whether or not language influences thought, especially in realms such as philosophy and religion, where the mind contemplates abstractions or intangible and unseen realities, probably very few linguists would care to deny that language plays a very important role.

    * Whorf, Benjamin; Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (John Carroll, Editor) ; 1956; MIT Press



    (Contemporary French “Assistante de conservation du patrimoine”)


    Restons humbles : si la vérité "en soi" existe, nul homme, à lui tout seul, ne saurait la rencontrer.


    Il existe deux sortes de vérité. La vérité formelle, établie selon des critères épistémologiques et relevant de l’évidence logique, est accessible à l’entendement humain mais n’a aucun lien avec le réel. L’autre, matérielle, se confronte aux phénomènes et semble beaucoup plus difficile à appréhender, ce qui a pu conduire de nombreux penseurs au relativisme ou au scepticisme. Néanmoins, pour ces questions, nous ne pouvons nous satisfaire de l’époché  qui nous conduirait fatalement à l’inaction.

    La vérité « en soi » est à découvrir, bien qu’il  semble difficile de maintenir une vérité absolue sur le mode Platonicien. Par ailleurs, admettre le principe du relativisme entraîne un pluralisme d’opinions qui conduit l’esprit humain au doute généralisé, et, éventuellement, aux pires excès : si tout se vaut, aucune opinion, même la plus affreuse, n’est à bannir.

    Peut-être que l’homme effectivement, ne peut pas connaître la vérité absolue (seuls les fanatiques ou les dictateurs parviennent à le faire), mais il est néanmoins capable de déceler l’erreur. C’est peu et c’est énorme.

    Car, en définitive, c’est à chacun d’éviter les pièges de l’erreur. Choisir son camp, même de manière virulente (sans tomber dans l’excès, bien sûr, afin de ne rien partager avec les fanatiques de tout poil contre lesquels il faut lutter), c’est un engagement volontaire, une prise de conscience, un acte individuel qui permet d’accéder, non pas à La vérité (ce serait présomptueux !), mais à une vérité qui nous éloignerait de l’erreur. En fait, il ne faut sans doute point tant rechercher la vérité « en soi » que de débusquer l’erreur, partout où elle se trouve, sur un mode Socratique.

    La vérité, si elle existe, est nécessairement maïeutique : interroger autrui comme soi-même sur ses insuffisances de raisonnement, sur ses a-priori, sur ses dogmes, sans pour autant livrer une vérité révélée ou absolue qui, puisqu’elle relève d’une foi individuelle, ne saurait être universelle.

    L’homme tâtonne. D’essai en tentative, il parvient de mieux en mieux à décrire le réel et ce qui l’entoure. Mais nul homme n’est parvenu à décrire la totalité du réel. Restons humbles : si la vérité "en soi" existe, s’il faut la postuler pour échapper au relativisme amoral  qui pourrait nous aliéner, par passivité, aux théories les plus abjectes, sans doute nul homme, à lui tout seul, ne saurait la rencontrer.

    Chacun détient d’infimes parties de vérités, après de maints efforts. C’est à chacun qu’il revient d’accéder à la ( et non pas à « sa » ) vérité sur le monde et sur lui-même. Pour ce faire, il doit distinguer ce qui en lui est savoir ou simple opinion, sujette au doute...

    L’accession à la vérité est un acte individuel que nul ne peut accomplir pour un autre. C’est une démarche personnelle. Mais il existe pourtant du « vrai » à découvrir : chaque intelligence doit se mesurer, à l’intérieur comme à l’extérieur de soi, aux choses...


    *See Internet Sartre-Doublet



    SARTRE Jean Paul *

    (French philosopher, 1905-1980)

    Man is the only foundation of his own ‘truth’ which consists

    in remaining in a state where choice is always possible

        1. According to Sartre, existence precedes essence and that means that man is not definable because first he is ‘no-thing’: he will be what he will make of himself. He is such as he conceives himself and wants himself to become. He is totally responsible for his own existence because there are no truths that precede him. He will be his own truth, accepting to be totally free ‘for nothing’.

            There is no source of truth to which he can turn to provide meaning to his life. He determines his own essence only by temporary, transient choices of what he would like to become. Impossible to turn to God as a foundation for truth and virtue, since “God is dead”, and there are  no substitute realms of truth and value is to be found in philosophy, science or religion. The individual alone is the source of whatever meaning, truth, or value the world has.

            Being “condemned to be free”, man is utterly responsible for his actions. He has no recourse to signs, clues and truths that would direct him, because he is himself the decoder of the signs that please him and the foundation of his own truth. He has to invent himself at every moment. He cannot decide a priori what he has to do. He makes himself in choosing. He is the sole foundation of his being, the sole foundation of his ‘truth’. This means that there is no “Truth”. The common sense concepts of true and false does not seem to have any place in Sartre’s existentialism.  

          2. Nonetheless Sartre makes a distinction between authentic and inauthentic existence, between people of good faith and people of bad faith. Therefore he introduces a kind of distinction between a true way of life and a false one. The dichotomy of true/false  is implicitly contained in this assumption. Sartre writes that the man of “bad faith” considers his freedom as  a dreadful freedom. He does not want to be ‘condemned to freedom’. He finds it hard to endure his total responsibility. He longs not to be condemned to freedom and he would wish to be simply  a thing, a being-in-itself like a stone.  This is what Sartre calls  ‘bad faith’, generated by the attempts to escape from freedom in pretending that human affairs are unavoidable and necessary. Bad faith is self-deception and inauthenticity as it amounts to a rejection of the freedom that constitutes human subjectivity.           

            Thus Sartre feels entitled to pass judgment on certain choices: some are founded on error and others on truth. A man of bad faith, the inauthentic man, according to Sartre, cannot escape to a judgement of truth because his lie dissimulates his total freedom of action.  He is in bad faith if he declares that certain values pre-exist him and that there is a truth that precedes him.  

            But then the question  arises what is ‘good faith’ and how good faith is possible for conscious beings? Sartre has given only one principle for our action: to avoid bad faith, to repudiate acting inauthentically. But to follow the rule to repudiate inauthenticiy, we  must know the positive meaning of authenticity. As a matter of fact, Sartre’s definition of authenticity has not provided any justification for choosing A rather than B: our choice is therefore arbitrary, it is simply our choice. The rule ‘Avoid bad faith’ or       ‘ Choose authentically’ simply tells us  to acknowledge our freedom in choosing. Critics have pointed out that this is not a morally significant rule, it is an empty rule, it contains no content as to what is morally worth anything. This shows that the important point for Sartre is to remain in state where choosing is always possible. Choosing what? Anything…as “all human activities are equivalent”. Sartre’s only rule, only “truth” is to remain in a state where choosing is always possible.

    * Sartre, Jean-Paul, L’Etre et le Néant, Paris, Gallimard, 1943; L’Existentialisme est un Humanisme, Nagel, Paris, 1946



    (Indian Hindu spiritual master, 1929- 2011)


    Truth is God. Truth exists; so too, God exists.


    Truth is not merely telling the facts about what you see or hear or know. These are temporal truths. Facts relate to momentary appearances. Truth relates to unchanging reality. In its full sense Truth can be applied only to what comes out of your heart in its pure and unsullied form as the voice of conscience. It is true for all time - past, present and the future. It is not affected by changes in time or place. Time does not transform it, creation does not increase it, Pralaya (Destruction) does not reduce it. History does not stain it. Truth lives eternally in full. The ancient seers called it "Ritham". It is unchanging and cannot be suppressed.

    When you seek the Truth, you are seeking God. Truth is God. Truth exists; so too, God exists. Truth must be considered as life giving as breath itself. Just as a person with no breath in him becomes useless, life without Truth is useless and becomes a dwelling place of strife and grief. Believe that there is nothing greater than Truth; nothing more precious, nothing sweeter and nothing more lasting.

    It is folly to think that you have to search for Truth somewhere. To know one's Self is Truth. How can man realize the Truth? He can do this only when he experiences non-dualism. As long as he is steeped in dualism (that he and divine are different) he is bound to be racked by the opposites, joy and sorrow, the real and unreal.

    The universe is dependent on Truth. If there is no Truth, there is no Universe. Truth is of eternal quality. No one can change it. Nor hide it. Truth is God. All wealth, all riches emerge from truth only. God is the embodiment of Truth. Truth alone is God's abode. Dharma permanently lives in Truth. Vedas, the repository of knowledge and wisdom emanate from Truth. Truth alone is the royal path. Truth is knowledge - Infinity, Brahman. Wherever Truth is followed, there lives Dharma. There is no Dharma higher than Truth. There is no morality higher than Truth. Through Truth, you can experience love; through love you can visualize Truth.


    * See Internet, Extracts compiled from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Discourses




    SAUSSURE, Ferdinand de *

    (Swiss linguist, 1857-1913)

    Language is never an transparent reflection of truth and reality

          Saussure's science of linguistics – which has greatly influenced postmodernist thought – refutes the claim of common sense that the world is made up of independently existing things that naturally fit the names we have given them. We usually take for granted that there is something about a rose that makes the word "rose" inevitably the right one. But, according to Saussure, there is no direct or causal relation between a rose and the letters r-o-s-e. Any other collection of letters could conceivably have done the job just as well. It is purely a matter of social convention that roses are called roses. Thus Saussure argued against the assumption that language is made up of individual units that have natural attachments to objects and ideas. His contention is  radical because of the way it seems to overthrow realism (the view that there is a real world out there that can be known by the human mind) and to replace it with a linguistic relativism (what we can know is the system of concepts generated by the arbitrary structures of language).

            Because he found that there is no natural or inevitable bond between words and things, Saussure saw language as an arbitrary system. From this starting point, his structuralist theory abandons any question of the "truth" of language: it argues that language can never be a transparent or innocent reflection of reality.

            Language provides no direct access to reality because it itself is based in difference and distance, beginning with the essential difference between the signifier (the sound or appearance of the word) and the mental signified (the meaning or concept of the word). Signifier and signified are not the same; the word “s-n-o-w” is not snow itself but a representation or signifier of the white frozen crystals we call snow. The signifier represents the signified, it is not identical to it, and in the process of representation lies the possibility for veiling and distortion. Language is constructed on the basis of difference, or the relationship of signifier to signified and of words to each other, not on the basis of a direct correspondence to reality.  Hence reality, or what metaphysics called “presence” is never directly available to us. Reality is always shrouded by language, and the workings of language  are in turn veiled by the operation of cultural codes.  

    * De Saussure, Ferdinand, Cours de Linguistique Générale, Paris, Payot, 1979


    SAWYER James *

    (Contemporary American theologian)


     God is truth, but we are not God and only have an incomplete grasp of His truth


    The matter of TRUTH as opposed to a human grasp of truth is crucial to understand at the very outset of any discussion of establishing a relative hierarchy of significance and importance of doctrines. The very nature of Christian Theology demands from its practitioners and adherents a commitment to the fact that truth exists and that it can in some measure be grasped.

    In practice among Protestants at least since the time of the post-reformation period of Protestant Scholasticism, there has been the tendency to view the systematized whole of Christian doctrine as TRUTH. The scholastic method takes this even one step further, seeing all truth as on the same level and seeing a denial of any part of the system as a denial of the whole system. The method caused theologians to build “cathedrals of the mind” magnificent structures that attempted to incorporate all theological knowledge into one comprehensive system, showing the place of each part and interrelationship of all the various parts. The down side was that the system tended to become an end in itself, rather than a means to an end, and there was a leveling of the importance of truth. The interrelatedness of doctrines led to the conclusion that to deny anything in the system was to deny the whole body of Christian doctrine and therefore the faith itself.

    With reference to this phenomenon it must be stressed that theology is a human discipline and that theological systems and doctrines are human constructions which to a greater or lesser extent refract the truth of divine revelation. As human constructions they must by their very nature remain open to examination, criticism and correction because of the nature of human understanding. It remains finite, perspectival due to the historically bound nature of knowledge. Theologies and doctrines are human constructions which more or less adequately encapsulate, interpret and contextualize the teaching of scripture for later generations.

    While we are to contend for the truth, all truth is not of the same order, despite the mentality of many theologians and teachers. We must recognize that there are theological truths that transcend local and temporary historical situations, while other “truths” are so affected by the Zeitgeist out of which they arise as to be idiosyncratic. This leads to the conclusion that some theological truths are more important than others. How are we to recognize them?

    The ranking of theological truth affects not only the historical articulation of a doctrine and marginalization of that which is idiosyncratic, but also involves the ranking of truths arising out of scripture itself. In many cases the scriptural material is abundantly clear and the church has always clearly affirmed certain doctrines. In other cases the scriptural evidence is scanty or cloudy. In these cases any conclusions drawn must be held with a degree of tentativeness. Systematic theology does not arise directly from the Bible, the claims of adherents to particular systems notwithstanding. It is a human enterprise. Theological definition is a human response to God’s revelation, and the organizing principles are of human, not divine, origin. While God is truth, we are not God and only have an incomplete grasp of His truth. By recognizing the relative importance of the truths we hold, we are better able to maintain the bond in unity in love. “In essential things unity, in non-essential things tolerance, in all things charity”. *M. James Sawyer  (Apr 27, 2006), Survivor's Guide to Theology



    SCHöNDORF Harald sj *


    (Contemporary German philosopher and epistemologist)


     The nonsense of “intolerant truth”: the highest truth creates the greatest possible tolerance.


      What does the term 'intolerant truth' mean? The one who reflects on the meaning of the words "tolerant" and "tolerance" should notice that it is wrong to speak of 'intolerant truth', because only people can be tolerant or intolerant in their behaviour. In an analogous sense you can then also call the respective ways of proceeding or behaving as tolerant or intolerant, but truth can as little be tolerant or intolerant as science or human dignity.

    The speech of 'intolerant truth' is linguistic nonsense. It would linguistically be correct to say that the conviction of absolute truth makes people intolerant. Those who feel obliged to an absolute truth, would not tolerate any behaviour standing in the way of that absolute truth.

    Absolute is something that is purely in itself and depends on nothing else. According to the sense of the word, the term 'absolute truth' first means some or that truth that has purely for itself and independent of any other factors, interests, wishes etc. the character of truth. The consequence of such a definition is that you cannot at all possess an absolute truth as if it was a kind of private property, for it must stand above all individual and private matters in order to be really absolute. That's why you cannot defend it in the way you defend your property, your home or your fellow human beings. If truth in this sense is absolute, then the right relationship to it does not lead to intolerance, on the contrary, it leads just to tolerance. For nobody simply has or administers such a truth; it is recognized, esteemed, respected. Those who wanted completely to monopolize it would just destroy its absoluteness.

    Also for that reason a really absolute truth is for nobody a danger: every truth can only be obtained through conviction and cannot be enforced by other means. Not because a certain belief, philosophy or religion would tell so, no, truth can on principle not be enforced by violence. For this reason an intolerant enforcement of truth misses its purpose from the outset. You cannot enforce truth on others, because according to its nature truth can only be recognized through a free rational insight. There is quite simply no other way to recognize truth. On the pure level of theoretical knowledge there is no compulsion to arrive at a certain truth. Quite the reverse, only those who can freely think and reflect are able to discover truth. The knowledge of truth is ultimately only possible as insight and an insight is never enforceable from the outside or by any physical methods.

    It may be that there are methods of brainwashing with the help of which we can force certain opinions on a human being, but a real discovery of truth can never be achieved in this way. It is in the nature of things that forced conversions are impossible, even if in history they unfortunately have repeatedly been attempted. A truly absolute truth, i.e. a truth freed from all interests and emotions, can not at all lead to intolerance, because only in freedom truth can be adopted as conviction. In his talking it is truth that matters for the one who is interested in really convincing his interlocutor and not just in rhetorically taking him by surprise. For a genuine conviction can only turn up where we think something to be true.

    * Schöndorf Harald, Is Truth Intolerant? Stimmen der Zeit, 1/2009, P. 125-135


    SCHAEFFER Francis *

    (American apologist, philosopher and theologian, 1912-1984)

    The absolute Truth of God versus the personal truth of secular humanism

    For Francis Schaeffer the battle between Christianity and secular humanism — absolute Truth versus personal truth — is one that cannot be ignored or mixed. Sadly, absolute Truth is being drowned out by the myriad chorus of personal truths shaped in the over-arching context of secular humanism and its materialistic end. In the end it is the Truth of God versus the lies offered by secular humanism that mankind is self-sufficient.

           Many Christians believe in the truth of creation, the truth of the virgin birth, the truth of Christ's miracles, etc. But they stop there with these and other individual truths. When Schaeffer says Christianity is true he means it is totally true. Christianity is not just a series of truths but Truth — Truth about all of reality.

            Christianity has the answer to the very thing modern man has despaired of ever finding: a unified answer for the whole of life. This demands that man abandons his rationalistic autonomy and returns to the (reformation) view of the Holy Scriptures, for in so doing he gets back his rationality and his meaningfulness. Schaeffer claims that the Bible speaks truth “both about God Himself and about the area where the Bible touches history and the cosmos.” The Bible is the only foundation of the truth. Authentic Christianity constitutes no existential leap into an irrational upper sphere.

             Thinking independently of God’s revelation, rationalistic man is unable to find any ‘universals’ (grace) which would give meaning and unity to all the particulars (nature). Modern Philosophies have abandoned their age-old hope of finding a unified answer for knowledge and life. Their relativism has shaped thinking,  culture, and  theology. The irony of modern man is that his reason has been engulfed by his rationalism. Man’s self-confidence in his power to independent reason has ended, not in the triumph of rationality, but in its actual abandonment. By clinging to his autonomy, man has lost his rationality. 

           Sowing the seeds for future despair is placed by Schaeffer at the door of Thomas Aquinas through whom the belief in the autonomy of man’s mind gained the predominance. On the basis of this autonomous principle, it came to be believed that natural theology and philosophy could be separated from revelation, and still arrive independently at truth. In fact the Bible is the only foundation of the truth.

            Kierkegaard is another of Schaeffer’s foe whom he denounces as the symbol of “the real modern man” who has abandoned the hope of a unified field of knowledge. With Kierkegaard, the modern predicament has degenerated into a dichotomy between ‘faith’ and ‘rationality’, separated by a vast chasm that no amount of rational thinking can bridge. Meaning and truth are thus disconnected from reason and knowledge; if we are to attain them, we have no alternative but to make an irrational “leap of faith”.

              Both fideism and irrationalism accept a line of despair. Rationalistic and irrationalistic presuppositions accept the dichotomy of faith and reason. In truth, asserts Schaeffer, modern man longs for a different answer than the answer of his damnation. Christianity, with its reasonable and consistent framework for understanding the world we live in, can put an end to this despair by putting man right with God.

    *Francis Schaeffer, Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy, Wheaton: Crossway Publishers, 1990



    SCHALL James V. *

    ( American R.C. political philosopher, b. 1928)


    Modern“Democracy” is built on skepticism, not truth


    Even though our American founding document speaks about “self-evident” truths, they are rarely held to be so. Truth is pictured as “imposing” something like “dogma” on those who are free to “choose” whatever they will. The essence of man is “choice,” not reason and nature. In practice, modern polities, including our own, are not based on truth, but on its denial, or impossibility.

    Tolerance no longer means allowing or insisting on peaceful discussion among differing positions. A positive intolerance is directed to any claim to truth as potentially “totalitarian.” “Democracy” is built on skepticism, not truth. Human dignity means human autonomy. We rightly choose not only about life and death but about the validity of first principles themselves. Relativism in all its forms rejects truth.

    In this context, no conflict can be resolved. Controversialists cannot understand one another in terms each mutually grasps. For that to happen, what is necessary is a common, objective world in which we all live and on the basis of which we all agree. Conflicts are now decided instead by power, mutually agreeing that nothing is true, and indifference to the consequences of our acts. The desire for truth is an illusion. Its specter subverts polities that have chosen to live without it.

    Does it make any public difference that something is true and something else false? If we say that it does make a difference, then we are told that we are denying the “rights” of those who are “wrong.” It is not so much that what is wrong has its own dire consequences. Rather such consequences cannot be admitted as evidence of wrongness. We just eliminate or ignore them. The “structure” of modern democracy does not allow it, beause, so it claims,  it violates the “rights’ and “dignity” of those said to be in error.

    What might a polity be like in which truth is a “structural category?” – to use an expression of Pope Benedict.  First, it would be a polity that used names correctly. The opposite of truth is a lie. The worst thing that can happen to us, Plato memorably said, is to have a “lie in our souls about the things that are.” Plato recognized that we could lie to ourselves to enable us to do what we want.

    The second structural principle is that truth is not something we simply create for ourselves. Truth is not the conformity of our minds to what we want. Rather it is the conformity of our minds with what is. Much modern thought teaches us that if anything is “out there,” we cannot be sure of it.

    But we are not the cause of our own creation. The truth of what we are is for us to discover, to encounter, not for us to fashion what we are. Our end consists not in what we choose for ourselves, but in whether we choose the purpose implicit in our being. Only on this basis, can  truth and politics belong to one another.


    *James V. Schall, S.J., Christianity and Politics (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1981) ISBN 0-8198-1407-5


    SCHALLER John *


    (American Lutheran dogmatic theologian d.1920)


    Holy Scripture is the source of all divine truth


    Modern theology is completely saturated with the view that every presen­tation of Christian truth reflects the subjective interpretation of the individual, and therefore can not claim objective validity. Holy Scripture has been abandoned as fountain of the truth. For modern theology the acceptance of an objective standard for religious truth belongs to the abandoned misbeliefs of the past.

    In fact man can attain the possession of the truth ONLY through the Holy Scriptures, the Scrip­tures do verily offer to every man clear truth.  The Scriptures cannot err.  Everything  depends on the possession of this foundation truth. The divine origin, the divine inerrancy, the divine and efficacious completeness of Scripture alone authenticate the possession of the full truth to the extent it is possible for truth to be comprehended by man. Our knowledge of the truth is “in part,” as St. Paul testifies (I Cor. 13:9) of his inspired knowledge. But that does not alter the fact that what is known “in part” is truth. If, after all, we want to speak of possessing the truth, it must be an established fact for us that divine truth is presented in Scripture in a comprehensible form insofar as it is at all accessible to man.

    But wherein does in this instance the possession of the truth consist? Who HAS the truth that Scripture is the source of all divine truth? We call this statement the formal principle of Lutheran theology and thus claim that the Lutheran Church possesses this truth. If this is not to be vain talk, it must follow that every Lutheran possesses this truth, for the Lutheran Church has nothing that the individual Lutheran does not have. However, the individual does not possess a truth of this nature if he has memorized the statement expressing this truth, or if he has merely appropriated it intellectually. The truth that Scripture along is the source of all divine truth and presents it to us in objective form can be proved from Scripture itself without difficulty. Not to mention the individual passages that refer to the mystery of inspiration and more or less plainly testify to it, we need only to be reminded of the decisiveness with which all the prophets and apostles insist that the message they wrote is not man’s word but truly the Word of God. In their writings there is not the faintest hint that the writers were conscious of presenting their subjective views according to their personal judgment.


    * See Interet John Scaller, Theologische Quartalschrift, Vol. XX (1914), pp.209 231]


    SCHELER Max *

    (German philosopher, 1874-1928)

    Emotions and feelings are the soil of personal truth

          1. The heart of Scheler's thought is his theory of value. According to him, the value-being of an object precedes perception. The axiological reality of values is prior to knowing. "Man, before he is an ens cogitans or an ens volens, is an ens amans." Scheler is convinced that love serves as the animating principle of all knowing and willing. There exists an order of cognitive emotional intentionality, independent of reason, through which values are apprehended a priori.  Rather than reason constituting the conditions of will, as the rationalists claim, Scheler  argues that the conditions of reason are constituted by the perception of values.

            The foundation of values is neither in reason nor in the will but in feelings and emotions connected to sensations. Reason cannot be the primary ground of normative choice and action; reason follows the "knowing" of the heart.

            "The heart has its reasons that reason does not know": Pascal's well known saying sums up Max Scheler's thought on values, present in such feelings as love and sympathy, for it is in the experience of these emotions that we participate in  the ideals and truths of our being. Feelings are personal and mysterious but this does not  downgrade and reduce them to an incommunicable subjectivity leading to relativism. The heart is different than reason, but it has its own reason and logic.

            It is through the experience of feelings that one has access to values, the authenticity of these experiences and the criteria by which to judge them are the conditions and signs of truth. Values are revealed by emotions : they are "phenomenological facts" inaccessible to the intellect - they can only be felt, just as colour can only be seen. Scheler's phenomenology leads to a radically intuitionist understanding of values.  

            2. According to Scheler, feelings and emotions are a sufficient basis to justify a moral attitude or even to justify the truth of a moral judgment. Critics - such as Karol Wojtyla - have objected that emotions and feelings are not by themselves cognitive attitudes and thus they are not apt to be instrumental in the discernment of the truth. According to Wojtyla,  Scheler's emotivism fails to give an balanced account of the essence of the human person which is anchored in an essential reference to the truth, and not in the emotional experience as such. The cognitivist foundation of the human essence is required to ascertain the truth of the human good.

    * Scheler, Max ,On Feeling, Knowing, and Valuing. Selected Writings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992


    SCHELL Bill *

    ( Unidentified contemporary writer)


    We have no clue what the truth is, and so we begin to form beliefs.


    There is truth in all religions. There have been and are many people on this planet who have found the right path - for them, at least. There are many paths to the Divine. Mine is but one. Picture, if you will, a huge field. At the center is the biggest tree you can imagine. There are perhaps a million or more ways to get to that tree. It all depends on where you are currently standing. There is no one right way to get to the center. Will not any path to the center of the field get you to the tree? No matter what side of the field you are on, your path is to the center. The tree is the Tree of Life. It is the source of all knowledge.

    If only we as the human family could find that respect for each other! In finding that, we would also find a great respect for ourselves. Why do we seem to like to define ourselves with labels? Labels are mere words. If we want others to know what we are, why not show them? Show them through action. Actions still speak louder than words. I do not care if you are a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew, a follower of the many Pagan paths; or any of the countless other faiths, traditions, paths, or religions that are spread throughout this World. We are all one.

    I do not know if what I feel is fact or belief. I know that I feel it and it feels great to me.  My 'church' is the world. The best chapel I can imagine is forest clearing or a mountaintop, with nature all around. How does everyone feel? Do we all feel? Do some just go off what they have been told and have yet to explore for themselves?

    Why do we humans think we know anything, much less religion? We live on a speck of dust in the middle of nowhere in this universe. We practically border on insignificance on a universal scale. How dare we think we know what God thinks or even what God is, for that matter? We are specks of dust, living on a speck of dust, in this awesome Creation and we think we know God. We have no clue what the truth is, we never have and so we begin to form beliefs. There is a difference between a belief and a fact. If something is a fact, it is not a belief. Beliefs are things we as humans create to make sense of the things we do not understand.


    *See Internet Bill Schell


    SCHELLING Friedrich *

    (German philosopher, 1775-1854)


    Truth is not correspondence but absolute identity of Nature and Spirit


    Schelling's mature identity philosophy breaks with the model of truth as correspondence. It does so because it is clear that in every explanation of the truth as a correspondence of subjectivity and objectivity in knowledge, both, subject and object, are already presupposed as separate, for only what is different can agree, what is not different is in itself one. The crucial problem is how to explain the link between the subject and object world that makes judgements possible, and this cannot be achieved in terms of how a subject can have thoughts which correspond to an object essentially separate from it. For there to be judgements at all, what is split and then synthesised in the judgement must, Schelling contends, in some way already be the same.

    ‘Absolute identity’ is, then, the link of the two aspects of being, which, on the one hand, is the universe, and, on the other, is the changing multiplicity  which the knowable universe also is. Schelling insists now that “The I think, I am”, is, since Descartes, the basic mistake of all knowledge; thinking is not my thinking, and being is not my being, for everything is only of God or the totality”.

    The link between the ‘real’ and the ‘ideal’ cannot be regarded as a causal link. Although there cannot be mental events without physical events, the former cannot be reduced to being the causal results of the latter: “For real and ideal are only different views of one and the same substance”. Schelling came to regard the 'objective' world of Nature (matter) and the 'subjective' Ego (spirit — Geist) as equally real and originally a unity and not distinct in Kant's sense. As he says: "Nature becomes invisible spirit; spirit becomes invisible Nature". Nature and Spirit may be regarded as developing in parallel. Thus the Absolute for Schelling is thus a pure identity of subjectivity and objectivity.

    Schelling's Transcendental Idealism involves an attempt to move from the Subjective to the Objective. But he regards the two approaches as complementary in that to account for knowledge as the uniting of subject and object we must first think of the two poles as separate. He says: it is the Ego, that is, "the act of self-consciousness in general", that constitutes knowledge of the identity of subject and object. This is because as an 'intellectual intuition' it produces itself as the object of transcendental thought from within itself as subject. Starting from the certainty of the 'I think' (cogito) Schelling is therefore concerned primarily to trace the development of consciousness from unconscious Nature as the practical act of the Absolute Ego.


     See Bowie, A. Schelling and Modern European Philosophy: An Introduction, London: Routledge,1993




    (Belgian-Dutch theologian, b.1914)

           No absolutism, no relativism, but perspectivism of Truth

            1. Previous centuries were orientated towards the consideration of abstract, universal, unchangeable truths. It was the view of  philosophia perennis of the scholastic tradition  which claimed  that the absolute truth was  within reach of human knowledge.

            But present-day thought is clearly reacting against the absolutism of past centuries. For phenomenology and existentialism the meaning of reality is related to man, the knower. The world is always a.” worl-for-me”. The notion of truth has moved in the direction of relativism, adopted by modernism.

            Schillebeeckx adopts a middle view between absolutism and relativism, scholasticism and modernism.  He maintains that the absolute truth is the ontological basis of the various human interpretations that constantly change and grow. The absolute truth is normative, the human possession of that truth is imperfect, evolving, relative. Earlier insights are capable of inexhaustible amplification. This is the “perpectivist” view of  knowledge, orientated to and regulated by the absolute truth and according to which man’s insight into truth will never lead to complete unanimity. It stresses the difference between truth and the possession of the truth.  

            2. The perspectivism that affects every assertion of truth assumes that all knowledge is interpretative. All assertions are only true or false within the context of questioning and understanding. To evaluate properly a certain allegation one must not only pay attention to the answer itself, whether it is true of false, but also take into consideration the questioning in its historical context. The whole historical context of the questioning itself is an integral part of the whole interpretative truth. True answers are less important than right questions. This is not relativism but a recognition that coming to truth is a continuous historical process. Truth itself is absolute but we can only possess it in an historical and perspectivist way.  

            Therefore truth which is always sought within a constantly changing situation of questions and answers  is never found only in our own  particular interpretation of reality. It is only when “our” truth is played of against other persons’ truth in dialogue that we are really on the way towards the truth in history. Each person needs the other person’s truth in order to come to the fullness of truth.

          3. Schillebeeckx who is a R.C. theologian, is concerned with the application of these perspectivist views on the dogmatic pronouncements of the Church. The question he puts is as follows:  are the doctrinal interpretations found in the Church’s history a necessary and irrevocable  process, or are they simply a legitimate process, taking into account the historical contingency of the questions? He answers that if our human affirmations of truth are condtioned by the historical situation of the questions and answers with which these affirmations are made , we must admit that our articulations of our knowegde of truth, are legitimate, but not necessary  or irrevocable. For the Church or for any other truth-claiming  establishment, ‘remaining in the truth’ is a concrete historical reality, not a supra-historical reality. For theologians who persist to regard human knowlegde in rigidly conceptualistic terms and confuse the unchangeable character of truth with a representational view of human concepts, the above view makes unacceptable concession to relativism. In fact, what Schillebeeckx seeks to do is to stress the way in which human – and therefore limited – knowledge can be directed towards the absolute trutth – in other words he emphasizes the sense in which our knowlegde is not relative, in spite of its constituional limitations. The perspectivism he defends must not be equated to relativism.

    * Schillebeeckx, Edward, Concept of Truth and Theological Renewal, Sheed & Ward, Lodon, 1968, p.5-9;  22-29; The Language of Faith, Orbis Book, NY, Maryknoll, 1995, p. 58-63


    Schiller, F.C.S *

    (Danish born British philosopher, 1864-1937)

     True and false are the intellectual forms of good and bad

          According to Schiller’s brand of pragmatism, called ‘humanism’, the only truth one can speak about is the human truth, conditioned by psychological interests and coming into being by human effort and agency. Knowledge is a manipulation of experience, a shaping of a shapeless reality. Man’s beliefs and desires are essential features of the knowing process. They are the real forces to reckon with in the determination of the formless reality. The making of truth is the making of reality and man himself is the truth-maker in a process that is continuous, progressive and cumulative.

            In Schiller’s theory of human truth, purpose is the fundamental concept. Like ‘good’ and ‘bad’, the terms ‘true’ and ‘false’ are valuations and, like all valuations, have reference to purpose. A judgment is put forward as a truth-claim when it fulfils the purposes and satisfies the interests of its maker. In so far as an assertion satisfies the purpose of an enquiry to which it owes its being, it is so far ‘true’. True and false are the intellectual forms of good and bad. “Objective” truth is the result of social pressure for common purposes and ends. It is that which satisfies the interests and purposes of the community. “Subjective” truth is the result of satisfaction of individual purposes and ends.

            Since truth is relative to purpose, differences of purpose and disparities of interests determine fundamental differences over what is true and false for each individual and community. Thus Schiller affirms the individualistic and plural forms that truth and falsehood might assume. What is true for me may be false for you, if our purposes are different. The determination of truth and falsehood is as various as the purposes and interests that inspire diverse human interests and actions.                    

    * See Thayer H.S., From Meaning and Action, The Bobbs-Merril C_, New York, 1968, p.297-301; History of Philosophy, Vol.2, Ed. by Radhakrishnan, London, Allen & Unwin, 1953, p. 349-352



    (German theologian, 1768-1834)

     Truth in religion is the pious feeling of utter dependence on God

        The concept of man’s pious feeling of utter dependence on God, the intuition of his connection with God is the central tenet of Scleiermacher theology, a theology of feeling, the theology of ‘pious feeling’, of ‘pious self-awareness’. Faith in God rests on an a priori  specifically religious, not – as Kant would say – on an a priori purely moral. This a priori specifically religious is “the absolute feeling of utter dependence”. In other words this feeling defines the religious man, it is part of being-man as such. It points at the truth that the necessarily religious character of being-human rests on this a priori incontestable and real feeling of utter dependence on God.

            Intellectual truth has a position of secondary importance. The tenets of Christianity, for him, are simply only ‘conceptions of states of mind of Christian piety, represented in speech’. The tenets are only derivatives of the inner state. Theology is only the didactic human word – inferior to the poetic word – capable of transformation and relatively non-binding. Dogmatics is nothing more than ‘the representation of the opinion of the Church’. Intellectual truth which is always provisional remains the concern of philosophy. Truth in its ultimate, decisive, but also ineffable sense is reserved for mute feeling which in the best event “sings”, and only as a last resort, and then inadequately, speaks. Theological pronouncements are strictly theological to the extent that they are intended and meant to be received as pronouncements of religious feeling. In entering upon the field of what is objective and thus expressible they become potentially inadequate by having lost their sure footing, the centre which represents the peaceful, inexpressible truth.

            Schleiermacher’s emphasis on the subjective emotional side of religion does not imply in the least  that he was an advocate of ‘natural’ religion, a religion in itself. For him, religion, the original state of being pious, is real only in a definite, concrete and temporal way. There is no original divine revelation without the temporal exponent of historical revelation. Religion is real only as positive religion. The impulse proceeding from Christ imparts to Christianity the possibility of existence. It is the Christ of history that makes the Christian religion real. Revelation, which is  Christ for Schleiermacher, is the realizing element in  religion, the archetypal image, the original source, the objective pole of the Christian religion.  But this has nothing to do with true and false. Truth  in  religion – which Schleiermacher narrowly identifies with Christianity only - is none other than  the feeling of utter dependence.  

    * See Barth, Karl, Protestant Thought, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1969, chap.8 on Schleiermacher


    SCHLICK, Moritz *

    (German logical empiricist philosopher, Vienna circle,  1882-1936)

    The criterion of empirical truth

          Schlick belongs to the Vienna school of logical positivism, according to which there are only two sources of knowledge: logical reasoning and empirical experience.

            The originality of  Schlick is that alone among the logical positivists he held  ‘the doctrine of cognitive givenness’, a foundationalist version of the justification of basic beliefs. The central thesis of ‘the doctrine of the given’ is that basic empirical beliefs are justified, not by appeal to further beliefs but rather by appeal to states of “immediate experience” or “direct apprehension” or “intuition” :  states which allegedly can confer justification without themselves requiring justification. A basic belief is justified by appeal to an immediate experience of a fact or state of affairs that is given. The justificatory appeal is a  direct reference to the objective world, thus avoiding any reference to further beliefs.  Schlick endorses the foundationalist position for which the criterion of empirical truth involves agreement with facts of immediate observation. He  claims to have found  a “criterion of absolute unquestionable truth” in what he calls “exceptional basic statements”,  “observations statements” or “constatations”. These basic statements are formulated in demonstrative  terms: “here now pain”, “here red house”. Of course such statements are fleeting but  they are supposed to be certain and “absolutely valid” at the moment they occur. It is meaningless to ask whether we might be deceived regarding their truth as in the case of tautology. We are immediately confronted with the reality which it describes. The immediate experience provides both meaning and truth.

            So Schlick came to defend an empiricist and externalist foundationalism: there are objective facts, external to the knower, accessible to him and capable of justifying his  beliefs in a way that is sufficient for knowledge. But other logical positivists rejected his views as close to “empty metaphysics”. For them no position ‘external’ to language is achievable and direct reference to an external reality is a myth.

    * Schlick, Moritz, General Theory of Knowledge, Open Court, 1985


    SCHNEIDER Andrew *

    (Contemporary American psychologist)

    Truth and illusion in spiritual philosophy

        In spiritual philosophy we separate reality into truth and illusion, equating these terms with the real and the unreal. While these are valid distinctions in themselves, they cannot be applied to describe the manifest world. They are only valid as descriptions of our perceptions. Perceptions, however, can be either superficial or deeply insightful. Truth is a perception of depth in which we perceive more of what is there, while illusion is a superficial perception of reality.

        From this description it is quite obvious that a lot of what passes as truth in the public arena - clearly evident in political statements - and between people, is illusion.

        At the superficial level of reality we experience separateness and disconnection. At deeper levels we experience unity. It is through deepening our perceptions that we begin to experience the deeper levels of who we are and of what things are, and there we find connections. This is why people make meaningful connections with one another when they reveal their depths to each other.

        Truth is what is real at a deeper level than the form or appearance level of anything. This is why in Eastern philosophies the form world is called the world of illusion. The form is but the outer expression of truth. To put it philosophically, truth is therefore the essence of something or the existence of something, rather than the appearance of something. The essence and existence of anything or anyone are unique in the sense that they each contain both the universal dimension and the individual dimension. It is the universal dimension that links all life and all beings together. Truth is therefore always unifying in its effects. And when we speak the truth we are integrating our inner (soul) and outer (personality) selves.

        When we perceive or experience either the essence or the existence of something, we do so with both personality awareness and soul consciousness. The personality awareness enables us to see the individual nature, and the soul consciousness enables us to perceive and experience the universal nature.         Truth is not the same as facts. So in our pursuit of truth, we are not talking about 'telling the truth' as opposed to 'telling a lie.' We are talking about living truth versus living illusion. What we call 'telling the truth' and 'telling a lie' are both often different versions of illusion and ways of remaining in control of a situation. We adjust to the version that enables us to be in control, have the upper hand, get what we want, or be 'right.'

        Illusion is an incomplete perception of truth. When we do not perceive with soul consciousness we do not know the universal dimensions of what we are seeing or experiencing. We are then able to perceive or experience only the form or appearance of something. This partial perception, which is personality perception only, is described as illusion. It is seeing the part, the particular, the individual or the appearance, and relating to it as if it had no other dimensions to its existence. Illusion is rigid, fixed and somewhat static. It is limited and held in place by its form. Truth on the other hand is very flexible as it can express itself in endless ways and still be itself.

    *Schneider Andrew in an article was first published by Trans4mind in a past edition of Cultivate Life! Magazine



    (German philosopher, 1788-1860)

     The truth of man and the universe is not in consciousness but in Will

    "My philosophy, writes Schopenhauer, is the first which has come to place the essence of man, not in consciousness, but in the will”. Human nature is governed by will not reason. He finds the truth of things in a will which is indeed unaffected by conscious motives. He has discredited the doctrinaire belief that ideas have original force of their own.

          His original contribution to philosophy is the assertion that will is more fundamental than thought in both man and nature. For him the world, according to the language of reason, history and morality, is not the true world, for its sole essence, the very substance of the world, of life itself, is the Will that roars underneath. This Will is the ubiquitous instinct of the universe, consisting of forces, impulses and dark urges that are all dynamic yet purposeless, thus dispatching modes of explanation such as reason or logic to secondary status.

           The keynote of his philosophy is that the sole essential reality in the universe is the will, and that all visible and tangible phenomena are merely subjective representations of that 'will which is the only thing-in-itself' that actually exists.

            For him the "real" was not, as for Hegel, the rational but the irrational. The Will is "an unconscious, blind and irresistible impulse".  The common-sense belief in free will is an illusion. Human beings may kid themselves into thinking they are acting on the basis of reason alone but this is never in fact the case. The intellect merely assists the will to achieve its ends. He argued that to be a thinker is as illusory as being a sick man or a misfortunate man, and that he was profoundly something else and that  something else is WILL:  the dark root of reality.

           There is a source of knowledge within us by which we know, and more intimate than we can ever know anything external, that we will and feel. That is the first and the highest knowledge, the only knowledge that can strictly be called immediate; and to ourselves we as the subject of will are truly the "immediate object." It is in this sense of will - of will without motives, but not without consciousness of some sort - that reality is revealed.

           It is amidst the event of intense pleasure and pain that Schopenhauer discovers the Will. The event of pleasure and pain awakens the Will—it is discovered as the inner truth of externalised perception, representation. It is through the conduit of intense pleasure and pain that the true inside is disclosed—it is immediate as Will, not subject to the mediation of representation.

    *Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Peter Smith Publisher hardcover set 1969


    SCHULTZE Gottlob Ernst *

    (German philosopher, 1761-1833)


    The law of cause and effect is true only if applies to the phenomena within the mind


    Kant felt that a mental idea or representation must be of something external to the mind. He gave the name of ding an Sich, or thing-in-itself to that which is represented. However, for Gottlob Ernst Schulze, the law of cause and effect only applies to the phenomena within the mind, not between those phenomena and any things-in-themselves outside of the mind. That is, a thing-in-itself cannot be the cause of an idea or image of a thing in the mind. In this way, he wanted to discredit Kant's philosophy by using Kant's own reasoning to disprove the existence of a thing-in-itself.

    Schultze claims that philosophy cannot establish the existence or non-existence of the thing-in-itself. No skeptic can doubt the reality and certainty of mental representations and mental events that are immediately given through consciousness. What skepticism doubts is the possibility of knowledge about the existence or non-existence of the thing-in-itself. Kant was wrong to presuppose that the thing-in-itself exists and causally interacts with observing subjects. He claimed that the reality of objects can be known from the representations in the mind of the observing subject. This is inferring objective reality from subjective thought. Such an inference is the fallacy of drawing existential conclusions from logical premises.

    Hence Kant's critical philosophy is self-contradictory. He said that things-in-themselves cause sensations in an observer's mind. Kant applied causality to noumena. But, in his critique, he had claimed that causality is a category of the understanding that can only be applied to phenomena.

    Moreover Kant posited real existence to the postulates of God, Free Will, and Immortal Souls. But this is more than is necessary for moral theology, which only requires belief in them as Ideas of Reason.

    If we were to take critical philosophy seriously, claims Schultze, we would commit ourselves to resolving experiences into two parts — a system of universal subjective forms on one side, and a mass of amorphous, meaningless objective matter on the other. We can never ask, "Does anything actually exist which is the ground and cause of our representations?". We can only ask, "How must the understanding join these representations together, in keeping with the pre-determined functions of its activity, in order to gather them as one experience.”


    * See Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Schulze,  Vol. 7, New York: Macmillan, 1972


    SCHUON Frithjof *

    (Swiss  philosopher of religion, poet and artist, 1907-1998)

    All religions are equal guardians of "primeval truth".

    The unity of Truth is a transcendent unity.

         According to Schuon the unity of Truth must  be a "Transcendent Unity".  The fact that it is transcendent, means that it can be univocally described by none.  Thus, while there is one and only one Truth, there are many expressions of it. He applies this principle to the consideration of the religious phenomenon. All religions are equal guardians of "primeval truth," all of them pointing to the one Absolute beyond their competing absolute claims. This is the so-called "perennialism" of Frithjof Schuon and several other thinkers, also called the   "Philosophia Perennis". According to the perennialist, each historical religion seems to be exclusive and irreducible in its unique content, but in fact, all  religions are so many diverse mediators or symbolic languages straddling the abyss between man and the Absolute, and may thus be "ranked," as it were, according to the more or less perfect metaphysical insight they contain in a veiled form.

            Frithjof Schuon persuasively argues for what he terms the "transcendent unity of religions" which he claims is the foundation of and lies at the very heart of every religious tradition. He holds that the religions of the world originate from the same ultimate source. "The Divine Will," he writes, "has distributed the one Truth under different forms or, to express it in another way, between different humanities or cultures".

            He claims that the unity and essential meanings that form the commonality of religions cannot be found on the surface or exoteric levels but begin at the esoteric and become only evident at the transcendent levels. According to him, the unity of the different religions is not only unrealizable on the external level, that of the forms themselves, but ought not to be realized at that level even were this possible, for in that case the revealed forms would be deprived of their sufficient reason. The very fact that they are revealed, he claims, "shows that they are willed by the Divine Word." The unity of the religious forms must be realized in a purely inward and spiritual way and without prejudice to any particular form. According to him the antagonisms between these forms does not affect the one universal Truth.

            The distinction between the exoteric or outer and the esoteric or inner dimensions of religion is essential to understand the diversity and unity of all  religions. Outwardly the doctrines of the world's religions are clearly different, even contradictory, as can be seen in their theologies. The Hindu tradition, for example, includes many Gods, Judaism insists there is only one God,  Buddhism declares the question of God to be irrelevant,  Christianity believes that God is a Trinity, etc. The exoteric believers are religious people for whom the externals of religion count most - beliefs, rituals, practices. To be religious, for exoteric believers, is primarily a matter of professing creeds, or performing rituals, or observing laws. These creeds are taken literally and the rituals or laws are taken absolutely: you have to do it exactly this way. Moreover, exoteric believers tend to view their own religion as the only, or at least the best, way of being religious and following God's will.

    * Schuon, Frithjuof, The Transcendent Unity of Religions, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1993


    SCHWARTZ Ron *

    (Contemporary American Christian minister)


    Truth is not a system of beliefs or a doctrine. Truth is Jesus Christ.


    When we separate according to our systems of belief (doctrine), we are acting on the false belief that we are right and all others are wrong. We make the assumption that we have all of “the truth.” In this respect, truth is relegated to the position of being nothing more than intellectual knowledge. This is where many Christian leaders go astray. Truth is not knowledge. In fact, truth is not your system of beliefs or your doctrine. Truth is alive because the truth is Christ (“I am the way, the truth…”). Your doctrine is, at best, dogma.

    Test yourself to see if you are walking and growing in truth: have you or do you separate yourself from others who do not believe as you do? If your answer is yes, then you do not know what the truth is. Man’s truth separates, whereas Christ’s truth brings unity.

    Truth does not divide God’s people. It draws us to God and therefore draws us together around Him. Many Christian leaders miss this and rally around certain scriptures (what they perceive as truth) rather than the One who wrote them. This is from whence division comes. Without Christ at the center, we have only our dogma. But when we lift up Christ, our doctrine falls into the background, and that which divides us fades away.

    Unity is not when we all believe the same thing. Unity occurs when we all love the same God. Unity transcends our systems of beliefs (systems based on our partial understanding) because unity is spiritual. Unity is therefore the creation of God in the hearts of those who love Him. Only those who love Him can love one another and know unity (truth). As a result, those who refuse to love and embrace unity can never know truth.

    God does not divide us; our false perceptions of knowledge do. Paul wrote, “…We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth (1Corithians 8:1).” Our doctrines have accomplished very little aside from keeping God’s people separated and in battle with one another. This is because our doctrines do not represent complete knowledge (and therefore the whole truth).

    Concerning truth, Jesus said this, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).” Since no doctrine has the power to change lives or to free people from sin, truth is not doctrine. Truth is alive. Truth is full of power. So if you claim to know the truth, you must be talking about Jesus, not doctrine. Truth and doctrine are not the same thing. Doctrine is knowledge, and knowledge, at best, “puffeth up (1 Corithians 8:1).” Knowledge is the source of pride, which in turn is the source of division. Truth is the sweetness of God’s Spirit in the hearts of those who love God. Real truth frees us from the fear of those who are different. Truth frees us from the pride of wanting people rallying around us and our doctrines. Truth makes us free. It does not create bondage.


    See Internet Schwartz ron




    SCHWEITZER Albert *

    (French doctor, philosopher and theologian, 1873-1965)

    Living truth is only that which has its origin in individual thought

        It is only when we gain confidence that we can find the truth through our own individual thought that we will be able to arrive at living truth. Independent thought, provided it is profound, never degenerates into subjectivity. What is true in our tradition will be brought to light through deep thought, and it can become the force of reason in us. The will to sincerity must be as strong as the will to truth. Only an age that has the courage of conviction can possess truth that works as a force of spirit and of reason. Truth based on a skepticism that has become belief has not the spiritual qualities of truth that originated in thought.  It exerts an influence over man, but it cannot reach his inner being. Living truth is only that which has its origin in thought.    The fundamental truths of Christianity must be confirmed by thought and personal reflection. What one believes must not be proved, but credible and appeal to intelligence and understanding. 
The enemy of Christianity is not atheism or critical rationalism but the refusal of a thought that Christianity needs. Schweitzer wrote: “It is in believing in thought that I am able to remain faithful to Christianity”. One has access to the Gospel through the working of thought. 

           Truth is always more precious than error. This applies also to historical truth. Whereas it may look strange to piety and can raise difficulties, the final result is never disappointing. It can only strengthen piety. Religion has nothing to fear from a confrontation to historical truth. Christian truth today would have more power in today’s world if its relation to historical truth had in all points of view been what it should be. Each time historical truth came to embarrass Christianity, it has interpreted it in its own way or consciously falsified, even  denied it. Today the situation of Christianity is such that we have to struggle to adopt an attitude of free thinking in regard to historical truth, so neglected in the past. The truth is not Jesus as historically known but Jesus as spiritually arisen within men, not the "historical Jesus" but the Spirit that goes forth from him. A new Renaissance must come, and a much greater one than that in which we stepped out of the Middle Ages; a great Renaissance in which mankind discovers that the ethical is the highest truth and the highest practicality.

           Since we only accept knowledge that is based on truth attained through logical reasoning, the convictions on which mysticism is founded cannot become our own. Moreover, they are not satisfying in themselves. Of all the mysticism of the past it must be said that its ethical content is slight. It puts men on the road of inwardness, but not on that of a viable ethic. The truth of philosophy is not proved until it has led us to experience the relationship between our being and that of the universe, an experience that makes us genuine human beings, guided by an active ethic.

    * Schweitzer, Albert Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography. 1933, George Allen & Unwin



    (Contemporary Swiss scientist)


    It is desirable to find ultimate Truth but impossible to ever reaching it


    I believe that there is only one reality (Truth) out there that existed long before humans came along. Being human however, we cannot ever perceive this true reality unbiased. Through our limited senses, we do not see the world as it is, but perceive only a filtered and interpreted representation of it. Depending on our existing mental framework, we interpret what we see differently. This perception varies from person to person to some degree. We do not passively perceive the world, but rather actively construct our view of the world. I agree with Kant that all humans have certain inherited mental processing capabilities. However, the interpretations of those perceptions are dependent on our concepts, which are culturally acquired. We cannot step outside of those cultural bonds.

    While I consider it desirable to find ultimate Truth that could give us the comfort of certainty, philosophy showed that our current epistemological approaches couldn’t lead us there. Science aims to find culture-neutral truth, but it can only lead to pragmatic approximations. Science made the development of modern technology possible, but it cannot discover or construct Truth. Constructs of truth are always influenced by culture. This can lead to the view that there are many truths and that no judgment can ever be made (no certainty; anything goes) over another viewpoint (hard relativism). However, while I agree that we cannot know which idea is absolutely right or ultimately best, we can at least say which ideas are wrong (soft relativism). Based on Popper’s falsification concept, evidence shows which ideas did not work in the past. This pragmatist view represent a middle ground between only one Truth (ONE Truth) and everything goes (MANY truths). Evidence-based judgment of false ideas is justified and necessary while still allowing for alternative ideas (SOME truths).

    Living in a world dominated by science means living in a world without the comfort of (albeit illusionary) certainty of pre-scientific times. Science took our false trust in the certainty of knowledge away. However, science does not provide us with ultimate Truth either, it can only show us in a piecemeal fashion what is not true.

     I find it disappointing that there seems to be no way to ever reach Truth. Living in a science world comes with the price tag of living in a world without the comfort of certainty of what is true.  Our next best approach is to pragmatically construct relative truths that aim to approximate Truth, without ever reaching it. 


    * See Internet SCHWENDIMAN Beat





    SCOTT David W. *

    (American unidentified contemporary internaut)                                                                                                           A Relational view of Truth, rather than an objectivist and relativist  view


    The relational model of truth is contrasted with an “objectivist” and a “relativist” view of truth: it is a good example of how modernity, postmodernity, and what-comes-next view truth are contrated with each other.

    In the objectivist (or, I might say, modernist) view of truth, there are objects out there that can be fully known as they actually are by experts.  Here, truth is a proposition.  In the process of discovering truth, experts study the objects, a process in which the experts do various things, but the objects are inert.  These objects really exist, and it is possible for the understanding the experts have in their heads of these objects to match up perfectly with those objects as they actually are.  These experts can then relay their knowledge of the truth about these objects to others.

    In the relativist (or, I might say, post-modern) view of truth, truth doesn’t depend upon objects that are really out there.  Instead, truth relies solely upon what goes on inside the head or heads of the person or groups who knows something.  Here, truth is an experience or a belief.  Truth isn’t discovered, it’s constructed.  A person might study things or might talk about others about something, but what’s important is not what a thing is actually like or what other people say it’s like, but what each individual thinks a thing is like.  Because truth is inherently subjective, one can never really convey one’s understanding of truth to another.

    In the relational model of truth, or knowing in community, the individual knower, the community, and the thing known all contribute to the formation of a set of relationships that defines truth.  This model does not say that truth is whatever a community defines it to be.  That’s just a less individualistic version of the relativist model.  Instead, truth is not an individual or group belief; it’s a relationship between the individual, the community, and the thing known.  The thing that’s known is an important and active part of the process that shapes and guides the path to truth.  Yet, there’s no assumption that we can know all there is to know about the thing “as it is” in a way which can be boiled down to a set of propositions.

    This relational view of truth represents the emerging view among what-comes-next.  It rejects the relativism of postmodernity without going back to the absolutism of modernity.  It acknowledges the reality of the things known while still recognizing the limitations of our knowledge and the ways in which personal and communal factors influence our understandings. Because of its focus on community and relationships, it also fits well with a dynamic understanding of truth.


    See Internet David W. Scott



    SCOTT Koffman *

    (Unidentified iternaut)


    Truth is indisputable :  belief causes arguments; truth ends them.


     All of us spend our lives accumulating facts, having experiences, hearing other people’s opinions, analyzing our own perceptions, and we weave the sum total of it all into what we call “belief.”  Our beliefs are what define us as human beings, and we cling to them for dear life.

    But not everybody believes the same thing, obviously.  Some would argue that because there are so many different societal belief systems and so many more individual belief patterns in the world, how could we possibly think that there is any such thing as absolute truth?

    Well, simply put, belief is not truth. Belief is individual; truth is universal.  Belief dies with the person or culture that holds onto it; truth is eternal. And here’s the biggie: belief causes arguments; truth ends them.

    One problem with belief is that it is colored by our perception, the narrow tunnel through which we view the world.  As such, it seems we are always ready to question others’ beliefs, but rarely do we question our own. WHY do we believe what we believe?  How many of us can truly answer that?  How many of us have ever even thought about it? If someone says or does something that is contrary to our beliefs, the adrenalin kicks in, and we are ready to go to the dirt for what we believe in.

    But truth is another matter entirely.  Truth is what’s left over at the end of the argument. We know that we have transcended mere belief and found the truth when there is nothing left to argue about.  Whatever started the argument, truth is what ends it.


    *See Interet Scott Koffman, truth mission



    (Scottish medieval theologian and philosopher, 1266-1308)

    Several theological truths cannot be established by natural reason

        The relation of philosophy and theology, for Scotus, was based on the nature of their respective sources: reason and revelation. Scotus's formulation of this problem followed the pattern established by St. Thomas Aquinas. He shared with St. Thomas Aquinas the belief that truth was one and that theology and philosophy do not contradict each other but represent two different approaches to the same truth.     However, according to Scotus, many metaphysical and theological truths which are for St. Thomas demonstrable by reason are not so for him . Reason needs the assistance of faith in many of the conclusions which for St. Thomas are simply rational truths. Concerning the immortality of the soul, for instance,  the argument of St. Thomas and of the entire Scholastic tradition was that the immaterial nature and hence the spirituality and immortality of the soul are deduced from the fact that the object of the intellect is the immaterial essences of things. For Scotus – who gives priority to the will over the intellect - this argument has the value only of possibility, of non-repugnance. Since the will of God is not bound to any contingent thing, and is free to do anything that does not imply contradiction, Scotus concludes that the alternative is also possible; namely, that the soul can perish with the body. Hence Scotus affirms that it is faith only that gives us the assurance that the immortality of the soul has real foundation.

             Thus Scotus increased the list of revealed truths a Christian should believe but cannot prove. As the "credibles" increased and the demonstrables decreased, the marriage of faith and reason in the thirteenth century (Aquinas), was weakened in the fourteenth century (Scotus and Ockham).

    * See Vos., A. The Philosophy of John Duns Scotus. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006.


    SEARLE, John *

    (American philosopher of language and mind, b.1932)

    Truth is the accuracy of representation  of  independently existing reality

      1. Searle upholds what he calls “external” or “metaphysical realism”, the view that there is a world ‘out there’ that is totally independent of our mental and linguistic representations of the world in the form of beliefs, experiences and theories. External realism does not deny that there are large areas of reality that are social constructs, created by human behaviour (money, property, marriage…) but it maintains that there are also large sections of the world described by our representations that are completely independent of these representations.

            For Searle realism is not a hypothesis, belief or philosophical thesis. It is the precondition of having hypotheses, the condition of possibility of there being public discourse at all. A public language presupposes a public world. Therefore we must say that there is nothing epistemic about external realism which is precisely the claim that reality is radically non-epistemic. This means that Searle’s argument for realism is completely independent of questions of knowledge or even truth. He does not say “that in order to know the truth of our claims we have to presuppose realism”. The claim is about conditions of intelligibility, not about conditions of knowledge and truth.

            Moreover metaphysical or external realism is perfectly consistent with conceptual relativism. Indeed our conception of reality is relative to our constitution. It is a trivial to say that we only form concepts that we are able to form. Thus Searle defends both  that reality exists independently of our representations of it and  that all representations of reality are made relative to some arbitrary selected sets of concepts. External realism is for Searle “the thesis that there is a way that things are that is independent of all representations of how things are” and that our ordinary linguistic practices presuppose external realism.

            One should not infer from this that external realism is identical with the correspondence theory of truth. Realism is not  a theory of truth and does imply any theory of truth. In fact realism is consistent with any theory of truth because it is a theory of ontology and not of the meaning of “true”.

            2. But then what  is “truth” for Searle?  

            The function of language is twofold: either to communicate meanings from speakers to hearers or to enable these meanings to refer to object and state of affairs in the world that exist independently of language. Language is both communicative and referential. Searle rejects Wittgenstein’s view that language is only communicative and not referential. Through language people always refer to a reality beyond  language. One cannot get away from the idea that representation is somehow the essence of language.

            Searle offers a minimal version of the correspondence theory of truth. He explains that we need words for assessing success and failure  in our endeavour to  a satisfactory representation of  the world by our words. Truth is a sort of satisfaction of representations of how things are in the world. Thus Searle’s basic conception of truth is that it is a matter of accurate representation of an independently existing reality. Moreover assertive speech acts commit the speaker to the truth of the proposition. The commitment to truth is internal to statement making. A statement is simply a commitment to the truth expressed in the proposition. There is no gap at all between making a statement and committing oneself to its truth. To make a statement is eo ipso a commitment to truth. In some cases one can perform a speech act without its normal commitment. That is what happens in works of fiction.  We all understand them as derivative forms of the fundamental ones of assertive speech acts. In every genuine assertion, the assuming of responsibility must be present in making an assertion. We take responsibility for truth, sincerity, and evidence. Like the speech-act of promising is a commitment to future action, the speech act of assertion  is a commitment to truth.  

    * See  Bryan Magee, The Great Philosophers, Oxford University Press, 1987,  Dialogue with Searle on Wittgenstein     


    SECUNDO Juan Luis *

    ( Uruguayan ‘liberation’ theologian, 1925-1996)


    The only truth is the truth that is efficacious for liberation                                         Orthodoxy possesses no ultimate criterion in itself because being orthodox does not mean possessing the final truth. We only arrive at the latter by orthopraxis. It is the latter that is the ultimate criterion of the former, both in theology and in biblical interpretation. The truth is truth only when it serves as the basis for truly human attitudes.

    According to Segundo, truth is ultimately to be found in praxis, in the actual human work done in the name of liberation. On the other hand, theological beliefs become subservient because they are not in themselves efficacious or immediately actualized.

    How is truth, beyond the interests of one social group, known? Juan  Luis Segundo  describes the process as an expanding hermeneutical circle. Experience of reality from the perspective of the poor leads to ideological suspicion toward received structures of authority, morals, and dogma. This leads to a new awareness of God, which in turn creates a new hermeneutic for interpreting the biblical story. One does not escape ideology through this circle. But biblical revelation at one pole and the human condition of the poor at the other direct and correct it toward political and spiritual liberation.

    This method of hermeneutical circle demands a “continuous change in our interpretation of the Bible which is dictated by the continuing change in our present-day reality, both individual and societal.” Consequently, to have a proper hermeneutic, there must be a commitment to the oppressed. This results in a hermeneutic of suspicion and hope. The hermeneutic of suspicion “seeks to uproot from our selective viewing of Scripture … those ideals that support the oppressive status quo and resist change.” The hermeneutic of hope is to allow Scripture to rephrase our conception of reality, which results in “a bias toward the poor, the doing of justice, the battle against racism, etc.”. The goal is to build a different society, free and more human. This is a high and worthy goal, but critics of Secundo warn that the Christian should “see certain dangers in a theology that starts from the sinful human situation rather than the Word of God.”


    *Segundo, Juan Luis. The Liberation of Theology. New York: Orbis Books, 1976






    SEEBECK Ruth *

    (Contemporary American psychologist)


    The difference between truth and reality in human life


    On a natural level, truth is easy to see. An addict says, "l want drugs. They make me feel better." So, he takes drugs, even though Truth says they will destroy his life. He chooses to ignore TRUTH because he wants a different outcome, a different reality. But, his life and health will ultimately be sacrificed because he chose to ignore Truth.

    Truth is a Law, a Divine edict, and it works the same way every time. Like gravity, Truth cannot be avoided, it can only be temporarily defied or suspended.

    The problem with choosing a different reality for yourself is that you will reap the consequences of your choices. Your reality, however, will not change the eternal power and authority of Truth.

    It is essential to discover the difference between reality and Truth. Reality is whatever you are experiencing right now in your life. The thing is, reality can change. Your situation today may be totally different tomorrow... or the next day. Rich or broke, healthy or ill, happy or sad, all the physical and emotional circumstances of your life are as changeable as the tides.

    Truth, on the other hand, is eternal, unchangeable, and totally trustworthy. Gravity never stops working. Seasons change. The sun rises and sets daily. You don't have to think about any of those things, they just are. BUT, if you learn about them, study them and put their eternal power to work in your life, you can change your circumstances, your reality.

    All of the eternal Truths that science eventually discovers have existed for eternity. They originated in and are sustained by Infinite Mind, Eternal Spirit, God.

    You can draw on the power of Truth to change your reality. That may not be easy. Life-change is never easy. But it is possible. You can change your reality with Truth... one thought at a time.


    * See Internet Seebeck Ruth



    SEIFERT Joseph *

    (Contemporary American philosopher)

    The truth implied in sceptical doubt

    Seifert turns to insights developed mostly by Augustine to refute any form of  skepticism and show how the evidence of objective truth discloses itself even to the  mind who doubts. His thesis is that the human mind, even when it finds threatened by the most skeptical doubt, can reach a certainty  immune to any possible skeptical objection because  it reaches that which is both evident in itself and which is presupposed by any skeptical doubt.

          First there is the indubitable knowledge of the immediate experience of myself as knowing existing subject. Even if I doubt of everything, I still discover with absolute certainty that I am a conscious being as subject. Through the ‘subjective’ knowledge that I exist, I touch in my own being one objective and real existence, one that is far more important and real than the whole material universe.  

          In this indubitable knowledge of myself as subject, I grasp also that I doubt, that I do not know many things etc. In the truth that I am, I grasp the truth that I think, doubt, lack certainty. As Augustine wrote: “Every one who knows that he is in doubt about something knows a truth. Every one who doubts if there be a truth, has in himself a true thing of which he does not doubt. Consequently whoever for whatever reason can doubt, ought not to doubt that there is truth.” When we doubt we understand that we doubt. Doubt presupposes not only the intentional object of doubt but also the self-awareness which permits the understanding that one doubts.

            From the indubitable factual truth about my own existence follow infinitely many other factual truths about my knowledge. For instance if I say “I do not want to err”, it will be true that whether I err or do not err, yet I do not want to err. Or if I say “ I know that I live” I can also say this other truth that “ I know that I know that I live” etc.                                                                               Moreover the cognition of universal necessary truths is contained in the attitude of doubt. In order to be meaningful at all, doubt presupposes the absolute validity of the principle of contradiction. I grasp that either there is truth or there is no truth, but both cannot occur. If A and not-A could be  possible together, then doubt would make no more sense. The most radical skeptic sees that a thing cannot be and not be in the same sense at the same time.  

          Another essentially necessary fact which is presupposed for any act of doubt is the will to be certain and to avoid error. Any genuine doubt presupposes the desire for knowledge. This implies again a whole world of related facts. In seeking to know, the one who doubts also understands what knowledge is. Thus the nature of truth is  discovered in doubt, as a unique sort of conformity between judgements and the state of affair posited in them. With truth which I wish to attain, I also know the essence of error which I wish to avoid.

          Thus knowledge, conviction, judgement, truth, error, certainty – all these are given in the act of doubt. I also perceive that some axiological knowledge is gained in doubt. The value of knowledge and truth when compared to falsity and error, the superior value of knowledge when compared to doubt, etc. are known in doubt. Knowledge and the desire of truth are goods for the person who possesses them. If he seriously  doubts, he understands that his doubt differs from a cynical rejection of truth.

             Finally everyone who doubts judges that he ought not to assent rashly. He knows he ought to abstain from judging if he possesses insufficient knowledge to warrant the judging assent. He is aware that doubt for him is preferable to blind assent.

    * Seifert, Joseph, From Relatiivism and Skepticism to Truth and Certainty, Truth Journal article, 2002


    SELLARS Wilfrid *

    (American philosopher, 1912-1989)


    The myth of the empirical  truth  

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sellars is opposed to the idea that there is a priviliged stratum of fact, facts that are taken as 'given', on which our empirical knowledge of the world is founded, and to which all meaning and truth can be reduced. He develops his ideas in a book entitled The Myth of the Given. Such 'givens', whether they are thought of as sense data or material objects, first principles, universals or propositions, are often supposed to act as the 'unmoved movers' of empirical knowledge. He holds the radical view that  all attempts to reduce knowledge to a privileged stratum of natural fact are doomed to fail.   The backbone of his argument is his claim that knowledge is radically linguistic, while the alleged 'givens' are supposed to be not. According to him, knowledge is not a matter of being in a certain empirical state, such as being affected by an object in certain ways, or being in a certain brain state. Rather, it is being in a logical state, a matter of relating to one's linguistic peers, of logically justifying one's assertions in the face of the language community.    For instance, if we believe that apples are red, this fact cannot be analyzed into intrinsic facts about apples, nor into sensory impressions, behavioral dispositions, or intrinsic features of the brain. Our beliefs count as knowledge just because our linguistic peers are typically prepared to accept our claim that apples are red. Knowledge is located in the 'logical space' of language; any attempt to analyze it as a natural process falls prey to what Sellars calls 'the naturalistic fallacy'.   For Sellars as well as for all those who have accepted the 'linguistic turn' in philosophy, knowledge is not a transaction between 'the knowing subject' and 'reality' for the discovery of the truth. It is not something real, but something located in the self-contained sphere of discourse. All efforts to break out of discourse to some sort of 'given' beyond discourse are fruitless.   The linguistic turn adopted by Sellars - and others - suggests that knowledge as such is not real. Knowledge becomes a thing alien and sublime, something not-of-this-world, as opposed to the world grasped by it. The world can no longer be claimed to determine either the meaning, truth or validity of our empirical statements.  The self is thereby exiled from the world known by it.      This is a serious problem for any aspiring cognitive science. The professed aim of cognitive science is to study knowledge as an empirical phenomenon. If Sellars' criticism of the Myth of the Given is correct, no empirical account of knowledge can succeed, because knowledge is not an empirical reality.


    * Sellars Wilfred,  Empiricism and the philosophy of mind, Harvard University Press, 1997





    SEWELL Marylin *

    (Contemporary American Unitarian Universalist minister}


    Truth, according to the Unitarian Universalists: use your reason , experience and conscience to decide upon your theology


    We, the Unitarian universalists, are a free religious faith, and so have no creed. And as freedom is wont to do, our faith invites a certain degree of wackiness and abuse. But if that's the price of freedom, then we still choose freedom.

    Our faith, of course, does have requirements. To become a Unitarian Universalist, you make no doctrinal promises, but you are required to do much more. You are required to choose your own beliefs -- you promise, that is, to use your reason and your experience and the dictates of your conscience to decide upon your own theology, and then you are asked to actually live by that theology. You are asked to take your chosen faith very seriously.

    In a very real sense, all theology is autobiography. Our experience, real and vicarious, is what informs our sense of reality, our internal picture of the way the world works, what our values are. We believe  that what we know is true -- that is, our felt knowledge--not what we are told is true. In the final analysis, how can a person who wishes to live with integrity do other than this?

    We must begin with the assertion that Unitarian Universalism has always emphasized freedom as a core value. It follows that human beings have a choice. We are not predestined by God before our births, to be saved or unsaved. We are not mired in original sin by the very fact of our birth and therefore have to go through a ceremony called baptism, even as babies, to cleanse ourselves of that sin. We do not have to have someone sacrifice himself by dying on a cross to save us from hell. Yes, human beings have a propensity to do evil, but we also have the propensity to do great good. We have a choice. Unitarian Universalists prefer to think of ourselves as being born into "original blessing," as theologian Matthew Fox likes to put it.

    The term "Unitarian" indicates our belief that God is One. As Church doctrine began to be codified in the fourth century, the concept of the trinity was found to be confusing for our Catholic forebears, and they disagreed with their colleagues in the church hierarchy. But then  the Nicene Creed was adopted, and the doctrine of the trinity was established. Note that the trinity is not a Biblical concept.

    The concept that God is One goes beyond the controversy over the trinity, however. If God is One, then the God of the Jews and the God of the Muslims and the God of the Christians is One. God is One.  As Unitarian Universalists, we respect other religious traditions -- we don't think we have the market on the truth. Truth is where you find it. There is no single scripture that holds all the truth.

    And there's another theological perspective that Unitarian Universalists have concerning truth: we believe in evolution -- not only evolution of life forms, but evolution of thought and evolution of moral and ethical understanding. So the truth that I embrace today may not be the truth I embrace tomorrow. Revelation is not static, but is ever unfolding. More and more will be revealed. Our part is simply to be open, and thirsty, thirsty for the truth that would be ours -- but just for the time being. Such a stance keeps us humble -- and awake.


    See Internet Marylin Sewell




    (Greek philosopher, 3d century A.D.)

    Peace of mind: found in the suspension of judgement about true and false

            People who think are usually led on to enquire what is true in things and what is false, hoping by the settlement of this question to attain quietude and peace of mind. The main basic principle of Sextus Empiricus’s sceptical system is that peace of mind can be obtained only in ceasing to dogmatize about the true and the false. It is impossible to decide the controversy about what is true and what is false. For every proposition has a co-equal opposing proposition and thus every proposition is susceptible to doubt.

            Moreover the man who says that something true exists will not be believed without proof. If he wishes to offer proof, he has to show that his proof is true. He will be involved in circular reasoning; he will be required to show proof of the real truth of his proof, and so on ad infinitum. The criterion of truth is therefore unattainable. It is not possible to make positive assertions about what seems evident no more than about what is not evident.

            Sextus Empiricus says that there are three approaches to the study of knowledge and truth. The “Dogmatists” assert that truth is discoverable and that they have found it, for instance Aristotle and the Stoics. The “Academics” assert that truth is not discoverable, for instance Carneades. The “Sceptics” suspend judgement and continue to search for conditions under which truth can be discovered.  

            The scepticism of Sextus Empiricus attempts to avoid error by suspending judgement about questions which cannot be resolved with certainty. However suspension of judgement for him is not posited in any absolute sense as a formula for truth. Scepticism is more a method of avoiding error than of affirming a form of truth. The sceptic avoids believing or disbelieving anything because modes of belief and unbelief are seen as creating conflict and as not leading peace of mind about what constitutes truth or falsehood.

            The sceptic, says Sextus, has no doubt concerning the appearances themselves but he has doubt regarding the account given of appearances, which is a different thing from questioning the appearances themselves. He does not argue about the appearances but about the judgement regarding the appearances. No one disputes that the underlying object has this or that appearance, the point in dispute is whether the object is in reality such as it appears to be. In adhering to appearances the wise person lives in accordance with the normal rules of life, undogmatically, seeing that he cannot remain inactive.  

            The sceptic’s end is “quietude” in respect of matters of opinion and “moderate feelings” in respect of things unavoidable. Sextus Empiricus does not suppose that the sceptic is wholly untroubled. He says that the sceptic is troubled by things unavoidable – getting old, feeling thirsty, etc. – like any one else. But unlike ordinary people he rejects the belief that these conditions are evil by nature, and thus he can bear them with less discomfort. In regard to matters of opinion the sceptic’s end is “quietude”, and in regard to things unavoidable it is “moderate affection”.

    *  Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book One, Cambridge, Massachusstes, 1933, translated by R.G. Bury






    (Indian philosopher and theologian, 788-820)

    Truth is eternal and changeless, still the world of time and change is neither true nor false

    S’ankara’s definition of Truth will help to grasp why for him  the world is not considered true.  He says that whatever thing remains eternal is true, and whatever is non-eternal is untrue. Since the world is created and destroyed, it is not true. What is Truth is necessarily unchanging. Since the world is changing, it is not true. Whatever is independent of space and time is true, and whatever has space and time in itself is untrue.

            However,  S’ankara claims that the world is not absolutely false. It appears false only when compared to Brahman. In the pragmatic state, the world is completely true—which occurs as long as we are under the influence of ‘Maya’ or delusion. As the world cannot be both true and false at the same time, S’ankara  classified the world as indescribable,  as neither true nor false: “Sad-asad-anirvacanya” .                                                                                                                                                                          The following points suggest that according to Adi Shankara, the world is not false. He believes in Karma, or good actions. This is a feature of this world. So the world cannot be false. The Supreme Reality Brahman is the basis of this world. The world is like its reflection. Hence the world cannot be totally false. False is something which is ascribed to nonexistent things, such as a round square. But the world is a something which is perceived by our senses and thus real in the pragmatic sense.     According to Sankara’s theory of error, the false appearance is a positive, presented entity that is characterized neither
 as existent (because it is sublated when the illusion is corrected) nor as non-existent (because it is presented, given as
much as the real is). S’ankara thus introduced a new category of the ‘false’ apart from the usual categories of the existent and 
the nonexistent. The world and finite individuals are ‘false’ only in this sense: their reality is 
not logically deducible from Brahman, and their experience is cancelled with the knowledge of Brahman. The world and
 the finite selves are not creations or emanations of Brahman. They are appearances that are superimposed on Brahman because of
 man’s ignorance.

          Even S’ankara’s concept of Maya is neither true nor untrue. Since Brahman is the only truth, Maya cannot be true. Since Maya causes the material world to be seen, it cannot be untrue. Hence, Maya is also  characterised as indescribable.

         Sankara tries to reconcile his understanding of the objective world of individuated things perceived by individual beings with the final reality of non-dualistic Vedânta by virtue of a two-level theory of truth. For the unenlightened the plural world seems to be the ultimate reality. But those who practice jnana yoga and attain a “cognition of the infinite” transcend this lower level to attain to pure consciousness (moksha).

    *See Mercier J.L. From the Upanishads to Aurobindo, Asian Trading Corporation, Bangalore, India, 2002


    SHAPIN, Steve *

    (Contemporary American sociologist)

    "Social" truth is a relevant concept  but it has nothing to do with reality

          Traditionally the distinction is made between truth by nature and truth by convention. Truth by convention differs from place to place, whereas the truth by nature is universal. The sociologist Shapin expresses his disagreement with this distinction. He declares all truths to be mere conventions and denies that any truth claim can ever be admitted to be a truth by nature. He claims that what counts as the truth is social and the social is not reducible to the individual. Science is social; therefore scientific truth is social; and so the truth is socially relative.

            Shapin adopts the point of view of what he calls a `liberal' notion of truth, a notion that equates truth and consensual belief. He calls the notion `liberal' because it allows that what is true will vary between times and between communities, since consensual belief so varies. He contrasts this relativism with what he calls the `restrictive' notion of truth, which distinguishes between truth and belief, and maintains that what is true does not vary over time or space. The restrictive notion is naturally associated with the realist correspondence theories of truth, which make what is true depend on the state of a mind-independent reality,

            Shapin does not argue against realism, but maintains that his relativism matters methodologically: realism, for him, creates a bias in favour of our own stock of knowledge, blocking curiosity about cultural variation. He is a social constructivist and a relativist, at least as a matter of method. He feels that relativism disposes us towards a charitable reading of alien belief. He  acknowledges that, as ordinary actors, we are all realists, but he advocates relativism as an important resource for the special project of interpreting cultural variations.

            Shapin draws the following conclusion: 'As we come to recognise the conventional and artificial status of our forms of knowing, we put ourselves in a position to realise that it is ourselves and not reality that is responsible for what we know.' For him, then, reality constrains knowledge in no way at all. The only limits are 'ourselves'. Science is the 'artificial' result of social rules and conventions. Shapin accepts the existence of an external reality but seems to regard it useless in shaping scientific knowledge. "Social truth" is a relevant concept but it has nothing to do with reality which might as well not exist.

            No wonder then that Shapin rejects all individualistic epistemologies to turn his attention to the 'epistemology of testimony'. Given the extent to which science depends upon testimony, the crucial question about truth for him becomes: which testimony should one accept?

    * Shapin, Steven, A Social History of Truth, University of Chicago Press, 1994


    SHAVER Dough *

    (Contemporary American author)


    No difference between truth and falsehood in matters of faith


    It is often sais that science does not have all the answers, but it is acknowledged to have some of them, then who has the rest of them? Faith is often commended as an alternative to science. It might be suggested that alternative answers are to be found in the Bible or another sacred book; or in the writings of ancient Eastern mystics; or in the insights of the world’s great poets, playwrights, or novelists; or in the wisdom of some philosopher, famous or obscure; or in a horoscope; or in the reflections of one or more theologians; or in something else; or in all the above or some subset thereof.

    To be sure, all those sources will provide answers. To be just as sure, though, they cannot all be true answers. We are inescapably obliged to discern, among the countless sources of nonscientific answers, which ones we should believe and which ones we should ignore. How are we to do that, assuming that our primary concern is to believe true answers and disbelieve falsehoods, and considering also that we don’t have time to investigate them all, no matter how keen our desire to be open to all possibilities?

     Suppose it be asserted by people of faith that prayer can promote a sick person’s recovery. Suppose then that many sick people are prayed for and they do not recover. Will that have any bearing on the truth of the assertion, according to its advocates? No, it will not. Advocates of faith will affirm the efficacy of prayer no matter what happens subsequent to any prayer or any number of prayers, under any circumstances, at any time, over any period of time.

    In effect, what this means is that there is actually no difference between truth and falsehood in matters of faith. The faith advocate says: Prayer changes things. Very well, but what if it did not? No believer can answer that question. In the epistemology of faith, it is not even relevant.

    So it is in general with answers offered outside of science. They tend to be incorrigible: Their advocates will acknowledge no way they could be proved wrong..

    When people start carrying on about science not having all the answers, they invariably are trying to defend something unfalsifiable. But it is futile to entertain in such ideas. Outside the confines of scientific thinking, the difference between true and false seems to evaporate.

    If we don’t know how something could be wrong, then it just does not mean anything for it to be true. That is why, although science does not have all the answers, it has the only useful answer.

    And so, we cannot perfectly sort truth from falsehood, and it is difficult even to do a fair job of it, but we may give ourselves credit for an honest desire to make the best effort we can. Though some people claim to believe whatever they want to believe without concerning themselves with truth or falsehood, I think most people have some preference for being right rather than wrong.


    * See Internet Doug Shaver




    SHESTOV, Lev *

    (Russian born existentialist philosopher, 1866-1938)  

    The knowledge of autonomous reason turns man away from truth

         Shestov, much like Kierkegaard, rebelled against all impersonalistic philosophies. He could not tolerate their allegedly “uncreated truths” or “necessities”. Over against them he set “the created truths” of the sovereign personal God of the Bible, the God to whom all things are possible. Absolute truth is rooted and grounded in the Person of God, the Creator. God can and must be placed above the truths. Shestov rejects the “dogma” of the sovereignty of reason and the autonomy of  truth. The tree of philosophical knowledge must not choke the tree of life. Scriptural faith is the locus  where truth abandons itself joyously at the disposition of the Creator: “Thy will be done!”  Only the Faith that looks at the Creator radiates from itself the supreme and decisive truths concerning what is and what is not.

            Shestov proposes a religious philosophy which would be “a turning away from knowledge and a surmounting by truth”.  Human wisdom is foolishness before God. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. A philosophy that does not dare to rise above autonomous knowledge does not lead man toward truth but for ever turns him away from it.

            God is limitless potentialities: he is not bound by any sort of necessary truths. He stands opposite the kingdom of necessity, the kingdom of reason. Nothing can limit him. Truth is subordinated to God. Shestov agrees with the voluntarism found in Duns Scotus. He posits the problem even more radically. If God exists, there lays disclosed all possibility, and the truths of reason cease to be incontrovertible.

            Truth like everything that exists has been created by God; it is always in his power. In that precisely  lies its high value and superiority in relation to the uncreated truths of the Greeks. The pious thinkers of the Middle Ages, in their defence of man against the arbitrariness of God, attempted to transform the truths received from God, into proven truths, self-evident truths (as the principles of the Greeks demanded of them). The temptation of philosophers has always been to depend on their own knowledge and to impersonal principles rather then on the sovereign Person of the Creator. According to Shestov  the ‘original sin’ consists in the fact that man has tasted of the fruits of the tree of knowledge. Evil came into the world with knowledge. But the truly Christian thinkers should abide by created truths rather then by the truths of reason. The basic categories of Greek thought must be rejected, as well as all the postulates of natural knowledge and  natural morality.

            Over and over again Shestov returns to the deadly results of man’s lust for knowledge which would submerge both God and man in its hostile impersonalism. In a world created by God, says Shestov, there are not and cannot be any first principles, that is, principles absolutely independent and sufficient by themselves. Abraham, the hero of faith, simply believed, needing no ‘proof” of reason. Abraham’s God must replace the God of philosophers and theologians.

    * Chestov, Lev, Kierkegaard et la Philosophie Existentielle, Vrin, Paris, 1936


    SHIELDS Keith *

    (Contemporary Canadian pastor)


    All truth, wherever it is found, is God’s truth


    There is an often quoted statement that says, "all truth is God's truth." Arthur Holmes wrote a book with this title in which he explained that there is no divide between sacred and secular knowledge. The quote is a paraphrase from one of Augustine of Hippo's writings. He said : “A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities. . .”

    Wherever truth is found, if it is indeed truth, it is known to God and is part of what we too can know if God allows us to know it. We can trust that truth is a good gift from his hand.

    When it comes to understanding God's revelation in the Bible and God's revelation in the created world, we must read the two together and allow each to help interpret the other. Science that reveals truth is God's truth as much as God's word in the Bible is truth.

    The science of our day, some of it being done by followers of Jesus, is revealing many things that we could not previously dream of knowing. Some of it is very challenging to our traditional interpretations of the Bible. Does this mean that the Bible is wrong? No, the Bible is still God's word and is true. Could it be that our interpretation of the Bible is wrong? Truth and truth will agree. In some places, we may need to reinterpret our understanding of the Bible, but the truth of the Bible will indeed fit with truth wherever it is found. The challenge will be for theologians to understand God's meaning in his word and find a way to understand the truth in light of truth found elsewhere.

    Truth, wherever it is found, is truth; it is not hidden from God. All truth is God's truth.


    * See Internet Keith Shields


    SHOOK John *

     (Contemporary American pragmatist atheist philosopher)  


    There are objective (not absolute) moral truths in Nature


    We frequently hear that only religion can supply moral objectivity. This claim has no merit. However, even opponents of religion have sometimes thought that naturalism can't support moral objectivity , either. This claim is wrong, too.

    Those who claim that only religion can supply moral objectivity are either  ignorant of what the term 'objective' means, or they are using 'objective' in a peculiar way to actually mean 'absolute'.  'Objective' is the contrary of 'subjective' -- where 'subjective' means dependence on a subject (an individual person). A naturalistic understanding of morality should support moral objectivity. Morality is a paradigm example of something that can be, and usually is, independent from any individual person.

    Many religious people believe that  there are moral truths that are absolute, both universal (true for everyone) and eternal (must always be true). Naturalists reject this claim : they do not believe in the existence of absolute moral truths, because their existence has not been sufficiently established by either experience, reason, or science.  Friends of religion often claim that if there are no absolute moral truths, then there are no moral truths at all, and that morality is simply whatever each person wants to be moral. This nasty alternative is called moral subjectivism. Now, there are no absolute moral truths. But morality is not simply subjective, either. Let's look at the natural facts about morality in the real world. Most of morality consists of culturally objective truths. Most moral truths are best explained by social rules accepted by most members because they are members of that society and they were raised in that society. Morality is an essential part of culture, and a person should be moral in order to live a cultured social life with others.

    Culturally objective morality is not absolute, but only objective. Therefore, it is not the case that something is moral only because one’s culture says it is. Permitting one’s culture to dictate one’s morality would make that culture morally absolute, much in the way that many religions try to make their moralities absolute. A culturally objective morality is much different. A culture’s morality is objective because that morality is independent of whatever any individual person wishes morality to be.

    Naturalists of course do not regard ethical ideals as absolute moral truths, either. However, people do appeal to ethical ideals when they compare, criticize, and modify the moralities of cultures. From the standpoint of naturalism, it is perfectly natural to expect people to try to change a morality using ethical thinking when they see problems with that morality. And it also quite natural to expect that ethical ideals are the sorts of things that people do not agree about, and that ethical ideals also change or disappear over time.

    Culture is not the opposite of nature; we are naturally moral. It is a misunderstanding of naturalism if you suppose that a naturalistic understanding of humans must entirely strip away culture and ignore how humans are cultured humans.

    Humans naturally use the cultural wisdom bestowed by earlier generations. This natural fact explains how religions teach morals and pass down ethical ideals, by the way. There is nothing in objective morality that cannot fit into the naturalistic worldview. Wrongly supposing that morality can't be natural is akin to supposing that agriculture can't be natural. Basic morality and higher ethics, and even religious ethics, can all fit into a naturalistic worldview.


    * Shook John The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between), Published by Wiley-Blackwell.


    SHUTTLEWORTH Marylin *

    (Contemporary British free lannce writer)  


        Truth and theory in science


    The relationship between truth and theory is at the very heart of science, determining when, and if, a theory becomes accepted as reality. Scientists gradually approach the truth, by refining and adapting theories, whilst understanding that they will never find perfect proof.

    After a period of peer driven acceptance, the theory will become 'scientifically proven'. To reach this level, a scientific fact must be reproduced, independently, by many scientists. When enough scientists become convinced about the validity of the results, they are assumed to be true.

    Still science never accepts that any hypothesis, or theory, is completely true. Theory is seen as a tool that is assumed true, until falsified. Even if all of the steps of the scientific method are followed, there is always a chance of error, or an incorrect basic premise.  As data-collection becomes more accurate, or new information is uncovered, many theories often fail to match empirical observations. This process becomes known as a paradigm shift, where an entire field of science changes direction.

    Scientists accept that, whilst repeated research, experimentation, and confirmation of results will always approach the truth, theory can never become truth. A theory is only ever assumed to be true until proved otherwise. Generally speaking, there is no hard and fast rule to when a theory becomes 'accepted truth' but Kuhn's paradigm idea is a decent fit. Scientific truth is implicitly assumed when an entire field, other than a few fringe scientists, reaches a consensus.


    *See internet Marylin Shuttleworth



    (Contemporary American author)

     Divine “absolute truth” and the fallibility of the human experience

     Amongst all of the disagreements, both theists and secularists can generally agree on one proposition: human beings are eminently fallible and imperfect creatures. Given the limitations of human beings, is it not strange that we crave infallible knowledge from an infallible source?

    One of the truly pioneering aspects of the scientific method is its acknowledged fallibility as a way of knowing. All conclusions in science are held as provisional, and open to reinterpretation or outright rejection upon receipt of future data. Indeed, even such time-honored and central ideas such as the principle of causality and the nature of time and space have undergone relatively recent drastic changes. Science always leaves open the possibility that maybe it's conclusions are wrong

    Some theists have suggested that the provisional nature of scientific knowledge is, in and of itself, a weakness. They argue that the provisional nature of science prevents man from ever truly knowing anything (which is often expressed as "science can't prove anything”). They further argue that religion offers "absolute truths" that are not subject to future changes, while science is always in flux. As such, they argue that the truth offered by religion is of inherently more value than the truth offered by science.

    The trivial response to this argument is that the absolute assertions of religion are only of more value if they are completely true; otherwise, they are absolute falsities (or anti-truths, if you will) and are active hindrances in the search for truth, as they not only fail to be true, but discourage further searching for the truth. This powerful defense leaves the burden of evidence upon those advancing their "absolute truth" and points out the harm in "absolute falsities", but some may find it viscerally unsatisfying, as it leaves intact the potential superiority of religious absolute truth.

    We all agree that people's perceptions and minds are eminently fallible. Both theists and secularists have readily admitted that we cannot measure the world with complete accuracy; indeed, there is a physical principle to that effect. Now, I think we all agree that the Bible is a natural phenomenon. I'm not talking about God's Word here; I'm talking about whatever physical book or books  entitled "The Bible" you use, whatever physical manuscripts people wrote those translations from, etc. We have agreed that we cannot examine the physical world with 100% reliability. This means that our readings are suspect, the translations are suspect, the copies are suspect, etc. as all are based on our understanding of physical reality, and therefore, fallible.

    The standard response to this line of reasoning is that God's divine personal revelation to the translators, scribes, and the reader prevents the introduction of meaningful error. However, we have already agreed previously that not everyone that claims to have a revelation from God really does. How can we know if the author AND the scribe AND the translator AND you, the reader truly is a recipient of God's revelation?

    The typical Christian response: the Bible assures us that it is so. However, we have already established that there is no way to know if the authorship, copying, translation, and interpretation of this passage is correct and divinely inspired. Our understanding of Christianity is either based on personal revelation to a human agent (which is fallible) or a reading of a physical document (which is also fallible). In the end, even the theist must admit that all the foundations of their faith are, at their core, fallible.

    Even assuming that God exists, and assuming that he tries to impart absolute truth to humans, the bottleneck is that the recipient is fallible, subject to self-delusion, trickery, deceit, and flat-out error. Therefore, even divine "absolute truth" must be accepted as provisional, as the media through which it is transmitted is eminently and demonstrably fallible, and at best of no greater worth than science. However, so long as religious revelation claims to represent absolute truth, it actively discourages the search for alternative truths, and so still retains the drawbacks of "absolute falsity" without the real benefits and reliability of "absolute truth".


    *See Internet, Shygets


    SIEGEL Harvey *

    (Contemporary American philosopher of education)


    Truth is absolute, although unverifiable, for justification is forever open to defeat.


    1. Siegel tackles the familiar distinction  between relativism and fallibilism and the consequent epistemological roles of justification and truth.  Despite the admission that truth is absolute but fallible, rationality apparently provides a strong enough justification to make guarantees that go beyond the fallibility.

    He articulates a fallibilist, contexualist epistemology that uses truth as a criterion for knowledge claims but separates truth from justification.  The epistemology underlying the view is the standard definition of knowledge as justified true belief.  In Siegel’s words, this is fallibilism: “while there is truth, there is no certainty; we get at truth by way of warrant and justification, and these are always open for further consideration”.  Siegel acknowledges that certainty is problematic and that nearly all contemporary philosophers reject it as a criterion for knowledge justification.  Retaining a notion of absolute truth, Siegel maintains a distinction between truth and justification and builds his argument for fallibilism and against relativism.  For Siegel, truth remains absolute although unverifiable, and justification is forever open to defeat.  The distinction between fallibilism and relativism is indeed highly significant for Siegel.

    His epistemology needs to distinguish between rational justification and truth, reject relativism, and acknowledge rational justification as a fallible indicator of truth.  Rejecting relativism means rejecting the notion that rational justification is merely the rationalization of interests.  For Siegel, the justification of beliefs should arise because of good reasons, supported by standards that are nonetheless fallible. He holds on to a notion of absolute truth, however unattainable it is.  Truth remains an arbiter for him in fallible knowledge claims.

    2. Harvey further argues that critical thinking, and not promotion of truth, is the basic aim of education.  His epistemology needs to distinguish between rational justification and truth and acknowledge rational justification as a fallible indicator of truth. The justification of beliefs should arise because of good reasons, supported by standards that are nonetheless fallible (hence not necessarily true). If this view is correct, then the basic educational aim should be seen not as the production of true belief, per se, but rather as that of enabling students to judge wisely the truth, and this sort of judgment just is judgment based on the proper evaluation of reasons.  Students should be enabled not to judge the truth infallibly but to estimate the truth responsibly and that is a matter of rational inquiry and judgment. 

    Thus it is a mistake to regard the basic aim of education as the promotion of truth.  While we aim at truth, we determine truth value by engaging in inquiry and assessing justificatory status: is there good reason to regard the proposition in question as true? The basic aim of education must be the development in students of the ability to assess truth status skillfully and accurately.  It is only through such assessment that students can hope, and be expected, to reach and recognize the truth they seek. From the educational point of view, it is critical thinking which is fundamental, not truth.

                                                                                                                                                                                    * Siegel, Harvey, Educating Reason: Rationality, Critical Thinking, and Education. New York and London: Routledge (Philosophy of Education Research Library) 1988



    (Medieval philosopher, 1240-1284)

    The  pursuit of truth without the control of religion

    Historians of medieval philosophy do not agree whether or not Siger of Brabant held the theory of the double truth, attributed to Averroes, and according to which  a single truth is scientifically formulated in philosophy and allegorically expressed in theology. Philosophy is the study of what would have been true by natural necessity (in the absence of divine intervention) and theology deals with what is actually true by virtue of divine intervention. For instance, in the particular debate around the unicity or plurality of human souls, philosophy would state that there is one rational soul but religious knowledge  points at the fact that God has miraculously intervened to multiply these souls that nature could not multiply. Siger of Brabant in his unreserved enthusiasm for Aristotelian philosophy and little concern for theological matters  seems to have held this view, being thus the promoter of “Latin Averroism”, a designation that underlines his implicit agreement with Averroes’s theory of the double truth.

           For Siger, to philosophize meant to return to the philosophy of Aristotle, mostly interpreted by Averroes. Averroes had rebuked Avicenna for destroying the purity of the Aristotelian philosophy by mixing his Mohammedan religion with it. Siger’s mind was similar to that of Averroes, in that he showed little or no concern for theological matters to safeguard the perfection of the Aristotelian philosophy. But Aristotle’s philosophy contained doctrines contrary to the Christian faith, such as the denial of divine providence and personal immortality. However Siger did not deny the truth of Christian revelation. He simply made it clear that he was pursuing his work as a philosopher, not as a theologian. Thus far from adopting the “double truth” theory, one philosophical and the other theological  in contradiction with each other (as is sometimes claimed by historian of Medieval philosophy), Siger asserted the superiority of revealed truth over philosophical reason. In this sense  his standpoint was the opposite of Averroes’ own view which exalts reason over (Mohammedan) revelation. What Siger and Averroes have in common is that both affirms the right to philosophize apart from religion and therefore the freedom of human reason to pursue its search for truth without the control of religion. Theologians have no right to draw conclusions in the scientific field and scientists may not pronouce themselves in theological matters. Still there are no contradictions between scientific truth and theological truth but different viewpoints on truth.       

    See History of Philosophical Systems, Ed. by Vergelius Fern, N.Y., Philosophical Library, 1950, p.202-203


    Sikh Missionary Society *

    Truth in Sikhism


    In the Japji, Guru Nanak deals with the subject of Truth. The word "Truth" has different meanings in different contexts. The most important connotation of Truth is God. The Almighty is Truth. Another meaning of Truth is Virtue which includes qualities like honesty, righteousness, justice, compassion, detachment, humility etc. The third meaning of Truth is pure, holy, sacred . The fourth meaning of Truth is that which is correct and proper. The fifth meaning of Truth is eternal happiness of bliss .

    But who can give the Truth? God being the source of Truth gives truth (revelation) direct to the holy and the enlightened . Secondly the Satguru (or Guru) can give Truth to the devotee through his teachings and example . Thirdly the Sadh Sangat or Holy  Congregation can impart an understanding of Truth to the disciple. So God, Guru, or Holy Gongregation can grant the gift of Truth to a devotee.

    The gift of Truth comes to the deserving. The Sikh must satisfy some requirements to be a candidate for the gift of Truth. He must follow the Guru's teaching: he must do charitable and altruistic deeds; he must submit to the will of God; he must do spiritual cleansing through remembrance of the Holy Name; finally, he must pray for God's grace .

    In Sikhism greater than Truth is Truthful living. One must lead a life of Truth. He must speak the Truth, act the Truth and think the Truth. A noble character implies the practice of humility, compassion, meditation and a desire to serve and guide others on the spiritual path. Such a devotee earns the gift of Truth and ulitmately merges with the Eternal (God) like the rain drop losing itself in the ocean.


    * See Internet Sikh Missionary Society





    ( Indian religion, 1540 - )


    The truth of religion is embedded in the human heart, not in anything extraneous

    Sikhism does not accept as self-evident or demonstrable that the Truth of   Religion is beyond the reach of human perception.  It rejects the basic postulate of the religions of Judaism,   Christianity and Islam:  that the truths of religions have been exclusively and   finally revealed in a unique and final act and at a single point in  Space-Time. From the viewpoint of these religions, it follows that any new religion (such as Sikhism) or   even a new interpretation of religion must be authorized by the evidence   already contained in this final and unique act;  otherwise, it is a priori  errant, a heresy. Sikhism, on the contrary, teaches that the Truth of   Religion is ab initio embedded in the heart of man and that its   ultimate validity is to be discerned in human experience itself, and not in   anything extraneous. Nonetheless Sikhism admits that there have been, and   shall be, extraordinarily gifted persons in whom the Truth of Religion has   assumed unusual vividness and thus their revelations and teachings are of   immense help to mankind, such as the ten Sikh Prophets, the Gurus.


    See Internet Sikhism


    SINGH T. *

    (Contemporary American-Indian scholar)


    The vision of the Universal Truth beyond all religions


    We live in the state of Kali . In it's literal sense, Kali means "quarrel". It's no coincident that the man is insanely quarreling and killing others; all in the name of his religion and God! This inhumane conduct of man is the side-effect of the centuries-old practice of the organized religions whereby their custodians have been teaching anything but Universal Truth or Love. In pursuit of material philosophy of selfishness and hate, their vision is limited to the extent as to how to prevail over another. When one religion tries to prevail over another fanaticism and quarrels ensue.

    The emphasis of some religions is on separating people in two groups namely, "believers" and "infidel". Where believers or faithful represent all that's good and auspicious, while infidels represent all that's false or evil. This is particularly true of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For example, in Judaism, the emphasis has been that Jews are the God's chosen people. Which implies that those who follow other religions are nonbeliever or inferior beings who will not be delivered by the messiah. The Catholic Church firmly believes, professes and preaches the doctrine called "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus", meaning "Outside the Church there is no salvation". The clergy of Islam has been even more vocal and stubborn in separating people between "believers" if you are a Muslim and "Kafir" (or "infidels") if you are a non-Muslim. As a result, proselytization or religious conversions has been an essential part of these religions. They claim their respective prophet to be the only man of Light, and their respective religious text to be the only word of God or Truth. Such claims of being conclusive, exclusionary, superior or having monopoly of "Truth" drive their followers to believe that the conversion of "others" to their respective religion by all possible means and methods is their religious duty and a passport to heaven! This is reactionary spirituality whose features include intolerance, violence, terror, literalism, separative oppressive ways, controlling and regulating people's life, limiting people's free expression and creative thought, and so on.

    It seems as most of us have truly forgotten the sacredness of Dhaarmic life as we have become entangled in our own egoistic, nationalistic, and sectarian concerns. Consequently, although we say there is only One Universal Truth, but we do not practice what we say. Truth has to be practiced. Nothing becomes true simply by adding the word Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism to it!

    When the selfishness and falsehood of the mind have ceased to be, there arise in the heart all Divine Virtues, and there is equal vision everywhere: the vision of the Universal Truth.


    *See Internet.  T. Singh, www.gurbani.org




    SIVANANDA Sri Swami *

    ( Hindu spiritual teacher, 1887-1963)


    Truth is neither Hindu nor Muslim, nor Buddhist nor Christian! Truth is one,


            All religions are one. They teach a divine life. I respect saints and prophets of all religions. I respect all religions, all cults, all faiths and all creeds. I serve all, love all, mix with all and see the Lord in all.

    At the present moment all religions contain a mixture of truth, which is divine, and error which is human. The fundamentals or essentials of all religions are the same. There is difference only in the non-essentials. The apparent differences in religions are due to a misconception or misconstruction of the long-forgotten truth of the Vedas on which they are ultimately founded. All systems of religion are equally divine and true. The conflicting points are all due to misconception and misconstruction of truths on account of prejudice, bigotry, lack of purity of heart and subtlety and purity of intellect, and perverted condition of the intellect of people.

    All prophets are messengers of God. They are great Yogins and realized souls, who have had divine, intuitive perception of God. Their words are infallible and sacred. The Koran or the Zend-Avesta or the Bible is as much a sacred book as the Bhagavad-Gita. All contain the essence of divine wisdom. Ahuramazda, Isvara, Allah, Jehovah are different names for one God.

    Truth is neither Hindu nor Muslim, nor Buddhist nor Christian! Truth is one, homogeneous, eternal substance. The follower of the religion of Truth walks on the path of light, peace, wisdom, power and bliss.

    Man forgets all about his religion on account of ignorance, or lust for power and greed. Many preach Buddhism, but no one gives up desires and Himsa (as opposed to Ahimsa). Many preach Christianity, but no one practices love and forgiveness. Many preach Islam, but no one recognizes the brotherhood of man. Many preach Hinduism, but no one realizes the Divinity in all. Preaching has become the livelihood of men, while practice has become their object of scorn.

    What is needed is proper education of the followers of all religions. Unless knowledge alters one's life, it is useless. Selflessness and love are not creeds to be taught, but ideals to be exemplified, demonstrated and radiated. Therefore, let everyone practice his own religion and strive to attain the goal. Let religion create saints and Yogins, rather than Mandirs (Hindu temple), Masjids (Mosque) and Churches.


    *See Internet Sri Swami Sivananda


    SLICK Matt *

    (Contemporary American pastor, founder of CARM)


    Christianity is only as intolerant as Jesus is true.

     Is  it intolerant  to say that Christianity is the only true religion? Yes it is intolerant.  In fact, it is very intolerant to say that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and that no one can get to God except through Him as Jesus Himself said in John 14:6.  Yes, Christianity is intolerant because its founder, Jesus, was intolerant.  Christianity is intolerant of false gods and false gospels.  Why is it so intolerant?  Because it is shaped after Jesus.

    On the other hand, Christianity is very tolerant.  It teaches to be very forgiving (Matt. 18:21-22), to be patient and kind (Gal. 5:22-23), and to be honest and wholesome (Phil. 4:6-8. The whole issue of whether or not Christianity is intolerant lies in who Jesus is, what He claimed, and what He did.  If what Jesus said and did is true, then Christianity isn't intolerant.  It is simply true and it is the world that is intolerant of that truth.

    Either Christianity is all true or it is not.  Either Jesus performed miracles or He did not.  Either Jesus rose from the dead or He did not.  Based solely and completely on who Jesus is and what He did, Christianity is the truth and by necessity all other religions that disagree with Jesus are wrong.

    Truth is, by nature, intolerant of falsehood.  If Christianity is not true, then Jesus was not God, then Jesus did not do miracles, then Jesus did not heal the sick, then Jesus did not walk on water, then Jesus did not die and rise from the dead after three days.  But, if He did do these things, then Christianity alone is true since in all the religions in the world, only Christianity has the person of Jesus and Jesus said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Christianity is only as intolerant as Jesus is true.


    *See internet Matt Slick



    SMART Ninian *

    ( American philosopher of religion, 1927-2001))

      The difficult question of the criteria of truth in religion

        It is common for believers to appeal to authority  to establish the truth of their faith. They have not worked out the truths incorporated in their faith from personal experience but by adopting the tradition of a religious community, tradition that has come down from the authority of “revelation”. It seems that they have arrived at the truth by simple acceptance. But then there is a dilemma,  for truth does not depend on mere say-so, it has to be arrived at critically, by testing what is proposed and using one’s judgment. The acute problem about the criterion of truth in religion is that the appeal to authority  seems to imply circularity and closedness. The argument  amounts to saying:” I know that there is a God for he is mentioned in the scriptures; and the sriptures are true, because they have inspired by God”.

          However this closedness or circularity does not disturb certain theologians (K. Barth, for instance – see Barth)  for whom there can be no external criteria of religion because the truth of faith is not grounded in human reason or experience. For other theologians, similarly unshaken by the objection of circularity,  religion represents a certain unique realm of experience within which the truth may be discovered. Religion being a distinctive field of human experience, nothing can be said about its truth save by attending to that experience. In both cases the criteria of truth of religion are not external but internal to the realm of religious language which has its own “logic”.

          The position of these theologians runs into serious difficulty when it is confronted by a similar position from within another  faith. There would seem no way to decide between the claims of two different religions. Nevertheless the “circularity” position surely points at an ineluctable aspect of the religious phenomenon  and it is that there is an irreducable part in religion that is taken on authority. The “given” aspect of revelation always remains , similar to the brute facts encountererd in ordinary experience. But then there may be still criteria to determine the truth of the content of revelation. It is here that the search for external criteria may be relevant and fuitful. There is a variety of reasons which might be appealed to in the justification of a religious revelation.

           Ninian Smart lists a few of these reasons, both negative and positive. On the negative side “historical” faiths such as Christianity and Judaism need to be roughly right about the crucial historical facts. Another necessary condition of acceptability of revelation is that there should not be radical conflicts between faith and moral conscience and no inconsistency between different elements of a faith. On the side of positive criteria,  appeals to religious experience – such as conversion, insight, vision -, though not susceptible of being considered proofs , are  relevant to the truth and worth of a faith. Among other positive criteria, Smart mentions the appeal to the charismatic authority of the founders, the appeal of ethical fruits and the appeal of psychological relevance of a particular religious faith. However he admits that these negative and positive reasons do not provide any knock-down arguments in favour  of religious truth.

            The exploration of questions of truth between different religions must have recourse to the process of dialogue. The assumption is that religions present something of universal acceptance. Truth indeed is in an important sense universal. It is senseless to hold that what is true for one religion is false for another. Of course, the thesis that  all religions claim to point to the  truth does not entail that their specific traditional customs need be shared with others. Universalist and missionary faiths – which recognise the universality of truth - such as Buddhism, Islam and Christianity have an advantage here over ethnic and cultural religions that look upon themselves as the customary expression of life in a particular community. If truth is universal, ethnic and cultural religions cannot have any reasonable truth-claims, as well as any interest in interreligious dialogue for truth.

             A larger question of the criteria of truth in religion lies between the religious position in general and agnostic humanism. The humanist is sceptical about the transcendent aspect of religious manifestations. For him religious claims are never verifiable. Where the believer sees manifestations of the religious ultimate, the humanist  takes them just for psychological, sociological, and other sorts of phenomena. What is disputed is the correct interpretation of facts. The humanist lays stress on the impact of religion in beguiling people from a non-religious position. But here Smart replies that reasons take their character from the subject-matter; to believe in religion for religious reasons is not irrational. The humanist has a narrow understanding of reasoning: what could count as religious reasons are ruled out in advance because the idea of religious ultimate is denied. The humanist position is not a guarantee of a neutral and unprejudiced approach. But it must be conceded that to understand religions and their truth-claims one cannot simply apply the criteria of truth “externally”. It is not possible to resolve the problem of truth in religion from a merely “external” point of view. Ninian Smart deems it necessary to enter into the religious form of life which claims some truth by sympathetic imagination or even personal commitment.

    * Smart, Ninian, The Philosophy of Religion, Sheldom Press, London, 1970, p 99-13


    SMITH Adam *

    (Scottish moral philosopher and political economist,1723-1790)

    The invisible hand of Truth

         Smith’s analysis of the role of philosophy in humankind begins with the premise that although we cannot know the design, we do take comfort in the notion that there is a design, an order to our world. While we cannot observe the invisible connecting chain that gives rise to the succession we see, we are comforted when, through our imagination, we can conceive of principles that “seem” to explain the order of the events we observe.

        As philosophers who shared a belief in the deity as designer, both Newton and Smith faced the same challenge: How do we see into that windowless workshop of the designer? How do we know the design without access to the blueprints?    Nature’s “Truth” lies “behind the scenes.” No philosopher has the privilege, as an opera patron might, of going behind the scenes to observe those “concealed connections”. No philosopher can see what the invisible hand has drawn on those inaccessible blueprints. But while Smith knows he cannot “see” the invisible, he believes he can imagine it. Based on what he can see, the visible effects from the work of that invisible hand, he imagines the connecting principles of the design and represents them.

        Smith appreciates that he is not describing Truth, but rather he is offering his best approximation of what he imagines Truth to be. Even the work of  Isaac Newton, whom Smith admires as the greatest philosopher of all time, is, in Smith’s opinion, a representation, not a Truth. Smith believes we can only imagine the invisible connecting principles designed by an invisible hand. We cannot know them. He would reject as insolent arrogance the assertion of anyone who claimed to know the design and to act on that knowledge with the self-assurance that he acts on behalf of the deity. 

        Philosophy can only pretend to lay open the concealed connections that unite the various appearances of nature.  The difference between the stories of superstition and the representations of philosophy lies not in the distinction between fiction and truth. Neither represents Truth with a capital T. Both are fiction, both are products of the imagination. The difference lies in how the imagination forms the stories to be told. The stories of superstition are often designed to be fantastic in order to intimidate others into belief. The representations of philosophy are based on rich, systematic observation in search of patterns that may approximate the invisible connecting principles. A philosophical analysis that can represent the observed patterns in a familiar, elegant and simple way is compelling to Smith because it meets his standard of philosophical excellence: It is persuasive to a well-educated, open mind.

    *See Buchan, James , The Authentic Adam Smith: His Life and Ideas, W. W. Norton & Company, 2006


    SMITH Nicholas *

    (British contemporary philosopher)


    The theory of vagueness:  the idea that truth comes in degrees


    In Vagueness  and Degrees of Truth, Nicholas Smith develops a new theory of vagueness: fuzzy plurivaluationism. A predicate is said to be vague if there is no sharply defined boundary between the things to which it applies and the things to which it does not apply. For example, 'heavy' is vague in a way that 'weighs over 20 kilograms' is not. A great many predicates - both in everyday talk, and in a wide array of theoretical vocabularies, from law to psychology to engineering - are vague. Smith argues, on the basis of a detailed account of the defining features of vagueness, that an accurate theory of vagueness must involve the idea that truth comes in degrees. The core idea of degrees of truth is that while some sentences are true and some are false, others possess intermediate truth-values: they are truer than the false sentences, but not as true as the true ones.


    * Smith Nicholas, Vagueness and Degrees of Truth, Oxford University Press, 2008.





    SNYDER Tom *

    (Contemporary American Mormon author)


    The theory of deconstructionism is false: absolute truth exists


        One of the major tenets of the postmodern literary theory called deconstruction is that all language systems are conventional. In fact, they are so dependent on social conventions, say the deconstructionists, that they are completely artificial and, therefore, all language systems must be false and/or deceptive.

    This idea confuses the word "convention" with the word "artificial" and mixes them up with words like "false" and "deceptive." Why isn't it possible for human beings to objectively observe the universe and create useful conventions based on their accurate observation? More importantly, however, if all language systems are conventional, then so is the statement that all language systems are conventional. To claim that all language systems are conventional is a self-contradictory statement. Therefore, it is a false statement. This means that we can completely reject this particular belief of the Derrida gang.

    Deconstructionism is part of a movement called poststructuralism. Poststructuralism builds on many ideas developed by structuralism, its precursor. The most noteworthy structuralists seem to have thought that reality is unknowable and, therefore, we should stop trying to seek some ultimate truth or meaning to all things. Instead, we should "delight in the plurality of meaning."

    But then if reality is unknowable,  how do we know it is unknowable? If there is no absolute truth, then is that an absolute truth and am I supposed to believe it absolutely?  The structuralists and poststructuralists don't like authoritarian interpretations, but their fuzzy-minded pluralism is just as authoritarian as any other system of interpretation. To say there is no one way to truth  is to actually offer one way to truth. Such an absolute pluralism is inherently self-contradictory. Consequently, it is absolutely false.

    Either reality is objectively knowable or reality is not objectively knowable. Either absolute truth exists or absolute truth does not exist. Either there is one way to truth or there is no one way to truth.. Since the second statements in each of these sentences are clearly false, we must conclude, therefore, that reality is indeed objectively knowable, that absolute truth does indeed exist, that there is indeed one way to truth. I don't reject everything that the structuralists and poststructuralists say, but I hold the preceding truths to be not only ontologically absolute but also epistemologically self-evident.


    * Snyder Tom, Deconstructing Deconstructionism, See INTERNET





    Greek philosopher, 469-399)

      Every human being is “pregnant” with the truth

        When Socrates set about to teach the Athenian youth, he found himself confronted by the ‘Sophists’ i.e. philosophers who were disillusioned with the contradictory theories of the earlier cosmologists about the constitution of physical nature. Their scepticism had the beneficial outcome of drawing their attention to man himself rather than to the cosmos. For the first time Greek philosophy discovered the subject, the self. Unfortunately the aim of these Sophists was not to know the truth about man but to find  ways and means for man to be successful in political life. The Sophists were not truth-seekers but success-seekers. For them “man is the measure of all things”, that is, to each one his truth! What is true and just somewhere for some one, is not necessarily  true and just elsewhere for some one else! If truth there is, it is in sense-perception. As the perceptions of different individuals differ in regard to the same object, it follows that truth is a matter of taste of the individual. The Sophists’ principle of subjectivity  - that the truth must be my truth - undermines all belief in truth as an objective reality. Every individual has a private truth of his own.                                                                                                                                                                                Socrates could not accept  this, for while admitting that the truth must be ‘truth for me’, it is mine in my capacity as a rational being, which means, since reason is universal, that it is not my private truth, but a  universal truth which is shared by  and valid for all rational beings. Truth is thus established as being not a mere subjective appearance, but something objective, independent of sensations and the self-will of the individual. To deny the supremacy of reason must inevitably end in scepticism and the denial of the objectivity of truth and morality.

          Thus Socrates rejects the relativity of truth, justice, goodness, etc...as well as the utilitarian approach of the Sophists. On the other hand, he is not interested in  discovering the speculative truth of metaphysics or cosmology but in the ethical truth that helps human beings to be wiser and more virtuous. “Man, know yourself”, the truth about yourself. But how was that to be achieved?

           Socrates was convinced that truth dwells within the heart of every human being. “Truth is within”, it does not pass  from the teacher to the pupil. Therefore his method in teaching was not monologue but dialogue or dialectic. He questioned people, pretending to be ignorant. Slowly, gradually the truth within the pupil’s mind would emerge without any brain-washing done by the teacher. Socrates called this the ‘midwifery’ method  (his mother was a professional midwife) for the midwife’s role is only to help, not to produce. Every human being is ‘pregnant’ with the truth and the teacher is nothing more than a helpful ‘midwife’.

    * See F. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol.I, London, Burns Oates, 1955, chap. 14


    SOHAIL K. Dr *

    (Contemporary Pakistani b, Canadian psychiatrist and humanist philosopher)


    The truth according to a) religious, b) spiritual and c) secular people


      There are as many truths as human beings and as many realities as pairs of eyes in this world. Based on our life experiences we all develop a unique world-view that becomes our truth. When we socialize with others and have a genuine dialogue we discover that every human being has a subjective truth. It can also be called a personal truth. Every encounter with life can be given a special meaning that can become a personal and subjective truth

    The moment human beings decide to interact with other human beings and lead an active social life, they need to learn to communicate and create a shared truth. To communicate with others human beings rely on verbal and non-verbal communication and for that communication to be healthy and successful both parties need to rely on a language that is a shared language to create a shared truth. During such communication both parties make progress only if the message given is the same as message received. But if the perception is different from the intention and both parties put different or conflicting meanings to the shared experience, we can see serious problems in communication.

    It is not uncommon to see that human beings brought up in the same family, country and community might have the same shared truths, because they share a common language and culture. Since they believe in the same authorities whether parents, grandparents or teachers or political and religious teachers, they accept their truth without questioning it. They are conditioned by the same cultural traditions. Such shared truths can be called social truths.

    The problem starts when human beings start socializing with people from other families and communities who are brought up in different cultural traditions and both parties present their subjective truths as objective truths. Just because one truth is shared by the members of the same family, religion and culture does not mean that others have to accept that truth without questioning it.

    For human beings to expect others to accept their truth they have to prove it and make the subjective truth into an objective and scientific truth. If that truth cannot be proven logically and rationally and experienced by other human beings, then it cannot be accepted universally. Such truth remains a subjective truth that is shared by the members of the same discipline or tradition but questioned by others.

    When we study world history we find that there have been three separate and parallel traditions evolving over the centuries: People belonging to religious traditions who believe in God and religion, People belonging to spiritual tradition who believe in God but may not believe in any organized religion, People belonging to secular tradition who believe neither in God nor religion.

    Secular people feel comfortable to live with the uncertainty of life while religious and spiritual people fill that vacuum with their subjective truths and miracles that cannot be proven to others. People could live with such a situation comfortably if those religious and spiritual people did not present their subjective truths as absolute truths and insisted on others to accept them as objective truths.

    All human beings have subjective truths, only some of them can be accepted universally as objective truths. Subjective truths can be religious or spiritual truths while objective truths are the scientific truths that are accepted universally. I share with my secular friends that they need to spend their time and energy on presenting scientific truths rather than attacking religious and spiritual truths. Now I feel that all human beings have their subjective and objective truths to give their lives a meaning, a meaning that is very special to them. And if we want other people to respect our truths we need to give them the same courtesy and respect their truths even when we disagree with them This is the only way for us to have genuine dialogue with each other and learn from each other and grow together.


    * Dr Sohail, From Islam to Secular Humanism (2001)





    (Contemporary American and Belgian physicists)

    Scientific truth versus pseudo-scientific non-sense

    In their book ''Fashionable Nonsense'' (“Impostures intellectuelles”) , two physicists of repute (the Belgian Bricmont and the American Sokal) have two stated aims. First, they wish to present the full dossier of pseudoscientific nonsense masquerading as profundity. Second, they want to make a philosophical case against what they call post-modern relativism: the notion that physical reality is nothing but a social construct and that science, despite its pretensions to truth, is just another ''narration'' that encodes the dominant ideology of the culture that produced it.

           They denouce the silly pronouncements about science made by famous (mostly French) intellectuals, such as Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, Baudrillard (see these authors) etc. and the extreme "philosophical relativism" of postmodern philosophers working in the new academic discipline of the so-called “sociology of scientific knowledge” (SSK). According to these sociologists, scientific knowledge, far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it. They argue that the truth of a proposition depends on who states it or on the social group(s) to which that person belongs. So, statements are true "for us" or "in our culture" or - to sound more sophisticated, as some sociologists try to  be - "in our language game". Thus statements for philosophical relativism are not true in any broader sense.

             Bricmont and Sokal admit that this attitude might be valid with respect to some kinds of assertions, such as aesthetic judgements or maybe even ethical ones. But in the view of most scientists, scientific statements are - while rarely absolutely true - supposed to be (partially) true or false in an unconditioned way.

              Bricmont and Sokal’s book is a defense of scientific realism against the postmodernist trend characterised by generalised relativism. They reject the SSK’s claim that the value of scientific discourse (or any discourse) is purely social, and that there is no absolute truth. Sokal and  Bricmont explain that such a philosophy, which they believe denies the difference between science and pseudoscience, is ultimately dangerous because it undermines the rational, objective view of the world.

    •    Sokal & Bricmont, Fashionable Non sense (Impostures Intellectuelles), New-York, Picador, 1998


    SOKOLOVKI Robert *

    (Contemporary American philosopher)

    The human person is defined as being engaged in truth: he/she is "an agent of truth".

    Philosophy is grounded in our knowing, in our knowing of the truth. The human person, including the philosopher, is an "agent" of truth. He is someone who puts truth before us through his words and arguments.

        Sometimes, when we read Plato or other philosophers, it seems that they conceive truth as a kind of "abstraction," a separated form. But Aristotle showed us that the forms are also in things. This is the realism Sokolowski deals with. The "person," as the "agent of truth," means that truth only exists in a knowing being actively, personally—"I say it is true"—stating the truth based on what is there to be affirmed. Moreover, it must actually be affirmed as knowing.

        The  philosopher cannot leave aside or out any thing that is. The notion that somehow revelation must be left out on "philosophical grounds" is itself un-philosophical. But when it is encountered, it must be confronted in a philosophic way. The person is "an agent of truth" and this agency includes all truth. He/She is the one who is at the "edge" of the world and it causes him/her to wonder about the world, about his/her mind that knows, about his/her very desire to know what is.

        Truth, Aquinas said, exists in the "mind." But it is in the mind affirming what is there, what is not in its own mind. Something is there besides ourselves, but we can know it and in knowing it, also know our own knowing and its ways. But knowing involves truth. We all must begin here. Ours is a time that needs to know that it can know the truth—and that it can also lie to itself if it doesn't.

        Sokolovski repeats again and again: the human person is an "agent of truth." This is what we are. Something "new" is at the "margin of the world." The something new is indeed "me" who, with all who come to be in their time, stands at the world's "edge" affirming of what is that it is, of what is not, that it is not. The world itself cannot do this for itself. It needs an "agent of truth" within it.

        To be an agent of truth according to Sokolowski is synonymous with being what Aristotle calls a 'rational animal'. We are told that the pursuit of truth is not simply a choice that some of us happen to take up while others don't, but it is a choice that determines whether we are able to realize ourselves fully as human beings or not. The desire for truth as such, Sokolowski calls it veracity, is something that pertains to our nature. It is very deep in us, more basic than any particular desire or emotion, more elementary than any particular attempt to find things out, and more fundamental than any act of telling the truth to others. We are made human by it, and it is there in us to be developed well or badly. Veracity is not a choice. We could say it is a predisposition that we can either actualize or not. We can be happy as human beings only by cultivating our veracity into truthfulness .

        The human person is defined by being engaged in truth, and human action is based on truth. Sokolovski does not intend to prove that human beings are specified in this way, but rather to describe, analytically, what the human engagement in truth means.

    *Sokolowski Robert, Phenomenology of the human person, Cambridge University Press, 2008




    Russian educator and philosopher, 1930-1996)

    Conscience is the  source of common human knowledge of the truth

       According to Simon Soloveychik the truth distributed in the world, as the statement about human dignity, as the affirmation of the line between good and evil,  lives in people as conscience. Millions of people for thousands of years sought the truth and reached it, and so, gradually the common knowledge (science), the common message about the truth was defined - con-science. In many languages this word is constructed the same way as in Russian (science) is весть and conscience is со-весть). In German Wissen - is knowledge, and Gewissen - is conscience,                                                                                     He states that conscience is a common, one for all, knowledge about what good is and what evil is for humankind. Not for a man, not for his time, not for a group of men, but for humankind as a whole. As language, conscience is individual in each person and it is common for all. He argues that the truth-conscience enters the man not with genes and not by upbringing: if conscience depended on upbringing then many people would not have known about it at all. It enters the man with a bearer of the common knowledge of good and evil, of the truth - via a common thing: human language. To his opinion, a man obtains the moral law, which is conscience, through his native language. His consciousness, his self-consciousness, and his soul are formed during the apprenticeship of speech; his consciousness and his speech are practically the same thing. In speech and in the language, all major images of good and evil, the concept of the truth as well as a concept of the law is available; these concepts and images are becoming a child's own consciousness similar to language. Studying language, its lively phrases, its proverbs, perceiving the folklore, art and literature of his nation, a child is absorbing a common message of good and evil, - his conscience - and besides, he doesn't notice that, it seems to him that conscience occurred somehow by itself.

             According to Soloveychik the child who sinks in a moral atmosphere of language and culture absorbs drops of the ocean of public consciousness. Genius people by their immense life work reach to such heights of the truth, that they are called the ‘conscience of mankind’. Both a two year old child, who feels something similar to a sense of guilt for the first time, and a well-known writer, who is called a guardian of human conscience, drink from the same source of common human knowledge of the truth.

    * Soloveychik Simon, Parenting for Every One, see Internet


    SOLOVIOV Vladimir *

    (Russian religious philosopher, 1853-1900)

    The Existent as truth: the unity of plurality. True knowledge is obtained by the integration of empiricism, rationalism and mysticism.

        Soloviov’s response to the question "what is truth" (istina) is: the truth is the existent or that which is. Yet although many existent things are said to be, a multitude of existent things cannot be truth... The Existent as truth is not plurality, but singularity. Singularity as truth cannot have plurality outside itself, it cannot be merely a negative unity, but must be a positive unity, which means that plurality must not extent outside itself, but remain within itself, and thus be the unity of plurality. Consequently, the absolute Cause may be designated as "above-being"  or "above-possible", which is manifested in the precogitational depths of ourselves, in the last pre-existent truth of the "subject": "The Existent as such can and must be bestowed upon us not only in the multitude of its manifestations comprising our objective world, but in our own selves, as our own foundation, which we receive directly." “The directness of self-reflection paradoxically allows us, at the very moment when we renounce all determined forms of being, all perceptions and thoughts, to find in the depths of our souls, the Existent as such, that is, not such as it appears in being, but free, liberated of every being."

        Only "concrete" thought can approach the truth of cogito; the truth of a subject can be identified only by an insight into the "actually Existent, the being that precedes rational recognition."

        Soloviev's distinction between existent and being, which occupies a central position in the system, appears to be his ontologically  most original idea. The subject in its concrete "I am" may be thought only because of its presence in the universal Being.

        The true is that which objectively exists independent of any knowing subject.  Solovyov leads us down a path strikingly similar, at least in outline, to that taken in the initial chapters of Hegel’s Phenomenology. If the objectively real is the true, then sense certainty is our guarantee of having obtained it. But this certainty cannot be that of an individual knowing subject alone, for truth is objective and thus the same for everyone. Truth must not be in the facts but the things that make up the facts. Moreover, truth cannot be the individual things in isolation, for truths would then be isomorphic with the number of things. Such a conception of truth is vacuous; no, truth is one. For Solovyov, truth is the whole, and, consequently, each particular fact in isolation from the whole is false.

        True knowledge implies the whole, the truly existent, the absolute. If the absolute is the one, the non-absolute is becoming the one. The latter can become the one only if it has the divine element potentially. In nature, the one exists only potentially, whereas in humans it is actual, though only ideally, i.e., in consciousness.

        Solovyov believes that all knowledge arises through the confluence of empirical, rational and “mystical” elements. Only philosophical analysis can discover the role of the mystical. Just as an isolation of the first two elements has historically led to empiricism and rationalism respectively, so the mystical element has been accentuated by traditional theology. The task before us lies in freeing the three directions of their exclusiveness, intentionally integrating and organizing true knowledge into a complete system, which Solovyov called “free theosophy.”

    * See Jonathan Sutton, The religious philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov: towards a reassessment (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1988)


    SOREL Georges *

    (French social philosopher, 1847-1922)

    No truth in science, only fictions that  smother our perception of truth

    Sorel contends that science does give a true view of  reality. He dismisses science as "a system of idealised entities: atoms, electric charges, mass, energy and the like – fictions compounded out of observed uniformities…deliberately adapted to mathematical treatment that enable men to identify some of the furniture of the universe, and to predict and…control parts of it." He regards science more as "an achievement of the creative imagination, not an accurate reproduction of the structure of reality, not a map, still less a picture, of what there is. Outside of this set of formulas, of imaginary entities and mathematical relationships in terms of which the system is constructed, there is ‘natural’ nature – the real thing for him.

             For Sorel, Science is not nature which “is  not a perfect machine, nor an exquisite organism, nor a rational system." He also maintains that the categories we impose upon the world, "alter what we call reality…they do not establish timeless truths as the positivists maintained". For him the Tree of Knowledge has killed the Tree of Life…human life has been reduced to rules that seem to be based on so called  objective truths.  Such is the appalling arrogance of science: a vast deceit of the imagination, a view that conspires to "stifle the sense of common humanity and destroy human dignity." Science, he maintained, "is not a ‘mill’ into which you can drop any problem facing you, and which yields solutions,"  that are automatically true and authentic. Yet, this is precisely how too many people seem to regard it.

            For Sorel, the inevitable "consequence of the modern scientific movement and the application of scientific categories and methods to the behaviour of men,"  is an outburst of interest in irrational forces, religions, social unrest, criminality and deviance - resulting directly from an overzealous and monistic obsession with scientific rationalism.

            To want to establish an identity between science and nature is illusory: Science does not know nature.   

    *Georges Sorel : Les préoccupations métaphysiques des physiciens modernes, Paris, 1907


    SOROKIN, Pitirim *

    (Russian born American Sociologist, 1889-1968)

    The theory of integral truth:  the three-dimentional aspects  of the truth of faith, reason and the senses

    The philosopher-sociologist Pitirim Sorokin identifies three forms of truth: the truth of the senses, the truth of reason, and the truth of faith, or intuition. Modern science, he points out, relies on a combination of the first two, but disregards the third. However, "real" truth—adequate truth—embraces all three approaches—what he called "integral truth".

          According to him, this three-dimensional integral knowledge is nearer to absolute truth than any one-sided approach. "The reality given by the integral three-dimensional truth, with its sources of intuition, reason and the senses, is a nearer approach to the infinite metalogical reality of the coincidentia oppositorum [where opposites complement rather than contradict or negate each other] than the purely sensory, or purely rational, or purely intuitional reality. . .  The three-fold integral system of truth gives us not only a more adequate knowledge of the reality, but a more valid and less erroneous experience. . . . Each of these systems of truth separated from the rest becomes less valid or more fallacious, even within the specific field of its own competence."

               The organs of the senses, not controlled by reason or intuition, can give us but a chaotic mass of impressions, perceptions, sensations, incapable of supplying any integrated knowledge. They can give at best but a mass of meaningless 'facts', without any coherence, relevance, and comprehension. Deprived of the co-operation of the truth of reason and of intuition, these organs of the senses are very limited instruments of knowledge.

             Likewise, mere dialectic speculation—the force of reason and intellect—cannot guarantee any valid knowledge of empirical phenomena. Reason, at best, can give us "an unimpeachable syllogism, or a mathematical deduction, but such a syllogism or deduction will be empirically valid only when its major and minor premises are empirically valid. And this empirical adequacy cannot be derived from and by the truth of reason."

           Even intuition—the mother of invention, the source of all knowledge gained through either the senses or reason—uncontrolled by the truth of reason and of the senses can easily go astray, giving us "an intuitive error instead of the intuitive truth".

              On its own, any single source of truth "misleads us much more easily when it is isolated from, and unchecked by, the other sources and systems of truth than when it is united into one integral whole with the others." The integral truth is not identical with any of the three forms of truth, but embraces all of them. In this three-dimensional aspect of the truth of faith,  reason and the senses, the integral truth is nearer to the absolute truth than any one-sided truth of one of these three forms. The empirico-sensory aspect of reality is given by the truth of the senses; the rational aspect, by the truth of reason; the super-rational aspect by the truth of faith. The threefold integral system of truth gives us not only a more adequate knowledge of the reality, but a more valid and less erroneous experience, even within the specific field of each system of truth.

    * Sorokin, Pitirim, The Crisis of our Age, Chatham, NY, Oneworld Publication Ltd, 1992


    SOROUSH Abdel Karim *


    (Iranian philosopher, b.1945)


    Freedom is required to be a true believer. True Religion must be a choice not an obligation.


    Soroush's main thesis separates religion per se from religious knowledge. The former, the essence of religion, is perceived as beyond human reach, eternal and divine. The latter, religious knowledge, may be sincere but it is a  finite, limited, and fallible form of human knowledge.

    For him, faith cannot be compulsory. He argues that "true believers must embrace their faith of their own free will - not because it was imposed, or inherited, or part of the dominant local culture. To become a believer under pressure or coercion isn't true belief. This also means that the believer must remain free to leave his faith." As a result he claims that religious piety is more protected in a secular democratic than in a state enforced theocracy. In secular countries religion is a choice not an obligation.

    Soroush's  philosophy is close to the heart of the liberal tradition, ever championing the basic values of reason, liberty, freedom, and democracy. They are perceived as "primary values," as independent virtues, not handmaidens of political maxims and religious dogma.

    He favours what he calls Religious  Democracy in which the values of religion play a role in the public arena in a society populated by religious people. Religious democracy falls within the framework of modern rationality and has identifiable elements. It is in this way that we have a plurality of democracies in the international community. Democracy is not violated when a faith is embraced, it is violated when a particular belief is imposed or disbelief is punished.

    Soroush is the champion of religious intellectualism, “the way” for religious intellectuals. It is a school of thought that strives to benefit from both human experience and Prophetic experience; and it does not sacrifice either one of these for the other. It believes that, even in the modern age, the old revelation  has many things to say and to teach.  On the other hand religious intellectuals are intellectuals because they believe in a reason that is independent of revelation and are nourished by it. And, lamp of reason in hand, they strive to shed light on truth and to sear injustice. And they are religious because their truthful faith is constructed neither on imitation, nor on blind obedience, nor on lineage, nor on coercion, nor on whim, nor on custom, nor on fear, nor on greed, but on a heart led by reason or on spiritual experience; and it is constantly being purified and perfected.

    Religious intellectualism is a creed with no clerics in which everyone is their own cleric. Concepts such as apostasy, heresy, blasphemy, piety, etc. have no place in it, because these are concepts that are subject to the prevailing political and religious powers.

    The political clergy perceive religion as a complete order encompassing the entire enlightenment and knowledge and as an answer to the entire spiritual and temporal needs of mankind. They also seek from it the cure for social and humanistic tribulations in religious thinking. Soroush calls this view the ‘theory of maximal religion’. For him, Iran today is under the propaganda of this maximal theory.   In turn he defends his ‘minimal religion theory’, where according to him, religion has descended to that minimum which in spite of developments in sciences and philosophy, mankind still needs.


    * Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam, Essential writings of Adbolkarim Soroush, translated, edited with a critical introduction by M. Sadri and A. Sadri, Oxford 2000.




    SOUTHGATE Beverley *

    (Contemporary American historiographist)

    Historical ‘truths’ are always partial, incomplete and provisional.

           Southgate deals with the  great debates about history, the wars between the absolutists and the relativists. The absolutists hold that history can and should tell the truth about the past “as it was”, in a fixed way independent of the historian. The  relativists believe that history can have many approaches  that can be re-examined as they evolve in the cultural context of human situations

          For modernism the prestige of science was such that historians were expected to eliminate all traces of subjectivity, partiality and prejudices and remain detached from their objects of study. Evidences would speak for themselves and able to produce an ‘objective’ account of the past, which as closely as possible resembled ‘truth’. Historians could reasonably remain insistent that they were tracking down the truth about the past.

           According to Southgate this traditional modernist belief in the attainability of an historical truth that somehow corresponds with the past ‘as it was’ is clearly no longer tenable, but that does not preclude the possibility of retaining some conception of a ‘truth’ that will provide some justification, motivation, and even possibly direction for future historical study.  Historical truth is not an achievable goal, nevertheless it is at least something to which aspirations may be directed. We know that objective truth is not  attainable but we must still believe that it is attainable.    

            In this respect one can compare historiography to theology. In theology the concept of God is not ‘fixed’, stable or conclusive. Incomprehensibility defines God’s nature. That is why ‘faith’ in God is needful.  So for historians there may be some concept of ‘truth’, similarly undefined, in which some ‘faith’ may  be required. Like theological notions of God, historical truths  are provisionally useful as being the best we have for the moment, but they are not  to be relied upon for ever. Our acceptance of them remains tentative. We continue to search for something better to displace them. The ultimate goal, the ‘truth’, remains elusive, out of reach,  beyond us, but our belief that it is there  provides the necessary motivation for our continuing search.

           Nowadays in historical studies it has become clear to some that different approaches to the past, resulting in  different assessments – or versions of the truth – may all, rather than acting as mutual erasers , contribute to a fuller picture. It would seem desirable now to accept and even welcome diversity, without even attempting to force all into a single bed of consistency.

          We need  to show continuing openness to alternatives, together with an acceptance of transcendence – objective truth – indicating that something exists external to ourselves, and reminding us of our limitations. In historical studies while remaining aware that any insights can only ever be partial, incomplete, inadequate, we may hope to find some ways of reducing chaos to intelligibility. It is this recognition of inadequacy, the falling short of ‘truth’ , that reinforces our ambition to know more. Only by having some conception of the transcendent ‘other’ – ‘truth’ or ‘God’ – will we feel impelled onwards to further questioning. The prescription is, then, not for any assumed security of certitude, but for a never-ending inquiry – a quest for knowledge that has no destination, but constitutes a journey. In history as well as any other subject, the prospect is of an ongoing and dynamic process, without end.

            The experimental multi-perspectival approaches enable historians to show that the past is not something fixed, finally caught and preserved for ever. Historians make of the past what they will, or what they can;  and their function is to enable their readers to come away with a realisation that ‘history’ is something much more than the representation of a single and coherent narrative thread.

    * Southgate, Beverley, History: What and Why? London, Routledge, 2001; Postmodernism in History,  London, Routledge, 2003


    SPENCE Donald *

    (American psychoanalyst, 1926=2007)


    Narrative and historical truth in psychoanalysis


      The psychoanalyst Donald Spence argues for the existence of two types of truth: narrative truth and historical truth, the first being the truth of creative art and the second the truth of actuality. But while 'psychoanalysis is supposed to deal in historical truth, in accordance with Freud's metaphor of the analyst as archaeologist unearthing the traumatic events of the past, Spence says it actually deals largely in narrative truth.

    Narrative truth can be defined as the criterion we use to decide when a certain experience has been captured to our satisfaction; it depends on continuity and closure, and the extent to which the fit of the pieces take on an aesthetic finality.  Narrative truth is what we have in mind when we say that such and such is a good story, that a given explanation carries conviction, that one solution to a mystery must be true.

    In contrast, historical truth is time-bound and dedicated to correspondence rules.  Historical truth tries to approximate what actually happened.

     Problems arise, according to Spence, when the two types of truth are conflated, as they frequently are in the process of analysis.  Narrative truth, the truth of a well told story, is the type of truth that conveys meaning.  Historical truth, on the other hand, or the truth of events as they actually happened, is both confusing and elusive. Although Freud insisted that the aim of his method of free association was to allow patient and analyst to get to the “historical truth” of a life, Spence argued that the real power of the talking cure comes from its meaning-making function; the ability of the analyst to assist the individual in producing a coherent narrative, a story that makes sense of that person’s life.  Whether or not the story is “true” in a referential sense, that is, whether it is an accurate reflection of actual events in that person’s life, is of secondary importance.

    A similar conflation of these two types of truth happens in law.  That is, the positivist conception of law presumes that the legal system is designed to allow us to most closely approximate the historical truth of an event.  That is, once all the evidence is in, the judge and/or jury are in the best possible position to be able to say what actually happened.  Other scholars, however, have pointed out (and good trial attorneys have long known) that in the adversarial setting of the courtroom it is most often narrative truth that prevails.  That is, the better story, the one that ties up the most loose ends, the one that makes sense to the decision-makers and that conforms with narrative expectations, is the one most likely to be believed.


     * Spence, Donald P. Narrative truth and historical truth: Meaning and interpretation in psychoanalysis. New York: WW Norton and Company. 1982 ..


    SPENCER Herbert *

    ( English philosopher,1820-1903)

    Religion and science agree that the supreme truth about reality is unknowable

       Starting either from religious belief or from science, Spencer argued, we are ultimately driven to accept certain indispensable but literally inconceivable notions. Whether we are concerned with a Creator (in religion) or the substratum which underlies our experience of phenomena (in science) , we can frame no conception of it. Therefore, Spencer concluded, religion and science agree in the supreme truth that the human understanding is only capable of 'relative' knowledge. This is the case since, owing to the inherent limitations of the human mind, it is only possible to obtain knowledge of phenomena, not of the reality ('the absolute') underlying phenomena. Hence both science and religion must come to recognize as the 'most certain of all facts that the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable.' He called this awareness of 'the Unknowable' and he presented worship of the Unknowable as capable of being a positive faith which could substitute for conventional religion. Indeed, he thought that the Unknowable represented the ultimate stage in the evolution of religion, the final elimination of its last anthropomorphic vestiges.

              In saying that man cannot know the Absolute, Spencer affirmed that there is an absolute reality and an absolute truth, albeit unknowable. In the very denial of our power to know what the Absolute is, he assumed that it is; and the making of this assumption proves that the Absolute is always present to the mind, not as a nothing but as a something. The Noumenon for him, everywhere named as the antithesis to the Phenomenon, is necessarily thought of as an actuality. It is impossible to conceive that our knowledge is a knowledge of Appearance only, without at the same time assuming a Reality of which they are appearances; for appearances without reality is unthinkable.

          He maintained that in all commonly accepted beliefs there is an underlying verity. Even beliefs that seem contradictory are in fundamental harmony, and though science and religion may seem in opposition, they really only express opposite sides of the same fact, and thus their views may be reconciled.

           The different religious views of the origin and nature of the universe, however opposed in their overt doctrines, are perfectly at one in the conviction that the universe is a mystery, even if one has to acknowledge that they all fail to solve the mystery. In the same way the examination of such ultimate scientific ideas as space and time compels us to admit that all are representative of realities that cannot be comprehended. The explanation of that which is explicable merely points at the unknowable and the inexplicable behind. Ultimate religious ideas and ultimate scientific ideas alike, turn out to be merely symbols of the actual, not cognitions of it.

           It is on the basis of this deepest, widest and most certain of all facts--that the power which the universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable – that a reconciliation between science and religion is possible.

    * See Kennedy, James G. Herbert Spencer. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1978



    SPENGLER, Oswald *

    (German historian, 1880-1936)

    Truths are truths only in relation to particular mankind

       Spengler, author of The Decline of the West,  offers a cyclical interpretation of history.  History is seen by him as a number of separate histories, each running through a determinate course. The historical unit is the ‘culture’, each one of which is self-contained. At the root of each culture lies a world-conception which is peculiar to the culture in question. Religion, like every other cultural manifestation, is relative to the culture it belongs, and meaningful only within that culture. Spengler even extends this relativism to the domains of science and philosophy. He claims that “truths are truths only  in relation to particular mankind”.  His own philosophy, he confesses, expresses and reflects  only  the Western  soul and that soul only in its present  civilised  phase.

    * Spengler, Oswald, The Decline of the West, see Macquarrie, J. Twentieth-century Religious Thought , Harper and Row, New york, 1963, p. 125-127




    (Contemporary American behaviourist scientists)

                                                                                                                                                                             Why We Reason : not  to find truth but to win arguments


     For thousands of years human rationality was seen as a means to truth, knowledge, and better decision making. However, Sperber and Mercier are saying something different: reason is meant to persuade others and win arguments. Their theory is not entirely original. In the western tradition, similar theories of human rationality date back to at least ancient Greece with the Sophists. Akin to modern day lawyers, the Sophists believed that reason was a tool used for convincing others of certain opinions regardless of them being true or not.

    So why is Mercier and Sperber’s paper seen as groundbreaking if its central idea is thousands of years old? Unlike ancient Greece, Mercier and Sperber have a heap psychological data to support their claims. At the heart of this data is what psychologists call ‘confirmation bias’. As the name indicates, confirmation bias is the tendency for people to favor information that conforms to their ideologies regardless of if it is true or not. Confirmation bias greatly distorts our self-perceptions.

    If we are to think of rationality as having to do with knowledge or truth, like Socrates, Plato, and Descartes did, confirmation bias is a huge problem. If the goal of reasoning is really to improve our decisions and beliefs, and find the ruth, then there should be no reason for confirmation bias to exist.

    Confirmation biases began to appear in the psychological literature of the 1960s, providing evidence, [which] shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. And it is from this point that Mercier and Sperber have built their ideas from. Instead of thinking of faulty cognition as irrational as many have, they argue that we can now see that these biases are tools that are actually helpful. In a word, with as many opinions as there are people, our argumentative-orientated reasoning does a fine job of making us seem credible and legitimate.

    Thus one should not look at the Mercier and Sperber’s thesis to improve our reasoning.  Inherent in their argument is the idea that our rationality will forever be self-confirming and unconcerned with truth and knowledge.


    *Mercier, Hugo and Sperber, Dan, Why Do Humans Reason, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 57-74, 2011


    SPIKES Maryann *

    (Contemporary American Christian apologist)


    Moral truth is not created but discovered: like all other truth, it must be true for all or none


    Truth is what corresponds to reality—truth is the way things are. Basically, there are three possible positions on truth: 1) we make truth up, 2) we discover truth, or 3) there is no discoverable truth. Since it is a contradiction to say it is true that there is no discoverable truth, the third option (at least skepticism, at most nihilism) is false. Since truth by definition is not ‘made up’—the first option (anti-realism, voluntarism) is false. That leaves the second option (realism, essentialism). One could agree with the second option, in arguing that morality is about values, about how we feel things ought to be, not about the way things are (reality). The quickest answer to that is that the fulfilled ought (God), granted He exists, is part of the way things are (reality).

    But some people maintain that all morality is created, that there is no fulfilled ought to which moral truth corresponds, and that truth is about what “is”—not about how we feel things “ought” to be (and so he argues there is no ‘moral’ truth). If they are right—if there is no “real” fulfilled ought—then all morality, including our rights, is created and there is no moral truth (real fulfilled ought).

    The statement “It is a matter of opinion whether or not we should torture babies” is a truth statement about morality—it is a moral truth statement. If it in fact corresponds to reality, then it constitutes moral truth. If it does not correspond to reality, then it is not true and is a creation. What one cannot claim is that there is no “fact of the matter” when it comes to morality..”

    We may ‘say’ we do not hunger for true meaning, we may ‘say’ true  meaning can be created or evolve , but we live against it whenever we feel that a certain behavior (ours or someone else’s) is truly justified, or whenever we react to it with indignation.. Anyone with the question in them will already be familiar with examples from their own life. We live as if we hunger  for true, uncreated, unevolved, discovered meaning—a real, fulfilled ought.. This is called essentialism, or moral realism. A real, fulfilled ought has no potential, is actuality, and so it is truth that cannot evolve into being, but must always be. A true standard for moral perfection  needs no further perfection or evolution. And since moral truth is social truth, it actually requires minds (subjects, selves, persons) in order to be. We no more create the true meaning we all hunger for, than we create the nutrients we all hunger for.. Whether ‘our’ meaning is true or not is irrelevant—our 'hunger' for it to be true is evidence that there 'is' true meaning.

    Besides moral truth, like all other truth, must be true for all or none. The way this is commonly said, famously by Bertrand Russell , is that a belief, though dependent on a mind for its existence, is not dependent on a mind for its truth. Truth is mind-independent, and this does not at all mean, as some anti-realists claim, that mind-independency puts truth beyond the grasp of minds, or that there can be moral truth without a perfectly moral mind. It only means that, even if a mind (subject, self, person) has yet to discover  it to be true, if there is moral truth  then it is true for every mind (subject, self, person), whether s/he is a self or an Other. Something that is objectively true is true for every mind (subject, self, person). If not true for all, then true for none.

    *See Internet Spikes Maryann


    SPINOZA Baruch *

     (Portuguese-Dutch philosopher, 1632-1677)  

    Truth is the clear intelligibility of ideas

    1. Truth, for Spinoza, is a property of  ideas , not a property of judgements. Ideas are clear and distinct intellectual ( not sensible) representations of  essences. The clarity  of the idea is its truth. Truth does not consist in the conformity or correspondence of the idea with its object. Truth is not in the extrinsic mark of conformity with the object but only in the intrinsic  mark, that is, the relation of the idea to the intellect that produces it. Spinoza makes use of the scholastic term of adequation: a true idea is an adequate idea. But for Spinoza the adequation that defines the truth is not its relation to the object but its relation to the understanding mind. Therefore Spinoza is concerned with the ontological  truth of the idea. An idea that is true is a true idea, one really produced by the mind. He writes always  "true idea", as we say "true friend", true gold”, etc. He does not write "an idea that is true".

            In other words, truth, for Spinoza , is intelligibility.  Still that does not prevent the true idea  to be in conformity with its object. In fact, it is so, of necessity. But what is remarkable is that this conformity is not the definition  of truth but a secondary property. The idea is in conformity with its object because it is a true idea  and not the other way about. Truth itself is not conformity, but intelligibility.

              Spinoza like Descartes takes mathematical thinking for the model of all thinking. In mathematics. the mind  constructs essences, figures and numbers according to a law: mathematical ideas are independent of the existence of real objects. But unlike Descartes, Spinoza does not need to invoke the veracity of  God as a guarantee of the correspondence of ideas and things because Spinoza’s metaphysics demonstrates that there is an exact parallelism between rational thought and things. For him the order of the intellect is a perfect reflection of the order of Nature. According to Descartes’ metaphysical dualism of Thought and Nature (extension), a logical sequence of ideas does not  necessarily  reflect the order of causes in Nature. A further guarantee is required so that ideas that are clear and distinct are also true, in the sense of corresponding to reality. But this dualism is rejected by Spinoza: the logical self-evidence of a proposition is a sufficient condition of its truth. The necessary connexion of truth with logical adequacy is required by Spinoza’s metaphysical Monism which takes Thought and Extension as two attributes of a single substance. There can be no doubt about the correspondence of thought and the external world. Therefore the problem of truth is not a question of correspondence.

           2. The true idea is necessarily recognized as true. There is no true idea  without the awareness of its being true.  Consequently the true idea  excludes all possibility of error and doubt. The true idea is its own criterion. Veritas norma sui et falsi. It reveals its own truth and the falsity of the false like light discloses itself as well as darkness. Scepticism is impossible. Intellectual consciousness cannot err. The sceptic  either has no conscience or goes against his conscience  or simply refuses to think. Spinoza’s doctrine of truth is a doctrine of reflexive certitude and intellective intuition: such is the “cogito” of his philosophy. Accordingly if error is possible for Spinoza , if a proposition can be said to be false, it is only because it is relatively incomplete or fragmentary. It lacks logical relation with other ideas. Error is the privation of knowledge and not a lack of correspondence or, as Descartes maintained, arising from an infirmity of the will in assenting to an idea that is not clear and dictinct.

           All this shows that Spinoza’s view on truth is a qualified form of what has been called subsequently the ‘coherence theory of truth’.

    * Spinoza, Ethica more Geometrico Demonstrata,  II, 40-47; See Verneaux, Histoire de la Philsophie Morderne, Beauchesne, Paris, 1958, p54-56; also Campbell, R., Truth and Historicity, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992, p. 198-202.; Stuart Hampshire, Spinoza, Penguiine Book, UK, 1951, 101-117



    SPIRKIN A. *

    (Russian Marxist philosopher, 1918-2004)


    Our life is a restless  search for the acquisition of objective truth


    All truth is objective: its content does not depend on the subject, his intentions or will. A correct answer to the question, "What is truth?" presupposes recognition of the fact that outside our consciousness there exists an infinite world developing according to objective laws. Truth is the accurate reflection of the object in the consciousness of the subject. Authenticity is the mode of existence of truth.

    Since it is the correct reflection of the object, truth always has objective content. If we conceive ideas that have no correspondence in reality, it is clear that these concepts have nothing to do with truth and cannot therefore stand up to the test of practice.

    There is no such thing as unobjective truth. Subjective truth is merely an individual's opinion. Truth is not reality itself but the objective content of the results of cognition. Its content does not depend on the will, desire, passion or imagination of human beings. Only objective knowledge corresponding to the essence of things themselves allows the individual and society to control natural and social processes; one can control the forces of nature and society only by obeying their objective laws.

    The statement that the world is knowable does not mean that an object is revealed to the subject, the knower, at once in all its attributes and relations. Our life is not a placid existence in the lap of truth but a restless and constant search for its acquisition. Truth is relative inasmuch as it reflects an object not exhaustively but within certain limits, certain relations, which are constantly changing. Relative truth is limited true knowledge about something.

    By absolute truth one means exhaustive, maximum knowledge of the world as a whole, full realisation of all the potentials of human reason, the achievement of frontiers beyond which there is nothing worth knowing. Is this possible? In principle, yes. In reality the process of cognition is carried on by succeeding generations, who think very restrictedly and only in terms of the given level of development of their culture. Absolute knowledge is therefore only an aim for which science strives and to which the road is endless. Complete knowledge does not exist; we can only approach it, as we do to the speed of light.

    Humanity seeks full knowledge of the world. And although it will never attain such knowledge, it is constantly approaching it and every step in that direction, although relative, contains something absolute. Taken as a whole, our knowledge of nature and the history of society is not complete, but it contains many grains of the absolute. The development of any truth is an accumulation of moments of the absolute.

    Science commands not only absolute truths but also and to a greater degree, relative truths. The absolute is the sum-total of relative moments in truth. Every stage in the development of science adds further grains of truth to this total. It may be said that any truth is both absolute and relative. In human knowledge taken as a whole the specific gravity of the absolute in truth is constantly increasing.


    * Alexander Spirkin; R. Daglish (Translator) (1984), Dialectical Materialism., London: Central Books Ltd



    SPONG john Shelby *

    (Contemporary American ex-Episcopelian Bishop)  

                                                                                                                                                                                           The  gospel of truth: be spiritual without "religion."


    Bishop Spong makes it quite clear that the words of the Bible are not the words of God. Still even though the Bible is unscientific and locked into the culture of the tribal primitives who wrote it, Spong is sure that the real truth of the Bible is that Christ called us to "be all that one can be." Spong is very dogmatic about his view of truth. And his view is a gospel that tells us to be spiritual without "religion." In other words, we are free to pick and choose spiritual ideas from all kinds of  "religious" sources. What Spong is attempting to do is come up with a new Christianity loosely tied to the ancient text that founded orthodox belief. He has the right to do so, but this new gospel is not the good news given to us through the prophets and apostles by the God of the Bible.

    What is the essence of Christianity for Spong? He writes, ". . . Jesus means love-divine, penetrating, opening, life-giving, ecstatic love. Such love is the very essence of what we mean by God. God is love. Jesus is love. God was in Christ."

    Bishop John Spong advocates a form of Christianity often called universalism. It teaches that everyone will experience salvation of some sort and that what you believe is irrelevant. All that really matters is that one act morally. In Bishop Spong's view, acting morally is tied to an all-inclusive, totally tolerant Christianity that rejects the notion of sin and atonement. He strips Christianity of its historical tenets fearing that all the details will alienate the modern mind.

    According to him, the gospel of Christ is found in three words: love, life, and being. Of course Bishop Spong has every right to believe as he sees fit. What is puzzling is that he insists he is saving Christianity from itself. He also insists that we should accept his myth-making as universally true, replacing what Christianity has taught as revealed truth for two thousand years..


    * John Slelby Spong, A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born , Paperback (13 Feb 2003)



    SPURGEON C.H. (rev) *

    ( British Baptist preacher, 1834-1892)


    The sacred holy war for Truth


    The sacred, holy war for truth  is not with men, but with Satan and with error. "We wrestle not with flesh and blood." Christian men are not at war with any man that walks the earth. They are at war with infidelity, but not with the persons of infidels they love and pray for; they are at warfare with any heresy, but they have no enmity against heretics; they are opposed to, and cry war to the knife with everything that opposes God and his truth: but towards every man they would still endeavour to carry out the holy maxim, "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you." The Christian soldier hath no gun and no sword, for he fighteth not with men. It is with "spiritual wickedness in high places" that he fights.

    However some Christian men are very apt to make Christ's war a war of flesh and blood, instead of a war with wrong and spiritual wickedness. Have you never noticed in religious controversies how men will fall foul of each other, and make personal remarks and abuse each other? What is that but forgetting what Christ's war is? We are not fighting against men; we are fighting for men rather than against them. We are fighting for God and his truth against error and against sin; but not against men. Woe, woe, to the Christian who forgets this sacred canon of warfare. Touch not the persons of men, but smite their sin with a stout heart and with strong arm.  Let nothing be spared that is against God and his truth; but we have no war with the persons of poor mistaken men. We fight not against the men, but against the things which we consider in God's sight to be wrong. Let us always make that distinction, otherwise the conflict with Christ's church will be degraded into a mere battle of brute force and garments rolled in blood; and so the world will again be an Aceldama—a field of blood. It is this mistake which has nailed martyrs to the stake and cast confessors into prison, because their opponents could not distinguish between the imaginary error and the man. While they spoke stoutly against the seeming error; in their ignorant bigotry they felt that they must also persecute the man, which they need not and ought not to have done. We must hate error, we must abhor falsehood; but we must not hate men, for God's warfare is against sin. May God help us always to make that distinction.

    In every other conflict in which men have engaged, there have been two opinions, some have said the war was right, and some have said it was wrong; but in regard to the sacred war in which all believers have been engaged, there has been only one opinion among right-minded men. A war against falsehood, a war against sin, is God's war; it is a war which commends itself to every Christian man, seeing he is quite certain that he has the seal of God's approval when he goes to wage war against God's enemies.

    Let me just say, once more, concerning this war, that it is one that is to be of perpetual duration. Let us recollect, my beloved, that this war between right and wrong must be continued, and never must cease until truth has the victory..


    * Spurgeon C,H, Sermon delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 11, 1857, [XZ1]  at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.




    STACE W.T. *

    (British philosopher of mysticism, 1886-1967)

    The essence of religion does not lie in  beliefs, but in the religious experience of  mystics  whose claims, because subjective, are neither true nor false.

    Stace  critically looks at the claims of mystics from an analytical perspective in philosophy, suspending judgement on the truth or falsity of their claims. One of Stace's most interesting arguments is that mystical experience has more in common across various religions than the members of each religion would accept.

        Stace  argues that mystical experience is essentially subjective  and by itself it doesn't give us objective knowledge about the essential nature of things, nor does it prove any religious doctrines, but it does represent an appropriate expression of the human spirit in terms of its desire for transcendance and to the holy and beautiful in life. The Western, solely rational, man does not see that the essence of religion lies in religious experience, and not in any belief at all, and that all so-called religious beliefs or doctrines are merely theories about the religious experience.

        Scientific propositions are, or are intended to be, literally true. Religious propositions are symbolically true. In non-religious symbolism a proposition must be translatable into a literal proposition.  In religious symbolism this is impossible, because any literal proposition about God would involve the conceptualization of that which is above all conceptions. But religious symbolism is not on this account mere metaphor, because that which is symbolized is not a proposition about God but the direct apprehension of his presence in religious or mystical intuition.

        The divine order is unknowable to the logical intellect. This was the conclusion of Kant: the principle of the negative divine. But to make God completely unknowable is to make an end of religion, the opposite of Kant's intention. There is a way, Stace says, by which God may be known other than by the logical intellect. This is religious intuition which Kant fails to include in his system.

         Stace's line of thought is that God is known by revelation in intuitive experience, or not at all. What then is the relation between faith and reason? Faith does not mean blindly believing propositions for which there is no evidence or which are contrary to the evidence. To discover God is the function of faith through intuition. Reason interprets to the intellect the discoveries of faith. It does this by means of symbolic propositions which are mutually consistent, and fall into an ordered system. Within the divine order, faith originates truths; reason interprets them.

    * Stace, W.T. Mysticism and Philosophy, Publisher: Tarcher, 1987


    STAUNE Jean *

    (French  philosopher of science, b.1963)

     Science and spirituality are the two complementary windows of true reality

        Some thirty years ago the French bio-chemist Jacques Monod had concluded  that “man  knows at last that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of a universe wherefrom he has emerged by chance”. Today such an opinion is seriously contested, notably by Jean Staune in his book Notre existence a-t-elle un sens?: « Man at last knows that he participates to something that stands beyond him and has meaning”. He argues that today’s science has come to know that it cannot know everything. He is convinced that modern science reveals a growing number of uncertainties which seem to open the door to mysteries of metaphysical nature. To have access to the ultimate reality, one must appeal to other modes of knowledge than the scientific, such as mystical intuition and spirituality. Science and spirituality are the two complementary windows that allow human beings to apprehend reality.

            Staune explains how we have come today through recent scientific discoveries  to a “paradigm of incompleteness”. It shows that it is  not only nonsensical to give a spiritual meaning to the universe, but also it invites us to do so. Quantic physics, for instance, has shown that a non physical dimension of reality can exist, without violating any physical laws. The classical monistic affirmation that “all is matter” has no longer any meaning from a scientific point of view. The science of today induces us to break away from a materialistic, reductionist and mechanistic vision of the world.

           Scientific progress has reached its own limits : we know now that there exists a beyond of reality to which we have no access. This means that science reveals negatively (“en creux”) the existence of another level of reality. This awareness that there is a radical incompleteness of this world opens the way to a metaphysical reflection on what man perceives intuitively through religious belief.    Dualism, which is the absolute enemy of materialistic monism and   according to which  spirit separated from matter can exist , is again believable.

    *Staune Jean, Notre Existence a-t-elle un sens ?, Presses de la Rennaissance, Paris,2007


    STEIN Edith *

    (German philosopher and Carmelite nun, 1891-1942)

     Faith makes accessible truths unattainable by any other means

          Philosophers want the ultimate truths about the ultimate matters. If so, they should take these truths from whatever source presents itself to them, even if the source is not narrowly philosophical. They should not say: we will accept only those truths that can be certified by (natural) reason, but rather all truths whether certified by reason or 'certified' by faith. Such is Edith Stein’s view for whom the way of faith is richer than the way of philosophical thought because it gives us God who gives us an assurance that no natural knowledge is capable to offer us. But she admits that the way of faith is obscure. One must tread on the path of truth in the presence of Truth itself. “ The truth that has revealed itself to my soul, she writes, is the essence of the Truth, that has no beginning and no end. From this Truth depend all other truths.”

             For years she had be searching for the Truth in philosophy, the truth of things, the objective truth given by the facts. Later in her life she discovered the truth of the God that is Love, and for her this is not a matter of knowledge but of relation.

             If faith affords the highest certainty attainable by the human mind, and if philosophy claims to bestow the highest certainty, then philosophy must make the certainty of faith its own. It does so first by absorbing the truths of faith, and further by using them as the final criterion by which to gauge all other truths. Hence, for Stein there is a formal dependence of philosophy on faith.

          To the objection: ‘what guarantees have we that the certainty of faith is objective and not merely subjective’, her answer is that there are two opposing conceptions of philosophy, one based on the autonomy of reason, the other willing to sacrifice the autonomy of reason for the sake of truths which cannot be certified by reason but which are provided by faith in revelation.  One must simply decide which of these two conceptions to adopt, and in any case the decision cannot be justified by (natural) reason.     

         All that can be done is point out that for the believer such is the certainty of faith that it relativizes all other certainty, and that he should give up any supposed knowledge which contradicts his faith. The unique certitude of faith is a gift of grace.   

     *Edith Stein, Knowledge and Faith, tr. Redmond, ICS Publications 2000


    STEPHEN Leslie *

    ( British literary critic, 1743-1826}

    There can be no truth transcending experience

        Leslie Stephen is a staunch advocate of agnosticism which he understands  in a sense close to that of T. H. Huxley. To be an agnostic, according to him, is to affirm "what no one denies," namely "that there are limits to the sphere of human intelligence" and  also to affirm the empiricist thesis "that those limits are such as to exclude ‘metempirical knowledge',  that is, all forms of knowledge of a transcendent, numinal, nonempirical sort. Theology lies within this forbidden sphere."

            Stephen makes apparent the empiricist commitments of his conception of agnosticism in characterizing ‘gnosticism’, the view agnosticism is deliberately set against. To be a ‘Gnostic’ for him is to believe that "we can attain truths not capable of verification and not needing verification by actual experiment or observation. But the agnostic, firmly in the empiricist tradition, denies that there can be any knowledge of the world, including anything about its origin and destiny, which transcends experience”. The ‘gnostic’ putative knowledge, Stephen maintains, is illusory and not something "essential to the highest interests of mankind,  providing us, as speculative metaphysicians believe, with the solution to ‘the dark riddle of the universe’."

          We have "the most sacred obligations to recognize the facts" and make our judgments in accordance with the facts. But the facts do not give us grounds for confidence in the viability of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Rather we are strongly inclined when we inspect these beliefs to take them for  wish fulfillments. And while it may indeed be true that for the moment dreams may be pleasanter than realities, it is also true that if we are bent on attaining a more permanent measure of happiness, it "must be won by adapting our lives to the realities," for we know from experience that illusory consolations "are the bitterest of mockeries". Agnosticism, Stephen concludes, is the only reasonable and viable stand for the truth seeker.

    * Stephen Leslie, An Agnostic’s Apology, 1893


    STICH Steven *

    (American philosopher, b. 1943)

    Truth is neither intrinsically nor instrumentally valuable

    Stich’s claim is that when we come to a proper understanding of the nature of truth, we cease to find it either intrinsically or instrumentally valuable.

        1. Most people who currently value true belief never consider other options than their own.  In a world with many alternatives to truth, we ought to decide which is best for us rather than simply accepting the one we inherit.  Yet, contends Stich, people who reflect on the options and still value truth are not much better, for "they are making a profoundly conservative choice; they are letting tradition determine their cognitive values without any attempt at critical evaluation of that tradition".  Stich thinks that the existence of equally commendable alternatives reduces the attractiveness of sticking by the intrinsic value of truth.  Were we to reflect on all the options for interpretation functions and to choose one, we would not have an obvious means of choosing one because of their lack of distinguishing features.  Stich faults those who currently value truth for doing so unreflectively, and the value of truth is lessened for those who do reflect on it because the function that provides truth conditions is merely one unimaginative function among many. He concludes that truth is not intrinsically valuable.

         2. Moreover he claims that truth is not even instrumentally valuable. He argues that true beliefs are not always optimal in the pursuit of happiness or pleasure or desire satisfaction, nor are they always the best beliefs to have if what we want is peace or power or love, or some weighted mix of all of these. Sometimes it would be better to have false beliefs  than to have true beliefs.  Stich knows of no argument that attempts to show that true beliefs do a better job than these other options "in general, or in the long run".  Since we know that truth is not always preferable, he thinks it a difficult task to show that it is even generally preferable to all other options.  Since some other options may be more efficacious, Stich thinks it doubtful that truth has instrumental value.

           He labels his own position "epistemic pragmatism."  He does not see cognitive systems as valuable in themselves; instead, they are valuable as means to ends.  To be better than another option, a cognitive system must be more efficacious in promoting desirable ends.  Cognitive systems are tools whose normative status depends upon their ability to produce effects that cohere with our values.

    * Stich Steven , The Fragmentation of Reason: Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation, MIT Press, 1990


    STIRNER, Max *

    (German philosopher, 1806-1856)

    Truth is an individual’s property: it is MY truth

    In his book “The Ego and its Owner”, Stirner  states that nothing stands above the EGO. He passes in review all the abstract concepts that coerce and dominate the individual. He turns the table in submitting them to the EGO. God, nation, society, humanity, freedom, truth and all values are only means of enslavement of the individual through ideas, which  unfortunately he  himself has created and now escape his ownership. What is the ownership of the individual?  Everything he can master. Thus a truth that he does not master, in as much as it is an external command in which he believes, is a manifestation of the individual’s submission. The real ‘truth’ is  in fact the individual’s property, the sign of his freedom  which extends as far  as he can, wills or desires. Stirner’s truth  consists in nothing other than man’s revelation of himself, and thereto belongs to the discovery of himself, the liberation from all that is alien, the  release from all abstractions and external authorities, the re-appropriation of naturalness.                                                                                                                                                                                        The individual must discover his uniqueness in getting rid of the scourge of idols, phantoms, fixed ideas and ideologies that estrange him. No longer ruled, governed, enslaved by “sacred” powers, whether they be the Gods of religions, the absolute Spirit of Idealism (Hegel) and even more the abstract essence of Humanity (Feuerbach), he recovers the fullness and truth of his being.                                                                                                                                                                                             Stirner reasons in this way. Neither God nor humanity have placed their ‘cause’ in anything than themselves. Similarly I, the individual, place my ‘cause’ in myself. As much as God and Humanity, I am the negation of anything or any one else. I am whole and unique. I am not complaining of being void and empty. I am not nothingness in the sense of emptiness but in the sense of creative nothingness, a nothingness from which  the creator that I am can draw anything. Away with a cause that is not my cause! Should one remonstrate and say: “your cause at least  should be a ‘good’ cause” I retort: “what is good, what is bad? I am myself my cause and I am neither good nor bad. Good and bad are meaningless for me”. The divine is God’s cause, the human is man’s cause. My cause is neither divine nor human nor values such as truth, goodness, justice, freedom, etc. It simply is mine; it is nothing general or universal, it is unique, because I am unique. For me, there is nothing above myself. I place my cause in nothing. There is no other truth than my truth.

    *Stirner, Max,  The Ego and His Own, New York, Benj Tuckker, 1907








    STIVER Dan *

    (Contemporary American theologian)

    The role  of metaphoric  language  in  expressing  religious  truth  

     1. Religious thinkers have always been perplexed about the difficulty of using human, too human language to speak of what is transcendent. In the medieval period we find three options that traditionally have provided the only choices in religious language. Thomas Aquinas argued that religious language is  analogical, that is, it conveys truth but not literal truth.  Duns Scotus rejected Aquinas’ view in favour of univocal  language.  A  minority  opted for a third way, the negative, non-cognitive or equivocal way according to which all words must be negated to understand Ultimate Reality. Aquinas and Duns Scotus had ruled out the mystical-equivocal option because, they said, God has communicated to us about the divine  nature. Duns Scotus concluded that the language of revelation must be necessarily univocal, conveying literal truth. The only alternative to univocal language, for him, was equivocation and scepticism. But Aquinas, before him, had not accepted the dilemma between univocal and equivocal and defended the way of analogical knowledge in order do justice to the intentions of the two other ways, and avoid their drawbacks.

    2. Contemporary philosophical discussions have continued to deal with similar issues and provided new insights into the nature of both univocal and analogical language. The important event has been the growing philosophical significance of metaphor. Discovery of the importance of metaphor in the twentieth century has been central to understand how religious language stretches the literal meaning of words and thus has contributed to a  reinstatement of a properly understood analogy. Traditionally metaphors were taken for figures of speech or ornaments of language, important in poetics and rhetoric but nor for philosophy or theology. Today’s philosophical landscape has radically changed.  Metaphorical language is  no longer seen as  a deviation from “normal” speech ( Aristotle). Hobbes and Locke vehemently dismissed metaphor as harmful to the cause of truth. It can be trusted as a rhetoric device but useless when it comes to treating the truth. Logical positivism, through their distinction of cognitive and emotive language, disparaged all forms of figurative language. But for the new perspective on metaphor, metaphor is seen at the heart of cognitive language. It is irreplaceable. It says sometimes what has not be said before and cannot be said in any other way. Metaphor is defined as saying one thing and meaning another, or speaking about one thing in terms  which are seen to be suggestive of another. Metaphor directs us to what we have never seen before. Its primary reference is negated only to open up reference at another level. More importantly, what  metaphor evokes cannot usually be replaced by univocal expositions. However metaphor is imprecise and vague and this ensuing inexactness is often what has bothered philosophers and  led them to prefer univocal language.  Their major criticism is that metaphor cannot be used in a syllogism. However nowadays the seeming “clarity” of univocal language has been put in question. Metaphor is not an optional or superfluous  addition to univocal language. Its cognitive value is recognized. Recent philosophies claim that metaphor is as crucial as literal language. They reject the tradition that denigrated the capacity for truth of figurative language. The new movements in fact reduce the difference between the truth-bearing capacity of language. Both analogical and symbolic language are indirect and inexact pointers to truth, but both may point to truth.

            The attempts to find univocal precision and to reduce figurative, analogical language to univocal language is seen as an imposition of false and unnecesary requirements. The standards of what is to count as cognitive are raised too high. We have to break the spell of this standard. Rather than attempting to determine whether we can explain a metaphor precisely in using other, usually literal, terms, the important thing is to do with metaphor what we do with univocal language, namely, to determine its meaning. Metaphor can be regarded as making a truth claim without being reduced to being a literal truth claim. Religious language understands a metaphor such as “God is our heavenly Father” to say something about God, a partially descriptive even though vague aspect of the divine reality. In any case the genuine new approach of metaphor has reopened a viable third way between a univocal and equivocal approach, the way of analogical knowledge that Aquinas had opened in the thirteenth century .

            One has to admit that the philosophy of language cannot settle truth claims but it can  lead to greater sensitivity to the role of language and that is its significant contribution. The philosophy of language will be needed as long as people use language  about religion.

    ° Stiver, Dan R., The Philosophy of Religious Language,  Blackwell, Oxford, 1996


    STOVE David *

    (Australian philosopher, 1927-1994)

    The rejection of Popper’s view of truth as ‘conjectural’

        Stove admits that one can consider him as “a purely negative thinker”. He is known mostly for his attack on what he calls the ‘irrationalism that infests modern philosophy of science’, in particular the sort of relativist and “social constructivist” views current in sociology of science and postmodernism, in which modern science is regarded as no better (or worse) than  astrology.

         Much of Stove’s effort in this matter is expended in attacking what he sees as the source of these views, namely Karl Popper’s claim that while we can refute theories, we can never have any reason to think that a theory is true or, more to the point, that we can never have any reason to think that one theory is more likely to be true than another. He accuses Popper to hold that we have no grounds whatsoever to suppose that our past experience is any guide to the future, an affront, says Stone, not only to scientific reasoning but to common sense.

            Stove alleges that the aim of science in Popper's view is not to seek truth but to find untruth. Popper's insistence on the provisional nature of scientific theories, on what he calls 'conjectural knowledge' is regarded by Stove as irrational in the extreme. Popper, in effect, denies the accumulation of scientific knowledge because, if it is all provisional, then it cannot be knowledge. Knowledge, for Stove, always means knowledge of the truth, and truth cannot bear the adjective 'conjectural'. The concept of 'conjectural knowledge' is a nonsense, a contradiction in terms, and leads to the relativist denial of objective truth.

            Several critics have pointed out, against Stone’s criticism of Popper, that it is no more unreasonable to talk of 'conjectural knowledge' than to talk of 'partial knowledge', which everybody does without batting an eyelid. All Popper means by 'conjectural knowledge', is 'the knowledge we have so far on the basis of our unfalsified theories', that is, those theories which when tested are found to have verisimilitude with empirical facts. That Popper believed fiercely in objective truth (in its non-absolute sense) is evidenced from his constant stress that the job of the scientist is the quest for truth.   

    * Stove David, Against the Idols of the Age, ed. Roger Kimball, New Brunswick (US) and London (UK): Transaction, 1999.               


    StraightArrow Janet *

    (Contemporary American spiritual counselor)


    Let go of belief to discover truth and freedom


    The only way to know truth is through experience. A common belief in the culture is that you need to believe something to know truth. Truth cannot be known – peacefully,  clearly and with no doubt – unless you have an experience of it and know it to be so.

    No one else’s experience can take the place of having the experience for you. Belief is a short cut, fashioned to get people to neglect their intellect, and personal authority, which is giving your life and power away to someone or something else.

    We have been trained to believe, and follow other peoples experience as truth, instead of having a heart, mind and soul of our own, to live and be in our life. It is an immature way of being led down a path, without truly engaging the being. This way of belief is based in confusion mixing the truth with some belief to control and create a system, culture, religion or group, and it creates dissonance and war in and outside of people.

    We are trained that if someone wrote it down it is true. We are trained to believe and know from there, and not question beliefs but feel comfortable because many others go and just follow along. I have found that many educated, brilliant people believe instead of know.

    There are many profound Universal truths in all religions and traditions. There are also a lot of lies, control, beliefs and fears mixed in with the sacred truths. It is for us to find our own way home to truth, love and by ourselves.

    It is important not to be sheep in these times. We know there are many lies told to us daily and this leads the collective down roads we are better not to go on. It is important to stop belief and be more open, not less. I do not believe things, I experience them and know truth or not and act in truth. The highest spirituality requires no belief, and this is a new way for many people who are taught to believe first and then follow the path in that direction.

    To untangle the beliefs, fears and lazy pathways of learning through others experience, in ways that trap and control you, instead of leading you to openness and love, becomes easy to experience and discern when you are ready to be in the driver’s seat of your life, health and spirit.

    I do not have to fight with someone or debate my truth and experience, as it is perfect for me, and brings clarity to all of my life. Freedom to be and know truth does not cause wars in or outside of you. You know you are free and do not  have to convince others of your experience. It is also a path of self-mastery, which means you have the authority to live your life and own your mind and heart.

    Learn to know what is true for you and build on that. It will be an adventure of learning, releasing what is not truth and learning more. Truth does set you free.


    *StraightArrow  Janet, Be the medecine


    STRAUSS Leo *

    (German born American political philosopher, 1899-1973)

    Philosophical truth is dangerous to society

         According to Leo Strauss, the American political philosopher much appreciated by several neo-conservatist political figures in the USA, philosophy and truth are not meant for all. Philosophy has always to go underground and conceal itself in some way because it deals with truth while society is based on opinion and opinion subverts truth. This is the basis of Strauss' political philosophy.  

            He contends that philosophy and truth are not meant for all. Even more he claims that philosophical truth is deadly and dangerous to society. It looks as if truth is so terrible that it threatens to wreak havoc on society unless it is kept secret. Indeed Strauss considers religion and morality as two of the biggest but most pious swindles ever perpetrated on the human race. But he adds that there would be no human race were it not for these swindles. It is therefore of the utmost importance that they be sustained and nurtured. For surely, no society could survive in the absence of religion and morality.  

            Truth is too hard for people to bear, and the classical appeal to "virtue" as the object of human endeavor is unattainable. Hence it is necessary to tell lies to people about the nature of political reality. An elite recognizes the truth, however, and keeps it to itself. This gives it insight, and implicitly power that others do not possess.  Machiavelli was right: there is a natural hierarchy of humans, and rulers must restrict free inquiry and exploit the mediocrity and vice of ordinary people so as to keep society in order.

            Strauss has no objection about using deception in politics, he even sees it as a necessity. He believes that societies should be hierarchical - divided between an elite who should lead, and the masses who should follow.  Those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right - the right of the superior to rule over the inferior. This dichotomy requires "perpetual deception" between the rulers and the ruled. The people are told what they need to know and no more. While the elite few are capable of absorbing the absence of any moral truth, the masses cannot not cope with it. If exposed to the absence of absolute truth, they would quickly fall into nihilism or anarchy. That is why Strauss viewed religion as absolutely essential in order to impose moral law on the masses who otherwise would be out of control. At the same time, he stressed that religion was for the masses alone; the rulers need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion are "a pious fraud."

    * See Drury, Shadia Leo Strauss and the American Right. Palgrave Macmillan, 1999.


    STRAWSON, P. F. *

    (British philosopher, 1919)

    The performative theory of truth.

          Strawson reacts against the traditional concept of truth as relation (between mind and reality) or property (of sentences: “p  is true”) but even more he reacts against the concept of truth that has arisen from semanticist  like Tarski for whom the function of “true” in sentences like “‘X is Y’ is true” must be descriptive as if to say that a statement is true is to make a statement about a statement (in describing the statement as true). Strawson’s thesis is that the function  of “ true” is not descriptive but confirmatory; that is,  its function is like to say “yes” in reply to a question.

            For Strawson, truth does not apply to sentences and propositions. Truth is not a property of symbols. Its function is not to be a property at all but to convey something totally different than describing. According to him, saying that a statement is true says nothing more than the original statement. Linguistically  speaking, the truth-predicate is useless. Strawson agrees (partly) with Ramsey’s “redundancy theory” (see Ramsey for the “redundancy theory”). Still only partly, because for Strawson using language is not just a matter of conveying information. Attributing truth to a proposition is not simply redundant, it fulfils a performative  function. We do not say that a statement “is true” only in order to say something ( useless)  about it, but to endorse  it and give performative force to what we say. When we say ‘is true’, we mean ‘ I promise’, ‘I agree’, ‘I do’, ‘Yes’. We do not say  anything more than the statement, we only confirm it. To say ‘is true’ is a gesture. It is not to make a statement about a statement, it is to perfom an act of endorsing it. Therefore the performative theory of truth adds something important to the redundancy theory.  It satisfies our inclination to believe that “ is true” has a function to play in what we say,  not  linguistically’  but  performatorilly.  

            As a follower of Strawson writes (Price): “Truth is a mythical goal of enquiry”. It is beneficient to subscribe to such a myth because it has a behavioural advantage. In using the predicates  “true” and “false” we point out to others our agreement or disagreement. But nothing more than that.  

           2. Some critics are not satisfied with Strawson’s performative  theory of truth.  For them the question remains: if the statement is endorsed or rejected ( by the saying of “is true” and “is false”), why  is it endorsed or rejected? It may be the case that it is endorsed because  it is true ! If the word “true” is a vehicle for endorsement, it may be that the truth  of the statement is the reason  for endorsement.

            In other words performatory utterances cannot be purely performatory, they must be based upon ‘ what is the case’; they must refer to some reality. Of course the anti-realist position of Strawson and Price does not allow them to go beyond the purely subjective understanding of truth. The issue amounts to a debate between realism and anti-realism, which was the topic of a famous – and complex - debate between Austin (who holds the realist view of a  correspondence) and Strawson (who holds the anti-realist position).

    * Strawson, P.F. Truth, in Truth,ed. by Pitcher G., Ptrentice-Hall, N.Y. 1964, p 32-54; see Johnson, L.E., Focussing on Truth,  Routledge, London, 1992, p. 77-82, 154-175


    STRENG , Frederick J. *

    (American philosopher of religion, 1933-1993)

    The variety of approaches to the truth  in religions

         The understanding of truth in religion cannot be limited to a conception of truth as a relationship between words or between ideas and things.  Religious truth is not philosophical truth because the object of religious knowing is not simply information about things, persons and world; it is the recognition of the deepest reality for the fulfilment of life. This reality called God,  Dharma, Tao or Nirvana etc. is the original source, the expression of  what-is at the deepest level.  Religious truth is a transforming orientation leading to superlative well-being, known in religious traditions as the conversion from sin to salvation, illusion to insight, bondage to freedom, and chaos to order. Religious truth is a solution to the process of self-deception, the correcting process that operates a comprehensive transformation of one’s life-orientation.  One can discern five different approaches or ways of knowing the truth to achieve the deepest well-being possible, sometimes called heaven, salvation, liberation, total harmony   or nirvana.  

            1. The ultimate truth is sometimes known through the intimate extraordinary experience of spiritual presence. The validity  of this truth depends on the  direct experience of such a presence.  It transcends any other norms of validity. The perception of such divine disclosure provides a direction for living and a principle of knowledge unavailable anywhere  else.

           2. The ultimate truth is often expressed  through symbols,  sacred myths, sacramental rites and initiations. The validity for truth in religious symbolic expression is found in the recognition that its source is  the eternal realm of the sacred. The deepest problem in life arises from forgetting one ‘s sacred source, the basis for all well-being. The duplication of the sacred realm in symbolic gestures, physical objects, names and  sounds  discloses the hidden eternal, genuine and pure reality – the opposite of the profane, corrupt and fragmented mundane human experience.

           3. A third approach to religious truth is through practical moral wisdom characterised  by honesty, truthworthiness and sincerity. This expression of truth is found strikingly in Chinese and Indian sources, which both appeal to a natural cosmic order (dharma). The truth of life is known not through a  personal experience of a divine presence or rational reflection but through  living out a sensitivity  to the inherent cosmic harmony  within the self and the world.

          4. Fourthly  truth in religion may  be viewed as the accurate self-consciousness of what-is . The key-condition for attaining truth is the avoidance of attachment to conventional habits of knowing. The concern for transforming the mode of knowing is crucial. Truth is realization and this realization requires an insight into the manner and quality of one’s awareness. The hearer of truth must be prepared to receive it with a pure and liberated mind. This requires more than intellectual skills, but quieting the mind through meditation, mental concentration, dhyana  or yoga. For a true submission to God the ego must vanish. The highest truth is reached in emptying the self of its conventional consciousness so as to open the way to the manifestation of the ultimate reality.  

           5. The fifth approach to truth in religion is to respond with the intellect to the meaning found in the outside objective  reality. Classical Greek philosophy had a significant influence on Christian and  Islamic theologies on the way they have addressed the issue of truth.  Truth is universal and can be expressed in universally valid concepts. This cognitive, propositional,  approach to truth has led to the formulation of religious doctrines and dogmas, presented to the intellectual assent of believers.

          Thus truth in world religions is a concept that has not only different meanings and uses but also indicates different approaches to the religious concern of attaining the highest well-being.  The different approaches have their own principles of validation. Each of them is open to criticism and the basic question that arises is how religious knowledge of the transcendental reality is related  to the common human means of knowing. Since the nature of religious truth, it is argued, is so different from any communicable description of it, the so called truth claims of religions indicate more about the simply subjective conditions of the knower than about any universal objective reality.

          Today there is a heightened sense of urgency to develop strategies for discovering of the principle  of unity of the various religious truth claims. In those communities that identify  their survival with a  single form  of truth, through  orthodoxy and orthopraxy, the tolerance of alternative approaches to truth is difficult to maintain. But the fact is that the contemporary world is characterised by the development of a world-wide communication network. This situation requires new concepts of the self and the universe  and an exchange of cultural and religious  approaches to truth. The survival and well-being of people in all cultures necessitates a creative re-examination of the critical assessment of the various religious truth claims.

    * Streng, F.J.  Truth,  in the Hastings Encyclopedia for Religion and Ethics,  New York, Macmillan, 1987


    STROBEL Nick *

    (Contemporary Ameican student pastor)


    Metaphorical biblical truths are profoundly true but not necessarily factual


    Much of the conflict between science and religion is the result of literal interpretations of the sacred text of the Christian and Jewish faiths known as the Bible. A literalist view of the Bible is actually an outgrowth of the philosophy and time period from which modern science arose (called the "Enlightenment"—the 18th century) that identified truth with factuality and that truth must be verifiable as fact. Therefore, it is a relatively recent view that does not go back to the original community of Christians that wrote the materials collected together in what Christians call the "New Testament" (and, therefore, not even further back to the communities of the Hebrew Bible, the "Old Testament"). Our pre-occupation with whether an event really happened would seem pretty strange to the New and Old Testament communities (and anyone before the 18th century). Asking if an event actually happened in the Bible is not important because much of the language of the Bible is metaphorical. A literal reading also misses the deeper---truer---meaning of the text. Jesus often criticized the group of Jews called the "Pharisees" of his day for abiding by the letter of the law (the Hebrew scriptures) but missing the meaning---the spirit---of the law. In his famous "Sermon on the Mount", there are many times Jesus teaches about the difference between a literal and true meaning of the law saying, "You have heard it said ..., but I say ..."

    The Bible has both history and metaphor. Even when describing an actual historical event, the metaphorical meaning of the event is what is important. Because of the pervasive influence of the Enlightenment on our society today, we value metaphorical language less than literal language, even distrusting metaphorical language. However, when describing profound truths that can transform lives, metaphors must be used. Metaphorical truths are profoundly true but not necessarily factual. This "more than literal" meaning is what a storyteller means when he says, "I don't know if it actually happened this way or not, but I know this story is true." The truth of the Bible does not depend on historical facutality. It contains true stories even if the particular stories are not factual reports.  The reason for the literalist Christians' passion on their interpretation of the Bible is that they have "identified truth with factuality; thus, in their minds, if the stories aren't factual, they aren't true. And if these stories aren't true, the Bible isn't true. What is at stake is their view of the Bible.


    *See Internet Nick Strobel





    SUAREZ, Francisco *

    (Spanish theologian, 1548-1617)

    The eternal necessary truths are prior to God   

    1. The topic under consideration is not the truth of existence but the truth of propositions signifying the identity of two terms, such as mathematical and logical truths which are eternal and necessary. The truth of such propositions is rooted in essences considered simply in themselves  and apart from what actually exists. The problem about these eternal necessary truths is about their relation to God. Are these eternal truths prior to God, and thus independent of him ? Augustine identified the eternal truths and God. Indeed his argument for the existence of God was that “there are eternal truths, therefore God exists”. In identifying the eternal truth with God he followed somewhat Plotinus who had placed the eternal ideas in the Intellect, the Logos, the first emanation of the immutable One. Likewise Thomas Aquinas placed the eternal truths and ideas in the mind of God.

             But Francisco Suarez, the 16th c. philosopher-theologian, thought differently. His thesis was that propositions concerning essences are true not because they are known by God, rather they are known by him because they are true. Like all scholastic philosopher-theologians, Suarez makes a distinction between the will and the intellect of God. Whatever is dependent of the divine will is a contingent entity. Therefore, reasons Suarez,  the eternal truths cannot be brought about by God for if they were that would be by an act of his will in which case these truths would no longer be necessary. The ultimate foundation of the necessity of these truths are to be found in the essences themselves, not in the divine model, otherwise  the autonomy of essences would be compromised. Hence the eternal truths are the object of the divine gaze, not the product of any divine operation.  They are known by God because they are true.  Suarez denies that they are true because God knows them.  

          2. It is noteworthy that Descartes condemned Suarez’s views on eternal truths for being blasphemous  and dangerous. The God of Suarez looks like a demiurge who  contemplates the ideas!  Descartes' way out of this problem is in denying the distinction between the divine intellect and the divine will, which lies at the root of the discussion. God's will and understanding are one. The eternal truths are the result of a divine operation, they depend on him. It is by the same causality that God creates the world and that he creates  the eternal truths. But then  how shoud one understand  that these eternal truths are necessary? Should we not say that  everything depending on God's will is contingent? Descartes answers that God has laid down the laws of nature just as a king lays down the laws for his kingdom. These laws  are inborn in men's mind just as  a king would imprint his laws in the hearts of his subjects. Thus the eternal truths are unchangeable and eternal in the sense that God's will is not fickle. Descartes, unlike Suarez, claims that God is the creator of the eternal truths. Aquinas’s solution was different:  for him the eternal truths are internalized within  God, that is, the eternity of the eternal truths derives solely from their being in the divine intellect.

    * Suarez, F., Disputationes Metaphysicae, XXXI, quoted in Campbell R., Truth and Historicity,  Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992, p. 94-97


    SUFISM *

    (Mystical tradition of Islam, mostly from 1200 to 1500)

    There is no other truth than the divine unity

         Sufism recognizes one central truth:  the unity (Wahdat) of being. All phenomena are manifestations of a single reality, which is al-Haq (Truth, God). The essence of being/Truth/God is devoid of every form and quality, and hence unmanifest, yet it is inseparable from every form and phenomenon either material or spiritual. It is often understood to imply that every phenomenon is an aspect of Truth and at the same time attribution of existence to it is false. The chief aim of all Sufis then is to let go of all notions of duality (and therefore of the individual self also), and realize the divine unity which is considered to be the truth. Human beings are not separate from the divine.

           Sufism is sometimes interpreted as a positive and healthy reaction to the overly rational activity of  philosophers and theologians. For the Sufis, the road to truth and certainty can never be confined to the process of rational or purely intellectual activity, without sapiential knowledge (zawq, "taste") and the direct, immediate experience of the Heart. Truth, they believe, can be sought and found only with one's entire being. They are not satisfied merely to know the Truth. They insist on a total identification with it: a "passing away" of the knower in the Known, of subject in the Object of knowledge. This insistence of total involvement in "mystical" realisation, and on a participative understanding of religious doctrine, sharply distinguished Sufism from other Islamic schools of thought. In fact, considering themselves the true core of Islam, Sufis appeared as outsiders not only to  philosophers and theologians, but even to "ordinary" Islam.  

           Al Halláj, the legendary Iranian Sufi master (858 - 922 AD) is reported to have said: "I am the Truth" (i.e., God), something people at the time found offensive. As a result, he was found guilty of heresy and  put to death.

          The following metaphor, credited to an unknown Sufi scholar, helps describe this line of thought. "There are three ways of knowing a thing. Take for instance a flame. One can be told of the flame, one can see the flame with one's own eyes, and finally one can reach out and be burned by it. In this way, we Sufis seek to be burned by God."

          Truth for the Sufis is the realization of the absolute unity of reality and that unity is God.

    *See  Sufism, in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



    ( Persian philosopher, 1155- 1191)

    Intuitive knowledge gives access to the divine realm of metaphysical truths

         What constitutes, for Suhrawardi, real knowledge is based on immediate and intuitive knowledge. Whereas the Peripatetics had extolled intellection, Suhrawardi brings direct intuition or mystical contemplation to the forefront, as an alternative —  more reliable — foundation of certainty. Intuitive knowledge provides access to a priori truths of which discursive knowledge can only be subsequently validated through a posteriori demonstrations.    

         Suhrawardi analyzes the notions of apperception and self-awareness and alludes to a pre-logical mode of perception that remains distinct from intellection. He discusses the primary awareness of the soul's existence, its self-identity, the unmediated character of this particular type of knowledge. He provides various arguments to demonstrate the existence of a type of knowledge that is self-evident, a priori and unmediated through any type of abstraction and representation of forms, whether it be through an image, a form, a notion or an attribute of the self. The perception of pain becomes the model of self-knowledge as unmediated perception, i.e., a non discursive, non-conceptual and non-propositional type of knowledge that, nonetheless, does constitute a mode of knowing distinct from discursive knowledge. Similar to pain, self-knowledge provides yet another illustration of the type of epistemic process that Suhrawardi considers being at the heart of intuitive knowledge.                                                                                                                                                              In Suhrawardi's ‘science of lights’, the object of perception — light — cannot be known discursively, but only through an immediate presence or awareness of its luminosity. Mystical vision and contemplation operate through this intuitive process of knowing metaphysical lights. Individuals achieve such states through spiritual and ascetic practices that enable them to detach themselves from the darkness of the world in its quest for the apperception of those lights. Intuitive knowledge thus constitutes a superior means of accessing the luminous reality and the divine realm of metaphysical truths.

          Direct intuition lies at the heart of Suhrawardi's 'prophetology', inasmuch as only the most perfect sage who witnesses those truths, whether he be a prophet or not, deserves God's vice-regency. Individuals who have access to those metaphysical lights can be invested with the vice-regency of God, depending on the degree of their receptivity and the purity of their hearts. The epistemic process by which mystics have all had access to those metaphysical truths and divine realms remains quite similar to the process by which prophets have accessed the same divine and metaphysical truths.

    * See Amin Razavi, M. Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination, Richmond: Curzon, (1997)


    SWEDENBORG Emanuel *

    (Swedish Scientist, Philosopher and Spiritual Explore. 1688-1772)                                                                                             Truth is love in action; actualized love is truth


    Truth is the way love works. Most of us sense that. Actions we perform out of love are honest actions, genuine expressions in a physical form of what love means, or the truth of love. The two are inseparable, a part of the same reality. Actualized love is truth, and hence faith and charity are especially significant in human living. Swedenborg defines faith as a kind of inner sight, a perception of what is true. Charity is founded in the desire to do service and live a useful life, beginning with the choice of career or life work. The spiritual life involves the active development of a useful and meaningful life in service to the betterment of the world as a whole. Whereas the religious life often connotes withdrawal from the world and life, active participation in the world is a commitment to actualizing faith and charity. The life of charity and faith parallel the union of love and truth which is the essence of God.

    "The Divine that goes forth from the Lord is called in heaven Divine truth. . This Divine truth flows into heaven from the Lord from His Divine love. The Divine love and the Divine truth therefrom are related to each other as the fire of the sun and the light therefrom in the world, love resembling the fire of the sun and truth therefrom light from the sun. Moreover, by correspondence fire signifies love, and light truth going forth from love. From this it is clear what the Divine truth that goes forth from the Lord's Divine love is that in its essence it is Divine good joined to Divine truth, and being so conjoined it vivifies all things of heaven; just as in the world when the sun's heat is joined to light it makes all things of the earth fruitful, which takes place in spring and summer.”


    *See Internet Swedenborg Emanuel






    SWIDLER,, Leonard *

    (American philosopher of inter-religious dialogue  , b. 1929)

    For a de-absolutized, dynamic and dialogical concept of truth

       In modern times there has been a dramatic shift in the understanding of truth. To the old traditional concept of an absolute, static and exclusive truth is substituted a de-absolutized, dynamic, evolutive and dialogical concept of truth. Swidler discerns six areas of knowledge which have contributed to the new understanding of the notion of truth.

            1. History. All truth holds only in relation to the historical context in which it has been produced. Therefore it is involved in constant change.  

            2. Sociology. Truth is related to the cultural milieu in which the speaker and hearer of a communication of truth live, the class they belong to and their sex have an influence on the truth communicated.

            3. Linguisctics. Truth is bound up with language and thus limited to its frontiers. Thus it expresses a partial, selective, perspective view of reality.

            4. Hermeneutics. Truth is subject to interpretation. All experience relates back to a horizon of understanding, to the pre-understanding of the person experiencing it. The knower knows in his and her own way. As Aquinas said: everything that is known is known admodum cognoscentis.

            5. Dialectics; Truth is dialogical and this means that knowledge is achieved not in the mode of a one-sided acceptance of givens but reciprocally in dialogue with other truth-seekers,  following the model of question and answer.

            6. Pragmatics. Statements about  truth are  also related  to the action-oriented intention of the thinker.  

            Thus there can be no longer any question of absoluteness of truth in the sense of something that transcends time and culture, independent of world-view and set apart from history.  

            The absolutist view of truth is an obstacle to dialogue. Only those who have a de-absolutised view of truth are ready to engage in dialogue. When particular thought-categories are taken for the only valid way to describe reality, all other descriptions of the significance of human experience are considered deviant and mistaken.. The de-absolutised mentality does not eschew affirmations, but it is aware that such affirmations are not the only way to conceive reality. Being limited, they are always open to being supplemented and enriched. Only those with a mentality of an at least minimal de-absolutised understanding of truth feel the need and urgency to enter into dialogue.

    * Swidler, Leonard, Towards a Universal Theology of Redligion,Orbis Book, Maryknoll, NY, 1988, p.6-13


    SWINBURNE, Richard *

    (English philosopher, b.1934)

    Simplicity  as the evidence of truth

         Swinburne is a staunch advocate of theism, the best metaphysical theory for him to explain reality. In contrast with the view that theology deals with revealed truths, the view he adopts considers theism as a philosophical theory. It would not make sense to evaluate revealed truth, but theistic philosophy can legitimately be argued for or against.

            Swinburne sees his activity as formulating a scientific hypothesis to explain all the facts of the world.      He describes how science explains things. He decides to use 'simplicity' as the criterion to choose between possible scientific hypotheses. He tries to show that theism is an explanation of the facts of the world  and that the evidence gives a significant degree of probability to the claim that God exists.  

            In order to build a cumulative case for theism, he uses “Bayesian” reasoning (the philosophy of Bayesianism, which motivates the use of probabilities in decision making). He argues that the probability of theism is raised by such things as the existence of the universe, its order, the existence of consciousness, human opportunities to do good, the pattern of history, evidence of miracles and religious experience. Besides he maintains that the existence of evil does not count against the existence of God. The conclusion is that on our total evidence theism is more probable than not.

            In  Swinburne’s theory of logical probability, the notion of simplicity occupies centre stage. Basically the idea is that a simpler hypothesis is more probably true and so the simplest hypothesis is the one most probably true. For him the idea of simplicity is indicative of truth as it is a prime determinant of intrinsic probability.  Simple explanations and hypotheses are more likely to be true than complicated ones. He takes pain to defend the view that the theistic explanation is the simplest than can be conceived, and therefore the most likely to be true.  

    * Swinburne, Richard, Simplicity and Evidence of truth, Aquinas lecture, Marquette University, Milwaukee, 1997


    SZEKELY Edmond Boreaux *

    (Hungarian philosopher,promoter of Essene studies. 1905-1979)

    The Three Paths leading to Truth:  consciousness, nature and culture.


    There are three paths leading to Truth. The first is the path of the consciousness, the second that of nature, and the third is the accumulated experience of past generations, which we receive in the shape of the great masterpieces of all ages. From time immemorial, man and humanity have followed all three paths.

     1. The first path to Truth, the path of the consciousness, is that followed by the great mystics. They consider that the consciousness is the most immediate reality for us and is the key to the universe. it is something which is in us, which is us. And throughout the ages the mystics have made the discovery that the laws of human consciousness contain an aspect not found in the laws governing the material universe

     Our consciousness does not exist in space and therefore cannot be measured in spatial terms. It has its own time, which is very often timelessness, so temporal measurements cannot be applied to Truth reached by this path. The great mystics discovered that the human consciousness, besides being the most immediate and the inmost reality for us, is at the same time our closest source of energy, harmony and knowledge. The path to Truth leading to and through the consciousness produced the great teachings of humanity, the great intuitions and the great masterpieces throughout the ages. Such then is the first path to or source of Truth, as the Essene traditions understand and interpret it.

    Unfortunately, the magnificent original intuitions of the great masters often lose their vitality as they pass down the generations. They are very often modified, distorted and turned into dogmas, and all too frequently their values become petrified in institutions and organized hierarchies.

    Another danger is that persons following this path to Truth, the path of the consciousness-may fall into exaggerations. They come to think that this is the only path to Truth and disregard all others. Very often, too, they apply the specific laws of the human consciousness to the material universe where they lack validity, and ignore the laws proper to the latter sphere. The mystic often creates for himself an artificial universe, farther and farther removed from reality, till he ends by living in an ivory tower, having lost all contact with reality and life.

    2. The second of the three paths is the path of nature. While the first path of the consciousness starts from within and penetrates thence into the totality of things, the second path takes the opposite way. Its starting point is the external world. it is the path of the scientist, and has been followed in all ages through experience and through experiment, through the use of inductive and deductive methods.

    But the scientist, like the mystic, sometimes falls into exaggerations. While science has transformed the life of mankind and has created great values, for man in all ages, it has failed to give entire satisfaction in the solution of the final problems of existence, life and the universe. Dogmatic scientists deny any other approach to Truth than their own, who refuse to attribute reality to the facts and phenomena which they cannot fit neatly into their own categories and classifications.

    3. The third path to Truth, is the wisdom, knowledge and experience acquired by the great thinkers of all ages and transmitted to us in the form of great teachings, the great sacred books or scriptures, and the great masterpieces of universal literature which together form what today we would call universal culture.

    There are different ways of studying these great writings. One way - the way of all theologians and of the organized Churches - is to consider each text literally. This is the dogmatic way resulting from a long process of petrification, by which truths are inevitably transformed into dogmas.

    The spirit of the Essene traditions is opposed to this way of interpreting these ageless writings and follows an entirely different approach. The Essene method of interpretation is, on the one hand, to place them in harmonious correlation with the laws of the human consciousness and of nature, and, on the other, to consider the facts and circumstances of the age and environment in which they were written. This approach also takes into account the degree of evolution and understanding of the people to whom the particular master was addressing his message.


    * Szekely Edmond Bordeaux, The Essene Gospel of Peace Book Two,  The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies 1989



    Jean Mercier