(Indian poet and philosopher, 1861-1941)
The truth of the universe is a human truth, the perfect comprehension of the universal human mind.
1. For Tagore, the truth of the universe is human truth. The world is a human world - the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. Therefore, the world apart from human beings does not exist; it is a relative world, depending for its reality upon human consciousness. Truth is the perfect comprehension of the universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experience, through our illumined consciousness.
During their famous discussion on the nature of truth, Tagore and Einstein expressed an important difference of opinion over whether there was truth in the world independent from the human mind. While Einstein argued that the truth is independent of human beings, Tagore disagreed : ‘The truth of the Universe is human truth; when our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.’ Einstein replied: ‘I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.’ Tagore insisted that ‘truth is realized only through man’. Einstein illustrated his point of view: ‘For instance, if nobody is in this house, yet that table remains where it is.’ To which Tagore replied: ‘Yes, it remains outside of the individual mind but not the universal mind’. Tagore summarized the discussion: ‘I could see that Einstein held fast to the extra-human aspect of truth. But it is evident to me that, in human reason, facts assume a unity of truth which is only possible to a human mind.’
2. Truth in the Religion of Man is not that which was revealed only to a chosen few in the distant past. It is not reached through the analytical process of reasoning. It does not depend for proof on some corroboration of outward facts or the prevalent faith and practice of a group of people. Rather, the truth is revealed to every person every day, if we but listen. Truth comes like an inspiration and brings with it an assurance that it has been sent from an inner source of divine wisdom. This truth comes through an illumination, almost like a communication of the universal self to the personal self. Every human being is capable of experiencing such illumination (the mystical experience). Although some people are more successful at actualizing this potentiality than others, most people have had at one time or another at least a partial vision of the universal unity.
The truth, Tagore the poet says, is inside us, like a song which has only to be mastered and sung. It is like the morning which has only to be welcomed by raising the screens and opening the doors.
*Tagore Rabindranath, The Religion of Man, Harpercollins, 1994
(Pakistani Ahmadiyya Muslim Caliph, 1928-2003)
Truth and freedom according to the Quranic teaching
Tahir Ahmad was the caliph of the unorthodox branch of Islam called the Ahmaddiyya sect. According to him, the Quran manifestly acknowledges the role of rationality for the attainment of truth without drawing any separating line between religious or secular truths. Truth is the religion of Islam, Islam is the religion of Truth. The truth requires no compulsion for the transmission of its message, the only instrument it needs is rationality. As such, Islam invokes human intellect to investigate the truth of the Quranic teachings with reference to the study of human nature, history and rationality. It arouses the human faculties of reasoning and deduction, not only for the pursuit of religious investigation, but also for the attainment of secular knowledge.
What the Quran implies is simply this that the seeker after truth must necessarily be true himself or his inquiry will prove futile. The same principle often applies to the realm of secular enquiry as well. Every enquiry made with a biased mind will often lose credibility.
Contrary to what one may expect in the realm of religious controversies, little inner truth is displayed by most of the warring religious factions in the world today. One would normally expect that the religious should adhere more strongly to truth than the secular. In reality however, we find the opposite to be true in the later stages of every religion. In the beginning of religions it is invariably the religious who are unbiased and uncompromisingly committed to truth rather than the rest of the society, be it secular or avowedly religious..
That which is absolutely rational cannot lead anyone to the truth except those who possess a quality of righteousness or inner truth within them. But who can adjudge the quality of another person's inner truth? Everyone has a right to claim that he is absolutely true in his inner bearing. Hence whatever he believes is true. How does one resolve this problem, is the question. According to the Quran the measure and quality of anyone's inner truth can be reliably adjudged by reference to his visible conduct in everyday life. If he is habitually true in his ordinary daily bearing then his inner invisible self can also be adjudged as true. By the same criterion the truth of prophets is also judged.
The method of measuring the inner truth may work with unfaltering reliability in the case of prophets, who consistently display exemplary conduct throughout their lives. But it cannot be applied with equal certainty to other humans less than prophets. With what measure of reliability can a human observer pass judgement on the inner quality of truth or falsehood of another? The problem deepens further when it comes to the matter of faith and belief. Even if one holds the maddest of beliefs and dogmas, and there is no dearth of such people in the realm of religion today, they cannot be blamed with any finality of being consciously untrue. The only unfaltering answer to this dilemma is the one proposed by the Quran. It grants every human the fundamental right to believe in whatever he may and to claim that his beliefs are true. Yet it does not, in any way, permit him to impose his personal convictions on others, nor does it grant him any right to punish others for the crime of their wrong beliefs (as he judges them). Man is only answerable to God, and it is He alone Who knows the hidden intricacies of the human mind and heart.
The fundamental right and freedom to hold any belief is not a license to violate the sanctity of truth. It is provided only to protect the freedom of human conscience to act as it may deem fit. Had this freedom in matters of faith not been granted, anyone could have felt at liberty to forcibly change another's views and beliefs in the name of truth. His perverted logic would convince him that as no one is entitled to hold false beliefs, everyone with right beliefs is authorized to forcibly change them in accordance with his own. But this freedom of belief does not, in any way, override the principle of accountability. The right of freedom can be correctly understood only when it is coupled with this principle.
The steaming stinking breath of the fundamentalist, as he exhorts the sentiments of the Muslim masses and stirs them up to wage bloody wars against the non-believers has never been observed in the conduct of prophets and those who follow them. He draws his authority entirely from his own distorted vision. His attitude is as alien to the Quran as disease is to cure and venom is to elixir.
* Tahir Ahmad Mirza, Revelation, Rationality Knowledge and Truth. Hardcover, 756 pages Published July 1st 1998 by Islam International Publications
(British philosopher, b.1946)
The two fundamental aspects of truth: identity and correspondence
1.Truth has been having a rather hard time in recent decades. The most important and influential attacks on the concept of truth come from within analytical philosophy. These are the so-called ‘deflationary’ or ‘minimalist’ accounts that empty truth of content or reduce it to a formal relation. They argued that to assert that ‘p’ and to assert that ‘p is true’ is to assert the same thing. The concept of truth is therefore redundant.
2. At the very heart of truth (and falsehood, for the possibility of truth and falsehood are born at the same time) is explicitness. The assertion of truth is present in both ‘p’ and ‘p is true’: they both make explicit, of what is the case, that it is the case. Aristotle’s famous definition of truth in Metaphysics 1011b makes this very clear: ‘To say of what is that it is, or of what is not that it is not, is true’ .While a state of affairs is in itself neither true nor false, the statement that it obtains may be either.
This gives us the two most fundamental aspects of truth: identity and correspondence. Truth inheres in the identity of the sense (ie its meaning and reference) of a sentence used on a particular occasion, with the particular sense of the state of affairs that it picks out. These two entities which have the same sense – the assertion and the state of affairs asserted in it – consequently correspond to one another. And their identity is most clearly exemplified in facts. That is why it is wrong to say, as so many philosophers do, that truth is ‘correspondence to the facts’. The facts are the identity that underpins the correspondence.
While identity of sense and a consequent correspondence between the bearers of the sense lie at the heart of truth, this is not the whole story. At a higher level – the level of very general statements, of possible events, of theories and laws – truth is not always to be located in a direct correspondence between a particular assertion and the state of affairs it asserts.
We will very often rely on the assertion being consistent with what we know already, or with what others tell us is already known. There are more accessible consequences of empirical truths or general laws which enable us rationally to accept or to reject assertions which lie beyond our ability to check for direct correspondence.
This coherence of truths with other truths is evident in everyday life. The need for coherence is, however, most fully developed and most obviously to the fore in the truths of science. Even for science, however, the audit trail ultimately still has to end with correspondence with my experiences, direct or mediated. An assertion can count as true only if it coheres with other true assertions; but ultimately the truth of all assertions is underwritten by correspondence.
Truth is rich, and the theory of truth complex. This is precisely what we might expect, as the nature of truth touches on what is most distinctive about us. Of all the creatures in the universe who experience what is the case, we are the only ones who make explicit what is the case, and assert that it is the case. We are explicit, or truth-bearing and falsehood-bearing animals, and to see truth truly is to see ourselves truly.
* Tallis Raymond, The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Round Your Head. 2008
(American philosopher, b.1950)
1. For the post-modern mind human knowledge is subectively determined by a multitude of factors. It is fallible and relative rather then certain and absolute. Concrete experience prevails over absract principles. No a priori thought system can govern beliefs. The quest for knowledge must be endlessly self-revising. It takes nothing for granted, treats every argument as provisional , assumes no absolute. Reality is an open universe, a fluid, unfolding process. It is possibility rather than fact.
The knowing mind is not the passive reflector of an external world, rather it is active and creative in the process of perception and cognition. Reality is constructed by the mind, There is no empirical “fact” that is not already theory-laden. All human understanding is interpretation and no interpretation is final. No one can transcend the manifold dispositions of his own subjectivity and make any truth-claims. One can at best attempt a fusion of horizons.
2. Post-modernism does not offer any ground for any world view. It presents the picture of a world whose significance is utterly open and without warranted foundation. Its encouragment of creativity does not erase a debilitating sense of anxiety in the face of unending relativism and distressing incoherence left by pluralism.
Its scepticism in regard to truth has taken its most radical form in the epistemologies of the philosophies of language. All human thought is bound by cultural-linguistic forms of life. Human experience is linguistically predetermined and therefore not referent to reality. One has no access to any reality except to those determined by the local form of life. Language is a “cage” (Wittgenstein). Meanings of texts are undecidable, texts refer to other texts. Language posssesses no privileged connection to truth. Nothing certain can be said about truth. There is no point from which to judge whether a given perspective validly represents the truth.
3. The academic world of postmodernism is concerned only with the critical deconstructon of traditional assumptions through several overlapping modes of analysis: sociological, political, historical, psychological and linguistic. The new intellectual ethos is disassembling established structures, deflating pretensions, exploding beliefs, unmasking appearances. It promotes a hermeneutics of “suspicion, deconstructionism, decentering, demystification, discontinuity, difference”. Such terms express an epistemological obsession with fragments or fractures. To think well for post-modernism is to refuse the tyranny of wholes, totalitarian systems, the pretence of omi-science, grand theories, all product of intellectual authoritarianism. To assert general truths is to impose the spurious dogma on the chaos of phenomena. On the contrary one should show respect for the contingency and discontinuity of events. Any alleged comprehensive, coherent outlook is at best no more than a temporarily useful fiction masking chaos, an oppressive fiction masking relationship of power and violence.
4. There is no post-modern world-view, not even the possibility of one. The postmodern mentality is by its nature fundamentally subversive to all paradigms. Reality is without demontrable foundation. The essence of postmodernism is, according to Lyotard: “ incredulity towards the meta-narratives”. Its sense of superiority comes from its special awareness of how little knowledge can be climbed by the mind, itself included. Hence in recognizing a quasi-nihilist rejection of all forms of “totalization” and “ meta-narratives” (conceptualisation, systematisation, overall understanding), aspiration towards intellectual unity, wholeness or comprehensive coherence, it recognizes also that it is itself a position not beyond questioning. It cannot justify itself. It presupposes a “meta-narrative’ of its own. Implicitly the one postmodern absolute is critical consciousness, which, by decontructing all, seems compelled by its own logic to do so to itself as well.
* Tarnas, Richard, The Passion of the Western Mind, Ballantine Books, New York, 1993, p. 305-401
(Polish born American mathematician and philosopher of logic, 1901-1983)
1. Tarski is the advocate of the semantic theory of truth for which truth is attached only to linguistic items. He is not concerned with the substantial concept of truth but with the functional concept of truth in language. Truth is not regarded a property of the relation between world and thought, reality and language. Truth has only a linguistic or semantic function. “What is truth” ? this question is abandoned and replaced by the semantic functionning of the predicate “true”. How does “is true” function in language? In proposing a semantic solution to the problem of truth , Tarski turns his back to the philosophical (epistemological) problem of truth. He makes it clear that the semantic view of truth is (philosophically) neutral. In short his thesis about truth is : “Truth is defined by the satisfaction of sentences of a language in a meta-language.” This requires some explanation.
Firstly, the reason why Tarski introduces the notion of “metalanguage” is as follows. One can never say that the sentences of a language are true because that would lead to unbridgeable paradoxes, for instance the well known paradox of the liar: “What I have written is not true”: this sentence is true if and only if it is not true and the same sentence is not true if and only if it is true. To avoid the paradox one needs to introduce the idea of a metalanguage which contains all the sentences of the first language plus the predicate “ is true”. The first language (the object language) is not qualified to use the predicate “is true”. The price to pay for this explanation is that one can never predicate truth in a natural language, but only in the metalanguage. That means that the philosophical problem of truth is eliminated. “What is truth” can no longer be defined in a natural language. Truth is reduced to a relation between a natural language and a metalanguage. Truth becomes a platitude, the equivalence between a natural language and a metalanguage. For Tarski truth is a kind of correspondence, but not the correspondence of thought and reality, only the correspondence of a natural (“object”) language and a metalanguage.
Secondly, what Tarski calls “the convention T” states the condition of adequacy for truth-statements. For instance the sentence S: “ ‘Snow is white’ is true if and only if snow is white”. All true statements must be of that type, he says. The sentence S expresses the idea of correspondence, but not correspondence to the fact (as wrongly interpreted by K. Popper who wrote that Tarski had rehabilitated the classical theory of truth as correspondence). Truth identifies the state of affair or fact. This is correspondence as captured by language. What is true or false is defined in the language itself. The sentence “snow is white” is true because it identifies the state of affair. The saying of that sentence is true if it agrees with the sentence, and that only is what is left of “correspondence”. But the language alone cannot capture and settle what for a correspondence theory are the criteria of truth.
Likewise, “’snow is blue’ is true if and only snow is blue”. We know that the fact is not true but that is not the question. The question is that the saying of “snow is blue” is true if it agrees that snow is blue. Truth is not in the fact but in the saying what the fact is. In the supposition that snow is blue, then the saying that “snow is blue” is true. Tarski is not interested to know whether, in fact, snow is white or blue. All what he says has nothing to do with the criterion of truth and it is not his intention to deal with that question. In Tarski’s explanation we depend on our knowledge of snow as white or blue. We presuppose that knowledge and on that we build our “definition” of truth. Truth is in the asserting what is and we know “what is” a priori or by experience beforehand. The bearer of truth is not the fact or state of affair but the assertion, the sentence itself. Our knowledge of snow as white is established before and it is only when it comes to be said and asserted that there is truth.
In a realist correspondence theory, true statements are true because things are the way they are. We find out by checking the facts. In the semantic conception, true sentences are true because they are specified to be so. We find out by checking the rule-book. Why was the rule-book written one way rather than another, making snow white instead of blue? The semantic conception of truth offers us no criterion of truth. It is not interested in the correspondence of what we say to the facts, it is interested in the correspondence between what we say and the rule-book. On the semantical point of view, once the need for the metalanguage (of the rule-book) is realized, everything becomes clear. Another kind of correspondence than correspondence to facts is established and that suffices to determine the concept of semantic truth.
Knowing through the lexicon what is meant by “snow”,“white” and “blue”, one can say that snow is white or blue even if there are neither snow nor white, nor blue. Thus the statement is true by definition. The semantic theory of truth has sense only if one establishes a domain of definitions - through the lexicon and the rule-book - composed of objects to which correspond terms of the first language called object-language. It all comes to this that the Tarskian theory of truth tells us only what is understood by the speakers when they understand their language.
Tarski’s semantic theory of truth is to propose a linguistic approach to the problem which ultimately amounts to a redundancy theory of truth. The metaphysical or philosophical or epistemological question of truth is discarded and made irrelevant. The Tarskian theory of truth may be an interesting semantic theory of truth but on the epistemological viewpoint, it is of no use whatsoever. Tarski’s minimal purely semantic theory of truth has not been able to eliminate the basic question to know whether our beliefs are true or false. Our knowledge presupposes the possibility of truth and our will to know what is truth. The epistemological question of truth remains fundamental.
2. No wonder then that the Tarskian theory of truth has been criticized (for instance, by Strawson) for not being a theory of truth but a theory of meaning. Tarski’s approach comes to this that every meaningful sentence is true or false by definition. In Tarski’s explanation we depend on our knowledge of snow as white. That knowledge is presupposed and on the basis of that knowledge we build our definition of truth. To say that snow is white is to say the truth (because snow is white). Truth is the assertion of the meaningful sentence. The bearer of the truth is not the fact or state of affair, but the assertion. But then, says Strawson, “is true if and only if" is synonymous with “means that”, “is the same as”. Tarski reduces truth to meaning, equivalence, and identity.
A sentence is true if it identifies the state of affair. A true sentence says what is. Truth is in saying , asserting, making one’s own. The truth-predicate does not describe a state of affair. It says it. It states it. Truth is explained in a minimal way, to remove all theories of truth, to replace them with the platitudes of the “equivalence’ theory. This is a minimal explanation of truth. The truth-predicate does not describe any metaphysical (realist or non-realist) status of the sentence. The old theories of truth are removed and replaced by truisms. Truth becomes purely conventional. We define truth and then see whether our definition of truth is satisfied. For Tarski who is interested mostly in formal languages (symbolic logic, mathematics, etc) in which the truth-conditions are established by the logician and the mathematician, this notion of truth is relevant. But it is useless for ordinary language in which truth means much more than that, and in which we have an intuition of the truth. In formal language one can “create” the truth and define it conventionally but not in ordinary language.
3. In conclusion let us say that semantic truth does not explain our common use of the word “true”. It is out of keeping with our actual use of the term. It states only the platitude that” a statement is said to be true when its particular truth-conditions are satisfied”. Or, to put it in another way, “this being true by definition , here are all the sentences that are true”. The semantic conception of truth cannot tell us what it is to be true , but can only record what is true by definition
It has been suggested (by Polanyi) that in order to avoid the ambiguity of Tarski’s formulation: “ Snow is white is true, if and only if snow is white” it is preferable to recast the statement in the form:” I shall say that snow is white is true, if and only if I believe that snow is white”. The function of the personal coefficient in objective commitment and reference is made unambiguously clear in order to distinguish the assertion of the truth as of a different order than the statement asserted to be true
The Tarkian theory of truth is of no help at all on the epistemological viewpoint. The question about truth is to know whether there exists reliable procedures of acquisition of true beliefs. This is the question of justification and criteria of truth. The question is important because it is a fact that human beings love the truth and that they are made to know the truth. As Aristotle says it:” All human beings have a desire to know”. Such natural desire cannot be in vain.
* See Johnson L.E., Focussing on Truth, London, Routledge, 1992, p 81- 119; Vidal-Rosset, Coherence et Correspondence, in Quilliot, La Vérité, Paris, Ellipses, 1997, p. 179-188; Campbell, Truth and Historicity, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992, p.364-378
(Canadian philosopher, b. 1931)
Authenticity: to be true to oneself in dialogue with others
In The Ethics of Authenticity Taylor refers to the contemporary drive to be true to oneself, to achieve self-fulfillment through self-expression. Authenticity involves deep-rooted senses of inwardness and freedom. It promotes self-creation as well as self-discovery, an emphasis on originality, and an opposition to externally imposed norms.
He makes a radical claim that we only become capable of understanding ourselves and defining our identity through dialogue. He says humans are fundamentally dialogical creatures and cannot develop into individuals without interaction with others. Through dialogue we are able to exchange our ideas with others and construct our values and beliefs from bits and pieces we hear. This is how we become authentic humans. Authenticity is being true to oneself. It almost seems paradoxical: to discover our individuality we must converse with others.
Taylor relies on his conception of the self as "dialogical" - fundamentally born of exchanges with others. He asserts that identity is always built out of dialogue with, or struggles against, the perceptions of significant others. He draws a contrast between Socrates and Oedipus. Socrates is a believer in the value of dialogue. In fact all of his teachings are in the form of a conversation. Through dialogue Socrates can challenge the idea of those he talks to. The challenging of ideas is the most important part of dialogue because it forces people to defend their ideas, and therefore realize what exactly it is that they believe. If a philosophical conversation is approached with an open mind, conflict can either strengthen one’s belief, or cause to modify former beliefs to something that works better.
Contrary to Socrates, when Oedipus talks to others, he only listens to what he wants to hear. When some one tries to tell him the truth, he becomes angry and says, “And who has taught you the truth?”. He is unwilling to engage in true dialogue, because he is afraid that it might cause him to question his own beliefs. Oedipus is not living his life authentically; he is not being true to himself. In his arrogance he believes himself greater than he really is, and this prevents him from truly seeking his own individuality. Oedipus becomes so caught up in himself that he cannot see his own shortcomings. This prevents him from truly knowing himself. His lack of self-knowledge leads to a lack of interest in dialogue. For Taylor dialogue is essential to find out one’s own individuality. He opposes the moral ideal of authenticity to the debased form of authenticity, that leads to individualism, in pointing at the dialogical nature of authenticity.
*Taylor, Charles, The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Mass.,2007
( American, once president of LSD Church, 1808-1887)
We (LSD) profess to believe in all truth, and to be governed by all truth. We are open to truth of every kind, no matter whence it comes, where it originates, or who believes in it. Truth, when preceded by the little word “all,” comprises everything that has ever existed or that ever will exist and be known by and among men in time and through the endless ages of eternity. And it is the duty of all intelligent beings who are responsible and amenable to God for their acts, to search after truth, and to permit it to influence them and their acts and general course in life, independent of all bias or preconceived notions, however specious and plausible they may be.
If any person in the religious world, or the political world, or the scientific world, will present to me a principle that is true, I am prepared to receive it, no matter where it comes from. We profess to believe in all truth, and to be governed by all truth. We are after the truth.
A man in search of truth has no peculiar system to sustain, no peculiar dogma to defend or theory to uphold. He embraces all truth, and that truth, like the sun in the firmament, shines forth and spreads its effulgent rays over all creation. If men will divest themselves of bias and prejudice, and prayerfully and conscientiously search after truth, they will find it wherever they turn their attention.
If there are any good principles, any moral philosophy that we have not yet attained to, we are desirous to learn them. If there is anything in the scientific world that we do not yet comprehend, we desire to become acquainted with it. If there is any branch of philosophy calculated to promote the well-being of humanity, that we have not yet grasped, we wish to possess ourselves of it. If there are any religious ideas, any theological truths, any principles pertaining to God, that we have not learned, we ask mankind, and we pray God, our Heavenly Father, to enlighten our minds that we may comprehend, realize, embrace, and live up to them as part of our religious faith.
There are no dogmas nor theories extant in the world that we profess to listen to, unless they can be verified by the principles of eternal truth. We carefully scan, investigate, criticize, and examine everything that presents itself to our view, and so far as we are enabled to comprehend any truths in existence, we gladly hail them as part and portion of the system with which we are associated.
* See internet Johm Taylor
(French scientist and philosopher, 1881-1955)
Theoretical coherence and practical fecundity : the two criteria of the truth of evolution
To the question: "Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis?” Teilhard replies: “ It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, as systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforth if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow."
Teilhard wants a theory, a coherent understanding of creation, that will provide a maximum of interest and motivation for human effort. For Teilhard, the criterion of truth for any understanding or theory of creation is precisely this: to what extent does the theory give us a coherent and meaningful vision of creation and at the same time somehow activate us. The key to Teilhard’s thought rests on an optimistic evolutionism that endeavours to conciliate science and religious faith. The major features of the Teilhardian evolution are convergence and unification. His overall vision is rooted on the fundamental unity of time. For him the plurality of things and beings cannot be the ultimate truth of the world. It is necessary to evolve a project, a design, a meaning that resolves the enigma of the world. The evolution that leads to Man has a direction: it cannot be the outcome of a hazardous and blind process.
Teilhard interprets evolution as a process with a clear finality in which the matter-energy of the universe has continually changed towards an increasing complexity. With the emergence of humanity, evolution enters into a new dimension. Man, like an arrow, gives now meaning and direction to the universe.
For Teilhard, there is nothing profane for those who realize the truth of evolution: the universe is the “divine milieu”, all is transformed, history is the becoming of the divine intention. The steps of evolution: cosmogenesis (the birth and growth of the universe), biogenesis ( of life), noogenesis (of spirit) as he describes them, lead him to a vision of a progressive spiritualization of matter of which man is the key and God is the initial and final Omega point.
Teilhard has often affirmed to recognize the truth in the light of two inseparable criteria: coherence and fecundity. Through coherence one can work out a system from multiple analyses, even if each synthesis will have to be ceaselessly put in question and corrected by new discoveries. It is this coherence which is the source of fecundity: hence the formula used by Teilhard is “truth = coherence +fecundity”.
* Teilhard de Chardin, The Human Phenomenon (1999), Brighton: Sussex Academic, 2003, The Future of Man (1964) Image 2004
(Italian philosopher and natural scientist, 1509-1588)
All true knowledge comes from the senses, not from abstract reason
Bernardino Telesio was a fervent critic of metaphysics and insisted on a purely empiricist approach in natural philosophy, becoming a forerunner of early modern empiricism. His book De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) argued that all knowledge is sensation and that intelligence is therefore a collection of isolated data provided by the senses. The physical material world is the object of experience. The explanation of the physical world is not to be sought outside the forces immanent in or proper to nature itself.
Telesio considered that the scholastic followers of Aristotle relied too much on reason and too little on the senses. The "reasoners", he believed, were over-confident of their power to reach the secrets of nature by syllogistic methods. With conscious humility, therefore, he determined to trust to his senses alone, and, beginning "in the dust", he strove to reach the highest pinnacle of natural truth. This exclusion of reason from the task and the consequent exaltation of sense above every other faculty of the mind resulted naturally in the sensistic doctrine that all knowledge is feeling or sensation, and in the materialistic doctrine that the soul itself is material. Francis Bacon acknowledged Telesio as being "the first of the moderns for putting observation above all other methods for acquiring knowledge about the natural world”.
As Telesio considered human knowledge as merely sensation, he logically should have concluded that God cannot be known, since He is not the object of sensation. Another logical deduction from Telesio's theory would have been that the human soul, differing from the vegetative and animal soul merely by degree, must be mortal. Yet Telesio denies neither God nor the immortality of the soul. For him, beyond the physical world is God, who transcends the world. In man there is an immortal soul created and infused by God. By virtue of this immortal soul, man can think and will the eternal and the supra-sensible, and with his free will he can dominate the tendencies of the passions. Here Telesio seems to contradict himself in assenting to a fideist ‘double truth’ theory.
*Telesio Bernardino, De Rerum Natura, Hildesheim, New York: 1971, Georg Olms.
( French bishop of Paris, died in 1279} Condemnation of the so-called doctrine of the “double truth”
On March 7, 1277, the Bishop of Paris, Stephen Tempier, prohibited the teaching of 219 philosophical and theological theses that were being discussed and disputed in the faculty of arts under his jurisdiction.
Tempier's condemnation has often been depicted as the most dramatic and significant doctrinal censure in the history of the University of Paris, and a landmark in the history of medieval philosophy and theology. Yet, the doctrinal significance of the condemnation has received very diverse assessments. Since the appearance of the studies by Pierre Mandonnet and Fernand van Steenberghen, Tempier's condemnation has come to be associated with the opposition between faith and reason, caused by the introduction of newly translated philosophical sources in the Latin West, in particular Aristotle and his commentator Averroes. Studies which present Tempier's condemnation as a response to “Averroism” or to “radical Aristotelianism,” follow this line of interpretation.
This interpretation is often associated with the view that Tempier's action was a symptom of an already existing opposition to rationalism, that is, against philosophical research pursued without concern for Christian orthodoxy. Evidence of the presence of rationalist tendencies at the University of Paris was found in certain articles of Tempier's syllabus, or in the prefatory letter in which Tempier expounded his notion of double truth. According to Tempier, some scholars maintained that certain views were true according to philosophy, but not according to Catholic faith, “as if there were two contrary truths, and as if against the truth of Sacred Scripture, there is truth in the sayings of the condemned pagans.”
However the so-called theory of double truth has been the source of much confusion. Nowadays, scholars agree that there were no medieval authors who entertained the philosophically absurd theory that two contradictory propositions -- one derived from philosophical investigation, the other from Christian revelation -- can both be true at the same time. Rather, Tempier's reproach should be taken as an attempt to ridicule the hermeneutical practice of commentators to evaluate a doctrine (for instance's Aristotle's) from a philosophical point of view (“philosophically speaking”) and from faith. In reality, however, medieval scholars generally supposed that in cases of conflict between reason and faith, the truth was always on the side of the faith.
In more recent times, the idea that Tempier's condemnation was a symptom of the existence of rationalist currents at the University of Paris, in the sense of the emergence of philosophy as an autonomous discipline vis-à-vis divine revelation, has been further developed by some scholars. Although there are differences in detail and in emphasis, they view Tempier's action as an attempt to curb the concept of philosophy as a comprehensive doctrine of natural knowledge.
* See Internet Tempier Etienne
(Contemporary American philosopher)
There is an objective truth, one truth that's the same for all people.
Relativism is "the doctrine that knowledge, truth and morality exist in relation to culture, society or historical context, and are not absolute". Relativists are perfectly right to insist that a lot of the ideas of our culture are not universal truths, even some that most people assume are universal truths.
However, relativism is incorrect because it says that all knowledge depends on the context. It's a bit like saying that all questions are ambiguous just because some are and because precision is difficult. Also, relativism is ambiguous about whether contextual knowledge is absolutely true within that context; many relativists object to the idea of any absolute, permanent, unitary truth. But why should the truth for a given context ever change? Relativism provides an argument that the context is important, but no argument that the truth can change if we keep the context constant.
We have some knowledge that doesn't depend on context, called universal knowledge. It's knowledge that equally well applies to all situations. For example, the laws of physics don't have exceptions depending on which culture you live in.
In general, any piece of knowledge has some limited amount of applicability. It is correct in some situations, but has some exceptions. The more widely knowledge applies, the better. Universal knowledge is a goal of both science and philosophy. Although it's hard to come by, we have made progress in discovering it, and can continue to make more.
The other reason people deny there is an objective truth is because they are skeptical that we know the truth. I accept that we never know what the truth is for sure. We can be mistaken. But to be mistaken, there has to be an objective truth! The idea of a mistake is that there is a truth and we have it wrong.
Part of the issue is the idea that knowledge is justified, true belief. It's easy to lapse into relativism with that conception of knowledge because that kind of knowledge is impossible to come by, so one might think that opinions are all we have. Justificationists pave the way for relativists by denying that imperfect knowledge is knowledge at all.
Here is an argument that objective truth must exist: Communication relies on there being an objective truth. Communication is only possible when there is one single truth of what is being said for all the people communicating.
* See Elliot Temple in the internet
Truth is truth no matter what we believe
Truth needs no defining or explaining. It is what it is and adding authentic in front of truth doesn't make something truer. Their is no belief in truth. I have no beliefs about truth. Truth is truth no matter what we believe or don't believe. If we have a belief it is because we don't know the truth.
Truth and belief are mutually exclusive. If you know the truth of something you have no reason to form a belief about it. There are many truths. Some we know, some we don’t and some we will never know. Truths never change. Circumstances can seem to change a truth but it is the question that actually changes, not the truth. Using your age as an example: When you were 40 it was true. That has never changed. As time passes the truth doesn’t change the question changes. We generalize our age by year because keeping track of each second isn’t practical. The truth of your age is always what ever age you are at any given time.
Let’s look at a belief. What is a belief? A belief is something we don’t know the truth for. You can form a belief about anything except the things where the truth has been established. That is the primary condition of a belief. It could be right or wrong. You have no way to know if your belief is true or false until the truth is established.
Whenever someone tells you they believe something to be true, they are telling you they don’t know the truth but they have formed a belief about it. This doesn’t make them right or wrong it simply means they don’t know. The thing about a belief is that it has no value. Anyone can form a belief about almost anything making beliefs about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
A truth isn’t different from one person to another. Beliefs are. The truth is always the truth.
*See Internet TERRY
(Latin theologian, 155-240)
There can be no relationship between philosophy and Christianity, no relationship between the foe and the friend of error, between the man who corrupts the truth and the one who restores and teaches it. Truth can only be ‘Christian’ and its substance is found in the ‘Rule of Faith’, transmitted from Christ through the apostles and the Churches.. “The truth that the Son of God dies is to be believed because it is absurd, and the fact that he rose again is certain because it is impossible”. Truth is only a matter of revelation, which has been corrupted by heretics under the influence of philosophy. Heretics are “equipped with philosophy”. “From philosophy come those fruitless questionings, those words that spread like cancer”. The apostle Paul testified expressly in his letter to the Colossians that “we should beware of philosophy or vain deceit, after the tradition of men”.
Philosophers, Tertullian writes, are “mockers and corrupters of the truth: they pretend to care for the truth; what they really care for is the glory”. Their moral life is no better than their writings; Socrates was a corrupter of youth. Having located the root of heresy in philosophy, Tertullian poses his famous rhetorical question: “What does have Jerusalem have to do with Athens, the Christian with the heretic. I have no use for a Stoic or a Platonic or a dialectic (i.e. Aristotelian) Christianity. After Jesus Christ we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research. Once we have come to believe we have no desire to believe anything else”. (Prescriptions against heretics, 7).
* Tertullian, Prescriptions against Heretics, See Internet: “Tertullian, prescriptions heretics”
(Canadian philosopher, b.1950)
The right kind of coherence leads to approximate truth Many epistemologists maintain that epistemic claims are justified, not by a priori or empirical foundations, but by assessing whether they are part of the most coherent account. A major issue for coherentist epistemology concerns whether we are ever warranted in concluding that the most coherent account is true. The history of science is replete with highly coherent theories that have turned out to be false, which may suggest that coherence with empirical evidence is a poor guide to truth.
But Thagard is more optimistic. He feels that the right kind of coherence leads to approximate truth. This right kind is explanatory coherence that involves theories that progressively broaden and deepen overtime, where broadening is explanation of new facts and deepening is explanation of why the theory works.
What is the relation between coherence and truth? Thagard rejects numerous answers to this question, including the following: truth is coherence; coherence is irrelevant to truth; coherence always leads to truth; coherence leads to probability, which leads to truth. He argues that coherence of the right kind leads to at least approximate truth. The right kind is explanatory coherence, where explanation consists in describing mechanisms.
The key point against the coherence theory of truth is that coherence with currently available evidence supports the view that reality is independent of representation of it. At the other extreme from the coherence theory of truth, there is the view that coherence is simply irrelevant to truth. In epistemology, coherentist theories of knowledge are contrasted with foundational theories, which contend that knowledge is based, not on a group of representations fitting with each other, but on a ground of indubitable truths. Rationalist foundationalists maintain that this ground consists of a set of truths known a priori, whereas empiricist foundationalists maintain that the ground is truths arising from sense experience. Unfortunately, argues Thagard, both kinds of foundationalism have been dramatically unsuccessful in establishing a solid basis for knowledge. If there are any a priori truths, they are relatively trivial. No one has succeeded in constructing a priori principles that receive general agreement and enable the derivation of substantial knowledge. Similarly, the empiricist project of deriving knowledge from sense experience foundered because of the non certain nature of sense experience and the non derivability of scientific knowledge from experience alone. Our greatest epistemic achievements are scientific theories such as relativity theory, quantum theory, the atomic theory of matter, evolution by natural selection, genetics, and the germ theory of disease. None of these reduces to rationalist or empiricist foundations, so some kind of coherence theory of knowledge must be on the right track. Rejection of a connection between coherence and truth is therefore tantamount to adopting general skepticism about the attainability of scientific knowledge.
*Thagard Paul, Coherence in Thought and Action, Bradford Book, 2000, ISBN 0-262-20131-3
(Contemporary Indian Christian theologian)
The exclusivist truth of Christianity
Christian exclusivism is the faith that Christ is the only way to salvation. . Exclusivism does not, therefore, agree to religious pluralism. They are diametrically opposite. Religious pluralism can be held only by rejecting the written word on Christ in the New Testament, and by denying the Absolute Truth. The gospel of Christ is the ultimate truth of salvation for all mankind, according to the Bible. Jesus Christ is a particular historical figure who lived, died and was resurrected at a datable time and locatable place. He is God’s own action in space and time. If the Christian faith were not exclusivist in its formation, there would have been no Christianity.
But the classic Hindu position is different: the various religions are just different roads to the ultimate. The philosophy of pluralism fits with Hindu thought Proponents of Religious pluralism say that all religions are fundamentally the same at heart, though there may be superficial differences among them because of the divergence of each culture. Often the analogy is used of people taking different paths to arrive at the same destination. Hindu thinkers take for granted that there is more than one valid approach to truth and salvation and that these varied approaches are not only compatible but complimentary. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna proclaims, “Whatever path men travel is my path; No matter where they walk, it leads to Me” Hinduism denies that there is any exclusive way to reach God. All religions are equal to Hindus. In fact Hindus’ exclusive claim that all religions are equal is a kind of exclusivism.
Vason Thampu endorses the claims made by the seventh Asia Theological Association, which categorically refuted religious pluralism, saying that: “…Pluralism … is … the affirmation that all religious beliefs - or, at least, those of the major religious traditions - are more or less equally valid and equally true and that all religious beliefs have a rough parity with each other. This we reject. Against such pluralism, we affirm that God has acted decisively, supremely, and normatively in the historical Jesus of Nazareth. In his person and work, Jesus is unique such that no one comes to the Father except through him. All salvation in the Biblical sense comes solely from the person and work of Jesus Christ”.
*Thampu Valson, Kristiya drishtanta: a Christian viewpoint. with Kathleen D. Nicholls, Christopher Raj. Publisher: TRACI, 1989.
(American theologian and philosopher of religion, b.1937)
The Hebrews had no single uniform concept of truth. They used the concept in certain contexts or language games. It is not correct to oppose – as many have done – the Greek abstract concept of truth as correspondence to the Hebraic concept of truth as faithfulness (emet).
- The Old Testament offers many examples of the “factual” use of the term truth in the sense of correspondence with the facts of the matter.
- Other passages which use a different language-game use the term with the meaning of emet or faithfulness, honesty, reliability, notably when they say that God is true. But even then the connection of faithfulness and truth depends on the fact that when God is said to act faithfully the issue at stake is a correspondence between word and deed. We are now only in a different language-game than that of factual report.
- In other contexts truth means neither correspondence nor faithfulness, but “revealed doctrine”. Paul, for instance, contrasts the truth to “another gospel” and to myths.
- Sometimes the term truth is used in the ontological meaning of “real”. Jesus, in the fourth Gospel is said to be true food and true drink , true in the sense of real.
- St John’s Gospel uses the word “truth” in a polymorphous meaning. It proclaims that Jesus is the truth, his testimony is valid, he reveals the truth of the Gospel, his words correspond with his deeds and his statements with the facts.
All this goes to show that it is not possible to define the “essence” of biblical truth in a single uniform way. The procedure adopted in the past was wrong in drawing a clear-cut contrast between the “theoretical” Greek concept of truth and the “practical” concept in Hebraic thinking. The Hebrews have no special concept of truth, rather they employed the concept in certain contexts or language-games more frequently than those used in Greek literature. What is truth cannot be asked outside a language-game without creating confusion.
* Thisleton, Anthony, The Two Horizons, Exeter, The Paternoster Press, 1980, p 411-415; “Truth”, New International Dictionary of New testament Theology, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1979
(German monk, 1380-1471)
In God is all the truth we long for.
Excerpts from ‘The Imitation of Christ”:
Happy is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words that fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often deceive us and we discern very little.
We have eyes and do not see. What have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak -- the Beginning who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything, who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God.
“O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me”.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.
If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.
Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning? Others have already taken their places and I know not whether they ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory of the world passes away! If only their lives had kept pace with their learning, then their study and reading would have been worthwhile.
How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too little care for serving God? They became vain in their own conceits because they chose to be great rather than humble.
*Thomas à Kempis , William C. Creasy, ed., The Imitation of Christ, Mercier University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-86554-339-9
(Contemporary American advocate of ‘Brethrenism’)
The difference between “creedal truth” and “biblical truth.”
Creedalism is the result of making a statement of beliefs binding on the conscience of the individual Christian. And creedalism carries along with it a grave error—the elevation of man’s perception of truth to a place of authority superior to divine revelation.
It is inevitable, once an authoritative creed is formulated, that it becomes the reference point for belief as well as for further research and reflection. Though in theory all Protestant creeds profess submission to the Word of God and are valuable only to the extent of their conformity to it, in practice creeds become the spectacles through which the Word is read and interpreted. To the extent that the creed gains authority, it relativizes the authority of the Word that begat it. Historically this sad process seems inevitable. No system of dual authority can stand—one will always rise above the other.
There is a great difference between “creedal truth” and “biblical truth.” Biblical truth is revealed; creedal truth is perceived and formulated. When one assents to a certain creedal formulation he assents to a human construct, but when one assents to a biblical statement he assents to divine revelation.
The Bible is of God; the Confession is man’s answer to God’s word. The Bible has, therefore, a divine and absolute, the Confession only an ecclesiastical and relative authority. Any higher view of the authority of the symbols is unprotestant and essentially Romanizing.
Creedal denominations, while in theory claiming the authority of the Scriptures over the creeds, nevertheless may in practice appeal to the creeds rather than to the Scriptures for their identity. Thus they move historically to various degrees of creedalism and run the risk of losing the truths that the creeds were meant to preserve.
Though some may argue that a creed, if carefully formulated, teaches the same truths as the Scriptures, one must reply that creedal truth, though identical in content with biblical truth, is different in nature from biblical truth. Though “the law of the Lord is perfect” (Ps 19:7), the perceptive faculties of his children are not. Only the authors of Scripture were infallibly moved by the Holy Spirit as they wrote. No prophesy of Scripture came about merely by human origination or interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). Yet all creeds by their very nature, no matter how faithful they are to the revealed Word, are in fact an effort to interpret the revealed Word. This does not mean that it is wrong to summarize the teaching of the Word in order to teach it to others. Summaries, however, must not become authoritative documents that become binding on the consciences of men.
Biblical revelation must always be prefaced with: “God says…” It is self-authenticating revelation. It reposes on the authority of the eternal God whose Word will not return to him without accomplishing its purpose (Isa 40:11). Creedal truth, however, must be prefaced with “I believe.” Because of its nature, a creed has no more power to preserve the truth it defines than a law has power to guarantee obedience. Preservation of the truth is accomplished by the Spirit; creeds have had limited success in the preservation of the truth.
Further, an ecclesiastical hierarchy must exist to make a creed binding upon the individual members of a church organization. This means that there is a wide gulf between clergy and laity. This is foreign to the Brethren heritage. To move toward creedalism is to risk losing a precious aspect of this heritage. Unless Brethren build faithfully on the foundation of their heritage they will not preserve their historical denominational identity.
Another problem of creedalism is that it tends to reduce faith to mere intellectual assent to a body of dogma. Fellowship among believers is also affected. Fellowship in a creedalistic setting tends to be simply intellectual agreement. Faith and fellowship are thus formalized into assent and agreement respectively. This leads to a group of people who are coming together and saying, “We are members of the church” but the only thing that binds them together is that they are willing to say the same things and to sign the same creed. But biblical fellowship involves the richness of a shared spirit and loving commitment to the body. This is often lacking in creedalistic settings.
* Julian Thomas,Grace Theological Journal, Fall 1988, pages 373-381,The Problems of Creedalism
(German jurist and philosopher, 1653-1778)
The enlightenment optimism that truth is possible and, moreover, accessible to everyone.
Thomasius's philosophical stance was an empiricist one, not the rationalism that we find in much of the philosophical tradition and with Wolff. It is true that his belief in natural human reason and its capacity to find truth suggests a mild rationalism, but Thomasius abhorred innate ideas and maintained that all knowledge, all thought, begins with sense perception. This strong sensationism was coupled with an enlightenment stance, in the sense that it was governed by the conviction that knowledge, truth and morality are the purview of everyone, not merely the elect few. Gelehrtheit or academic learning is the domain of experts who are familiar with syllogistic logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and theology, but Gelahrtheit or practical learning is available to everyone with a healthy reason who pursues knowledge not for its own sake but for the use-value it has in daily life.
Thomasius appropriated the spread of the Enlightenment ethos, understood here as the project of ensuring a healthy reason, one that can discover truth, that can lay open contradictions and fight prejudices. Given his basic presuppositions of where knowledge is likely to be found (in daily life rather than abstract speculation) and who is most likely to attain it (the person who has a healthy reason, not one corrupted by prejudices), it is likely not surprising that his epistemology was not a theoretical one. His two books on theoretical philosophy, the Introduction to the Doctrine of Reason and the Application of the Doctrine of Reason, are books on truth. They are not, however, books on truth in the traditional sense. He did not develop a philosophical conception of truth or of the condition of its possibility. He seems to have simply adopted a correspondence theory of truth and to have taken the harmony of thought and thing as a given. What mattered to Thomasius is the enlightenment optimism that truth is possible and, moreover, accessible to everyone. His Introduction, accordingly, was presented, as specified by the book's subtitle, as providing the means by which “all rational persons, of whatever social standing and sex, are shown in an understandable manner, and without the aid of syllogisms, how to differentiate between the true, the probable and the false, and to find new truths”.
Avoiding error involves the eradication of prejudices, which are among the causes of the corruption of reason. That, in turn, is accomplished through what he identifies as dogmatic doubt, not the Cartesian doubt that deems everything false so as to find a first indubitable principle, a useless enterprise, according to Thomasius. Dogmatic doubt is the doubt about particular things, beliefs, and opinions, and this he found healthy and conducive to preventing error.
* See Werner Schneiders, Christian Thomasius, 1655-1728 (Hamburg: Meiner, 1989)
(Contemporary American pastor for family ministries)
"Absolute truth" can be the enemy of relationships.
When your inner monologue about the other person is filled wit empathy, affirmation, and appreciation, your communication with that person is likely to be positive. It will build the relationship instead of destroy it.
Forget truth. All good relationships are based on honesty. Truth can be a friend. But an obsession with finding and proving "absolute truth" can be the enemy of a relationship. This obsession with absolute truth turns many relationships into endless, pointless tugs-of-war. Both parties continually try to convince the other person that "I'm right and you're wrong. This is what really happened."
In interpersonal relationships there is no possible way to know "absolute truth." Both people, because they are different, have perspectives. It is futile and destructive to try to prove the superiority of your perspective to the other person. His or her view is an accurate gauge of how that person experienced something. Neither side can lay claim to absolute knowledge of reality.
Don't argue about what really happened or what was really said. Try to find out what the other person experienced and how he or she feels. It is more important to be sensitive to that inner experience than to arrive at "absolute truth" about facts.
Look for some truth in the other person's concerns. When you hear another person's concerns, look for some truth in what he or she is saying. Don't defend yourself. Simply try to hear what the other person is communicating, and agree with specific aspects of it.
* See Internet on Calvin Thomsen
(American author and philosopher, 1817- 1862)
To find truth: communicate with Nature, and search inside yourself.
Thoreau is known for being a promoter of what is called Transcendentalism. It is supposed to be a quest for truth and the best way to find it, is to communicate with Nature, and also to search inside one's self. Transcendentalism stresses individual introspection and finds society as a whole to be a destructive force towards personal freedom. Another belief is that God can be found in all things, especially Nature. Going to church or some other place of worship is not necessary, all that is needed is to be in tune with one's self and the natural world. Materialism is also looked down upon: it degrades true life.
"Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star ... In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment ... And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us." By living intimately with nature , Thoreau wanted to attain to the highest truth.
See Internet, Henry Thoreau
(Greek historian, 5thth c. BC)
Thucydides is often considered the first scientific historian because he led the way in writing history which consisted of bare factual statements together with causal explanations. Thanks to him a significant change took place in the fifth century B.C. Before him there were not two distinct ways of talking or no definite ways of moving between the real and the mythical. All preceding narrations were intermixed with fables. Thucydides was concerned with drawing the contrast between fact and fable, between the true and the mythical and in doing so he made clear the kind of responsibility that the communication of truth brings with it. Facts must be reported as they really were with no desire to say something that would please the general mass of opinion. He understood that the truth of a statement has nothing to do with whether a given audience will be pleased to hear it. He did not write history to win present applause, as was the use of that age. He wrote for a monument to instruct the ages to come and as he said himself as "a possession for everlasting". Furthermore he followed the principle that what is claimed to have really happened in the past must make explanatory sense and the explanations must be the same as they are of things now.
Herodotus, writing a few decades earlier than Thucydides, recorded almost all he heard, whether he believed it himself or not. But that was not the method adopted by Thucydides. Thucydides stood at the other pole: he gathered all available evidence, decided what he thinks is the truth, then shaped his presentation to emphasize that truth. He decided that to learn about the course of human affairs, he would not consult oracles, prophets, sacred texts or the sanctioned scribes of the era. Rather, he would go out, witness events himself, compile other evidence only from those of whom he had made the most careful enquiry, and then draw conclusions that his evidence would support.
* Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton
(Contemporary American essayist)
Truth exists but it is beyond our intellectual capacity.
What we cannot see is entirely mysterious and unknown. With each new discovery we can see more, and therefore understand more. We cannot see air, waves beyond the color spectrum, or other possible dimensions. What exists in these unknown continuums? Perhaps these are all the answers to our existence; the undeniable truth that connects every missing piece of an infinite puzzle.
Yet, what we can see is not always a noble representation of the truth. Our minds are professional magicians, creating illusions and taking advantage of our gullibility. Omitting details of the truth is not an uncommon occurrence and our minds often fill gaps in our memory with what seems reasonable. Furthermore, we lie to others and ourselves about the truth in an attempt to construct a protective armor around our fearful minds.
The truth is constantly changing. Contrary to what ancient beings thought, the world is not flat, the moon is not made of cheese, and the sun and stars do not revolve around the Earth. How much of what we believe today is the truth? Will it stand strong for hundreds of years to come? Or will it collapse as a new “truth” proves to be more credible?
What we believe to be the “truth” provides the basic foundation to all our beliefs. Whether our beliefs are right or wrong is not a concern to society. Conflicting faiths threaten peace. Skewed beliefs about beauty, love, and happiness have fashioned a materialistic world where our egos and dangerous desires thrive. People fight, kill, and die for what they believe in. Imagine that the truth is exposed, that we are no longer fooled by what we think we know, and hindered by what we do not know. What will still stand?
I often ask myself these questions. I wonder how I can really support any of my beliefs when there is so much I do not know. Every belief about faith and reality, every idea that I say, “I believe in,” do I really believe in it? I have experienced many times where the core of something I believed so strongly in had ruptured. Learning new “truths” have turned my beliefs into a never-ending tug-of-war. I could write about something I believe in today, pro-choice for instance, and feel differently about it in a year from now. So what do I believe in? There is one belief, behind all of my beliefs, which I truly believe in.
I believe in truth and that we cannot discern the truth, for it exists beyond our intellectual capacity. Our beliefs about truth are always changing, for we are fooled by our minds, limited by our mortality, and molded by society. Yet our beliefs about what is true are all we really have; perhaps they are not true at all. Nonetheless, one belief will stand indefinitely: the truth exists and, if nothing else at all, I believe in it.
* See internet Tiana-Lei
(American theologian and philosopher, 1886-1965)
1. The predicate ‘true’ - for logical positivists and others - is reserved either for analytic sentences or for experimentally confirmed propositions. Such terminological limitation is possible; it is a matter of convention. But it means a break with our Western tradition and its concept of verum and aletheia. This break, says Tillich, is not necessary.
2. Modern philosophy speaks of true and false judgements. Reality itself is not said to be true or false. Nonetheless we can go further and ask: what makes our judgments true or false? It seems that reality itself conceals its being, its essence. Its appearance or surface must be penetrated for the depth to be reached, that is, the essence of things, their true being, the really real different from the seemingly real. Evidently this true being has to be true for some one who knows, for the mind. In any case the problem of the truly real cannot be avoided. It comes to this, that truth is on the one side the essence of things or the really real and on the other side the cognitive act in which the essence is grasped. We must use the concept of truth both in its ontological sense as well as in its logical-epistemological sense and use. Truth is both subjective and objective.
3. Now verification plays am important role in the question of truth. Statements that cannot be verified - we are told - are either tautologies, emotional statements or meaningless propositions. One can agree with that and admit that verification is the method of deciding whether a judgment is true or false. If not self evident or unverifiable, a statement has no cognitve value. Verification belongs to the nature of truth. In other words there must be criteria of truth. The main question is to agree on what is meant by ‘verification’.
There are two types or methods of verification: not only the empirical but also the experiential. On the one hand truth for the scientists is subjected to empirical verifications obtained by objective methods apt to account for an explanation of the objective world. Every cognitive assumption must be tested and the safest test is the repeatable experiment. Scientists adopt a controlling cognitive attitude verified by the success of controlling actions. On the other hand experiential verifications – different from experimental verifications – must be used in the analysis of life processes. They require and imply a receiving or participating cognitive attitude. Here verification is achieved by the creative union the knowing and the known. The verifying experiences of a non-experimental character are truer to life, though less exact and definite. Tillich stresses that it is not permissible to make the experimental method of verification the exclusive pattern of all verification. Unfortunately the value of experiential verification is rejected by many philosophies - positivism, rationalism, pragmatism – that do not admit the element of participation in knowledge. This is the basic conflict between two ways to understand cognitive reason: either controlling knowledge which confines itself to certain, safe, empirically verified results but not ultimately significant or receiving (participating) knowledge based on experiential verification which is always risky, not certain , but ultimately significant.
4. The distinction between the experiential and the experimental, that is, between the receiving or participative cognitive attitude and the controlling cognitive attitude is particularly relevant to understand the knowledge of revelation. The knowledge of revelation does not interfere with ordinary knowledge. It does not increase our knowledge about the structures of nature, history and man. Revealed truth is not ordinary truth. The truth of revealed knowledge is to be judged by its own implicit criteria which lie within the dimension of revelatory knowledge. Revealed truth is such that it can neither be confirmed not negated by those outside the situation of revelation. Philologists, historians, psychologists may study the documents of revelation but their knowledge is non-existential, non-experiential. Revealed knowledge is experiential and existential. In contrast with ordinary knowledge it can be communicated only to those who participate in this situation. It is a truth for believers, not communicable, not accessible to those unwilling to receive and participate.
* Tillich, Paul, Systematic Theology, Vol.I, University of Chicago Press, 1951, p. 100-105, 129-132
(English deist philosopher, 1657-1733)
The essential truths in Christianity are known naturally and universally.
Matthew Tindal, a “Christian deist”, takes the position that the essential truths in Christianity have always been known by all human beings since the creation of the world. According to him, any claim to receiving an exclusive "revelation" of truth by anyone, or the church, must be tested by human reason. Any such "revealed" truth that cannot be verified through human reason is either invalid or non-essential in Christianity.
The foundation of Tindal’s “deist epistemology” is knowledge based on experience and human reason. This effectively widens the gap between traditional Christianity and what Tindal calls "Christian deism" since the new foundation requires that revealed truth be validated through human reason. He argues against special revelation: "God designed all mankind should at all times know, what he wills them to know, believe, profess, and practice; and has given them no other means for this, but the use of reason."
He explains that the essential truths in Christianity are known naturally and universally. Whatever "honors God and is good for mankind" is in accord with God's will and should guide human behavior. Love for God and love for neighbour are for Christian deists the essence of Christianity.
The Christian ‘revelation’ adds nothing new to natural religion but is only a "re-publication" of it. All human beings at all times have known that a Creator, called "God," exists and that all human beings have known how God intends for people to live. This knowledge comes from "nature" and human "reason."
Tindal takes the position that the basic teachings of Jesus are validated by human reason but church leaders have added many doctrines and practices that are either contradictory to the teachings of Jesus or are non-essential in Christianity.
As a ‘deist Christian’ he rejects the claim of the ‘trinitarian Christians’ according to whom Christianity is a religion based on "revelations" of truths not known to all persons but supernaturally revealed in the scriptures and later modified and adopted by church councils and church leaders. In answer to the question: “can a deist be a Christian? ”, Tindal refutes the trinitarian claim to an exclusive knowledge of God's truth.
*Tindal Matthew, Christianity as Old as the Creation, London, 1730, 2nd ed.
(Unidentified American author)
The truth can never be domesticated; it is a child of nature: Deism
Revealed religions are ever wont to be the domesticators of truth. They beat it and break it and make it conform to their human will; they place a yoke upon it and call it “faith”. But faith was neither derived nor was it made to serve the will of the Almighty … Faith, as it is propagated by the major religions, is merely truth perverted to serve the superstitious dogmas and doctrines of the revealed religions which are nothing more than the vain creations of men – not God. What I have come to believe as a Deist is that the truth can never be fully domesticated; it is a child of nature and is only revealed to us though the unbiased observation of nature on her own terms. This gives me the courage to continue my search for truth and a sense of rightfulness in having the courage to do so even when most of the world seems set against it.
I was an agnostic for a while but after researching Deism and carefully weighing the arguments in my mind I came to the conclusion that it was more reasonable to believe that there is a Supreme Being or a “First Cause” than to not or to hold, as I did as an agnostic, that there is not enough evidence either way to support the existence or non-existence of God. I came to this conclusion mainly because it seemed inherently unreasonable for me to believe that the creation of the universe, unlike everything else in it, had no cause and that the order we see pervading our universe, which we as a species are just now beginning to comprehend, is accidental.
Deism isn’t simply a rational belief in God; it is a realization that we live in a creation of God and that we are not just human beings, we are creatures who are as much a part of Creation as the ground we tread upon, the air we breathe and the stars in the sky. All of us, and everything that exists, shares in the oneness of Creation. Not only that - nature, or Creation if you prefer, has its own unique language that can inform us and, when properly understood, can lead us to true self understanding without ever having to make a leap of faith. When I became a Deist, I realized what a rare and beautiful thing objective truth is, very much like true love, and just as true love should never be confused with baser human motives, faith should never be masqueraded as objective truth nor should objective truth be conflated with the former. Faith is a highly subjective experience requiring no proof nor benefiting from objective inquiry. Objective truth, on the other hand, can be sought after and determined by one who is fluent in the language of Creation and shared with everyone for the benefit of all mankind.
If Revealed Religion, or even any of the thousands of indigenous religions which the revealed religions have supplanted and absorbed, have ever contained a penny stock of spiritual truth it has by now been tarnished almost beyond recognition by hundreds of years of religious bureaucracy, holy wars and cultural vandalism. If we are to reclaim these truths for ourselves, here and now in the modern era, we must start with a clean slate and look within ourselves and into the unknown vastness of Creation with an eye for discovery and re-discovery rather than to the heavens of revealed religions in a spirit of faith. Above all Deism represents for me a new beginning from which I can begin the long task of righting the mistakes of my own past and, hopefully, contribute in some small way to the betterment of mankind.
* See Internet Brutus C, Tipton
(English philologist and writer, 1892-1973)
According to J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the worldwide popular “The Lord of the Rings”, the key to understanding the story requires an understanding of "the power of myth." A myth is a story that captures a universal truth about human experience in a fashion that cannot be matched by ordinary fiction, historical narration or scientific theory. Furthermore, a genuine myth has the quality of seeming not to be the sort of thing that anyone invented. According to Tolkien myths are given as found, not made. He thought an understanding of the truth at the core of myth was central to grasping the nature of religious truth. Tolkien's view was that mythic literature reflected the fundamental nature of the world. Moreover Tolkien believed that humanity's storehouse of ahistorical myths prepared the way for one particular myth: a myth that became literally incarnated in the form of a historical person, Jesus of Nazareth.
Myths for Tolkien are a vehicle for exposing profound human truths. It is not reason which exposes truth, or turns wishes into reality, but it is the imagination which saves the day and completes the cycle. So 'Fantasy is a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality, exposing universal truths which are usually called morals. It is the power of words that give humans the healthy ability to see the underlying reality and to evoke faith. We remember a poem, a painting, a song, or a story precisely because when we first experienced them, they changed our way of perceiving the world, and our feelings about life. The imaginative experience modifies our sense of reality, and satisfies our deep need for mythology. According to Tolkien there are truths that man knows exist, but they cannot be seen - they are immaterial, but no less real, to us. It is only through the language of myth that we can speak of these truths.
Tolkien's opinion was adopted by the Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, in their conversations: "Tolkien explained to Lewis that the story of Christ was the true myth at the very heart of history and at the very root of reality." C. S. Lewis freely called the Christ story a "true myth", and he believed that even pagan myths express spiritual truths. In his opinion, the difference between the Christ story and pagan myths is that the Christ story is historically as well as spiritually true. "The story of Christ," writes Lewis, "is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God's myth where the others are men's myths: i. e. the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call real things."
To the contemporary unbelievers, of course, all this is absurd. According to this view, the Christian story contains no more truth than any other fabulous stories. These stories, says the secularist, are nothing but myths. What Tolkien argued for, and what helped give power to ‘The Lord of the Rings’, was that, for him, the myths of religion are truer than the facts of science.
* J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Millennium Edition, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, 7 hardcover volumes
(German spiritual teacher, b.1948)
The only real Truth with a capital T is in “my being”
According to Tolle, truth cannot be found in thought, doctrines or narratives which are perceived through our egos. He states, “Every ego confuses opinions and viewpoints with facts. It cannot tell the difference between an event and its reaction to that event. Only through awareness—not through thinking—can you differentiate between fact and opinion.... Only through awareness can you see the totality of the situation or person instead of adopting one limited perspective. Thus the only real Truth with a capital T is in my being”. “The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth.” Tolle even claims that this is what Jesus was really trying to tell us when He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Tolle writes: “All religions are equally false and equally true, depending on how you use them. If you believe only your religion is the Truth, you are using it in the service of the ego.” And, “Many religious people claim to be in sole possession of the truth in an unconscious attempt to protect their identity. Unless you believe exactly as they do, you are wrong in their eyes, and they may feel justified in killing you for that.”
Tolle says that his book, The Power of Now, is "a restatement for our time of that one timeless spiritual teaching, the essence of all religions" and that religions "have become so overlaid with extraneous matter that their spiritual substance has become almost completely obscured", that they have become "to a large extent ... divisive rather than unifying forces" and become "themselves part of the insanity".
According to him "the most significant thing that can happen to a human being is the separation process of thinking and awareness" and that awareness is "the space in which thoughts exist". He says that "the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it".
At the core of Tolle's teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.
* Tolle Eckhart, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, New World Library, October, 1999
(Russian novelist, 1828-1910)
Man has received from God only one instrument wherewith to know the truth about himself and the world: that instrument is reason. Still people are told that to clear up the most important truths, those on which their whole life depends, they must in no account use their reason but accept credulously what is offered as truth by infallible books and the infallibility of some holy men. The fact is that man cannot even believe apart from his reason. If a man believes one thing and not another, he does this only because reason tells him that he should not believe this but should believe that. As soon as the believer of a certain faith sees another professing another faith in the same way he professes his own, he is inevitably obliged to decide the matter by reason. If a Buddhist becomes acquainted with Islam and still decide to remain a Buddhist, it means that his former blind faith in Buddha has been replaced by one based on rational ground.
One must not check reason by tradition but contrariwise must check tradition by reason. Traditions may come from human beings and be false, but reason certainly comes from God and cannot be false. Hence no specially great capacities are needed to know and express the truth; we need only admit that reason is not only the highest, the divine quality in human beings, but that it is the only instrument for the attainment of the truth. The only reasonable meaning of our life consists in the fulfilment of the will of God. But the will of God is known , not by some extraordinary miracles or the writing of his law in sacred books or the infallible teaching of prophets and holy men, but only by the use of reason by all men, transmitting the consciousness of truth that is ever more elucidating itself to them.
Special talents are needed, not for the statement of the truth, but for the invention of falsehood. Once reason is abandoned and credulity embraced, people pile up complex and contradictory propositions (in the guise of creeds and dogmas) that to connect them with any truth requires exceptionally tortuous and deceitful subtlety of mind.
Tolstoi divides humankind in two lots. Some are free-thinkers and some are not. Free-thinkers are those willing to use their minds without prejudices, without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges and beliefs. One may be a Buddhist, a German and a capitalist and yet be a free-thinker. But if he puts his religion, his nationality or his interest above reason, he is not a free-thinker for his mind is in bondage.
* Tolstoi, On Life and Essays on Religion, Great wolrd’s classics, Oxford University Press, p.166, 200-203
(Scottish-Canadian Presbyterian theologian, b.1913)
The truth of being and the truth of statement: authoritative truth versus authoritarian truth
In his assessment of the foundation of "Christian truth", the theologian Torrance starts with a couple of distinctions: between primary and secondary authority, and between the authoritative truth and the authoritarian truth. According to his reading of the biblical teaching, all authority derives from God himself, he is the primary and ultimate authority, but there are secondary authorities, or delegate authorities, whose function is to serve his supreme authority, and they function authoritatively when they serve his supreme authority in such a way as not to obscure it. However when these secondary authorities arrogate to themselves the authority delegated to them, thus constituting themselves authorities in their own right then they become perverted. The authority of the law is presented by St Paul as deriving from God: it is its function to reveal and serve the divine majesty. But owing to the dialectic of sin, the law tends to become an authority in itself for it exercises an authoritarian tyranny over the consciences of men and enslaves them. The law, instead of being authoritative, has become authoritarian.
It is the same basic issue with which we are concerned in the distinctions between the truth of being and the truths of statements, and between the truth of created being and the truth of the Supreme Being. The truths of statement are what they ought to be when they serve the truth of being, and the truths of created being are what ought to be when they serve the Supreme truth. When this structure becomes inverted, then we attempt to subordinate the Supreme truth to the truths of the creature and his statements, and we become entangled in a perverted authoritarianism.
The crucial question is to whether the assent and consent to the truth rests directly upon the truth of God in its own self-light and self-evidence, or whether it is indirectly induced through some sort of special illumination, independent of the truth, but enabling the receive the truth. It is the latter which opens the way for an authoritarian exercise of Church magisterium, but the former which invites an authoritative exercise of the magisterium in serving the ultimate authority of truth itself.
In every science there inevitably arises a structure of tradition and authority: they are methodological necessities in the clarifying of our understanding and expressing of the truth, but they rightly fall into secondary place before the actual disclosure of the truth in its own right, and are therefore constantly relativised by the priority of that truth over them. Institutional authorities in the Church can never be authoritarian tyrants over personal conscience but authoritative instruments of the Truth that makes people free. It is only when the institutional authorities in the Church are rigorously subordinated to the majesty and authority of the Supreme Truth, that they evoke and gain the respect that is due to them, for then they are not authoritarian tyrants over human conscience but authoritative instruments of the Truth that makes people free.
* TORRANCE, Thomas, Transformation and Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge, William Eerdman Publishing Co, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1986
(British philosopher, 1922-2009)
Moral truth: neither absolutism nor relativism
Absolutists believe that moral issues can be resolved by adhering to a standard set of moral principles, regardless of context. By contrast, Toulmin asserts that many of these so-called standard principles are irrelevant to real situations encountered by human beings in daily life.
Toulmin introduced the concept of argument fields; he states that some aspects of arguments vary from field to field, and are hence called “field-dependent,” while other aspects of argument are the same throughout all fields, and are hence called “field-invariant.” The flaw of absolutism, Toulmin believes, lies in its unawareness of the field-dependent aspect of argument; absolutism assumes that all aspects of argument are field invariant.
Recognizing the intrinsic flaw of absolutism, Toulmin’s theories resolve to avoid the defects of absolutism without resorting to relativism: relativism, Toulmin asserted, provides no basis for distinguishing between a moral or immoral argument. Toulmin suggests that anthropologists have been tempted to side with relativists because they have noticed the influence of cultural variations on rational arguments; in other words, the anthropologist or relativist overemphasizes the importance of the “field-dependent” aspect of arguments, and becomes unaware of the “field-invariant” elements. In an attempt to provide solutions to the problems of absolutism and relativism, Toulmin attempts throughout his work to develop standards that are neither absolutist nor relativist for assessing the worth of ideas.
It is in reviving casuistry (also known as case ethics) that Toulmin sought to find the middle ground between the extremes of absolutism and relativism. Casuistry was practiced widely during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to resolve moral issues. Casuistry employs absolutist principles, called “type cases” or “paradigm cases,” without resorting to absolutism. It uses the standard principles as referential markers in moral arguments. An individual case is then compared and contrasted with the type case. Given an individual case that is completely identical to the type case, moral judgments can be made immediately using the standard moral principles advocated in the type case. If the individual case differs from the type case, the differences will be critically assessed in order to arrive at a rational claim.
* Toulmin, Stephen. The Uses of Argument. Cambridge: University Press, 1958.
(Contemporary French author)
Le problème de la vérité: méfiez vous de votre certitude
La définition la plus claire et la plus simple de la vérité : selon Aristote, elle est adéquation du discours au réel. Cela signifie que la vérité n’est que la corrélation du réel ; la vérité ne dit rien de plus que le réel, elle le traduit avec des mots. Rien de trop compliqué: la vérité dit ce qui est, et elle prend ses racines dans le réel..
Le problème de cette définition, qui est bonne, c’est le problème de notre accès au réel. Pour des événements simples, voire triviaux, la question ne se pose pas. Mais pour le reste, qu’en est-il ? Comment puis-je atteindre ce réel ? le réel que nous disons ne se donne pas si facilement que nous aimerions le croire.
La vérité est un discours adéquat au réel ; mais le réel est difficile à atteindre. Alors si nous cherchons vraiment la vérité, soyons assez humbles pour la chercher à plusieurs, et pour sortir de cette dimension polémique que nous semblons tant aimer ; ayons le courage d’écouter et d’apprendre, de sortir de nos forteresses de certitudes pour mieux nous approcher de ce réel qui n’est pas aussi familier que nous aimerions le croire.
Mais il nous reste une deuxième définition de la vérité à examiner : il s’agit de la vérité que nous cherchons à atteindre, et qui n’est plus un simple discours qui cherche à verbaliser quelque chose qui est. C’est cette vérité que nous retrouvons en morale, lorsque nous cherchons à définir comment il faut agir ; dans ce cas là, la vérité se définit comme ce qui doit être. Dans la première définition, la vérité est un discours qui est second, alors que le réel est premier : on part de notre accès au réel pour ensuite le verbaliser et le transformer en discours. Dans cette deuxième définition, le rapport est inversé : la vérité est première, et il s’agit de l’appliquer au réel, de chercher à l’incarner.
La deuxième définition de la vérité concerne notre comportement plus directement ; la première, notre rapport à notre connaissance. Mais il y a une exhortation qui leur est commune : méfiez-vous de votre certitude. Il ne s’agit pas de vivre dans un doute perpétuel, qui empêche d’agir ; mais ayons le courage d’écouter celui qui ne pense pas comme nous, que ce soit mon prochain, ou que ce soit l’Esprit. Ayons le courage de lâcher cet orgueil qui nous conduit à nous borner à ce que nous savons, sans vouloir en apprendre plus, et qui conduit à une guerre des égos, plutôt qu’à une recherche de la vérité.
*See Internet Aloice TOUZET
(Contemporary American Christian apologist)
The truth debate between modernistic and postmodern theology
The modern mind is concerned primarily with Truth. The assumption is that there is one Truth that is accessible to all in the same form. From an empirical standpoint, the view says that ultimate reality is perfectly describable and all science will look the same to all people. From a spiritual standpoint, the view says that God is ultimate reality and God is Truth.
But the making of post-modern truth is built on a different philosophical and ontological foundation than that of the modern. Truth for the post-modern becomes relational and contextual. The questions asked are very different from the ones asked by the modern. For the moderns, the answer needs to be something about Truth. What is the nature of reality? What is the true nature of God? What doctrines are true and which ones are false?
If to the modern, there exists a Truth, to the post-modern, there exists no such concept of one all-encompassing truth. The search for Truth and the claims of having found Truth are, for many post-moderns, the cause of violence and injustice. For them Truth may or may not exist, but regardless, it is not accessible to humans in a pristine way. The goal of the post-modern is to get on with the business of living, now that we have established the futility of modern ideals. Post-modern modes of creating freedom and equality rest on the assumption that truth is contextual, and may even be ultimately irrelevant. What is important to the post-modern is peace, equality, respect and autonomy. The search for Truth wastes time and resources, ultimately causing only division and violence.
For the modern, Truth is eternally static and God, similarly, is eternally static. For the post-modern truth is contextual, based in community and rooted in Love. For the post-modern, the core of God's nature is Love, not Truth. Love always produces Truth, but truths do not necessarily always produce love.
Revising our understanding of the core attribute of God from Truth to Love takes our tendency to grasp at Power and refocuses it on community. As persons--humans and God--our essence is Love and therefore the expression of our true essence is in relationship, both with God and with those around us. Consequently, the core human responsibility, aside from being in relationship with God, is to form communities and be integrated into that community, creating communities of God-likeness. This contrasts with a modernistic theology, where the search for Truths about God is the goal of the Christian. Neither one excludes the other, but for the post-modern, relationship precedes knowledge, just as Love precedes Truth. Thus, when the search for knowledge about God impedes our relationship with God, then knowledge becomes idolatrous and destructive.
The moderns seek first Truth to establish their relationship with God and with other humans. The post-moderns seek first Love to establish their relationships, both with God and others, sometimes at the cost of claims of Truth. The questions of the post-modern then aren't about who is right or wrong in debates for Truth about God or God's will. The questions of the post-modern are about the evil in the world that causes suffering and injustice in the world as well as how to fix these injustices. Whether one has a correct belief "about" God isn't nearly as important as how one relates to God and how one works for peace, equality, justice and autonomy of one's neighbors.
See Internet, Jeramy Townsley, Modern and Post-Modern Foundations for Theology. 2002
(British historian, 1889 -1975)
According to Toynbee the essence of primitive religion was not belief but action, and the test of conformity was not assent to a creed but participation in ritual performances. Primitive religious practice was an end in itself, and it did not occur to the practitioners to look beyond the rites that they perform for a truth which these rites may convey. The people in primitive societies understood that their creation myths are not statements concerning matter of fact that can be labeled 'true' or 'false'. There was no disagreement between philosophy (which makes statements which have truth claims) and religion as defined by ritual.
But when the higher religions emerged, their novelty was the emphasis on belief over praxis. The distinctive new feature of the higher religions was that they based their claim to allegiance on personal revelations held to have been received by their prophets; and these deliveries of the prophets are presented, like the propositions of the philosophers, as statements of fact, to be labelled "true" or "false". Therewith Truth became a disputed mental territory; henceforward there were two independent authorities, prophetic Revelation and philosophical Reason, each of which claimed sovereign jurisdiction over the intellect's whole field of action. It became impossible for Reason and Revelation to live and let live on the auspicious precedent of the amicable symbiosis of Reason and Ritual.
"Truth", it now seemed, had two forms, each claiming an absolute and overriding validity, yet each at odds with the other. In this new and excruciating situation there were only two alternatives. Either the rival exponents of the two now coexisting forms of Truth must arrive at a compromise or they must fight it out until one party or the other had been driven from the field.
The would-be reconciliation of the two kinds of Truth in terms of the new mental discipline called Theology was no more than verbal, and the formulae consecrated in creeds were doomed to prove impermanent because they left the equivocal meaning of Truth as ambiguous as ever. The solution could not be found until it had been recognized that the same word "truth", when used by philosophers and scientists and when used by prophets does not refer to the same realities but is a homonym for two different forms of experience.
* Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History, Oxford University Press, paperback, 1987
(Contemporary retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Truth requires living to be true.
First, truth is known through living. Whatever truth is, we may be the only creatures on earth able to know it, because our living involves awareness that we are living. Truth is at least what we understand to be true. Of course, we can be wrong, but understanding that we are wrong means we also have some sense of what is or might be true.
Scholars have long debated our ability to know the truth, and today it is commonly held that we construct our knowledge and so can’t know what really is true. Nonetheless, within our living, within our knowing, and within the stories we tell about living and knowing, we know some of what is true.
Second, truth is living. We can think about truth, so truth is part of our being. When we speak of truth, we are talking about our lives and our world. By truth we do not mean some reality that is simply there, but we mean what draws us to live more truthfully. This means God is true for us only insofar as God enters our lives.
We create everything we know, in part, so we also create God. Yet, it seems unlikely that on our own we have created the universe, and we can’t know that God is merely our creation. We come from the cosmos. So, if we are able to imagine a cosmic God, perhaps the cosmos is sustained by God’s love, as we trust we are.
Third, truth requires living to be true. What is true for us is only true if we live it. All our talk about God is metaphorical, for we have no other way to talk about what for us matters most. Faith, hope, love, beauty, justice, goodness, forgiveness – these words all point to a living reality that participates in the creativity of the cosmos. The truth of these aspiring words is in their power to draw us toward more virtuous and wondrous ways of living.
Much of the Bible is fantasy rather than fact and story instead of history, but its living truth is in the living faith of those who read it. This truth frees us to read the Bible critically, as human literature that aspires for truth and has inspired many to live more truthfully. As the prophet Micah wrote to his people: "what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) Our calling is not to defend the truth, but in faith to live more truthfully.
*See internet Robert Traer
(German theologian and philosopher of religion, 1865-1923)
For the liberal theologian Troeltsch history and sociology are schools of relativity. This relativity extends to the Christian religion. Christianity belongs within the sphere of religious and human history as a whole, and no absolute claim can be made for it. The principles that Troeltsch lay down as a guide to the critical study of history deprive Christianity of certainty in its historical basis and disallow it of any final and absolute character. But then the problem for him was to confront the question of how the traditional absolute truth claims of Christianity could be maintained within an ocean of relativizations. As a historical phenomenon, Christianity is a relative phenomenon: the relative and the historical are identical. It follows that the quest for religious certainty is bound to be frustrated as it cannot be located in the historical claims of the Christian religion. Now the fact is that intellectuals and even more believers have a need for certainty. Troubled by this problem, Troeltsch’s contention was that a very restricted notion of absoluteness could suffice for the religious needs of human beings. Piety requires truth, but not necessarily in the old sense of absoluteness. The conviction that one has encountered God and heard his voice is not touched by the relativizations of historical consciousness. There are encounters that carry within them an intrinsic conviction of truth. The individual can find certainty in this conviction. Even if he is confronted with historical and sociological relativizations, he is confident that what he experiences by himself as truth will never come to be seen as untruth. No final experience of truth in history is possible but there is a process in which each individual has access to the truth. There are experiences of contact with the supernatural that carry with them absolute certainty, but this certainty is located only within the enclave of religious experience.
Thus Christianity is not absolute, but it is sufficient for the Christian. When Christianity is cut down to its proper dimensions as a phenomenon of history, and is seen within the framework of man’s spiritual development as a whole, its truth and greatness become apparent.
* See Berger P.L., The Heretical Imperative, New York, Anchor Press, 1979, p.149-154; also Macquarrie, John, Twentieth-century Religious Thought, Harper & Row, New york, 1963, p.140-144
(American mathematician, 1920-2004)
The ‘story’ theory of truth, rather than the ‘diamond’ theory of truth
Richard J. Trudeau, in ‘The Non-Euclidean Revolution’ , opposes what he calls the Story Theory of truth ( for instance, nominalism, postmodernism) to the traditional Diamond Theory of truth (for instance, Plato, realism). Trudeau claims that people have always longed for truths about the world - neither logical truths, for all their utility, nor even probable truths, without which daily life would be impossible - but informative, certain truths, the only \'truths\' strictly worthy of the name. Such truths Trudeau calls \'diamonds\'; they are highly desirable but hard if not impossible to find. According to him a new epistemology is emerging to replace the Diamond Theory of truth. He calls it the \'Story Theory\' of truth: there are no diamonds. People make up stories about what they experience. Stories that catch on are called \'true.\' The Story Theory of truth is itself a story that is catching on. It is being told and retold, with increasing frequency, by thinkers of many stripes. Trudeau’s own viewpoint is the Story Theory. He asserts that each enterprise contains only stories (which the scientists call \'models of reality\'). He says that he had started by hunting diamonds, but what he found were dazzlingly beautiful jewels, but always of human manufacture.
* Richard J. Trudeau, The Non-Euclidean Revolution, Birkhauser Boston, 1987,
We must surrender to Absolute Truth: the absurd MT-YT philoophy
According to the “My Truth-Your Truth philosophy” (MT-YT), everyone has his or her own truth, and all truth is equal. But then we're in terrible trouble. And it's because equality of truth is ridiculous. When every way is considered equally valid, insanity rules.
Granted, so-called subjective truth exists in people's minds. But there is an appreciable difference between the Truth we acknowledge as Higher Truth, and the so-called truth shared between, say, two stamp collectors, two crystal enthusiasts, two skinheads, etc.
We mut admit that there is much more to reality than what we have in mind, or what I believe is "real for me"? There is an objective reality -- a physical world that exists independent of the observer. There are facts in the physical world that do not depend on our belief. Likewise, there's a Spiritual Reality that doesn't depend upon our belief or our existence for Its existence, though we depend upon It for ours.
There is Absolute Truth. And there are what I call "spiritual essentials" -- truths upon which all sane humans can rightly agree. In Higher Consciousness , Higher, non-subjective Truth is found. People don't like to admit that there is such truth, and it doesn't go away just because people deny or ignore it.
It is tragic that the very possibility of absolute truth -- or even the possibility of a better or truer view, for that matter -- is something people tend to associate with dogma, dictatorship, intolerance, close-mindedness, etc. -- not with anything or anyone who could be good or true.
Ego doesn't want THE Truth. Admittedly, such honesty is not always welcome. If people really think their truth needs to be respected as if it were The Truth, there is no opening to accept reality. They can't adjust their truth, because they have such a solid, built-in, self-reinforcing "protection" system. That's a terrible trap! That system protects nothing so much as ego. Indeed, ego is the real proponent and beneficiary of relativism, subjectivism, and the meaningless life that results. Ego wants to be absolutely independent, absolutely uncorrectable, absolutely prodigal. So it is hugely comforting to ego that "my truth" (meaning, whatever a given individual holds to be true) has been raised to the status of The Truth -- that my truth is The Truth for me, and your truth is The Truth for you. As long as people identify with ego, people don't want The real Truth.
True harmony lies only in truth. There is no peace, no harmony, in ego-directed living. True harmony is based only in Truth. To stand up for what is True and to not support illusions as Truth -- this is critical for the ultimate existence of this planet, and the ultimate harmony of the people.
*See Internet David Truman
(Contemporary American Christian authors)
The unwarranted rejection of religious and moral truths
We demand truth in virtually every area of our lives. For example; we demand truth from loved ones, doctors, stock brokers, courts, employers, airlines…..We also expect to be told the truth when we pick up a reference book, read an article, or watch a news story; we want the truth from advertisers, teachers, and politicians; we assume road signs, medicine bottles, and food labels reveal the truth.
On the other hand, despite our unwavering demands for truth in those areas, many of us say we aren't interested in truth when it comes to morality or religion.
In fact, many downright reject the idea that any religion can be true.
Why do we demand truth in everything but morality and religion?Why do we say, 'That's true for you but not for me,' when we're talking about morality or religion, but we never even think of such nonsense when we're talking to a stock broker about our money or a doctor about our health? Although few would admit it, our rejection of religious and moral truth is often on volitional rather than intellectual grounds-we just don't want to be held accountable to any moral standards or religious doctrine.
So we blindly accept the self-defeating truth claims of intellectuals who tell us that truth does not exist; everything is relative; there are no absolutes; it's all a matter of opinion; you ought not judge; religion is about faith, not facts!
What is Truth? Very simply, truth is 'telling it like it is.' Truth can also be defined as 'that which corresponds to is object' or 'that which describes an actual state of affairs.' There are Many Truths About Truth. Here are Some of Them:
1. Truth is discovered, not invented. It exists independent of anyone's knowledge of it.
2. Truth is transcultural; if something is true, it is true for all people, in all places, at all times.
3. Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change. 4. Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held.
5. Truth is not affected by the attitude of the one professing it. 6. All truths are absolute truths. Even truths that appear to be relative are absolute.
*Frank Turek and Norman Geisler "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist “(Crossway Books, 2004).
(South African Anglican Archbishop, b.1931)
The Ubuntu theology: ‘Truth and reconciliation’
The South African Anglican archbishop, Desmond Tutu, president of the “Truth and Reconciliation” commission does not conceal that his actions for the commission are partially based of what is called UBUNTU theology. "Ubuntu” is an ancient African code of ethics that is based on the inherent humaneness of the human spirit. It embraces the hospitality, generosity, warmth and togetherness that is so typical of the African people. One expression of Ubuntu: “I am because you are” points to a feeling of belonging, of sharing, and of having a sense of responsibility for the well-being of others - thus promoting respect for elders, youth and women, and co-operation and trust between individuals, cultures and nations.
Ubuntu is much more than a philosophy; it is a way of life, a state of “being”, a code of principles for living together, and a strategy for conflict resolution. The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu has guided the ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ Commission in South Africa, helping to heal wounds of apartheid by bringing out the values of compassion, forgiveness, personal accountability and dignity. Reconciliation is possible only if one starts from the foundation of the truths.
The philosophy of Ubuntu has similarities with concepts found in other cultures, such as Ahimsa (non-violence) promoted by Gandhi, the doctrine of Agape, and the Christian principle expressed as “do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you”. More recently, European notions of Humanism are associated with similar ethics and values, especially understanding, respect and acceptance of others. It is clear that similar values-systems exist or have existed in most cultures in the world and that they have served as a healing and civilizing force to reduce conflict and bring about reconciliation within families, between tribes and clans, even nations. When exploring different traditional cultures in the world, whilst recognizing that many values are shared worldwide, we need to acknowledge the unique ways of interpreting and expressing those values in each culture. Contributions should, wherever possible, come directly from people who belong to and live those cultures. It is important to recognize that the aim of the Ubuntu project is not to invent something new, nor to impose values on others, but more to re-discover, re-awaken, re-ignite and share that which already exists within human hearts, and can be found especially in the traditions of societies around the world. It involves an exploration of what is specific to each culture, and of what is shared with other cultures and which unites the human family.
* See Michael J. Battle, Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu, Pilgrim Press, 1997
(Polish philosopher, 1866-1938)
The conception of truth as something absolute, never relative
Twardowski argues forcefully in favour of a conception of truth as something absolute, a conception which would rule out the possibility that the truth of a judgment might change from occasion to occasion or from subject to subject. He argues that the thesis that truth can change and judgment remain the same follows from a confusion of judgments on the one hand with their statements or expressions on the other.
The differentiation between relative and absolute truthfulness exists only in the area of sayings, to which the truth feature applies only in a figurative indirect sense. When the judgements themselves are concerned we cannot talk about relative and absolute truthfulness, for each judgement is either true, and then it is true at any time or place, or it is false, and also false at any time or place. The existence of relative truths may be sustained only thanks to the lack of differentiation between judgements and sayings and loses its basis when the difference between judgements and sayings is strictly and systematically observed.
Generally, it can be shown that all the instances of ‘mutable’ truths include, either implicitly or explicitly, egocentric particulars. An essential feature of egocentric particulars is their reference to the speaker, to his experiences and his space-time position. Sentences which contain egocentric words have a different meaning and, accordingly, might be true in some circumstances and untrue in others. This does not imperil the view that for every p, if ‘p’ is true, ‘p’ is absolutely true. For once the context in which p is stated is fully specified and, thus, the various meanings of the seemingly identical expressions are distinguished, we obtain two or more statements, each of which, if true, is absolutely true.
From the viewpoint of formal logic, which, among its primary principles, includes the principles of (in)consistency and of excluded middle, the differentiation of relative and absolute truths is nonsense, and even groundless and unacceptable. It destroys the rationality of the human efforts for it involves us in a conflict with what has been considered the canon and main measure of rational activity, thinking and learning.
Twardowski writes "If we encounter a case that a particular hypothesis or theory was – as the relativists say – true only for a certain scope of experience, the fact is that the hypothesis or theory was not true at all, but was false from the very beginning. However at the time when it was accepted, some facts proving its fallacy could not be perceived, and it was accepted, for at that time the hypothesis/theory was deemed more probable than all the others”.
Some authors try to deduce the relativist thesis from their epistemological subjectivism, but then Twardowski argues that such a foundation is a total delusion. No subjectivism has ever proved that considering a judgement as true makes it true. For at least on the grounds of the classical theory of truth, its truth is proved by the existence or non-existence of the object of a judgement, not simply the subjective consideration of it as true.
* Twardowski, On the content and object of presentations. A psychological investigation. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1977.