( Swedish expert in inter-religious dialogue ,b.1946)
The mistake of looking for the truth in the past: the search for truth today is different from yesterday.
We are accustomed to talking about the word "truth" in the singular. We speak of the "truth" as though it were unitary, indivisible, and monolithic. We prefer something objective to hold on to. The orientation is "objectivist". We want objective norms in morality, objective truth in science and knowledge of an objectively real God in religion. We build up around ourselves an unchanging framework of religious objects, timeless truths, moral and physical laws, immortal souls.
Such a Truth in splendid isolation, separate and unattached to the complexity of life, risks becoming abusive, dominating, excluding, denigrating. Not only does holding on to a truth by itself risk becoming idolatrous, it also entails a devaluation of responsibility. There is a risk that we hide behind the truth with capital T, refusing the obligation to be responsible.
Throughout history the church had been seeking correct belief in the past and the past decided on the validity of faith. There has been a constant appeal to the authority of the past. Nearest to God in the Christian view was the period of the Apostles. Therefore that which is in agreement with the apostles must be real Christian truth. This fixation on the past has determined the shape of Christian truth down the ages. Looking for the truth in the past may be pleasant, walking down memory lane but it is like looking for the snow of last winter. We need something else.
Our time is different from previous times. It is neither better nor worse. It is just different. Our time has difficulties with eternal truths and is more inclined towards open-endedness. We live in a time, where there is a definite appreciation of plasticity and the constant change of reality and knowledge. Today we give priority to concrete experience over fixed abstract principles.
This does not mean that we concede to indifferentism, saying that everything is relative or an illusion, our perception of truth included. Making an absolute of saying that we cannot perceive truth is claiming absolute validity for the relative. Secondly, a relativism, which makes no room for commitment, undermines the basis of religious life.
The search for truth today is however different from yesterday. Ambiguity, pluralism and that which is relative rather than absolute or certain are important factors in our search for truth. Reality is not a solid, self-contained given but a fluid, unfolding process. One cannot regard reality as a removed spectator against a fixed object; one is always engaged in reality, transforming it while being transformed oneself. Our time is characterized also by a sympathetic attitude towards unorthodox perspectives and a more self-critical view of currently established ones. There is a realization that the world does not exist as a thing-in-itself, independent of interpretation. The world comes into being only and through interpretation. The nature of truth and reality, in science, philosophy and religion, is ambiguous. All human understanding is interpretation and no interpretation is final. Language is a cage, said Wittgenstein. Language itself, when articulating a claim to a sovereign, unchanging or enduring truth beyond interpretation imprisons the very idea of the truth claim and thwarts the message intended. The truth claim when claimed devours itself and becomes its own worst enemy.
We live in a time of many truths and insights, with possibilities for cross-fertilisation, in a space for open conversation between different understandings, different vocabularies, and different paradigms. Globalization is changing the world. There is a threatened reaction and response to globalization, which is the reinforcement of our own as a protection against the other. Our reaction should not be a reaction of each one withdrawing into the confines of each religion on its own, each one behind walls of separation. It is no longer possible. No religion is an island. An affirmation of diversity is a counter witness to universalization. This would mean to open ourselves to the possibility of many truths, to "risk having our own faith shaken and to discover that there are other ways to state the truth than we have yet learned ourselves." A response would be to incorporate pluralism into the very notion of our religious tradition (intrinsic pluralism), realizing that a new relationship with people of other religious traditions is not simply a sociological necessity, not simply a desirable option but part of the practice of one’s own religious conviction.
This might be the beginnings of a culture of cultures, and a unity of diversity. If so, it will not be on the basis of any new orthodoxy, either religious or scientific. Such a new integration will be based on the rejection of all univocal understandings of reality and truth.
* Ucko Hans, Changing the Present, Dreaming the Future: A Critical Moment in Interreligious Dialogue , Barnes & Noble
(Contemporary Nigerian philosopher)
One cannot live effectively in the world without some sense of truth’s objective correspondence to reality.
For Uduigwoen, it is clear that objective truth is possible. Truth exists in nature independent of our objective minds or what we individually hold or believe to be truth. Reality is what exists in nature and truth is simply our reflection or estimation of this pre-existing reality, which every body tends to agree with . Truth as correspondence emphasizes the extra-mental reference of what is thought or said. To provide this point of reference for universal (as distinct from particular) truths, the medievals spoke of ontological truth, that is, the objective reality of ideal universal architypes as distinct from particulars, which exemplify them. Thus, to speak of justice or of human nature is to refer to their ideal forms, rather than to offer empirical generations or mental abstractions. The medievals went as far as locating these universals in the mind of God-the ultimate theistic referent for truth
The implication of all this is that truth is objective rather than perspectival or relative. No one can function or live very long if he consistently acted as though truth were relative rather than objective. In fact, a person who lives by a perspectival view of truth concerning his moral activities is a potential danger to himself and to humanity. He can issue bounce cheques simply because ‘to him’ he has money in the account, take hard drugs which ‘to him’ are refreshing, get knocked down by a lorry which ‘to him’ is not moving. Thus, a person who wants to function and live effectively in the world cannot do without some sense of truth’s objective correspondence to reality. Objective knowledge is possible. Though we sometimes make mistakes in our judgment and sometimes change our minds upon discovering that our earlier judgments were not true, this is not enough to relegate our beliefs to the status of private opinion. The only thing worth believing, living for and dying for is the truth.
UDUIGWOMEN Andrew Quodlibet Journal: Volume 7 Number 2, April - June 2005
(Spanish philosopher, 1864-1936)
Unamuno’s thought is much inspired by the emotional-existential approach of Pascal and Kierkegaard. It is characterised by a passionate hunger for immortality, an unquenchable thirst for ‘being for ever’ and eternal existence in which human conscience is tragically divided by the conflict between faith and reason. Unamuno is a staunch fideist: not only is faith unsupported by reason, it is contrary to it. Those who look at the world only with the eyes of reason and the knowledge of science, are justified to profess atheism. But people of faith in spite of the evidence to the contrary believe in God and a life after death because their heart conveys the message that the truth is not what the spectacle of an indifferent nature makes it seem to be. God is not visible to the eyes of reason and science, but only to the blind eyes of faith. Seeing with their heart, the believers experience in agony the eternal conflict between faith and reason. They know that the truth of reason and science must lead to atheism…and despair. They have no argument with the atheists. They live in another world than the atheists. They are aware that no road can connect the truths of rational knowledge and the truths of the heart.
Unamuno’s brand of the fideism of the heart dispenses him with arguments: it cannot be refuted because it does not profess that its stand can be proved. The head tells one something but the heart teaches that there is another world in which reason is not the guide. There can be no peace between the head and the heart, no harmony between reason and faith. The truth is that which makes one live, not what makes one think. Truth is what assuages our thirst. Credo quia consolans: I believe because it consoles me. Reason leads to despair, but the heart opens up the road to hope and immortality. Man must choose a consoling truth rather than a despairing truth and this means that for Unamuno there is no criterion of truth. The search for truth is less important than the choice between hope and despair.
Philosophers search for truth and want to know it but why? Knowledge for its own sake and truth for its own sake are meaningless and inhuman designs. Genuine philosophizing need a wherefore. Before being a philosopher, the philosopher is a human being. He philosophizes in order to live. Primum vivere. The wherefore is more important than the why, the end is more vital than the cause. The primary reality is not that we know (cogito) but that we are (sum), not cogito ergo sum but sum ergo cogito. “Every creed that leads to living works is a true creed, as that one is false that conducts to deeds of death. Life is the criterion of truth, logic is but the criterion of reason”. “Reasons are only reasons – that is to say, they are not even truths”.
For Unamuno there is an unresolvable strife between two enemy-truths: the truth thought and the truth felt or lived. The first leads to despair but the other fills man with hope.
* Unamuno, Miguel de, The Tragic Sense of Life, Dover Publications, New York, 1954, p.19-37; Don Quixote Expounded with Comment, p.114-115, quoted in Macquarrie, J.,Twentieth-century Religious Thought, Harper & Row, New York, 1963, p. 200-201
(American philosopher, b.1942)
Skepticism serves the "truth" that knowledge is impossible
In his book Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism Peter Unger proposes a thesis of universal ignorance, that "no one knows anything about anything". Unger takes his argument to its logical end, claiming that no one is ever reasonable or justified in anything, that there is no functional truth, and that, in fact, no one ever believes, feels, or thinks anything. Unger appeals to intuitive senses he has about ignorance, a blatant paradox that Unger admits willingly. According to Unger, skepticism serves the "truth," and traditional philosophy is dead. Dissatisfied with the way philosophy currently runs, he feels that most philosophers engage in a highly uncritical examination of their most sacred beliefs.
He thinks that philosophy is wholly embedded in language, an idea that is vital to the contemporary skeptical cause. Language, he says, involves absolute terms like ‘flat’ and ‘certain’, of which a perfect representation can never be reached. The word ‘flat’ in this sense means perfectly flat, in that nothing could ever be flatter than the object being described. The object that we said was flat, may in fact not be flat, but it is not certain that it is not flat, because absolute certainty is ultimately too demanding. Accordingly, our language theory is so blatantly wrong that it involves us in lies and impossibilities such as certainty, truth, and knowledge.
Unger’s language theory leads directly into his epistemological thesis of universal ignorance. Unger says we do not know this to be so, but can still hold that it is true that "ignorance is necessary and inevitable." Knowing, like certainty, is an absolute limit of mental states that is virtually impossible.
Certainty for Unger is so absolutely severe that the individual who is certain will accept no new information that could possibly affect his or her certainty. Unger calls this state of mind dogmatism or the attitude of certainty, and, since no one can really ever be certain of anything, this attitude is unreasonable. Can a skeptic doubt that he doubts or not know that he is thinking? It seems that the skeptic has reduced himself to an idiot, devoid of all perception and intelligence. But Peter Unger suggests that this underlying flaw is not a product of skepticism, however, but stems from the very language we use to express ourselves. The paradoxes associated with skeptical epistemology and many other fields of philosophy may be products of a badly wrong theory of language, embedded deep within our minds. But then, our entire theory of knowledge, all of our explicit impressions, beliefs and thoughts, and all of our statements are wrong. Even Unger, in fact, is unreasonable in proposing his views, something he willingly admits !
* Unger Peter, Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism, Oxford University Press, 1975
Truth is greater than God.
It might be possible to be apart from God, but it is not possible to be apart from Truth. Without Truth, the universe cannot function, but truth does not need a God to function. Truth is the master of God. Every time you say ‘Let me tell you the truth about God’ you are acknowledging this. Every time you dismiss the claims of a religion different to your own, whatever your reasoning, you are declaring that their feelings and descriptions of God are untrue, and in return they do the same to you. You are all using Truth to slice attributes and characteristics from Him, because God is not the same as Truth. Truth is not a part of God. Truth is greater than God.
* See Internet
(Name of an esoteric book written by undetermined American author(s) 1924-1955)
You can know and live the truth; but you cannot imprison truth in formulas, codes, creeds, or intellectual patterns of human conduct.
Philosophers commit their gravest error when they are misled into the fallacy of abstraction, the practice of focusing the attention upon one aspect of reality and then of pronouncing such an isolated aspect to be the whole truth. The wise philosopher will always look for the creative design which is behind, and pre-existent to, all universe phenomena.
The dead theory of even the highest religious doctrines is powerless to transform human character or to control mortal behavior. What the world of today needs is the truth which your teacher of old declared: "Not in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit." The seed of theoretical truth is dead, the highest moral concepts without effect, unless and until the divine Spirit breathes upon the forms of truth and quickens the formulas of righteousness.
Knowledge is the sphere of the material or fact-discerning mind. Truth is the domain of the spiritually endowed intellect that is conscious of knowing God. Knowledge is demonstrable; truth is experienced. Knowledge is a possession of the mind; truth an experience of the soul, the progressing self. Knowledge is a function of the nonspiritual level; truth is a phase of the mind-spirit level of the universes. The eye of the material mind perceives a world of factual knowledge; the eye of the spiritualized intellect discerns a world of true values. These two views, synchronized and harmonized, reveal the world of reality, wherein wisdom interprets the phenomena of the universe in terms of progressive personal experience.
Truth cannot be defined with words, only by living. Truth is always more than knowledge. Knowledge pertains to things observed, but truth transcends such purely material levels in that it consorts with wisdom and embraces such imponderables as human experience, even spiritual and living realities. Knowledge originates in science; wisdom, in true philosophy; truth, in the religious experience of spiritual living. Knowledge deals with facts; wisdom, with relationships; truth, with reality values.
Divine truth is a spirit-discerned and living reality. Truth exists only on high spiritual levels of the realization of divinity and the consciousness of communion with God. You can know the truth, and you can live the truth; you can experience the growth of truth in the soul and enjoy the liberty of its enlightenment in the mind, but you cannot imprison truth in formulas, codes, creeds, or intellectual patterns of human conduct. When you undertake the human formulation of divine truth, it speedily dies. The post-mortem salvage of imprisoned truth, even at best, can eventuate only in the realization of a peculiar form of intellectualized glorified wisdom. Static truth is dead truth, and only dead truth can be held as a theory. Living truth is dynamic and can enjoy only an experiential existence in the human mind.
See Internet Urantia