(Indian philosopher and statesman, 1888-1975)
1. Radhakrishnan is a mystic philosopher. His philosophy was born of his own religious experiences as well as the mystic experiences of seers belonging to different religions. There is no philosophy for him without religious experience. The religious sense may be absent in most people but this does not invalidate its truth. Religious experience alone can reveal the greatest eternal truths to humanity.
2. Intellect gives us superficial knowledge, intuition reveals the truth of it. Intuition gives the direct perception of things-in-themselves. Whereas intellect gives awareness of the properties of a thing, intuition gives knowledge of the thing itself. It reveals the nature of reality, the truth of things. the whole view of being unlike the intellect which gives only partial knowledge.
Intuition is a state of consciousness in which the self gets completely identified with reality. It is knowledge of reality, as well as the feeling oneness with it. In intuition the subject does not remain the knower of reality, rather the known and the knower become identified in one. Intuition is experienced when the duality between the subject and the object culminates in this absolute oneness. In it the mind is fused with reality. It is awareness of the truth of things by identity. The object is seen as part of the self. The distinction object-subject ceases. Radhakrishnan agrees with Hegel: ”The rational is real and the real is rational”. In ecstasy reality and consciousness are one, thought and reality coalesce.
Intuitive knowledge is the highest knowledge, it reveals the reality as a whole. It is incapable of growing, unlike intellectual knowledge which grows and develops. Intuitive knowledge is spontaneous and immediate. It comes to us as a vision. It carries its guarantee of authenticity within itself. Intuition is self-luminous and self-evident. This supreme ecstasy is a rare occurrence. Its lower forms are experienced by poets and artists. Intuition, in its highest form, is the proper of seers who have intuitive certainty of their experience. Their mystic experience carries with itself the validity which gives absolute certainty. These experiences having intrinsic validity there can be no question of truth and falsehood, if by truth and falsehood one understands correspondence with anything in the external world.
Intuition has the character of revelation. It comes down as something unexpected. Those who receive these revelation are the chosen beings of God. The supreme intuitive consciousness can be traced in all human consciousness but it remains dormant except in a few.
3. There are many types of intuition but the highest type is religious intuition. Religious intuition covers the whole life. It reveals the vision of God, it gives perception of the divine. The direct apprehension of God is real for these seers just as the perception of the external world is real for ordinary human beings. This intuition destroys the limited ego, it gives the experience of identity with existence. The religion of these seers is all comprehensive. Religions based on intellectual knowledge are closed, narrow and dogmatic. They follow definite systems of dogmas and rituals. True religion is a system of insight or religious experience. All religions are based on the revelations of the supreme mystic experience. But this intuitive experience is ineffable. It cannot be defined and expressed in concepts. Nonetheless these intuitions are variously interpreted in terms of tradition, culture, environment. Most of the time religious intuitions are experienced in the background of particular religious beliefs. The spiritual experience is always mixed up with the individual’s interpretations.
Eastern philosophies and religions lay emphasis on the powers of intuition, while the West lays stress on the critical faculty of intelligence. The East is intuitive, the West is intellectual and rational. For the East behind and above the intellect there is the superior power of consciousness, called intuition, which discerns the truth, the thing-in –itself, the real. The vision of truth is obtained by direct intuition. One who has the explicit revelation of intuitive wisdom knows the truth of things, self and God. Whereas the intellect is an inadequate instrument which fails to gives us the knowledge of reality, intuition is the integral experience, the supreme consciousness through which the totality of truth is revealed.
* Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, An Idealist View of Life, ; Srivastava, R.S., Contemporary indian Philosophy, Munshiram Manoharlal Oriental Publishers, Delhi, 1965, 257-280
(Contemporary Canadian spiritual teacher)
Follow the Truth as Truth is and not as maltreated by the so called dharma gurus of all religions of the world
There are so many self-proclaimed gurus in the world today. In fact, nature provides us with complete guidance, if we observe it and practice based on what we learn from it. There's no chance to be deceived since learning through Nature is directly under the Lord's command, but this is possible only if our mind and intellect are pure.
It is true that in worldly matters, we need a teacher to learn various arts, but here we are talking about spirituality where a Satguru is so very difficult to find. A guru in human form is almost impossible and need not be sought. This is a state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi such as Shri Ramakrishna, Mirabai or Buddha had experienced. They never posed as gurus, but lived like true servants of God and loved mankind. They taught love for God; they never sought wealth, lust, greed or name and fame, not to think of any disciples or large crowds.Wake Up! And seek that great guru within you through the Gitaji or Truth. Don't be blinded by gimmicks, tricks, shows, music, dancing, lectures, styles, traditions, beliefs, meditations, rituals, chantings, etc. of those who only try to establish their own self-love and glorify their own name rather than glorifying God.May our Lord grant us wisdom. to follow the Truth as Truth is and not as maltreated by the so called dharma gurus of all religions of the world.
See Internet Radhanandaji Swami
(Contemporary American pastor)
Truth Is More Important than Peace
There are a lot of people who agree that peace is more important than truth. Now let’s compare this with what Jesus says in this text, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Jesus would say that truth is more important than peace. In fact for the sake of truth, Jesus is eager for the fires of division, even when it’s with our closet family members.
How many wars have been fought, how many people have died because of religious differences? Only God knows that; and it’s happening today! People ask, “Why can’t people from all religions just get along; and for that matter, why does there even have to be all these denominations?
Where do you stand on this? Is peace more important than truth, or is truth more important than peace? Before we each answer that for ourselves, let’s dig a little deeper and see why Jesus spoke the way He did in our text. Truth Is More Important than Peace because: I. There is only one truth that saves. II. Truth calls sinners to faith. III. God uses conflict to strengthen faith.
The reason many feel peace is more important than truth is they don’t believe truth even exists. For them, truth is whatever each person thinks it is, and that all religions worship the same god. Now let’s compare this with Christianity. What a difference! And this is why Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved – Acts 4:12." Since there is only one truth that saves, truth is more important than peace.
Truth is more important that peace, because it has called us, sinners, to faith. Furthermore, as we share His truth with others, it will call them to faith also. Unfortunately, not all sinners will receive the truth. And that causes conflict. However, Jesus actually sees this conflict as a good thing. Again we read in our text, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
*See internet Pastor Dale Raether
(Indian spiritual teacher, 1931-1990)
1. Truth can never be second-hand. It has to be a personal experience. Therefore it is neither knowledge nor belief.
What one calls knowledge is most of the time only information, accumulation of data from various sources. This knowledge is always borrowed. It does not liberate, rather it creates new problems. It belongs to the past, it comes from outside, from others, from teachers, traditions, books, scriptures. This kind of knowledge gives theories of truth, not truth itself. Some identify this knowledge with belief and they are right. All beliefs are tricks on the mind, giving the feeling of knowing. It is easy and cheap to believe, for it does not involve personal commitment and responsibility. Belief and second-hand knowledge come from ignorance.
Moreover no conception about absolute truth is possible because every conception is bound to be relative. The absolute transcends every conceptualisation; one cannot conceive it. We can live in it, we can be in it, but no intellectual conception is possible about it. All conceptions are bound to be erroneous. “I am not a philosopher” says Rajneesh, “I deny every type of philosophizing.” The truly religious mind is a mind that is not philosophizing about the truth. Philosophizing is a kind of mentation, the mind is working. And through the mind no contact with the absolute is possible. Only when the mind ceases, when thinking ceases, can we come into contact with truth. Where philsophical conceptions end, the absolute begins. The moment we begin to think about truth, truth is being lost. Truth can never become a word.
2. There is another kind of knowledge, a genuine one, not second-hand but first-hand, which Rajneesh calls Wisdom. Wisdom is each person’s experiential, existential realisation of truth. It has nothing to do with the past but with the present. It is what we live and see, like innocent little children. Truth is very simple, it is untrue that is complex. “Unless you are like small children you will never enter the Kingdom of God.” That Wisdom is within the self. The Guru’s function is to help the individual to see by him/herself, not to make him/her believe in anything extraneous. His task is to dismantle all one’s beliefs so that one may be able to see. This is how Buddha and Socrates understood their mission. These masters taught people to be masters of themselves. They never said: “Believe in me because I said it”. But most people in search of truth want some one to hold their hand, tell them the truth, trace the path to follow. They search wrongly for a father or a mother figure. They have to accept that they are their own authority. Authority cannot come from anything other than one’s own personal realisation. If any one invokes the authority of some scriptures or traditions, he does so on the basis of his own authority. It is he who decides to give sciptures or traditions their authority.
3. Truth is existential, and that means it has to be discovered again and again. It is totally individualistic and personal. What Buddha discovered or what Jesus preached can never become a universal truth. There is no universal truth , each one has to rediscover the truth. True religion is not a commodity of the market-place. It cannot be taught like scientific or philosophical truth. Authentic religious truth has no tradition, no past, it is not the product of indoctrination. It is an individual flowering, concerned with subjectivity. It has to be a truth for the individual person, an inner truth, not the truth of another or of a tradition. Only an inner truth gives certainty. All outer “truths” are uncertain, probable, mere beliefs. To speak of “absolute” truths is not only meaningless, it is also harmful because it creates fanatics. The word “absolute” has dragged the world into misery. All verbal truths are relative. Knowing this, you will be liberal, tolerant and compassionate.
* Rajneesh, Bhagvan Shree, The Eternal Quest, Orient Paper Backs, 1978, p.113-117;, 124-129, The Long, the Short and the All, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1979, p 53-60, The Book of Books, Vol.III, Rajneesh Foundation International, , Oregon, 1976, p. 1-61
(Contemporary American martial artist)
Cheng Hsin : a commitment to uncovering the truth of being.
Peter Ralston is the creator of the “Cheng Hsin” practice: an open and grounded inquiry into the nature of being. The spirit of the Cheng Hsin work is to continually move toward a more "real," direct and present experience of self and life. To "take on" Cheng Hsin is to move in the direction of experiencing the truth of what is occurring -- in this moment or in any matter.
The words Cheng Hsin are Chinese. Cheng translates as true, genuine or authentic. Hsin translates as heart, mind or being. Cheng Hsin could translate as “authentic being” or “true nature”. Cheng Hsin is a commitment to uncovering the truth of being. Using open investigation, personal experimentation, contemplation, and questioning one pursues transformation, effectiveness, and a direct experience of the nature of Being. This work is not about proselytizing a belief system, adhering to dogma, or following a set of rituals. It is not about defending itself against differing ideas, or engaging in idle speculations. The intent is to challenge ourselves, our actions, and our abilities openly and honestly -- this often means challenging our existing beliefs.
Ralston writes: "The essence of Cheng Hsin is found in questioning our own event. We're striving to honestly investigate our actions, emotions, beliefs, relationships, and experience. It seems that in grasping the truth of any matter, the possibility arises of becoming more powerful, effective, and balanced in relation to that matter."
In every case, the core matter under consideration is the event of "being," but not Being as an abstract or exclusive concept. It is the wonderment of the event that we are, the nature of our very existence. The core consideration is: What am I? What is Reality? What is Being in all and every form in which Being appears?
Cheng Hsin ‘ontology’ is defined as “the study of being”. It is not an intellectual pursuit but rather the setting out to experience for oneself the truth of Being. Cheng Hsin ontology is neither an abstract ontological study nor a philosophy, it is perceiving the truth of personal experience.
If we start to look at all we hold to be the truth, we begin to uncover a world of things we hold to be true because we saw it on TV, read in a book, was taught it by teachers or parents and so on. In fact we start to see how much we hold to be the truth is hearsay. The basic tenet of Chen Hsing is “we must experience the truth for ourselves”. If we don't experience it as true for ourselves, how can we know it to be true?
* Ralston Peter, The Book of Not Knowing, January 2010. North Atlantic Books
(Hindu mystic, 1836-1886)
The above quotation from the Vedas (“Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti”) exemplifies well the great teaching of Ramakrishna on the essential oneness of all religions. The claim that they are all different paths leading to the same goal was not for Ramakrishna an intellectual generalization but the experience he alleged to have had through the performance of the disciplines of the various religions. He wanted people to understand that God can never be exhausted in any one religion. One can never say that God is this and this alone and nothing more. Still he taught that a believer must have faith and stay on his/her own path, while never thinking that his/her religion is the only path. That there are a multiplicity of religions and a multiplicity of ideals need not bewilder us. Each person sees God only through his/her own eyes. The God-realization which is all that matters is bound to be different from person to person, from culture to culture. Because of difference in time, place and persons, God has given us many religions. All faiths are paths but these faiths are not the goal, they are not God. The God-realization is possible by various methods, various ways and various religions. All these ways are capable to lead the goal; thus we should have respect for all of them.
Ramakrishna proclaims that all religions are true, that all religions are but different paths to Self-realization which is identical with God-realization. He liked to relate the parable of the pond that has many bathing points. Coming to one point, the Hindu says: I have brought jala; the Mohammedan comes from a different point and calls it pani; the Christian brings the same thing from another point and names it water. It is the same thing called by so many names. In the same way the Supreme Being has been variously described as Ishwar, Allah or God, different names for the same ultimate truth.
* Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Ramakrishna, New York, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942
(Indian American physicist and philosopher, b.1932)
Criteria for the retention or rejection of truths, both scientific and religious
The distinction between fact and truth is of the utmost importance in any discussion on science and religion. Those who argue that science alone leads to correct knowledge tend to forget that science is essentially an interpretation of facts. On the other hand, those who insist that religion provides us with the ultimate answers as to the nature of the world and of human existence tend to imagine that the truths which their religion proclaims is a true reflection of how the world is. Put differently, the world of science tends to equate fact with truth, while the world of religion tends to equate truth with fact.
We become aware of the world around us through our sensory faculties. A fact refers to the existence/presence of a thing or an event as perceived (directly or with the aid of instruments) by our normal sensory faculties. Thus there can be unanimity of agreement as to the facts of a situation/phenomenon among people who have normal sensory faculties.
A truth, on the other hand, is the interpretation and apprehension of a fact. What this means is that truth is very much a function of the state of the mind that interprets the fact. Thus one might say: Facts are what there seem to be; Truths are how they seem to me.
Given that truth is the apprehension of a fact, the same fact may appear as different truths to different individuals. This is why there are honest disagreements among intelligent people of goodwill as to what constitutes the truth of a case. This is why there is no such thing as the absolute truth.
There is another distinction between exopotent and endopotent truths, in both science and religion, to grasp the essential difference between scientific and religious truths.
A scientific truth can and often does have consequences (impacts) on our understanding and manipulation of the external world. We may say that scientific truths are exopotent. Exopotent truths are fruitful, i.e. they lead to useful/practical applications.
A religious truth can have consequences (impacts) on our internal experience of life as individuals, especially in the context of our particular circumstances. We may say that religious truths as endopotent. Endopotent truths are fulfilling, i.e. they lead to psychologically/emotionally satisfying consequences. It must be realized that even atheism and other philosophical frameworks which do not belong to particular religious traditions are endopotent truths.
Two things become clear from this analysis: (a) We need scientific truths for deriving practical benefits. (b) We need religious truths for deriving inner peace and satisfaction.
Any truth, whether religious or scientific, has action potentials, i.e. is capable of provoking actions of one kind or another. And in every case, the action itself could be exopotent or endopotent or both. It is important to realize that whereas religious truths by themselves are only endopotent, the actions stemming from them could be endopotent or exopotent. Thus, for example, engagement in prayer is an endopotent action, and an act of charity or kindness towards a fellow human being is an exopotent action. Both are beneficent in nature. On the other hand, a superstitious fear arising from a religious belief is maleficent and endopotent, while religious persecution of heretics is maleficent and exopotent. Some actions may be beneficent in an endopotent way and maleficent in an exopotent way. The fanatical behavior of religious bigots who engage in holy wars are of this kind.
Similarly, in the realm of science, the manufacture and use of chemical weapons are instances of maleficent and exopotent actions, whereas the use of vaccines is beneficent and exopotent.
This analysis enables us to spell out criteria for the retention or rejection of truths, both scientific and religious. Those who argue eloquently against religion stress the maleficent exopotent potentials of religion, and those who argue for science stress its beneficent exopotent potentials, and conversely.
*Raman Varadaraja, Truth and Tension in Science and Religion, Beech River Books, 2009 May, ISBN 0979377862
(Hindu sage and mystic, 1879-1950)
Ramana Maharshi, a modern Hindu master of Advaita Vedanta - the Indian system of philosophy that endorses the view that the 'true being' within each one of us is the ultimate, sublime Reality or Brahman - taught a method of self-inquiry in which the seeker focuses continuous attention on the I-thought in order to find its source. What prevents one from reaching that source is the ego, which therefore must be destroyed in order to realize the truth.
According to him, Jnâna - or the supreme knowledge - is given neither from outside nor from another person. It has to be realised by each and everyone in his own Heart. The jnâna Guru of everyone is none other than the Supreme Self that is always revealing its own truth in every heart through the being-conciousness 'I am, I am.' The real Guru is that Self-awareness, one's own true nature, the inner conciousness revealing the truth of existence.
For Ramana truth cannot not be put into words, truth cannot be a concept or an idea, truth is beyond mind, beyond the horizontal plane of existence of apparent beginnings and ends. Thus his favourite method was his silent teaching, his preferred way to communicate truth. The only true and perfect knowledge being the stillness of pure Awareness, all other kinds of knowledge are base, trivial, ego-born conceptual clouds. To trust them is sheer foolishness, he declared. True religion for Ramana Maharshi is not speculating with the inconstant mind and endless speaking. True religion is the silence, the experience of deathless Being-Awareness-Bliss. The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools is said to clarify matters and reveal the Truth. But in fact they create confusion where no confusion need exist.
To understand anything there must be the Self. The Self is obvious. Why not remain as the Self? What need to explain the non-self? The only Truth is that of the Self. People do not like even to hear of this Truth, whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond, about world, heaven and hell, immortality and reincarnation and other such 'mysteries'. In fact, there are no other truths than the supreme Truth, the Truth of Self-Awareness, abiding in the heart, not in the mind. All other knowledge is mere folly.
* Be As You Are : The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi , David Godman (Editor), published by Arkana (Penguin Books) , London, 1985
(Indian philosopher and theologian,1017-1137)
It is natural and inherent to thought to be true
Ramanuja’s metaphysical ideas owe a great deal to his understanding of human knowledge and its relation to reality. He models reality upon the pattern of ordinary human language and thought. All our judgments and categorical propositions are relational, and therefore real objects that exist outside the mind are always relational, never simple. Knowledge is always in and through differences, the perception of these distinctions is evidence enough that they correspond to reality. Ramanuja is an ultra-realist – some would say a naive realist - for believing in the absolute correspondence between thought and reality. The distinctions and relations established through judgments have an objective value. Thought and language being necessarily relational, the substance-attribute relations (aprithaksiddhi) are objectively describing reality. Ramanuja’s ‘Vishishtadvaita’ adopts the theory established by the Mimamsakas , that all knowledge is intrinsically valid, the doctrine called Svatah Pramanya or self-validity of all knowledge. It is natural and inherent to thought to be true. No adventitious support or evidence, no alien quality of excellence, is needed to vest knowledge with truth. Only falsity is brought about and cognized through such adventitious circumstances. Thought, when pure, is in rapport with reality. But thought can be sullied or distorted by falsifying adjuncts, then it misses the truth. Such falsification is made evident by it being contradicted by the rest of the body of knowledge. This principle implies, in relation to spiritual knowledge, that it necessarily carries validity unless it is subject to contradiction. This is a general epistemological principle developed and defended on a free and independent philosophical basis and rests on no dogmatic belief. Scripture satisfies empirical standards. Its supremacy, its role as the revelation of the Supreme, is itself based upon its satisfactory fulfillment of the criterion of truth and validity settled by empirical intelligence. It satisfies its claim to truth by conforming to a standard that is not set up by itself. According to naïve empiricism, the only knowledge that one can have is knowledge that one has gained by one\'s own experience. But unlike some proponents of naïve empiricism, Ramanuja does not restrict knowledge to that which can be gathered from the senses. The individual self (jiva) on Ramanuja\'s account is also capable of having a direct vision of transcendent entities, like Brahman. The character of the epistemic state in which one is acquainted with Brahman is a type of perception for Ramanuja.
*Bartley, C. J., The Theology of Rāmānuja: Realism and religion, London: Routledge Curzon, 2002
(Contemporary Indonesian based psychologist and spiritual master)
This awakening process, not the discovery of a truth, brings freedom of the human mind into existence.
The first casualty on the road to personal awakening is the shattering of our beloved truths: the dissolution of both personal and mainstream beliefs we unconsciously hold to, as well as our coming to terms with our family (or heritage) beliefs. This unsettling process has an enormous impact upon the mind-body of any individual, as it has to both find alternative beliefs to replace the previous ones. It also has to shift from habituated emotionally-entrenched ways of being and into a new life, where everything is reevaluated, and new options to being and functioning within the world, are explored. Something happens for us that shatters our concept of “truth”, where that truth is suddenly seen not as an objective force but as another belief held (and often unexamined) within our consciousness. Truth, at the level of the mainstream herd mind, is equivalent to what a group of people say it is. There are no truths; there are only opinions and beliefs. And, options.
So, if there is no truth, do we also do away with meaning? With ethics? With personal relevance? No, but we have to explore other options to belief, to opinion, options available to the humans for thousands of years. One option is what is usually referred to as “awakening”, or waking up from a dream. The dream in question is the mainstream or herd reality. Awakening from it, shocking though it is, ejects the individual through a series of painful and ignominious initiations that strip him or her of past certainties and truths, replacing them only with foundational experiences. These foundational experiences can be found when we read mythology, or psychology, as well as in the wisdom tradition stories from all over the globe. “Awakening” is to suddenly not follow any authority or a particular belief about truth: it is about waking up from the dream you once held to be true, and to discover something radically new. And, even more importantly, it is to move from a herd to an individuated mentality. It is about thinking for ourselves, to discovering for ourselves, to digesting experience for ourselves, rather than about believing any authority. This awakening process – and not the discovery of a truth – brings true evolution and freedom of the human mind into existance. A truth – no matter how attractive or appealing – is only part of someones dream. And, when you awaken, the dream fades away. You don’t simply exchange one belief system for another. You become you, but suddenly outside of the control of others to convince you that their way is the only way.
*See Internet Ramsden Dean
(Indian former Vice-Chancellor, Jain Vishva Bharati University, Ladnun)
Truth is manifold, because reality is complex and our knowledge is limited
To think that my religion alone is right and the rest are in the clutches of the devil, is not only imperialism of thought and fanaticism but it is also the source of hatred, animosity and violence. It is quite possible that there is truth in each of these religions. There might be different dimensions. Hence, the best way to avoid confrontation is to accept that the truth is manifold. Reality is complex and our knowledge is limited. Hence it is safe to subscribe to the non-absolutistic frame of mind. Only such a non-absolutistic attitude in thinking can provide a strong ideological foundation for non-violence. Compassion is the moral basis of non-violence. Unity and existence of soul is its metaphysical basis but the Doctrine of Manifoldness of Truth and non-absolutism is the unfailing ideological foundation of non-violence. All dogmatism and fanaticism owes its genesis to the partiality of outlook and fondness for a particular line of thinking. The conflict becomes not only inevitable but also irreconcilable when the advocate of a particular religion develops a fanatic zeal and refuses to view it from other angles of vision.
The Jains, in accordance with their philosophy of life, refuse to take an exclusivistic standpoint and thus try to overcome ideological and religious conflict. This catholicism of outlook is the natural outcome and extension of non-violence, in the realm of thought. Thus, non-absolutistic attitude may be regarded as the very strong foundation of a world religion. There is no quarrel and conflict with the assertions and truth-claims of the other, we have to appreciate their unique visions and assign their proper value in an impartial estimation, in the light of its interconnection with the entire reality.
Jaina Logic of Anekanta is based not on abstract intellectualism but on experience and realism leading to a non-absolutistic attitude of mind. Multiplicity and unity, particularity and the Universality, eternality and non-eternality, definablity and non-definability etc., which apparently seem to be contradictory characteristics of reality or object, are interpreted to coexist in the same object from different points of view without any offense to logic. All cognition, be it of identity or diversity, are valid. They seem to be contradictory of each other simply because one of them is mistaken to be the whole truth. In fact, the integrity of truth consists in this very variety of its aspects, within the rational unity of an all comprehensive and ramifying principle.
Jainism’s Syadvada is an attitude of philosophizing which tells us that on account of infinite complexities of nature and limited capacity of our knowledge, what is presented is only a relative truth. It rejects ideological fanaticism, according to which that truth is exclusive or sectarian. It is fatal to treat the relative and the home made as though it were the Absolute. It is only intellectual clarity which will resolve all conflict and rivalry. All dogmatism owes its genesis to the partiality of outlook and fondness for a line of thinking to which a person has accustomed himself. This is imperialism and aggressiveness in thought. When the one party or another thinks himself the sole possessor of absolute truth, it becomes natural that he should thinks his neighbours absolutely in the clutches of Error or the Devil.
See Internet Ramjee Singh
(British mathematician and philosopher, 1903- 1930)
1. Ramsey’s theory presupposes the (controversial) assumption that all propositions have one of the two truth-values : true or false. Suppose we say: “The cat is on the mat”(p). If we make that statement it is because we believe that it is true that the cat is on the mat. Therefore “p” and “p is true” have the same truth-value, they are equivalent. It is therefore redundant and useless to add “is true” to “p”; it is sufficient to state “p”. We can say everything we want without the concepts of truth and falsity. Truth is affirmation and falsity is negation. To add “is true” is nothing more than a needless reaffirmation of the proposition. “True” or (“false”) is a useless predicate. Thus the philosophical and linguistic problems of truth evaporate.
2. Many philosophers have not been satisfied with Ramsey’s claim that “is true” does not add anything to the meaning of statements. For instance, the redundancy theory cannot handle the problem raised by what are called “blind” ascriptions of truth. “All that Buddha said is true”, asserts one of his disciples who believes in him. He does not know all that Buddha said – he makes a “blind” assertion - but he has faith in Buddha. In such a case one cannot eliminate “is true” because there is no equivalence between “all that Buddha said” and “all that Buddha said is true”. The “is true” in this case adds something and that suggests that the predication of truth on what Buddha said is meaningful. In many other such cases there is much more in truth and falsity than mere affirmation and negation. A meaningful affirmative proposition is not necessarily true. Truth is more than mere assertion.
Besides that, several critics of Ramsey have stressed that in saying that something is true one does do much more than “saying”. In most case the attribution of truth to a proposition fulfills a performative function so that to say that a statement is true is to endorse it, to make it one’s own and express one’s agreement. Hence to say that something is true, adds something to the original statement. (See Austin and Strawson)
* See Jonhson, Lawrence, Focussing on Truth, Routledge, London, 1992, p.74-76; Scruton, Roger, Modern Philosophy, Mandarin paperback, London,1994, p.108-109
(Russian born American novelist and philosopher, 1905-1982)
Ayn Rand is the founder of the “Objectivist movement”. “Objectivism” derives its name from the conception of knowledge and values as "objective," rather than as "intrinsic" or "subjective."
This highly individualist philosophy is based on the following four principles: 1) Reality is objective and that implies that reality exists independent of man and that man cannot create his own reality but only perceive it. 2) Reason is man's only means of knowledge. Objectivists believe there is an Absolute Truth which can be known through human reasoning. They reject the subjectivist's belief that truth is a matter of personal opinion, as well as any form of skepticism, mysticism, and revealed truth. 3) Rational self-interest is the objective ethical code. Objectivism rejects altruism. 4) Laissez-faire capitalism is the objective social system. Objectivism rejects socialism and the welfare state.
The Epistemology of Objectivism holds that the information provided to the mind by the senses is completely valid. It holds further that information is the foundation of all other knowledge. It asserts that man can form concepts, and that concepts are objective. It rejects the idea that concepts are the product of arbitrary decision by society, and the idea that concepts are created by a supreme being. It affirms that logic is man's means of concept formation/knowledge, and that truths are absolutes. Emotions and intuitions are not means of knowledge. Objectivism rejects skepticism (i.e., such ideas as that truth is inside your head; that there are no absolutes; that truths are all subjective) and mysticism (i.e., the idea, for example, that knowledge will be given to you by a supreme being without you having to reason).
Rand distinguished between the unchangeable properties of the world (the "metaphysically given") and those things that man can create from that which exists in nature ("the man made"). Rand explained that, to create that which is man-made, man must first choose to perceive and discover that which is metaphysically given. Only on the basis of this knowledge is man able to learn how the things given in nature can be rearranged to serve his needs (which is his method of survival).
* For the New Intellectual: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, New York, New American Library, 1961
(Contemporary American philosopher)
Eventhough valuable like art, religion furnishes no additional truth about reality
For Randall religion is exclusively a phase of human culture. He argues that religion is to be identified as "a distinctive human enterprise with a socially indispensable function." Enlightened religion should have nothing to do with the superstitious belief in a really existing divine Being. Rather theology is "all imaginative and symbolic rendering of men's moral experience and ideals: all religious beliefs are symbolic." The function of religious symbols (in conjunction with their associated rituals and ceremonies) is fourfold: to stimulate the will to moral activity; to bind a community together through its common symbols; to communicate a quality of experience which can only be expressed by poetry and symbol; and to open our eyes to the "order of splendor" in the world, comprising nature's more elusive depths and mysteries. On the one hand, Randall sees Religion as an important and valuable enrichment of human life, and on the other hand as a purely intra-mundane concern in which the idea of a transcendent God has no proper place.
Randall contends that religion furnishes no additional truth about the world or man or the Divine. What it does furnish - and here the extranaturalists and transcendentalists are right - is additional subject matter, experiences and qualities that are found and enjoyed, visions that are seen. In this it is like art, which likewise furnishes no supplementary truth, but does open whole worlds to be explored, whole heavens to be enjoyed.
Randall defines his approach as naturalism which for him is a philosophic method and a program which undertakes to bring scientific analysis and criticism to bear on all the human enterprises and values so zealously maintained by the traditional supernaturalists. He understands naturalism to be dominated by method, marked by a skeptical attitude toward claims which cannot be substantiated with public, common empirical evidence. The basis of this skepticism is the recognition that the only method of obtaining such evidence is the method of inquiry which, though not confined exclusively to science, has been most refined and perfected in science, and the recognition of the lack of any successful method for acquiring knowledge in any non-natural field.
Methodological naturalism does exclude the supernatural as an explanatory principle because it is unknowable by means of scientific inquiry, whereas philosophical naturalism, both by definition and because of the methodological and epistemological inaccessibility of the supernatural, excludes the latter from its ontological scheme.
*See Naturalism and historical understanding : essays on the philosophy of John Herman Randall, Jr by John P Anton
(Austrian psychologist, 1884-19390 )
According to Otto Rank, a dissident of Freud’s Psychoanalytical Society, the primacy of the intellect which underlies the Freudian analytical therapy, must be abandoned. Self-knowledge that leads to constant awareness of the subject is the disturbing factor that blocks the flow of immediate experience and leads to neurotic self-restriction upon living. Knowledge that relentlessly strives after truth, separates consciousness from experience. Our seeking the truth in human motives for acting and thinking is destructive. One cannot live with the truth. To be able to live one needs illusions, not only outer illusions such as art, religion, philosophy, science and love, but inner illusions which first condition the outer. At the moment a man begins to search after truth, he destroys reality and his relation to it. The more he takes reality for truth, appearance as essence, the sounder and the better will he be. It is only in the displaced world of appearance that man can live happily. Unhappiness arises when he is driven by his intellectual pride, his will to truth, his greed to expose his reality as lies, appearance and falsehood.
Hence the more a man can accept the appearance as reality, the more normal, healthy and happy he is. The neurotic unfortunately sees the falsities of reality and it is this insight that robs him of the illusions important for living. Psychologically the neurotic is much nearer to the actual truth than the others. But this is also the reason why he suffers and is a neurotic.
Freud’s claim was to dispense with illusions but Rank explodes this view with his theory of truth and reality. He shows the insoluble conflict in which psychoanalysis itself is caught. Freudian psychoanalysis wants to be theory and therapy at the same time. But this is an impossible task. Psychological analysis seeks truth, seeks insight into psychic processes and this works destructively. If psychology is also and more therapy than theory, it must offer the patient consolations and justifications that cannot be psychologically true. For if they are true, they cannot work therapeutically. Freud wants to know the final truth about man, he wants to reconcile the alienated to reality: but these intentions are incompatible.
The neurotic, asserts Rank, fails in life because he wants to know too much truth about himself, whether he experiences this truth as guilt, incapacity for love, or feelings of gross inferiority. This “knowledge” is an incapacity for illusion, but illusion is essential for a happy life. Freud’s psychology of cognition must be replaced by a psychology of the will. Happiness is more important than truth; will is more essential than intellect.
* See Levi, Albert William, Philosophy and the Modern World, Indian University Press, Bloomington, 1970, p. 184-190
(Contemporary American scientist and author)
Science pursues truth. Religions ordains truth
Truth is the objective realization of an inarguable facet of reality. It is the bedrock of the interaction between science and society in both the raw, cosmological, physical sense as well as the green, squishy, muddy, biological sense, not to mention the how-this-thing-you’re-reading-from-works sense.
Scientific truths provide both predictive power in how things work and understanding of how things are. Religious truths are more like outposts for people to cling to through the turbulence of existence. The science vs religion debate occurs in the area of understanding and enlightenment where there is contradiction.
Science pursues truth. Religions ordains truth, usually in a way that is designed to provide a path to spiritual enlightenment both personal and societal and from a given text like the Torah, Bible, Qur’an, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Mormon, etc.
Ordained truths are cast in faith. When science exposes a contradiction between an ordained truth and reality, religious fundamentalists believe that their faith is threatened – hence the debate which, let’s face it, is more like a war in many parts of the world.
When Copernicus contradicted the Roman Catholic Church’s claim that Earth must lie at center of creation, he was branded a heretic. Even in cases where the scientific truth seems conclusive, there are shadows: if Earth is not the center of the universe, then surely the sun must be… and if not the sun, then what? Well, the theory of relativity requires that there are no absolute reference frames, much less a “center of the universe.”
* Ransom Stephens, The God Patent. Numina Press. 2009.
(Contemporary American evangelical theologian)
Faithfulness defines the sphere of truth. Truth is the intimacy of the interpersonal.
For Rashke, truth is in the sanctity of relationships. He comments on the Greek word alethiea. The English word truth and the word for marriage (“troth” or “betrothal”) have the same etymological links. The Koine Greek has a similar force. Aletheia is an “unveiling,” as a bride before her husband. Truth is the intimacy of the interpersonal. As in all intimate relationships, if one is “true” to the other, one is also faithful. Faithfulness defines the sphere of truth. Raschke points out that Heidegger correctly identified one of the fundamental flaws in western philosophy and in particular western theology. The confusion of map for territory became institutionalized in the correspondence theory of truth. According to Heidegger, the syntax of language does not duplicate the structure of reality any more than a map reflects the territory. We should not confuse presence with representation.
When we use certain lenses to view reality, the lenses themselves become part of our seeing. Like the old metaphor, rose colored glasses add a certain tint to every vista. The philosophical discourse of propositions is a rose colored glass that distorts and objectifies the God and His gospel. The God of the philosophers is a tame God. He won’t trouble us much, but neither can he save us. When we can codify all the truths of Scripture into neat propositional statements, we may come to believe that we have all we need. Truth in that case is that which is expressed in a series of formuli.
But to find the real truth we need to move from a purely rational perspective to a relational one. The implications for the Christian approach to Scripture is that one needs to move from a view of Scripture as truth to Scripture as vocative: it is the story of God’s self-revelation in history, the story of His covenant faithfulness, and His voice to us, calling for a faithful response. Raschke argues that propositional language is always flattened, confined to the third person. It is always “about” something else. Vocative language, however, requires the second person and expresses the “I-Thou” relation, which is the locus of faithfulness and truth. He wages war on propositions, insisting they can never be made into the touchstone of Christian truth, which is always personal and relational.
* Raschke Carl, The Next Reformation, Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity, Baker Academic, 2004
(German theologian and Pope Benedict XVI, b.1927)
Interreligious dialogue has become the central issue of modern theology and with it the question of truth. Ratzinger denounces the mistaken notion of dialogue which emphasizes not a search for objective and absolute truth, but a desire to put all religious beliefs on the same plane. Such dialogue gives rise to a "false idea of tolerance," which allows respect for other beliefs because it rejects the possibility of any objective truth.
He emphasizes the dangers of relativism, which is for him the opposite of the idea of Truth and the belief that no truth exists that is superior to mere opinion. He deplores the present day tendency to label people who have a strong faith, based on Church teaching, as “fundamentalists”. He warns :”We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires”. Relativism is the greatest danger for contemporary theology. A false notion of tolerance and respect for the other seems to have imposed the idea of the equivalence of all religions. Nowadays the principle of tolerance and respect for the other is manipulated to such an extent that the content of each and every religion is placed on an equal footing. There is no objective and universal truth from the acknowledged assumption that the Absolute has revealed itself under innumerable forms, all true in their own way. This false idea of tolerance goes hand in hand with loss of the concept of absolute Truth. Ratzinger deplores the fact that much of present day thought has no or little concern for the problem of truth.
Thus as a frontal assault on the very possibility of objective truth, relativism is by far the most destructive intellectual current of our times. Ratzinger, in concert with a very strong current in R.C. Church tradition, is insisting that there is an absolute truth, and the pinnacle expression of that truth came in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Church must have the courage to proclaim that absolute truth.
The relativism that Ratzinger attacks is the regulative principle that all thought is and must remain subjective. What he defends against such relativism is the contrary regulative principle, namely, that each human subject must continue to inquire incessantly, and to bow to the evidence of fact and reason. Ratzinger wishes to defend the imperative of seeking the truth in all things, the imperative to follow the evidence.
* Ratzinger, Jospeh, Truth and Tolerance, Ignatius press, USA, 2004
(Contemporary American Mental Health Counselor)
Compassion and absolute truth are simply not compatible.
The primitive ego of our inner-child uses black-and-white beliefs to keep our world simple and safe. Duality thinking is an effective way to manage the anxiety that comes with uncertainty; however it is also the primary source of the conflict and violence we are currently experiencing in the world. Because of duality thinking, and the need to be right, the primitive ego of our inner-child is unable to manifest a sustained compassion for others.
Because of our primitive ego's insistence that our beliefs, especially our religious faith beliefs, represent absolute truth, there is no way we can avoid offending those who disagree with us. When we presume to be right, and automatically assume the beliefs of the other person are wrong when they disagree with us, the result will always be emotional conflict.
Faith beliefs themselves are not the problem; they merely represent the various beliefs that define the tenets of a particular religion. They always represent the cultural worldviews prevalent at the time they were written. Where faith beliefs become problematic and begin to create conflict is when our primitive ego insists that we are right because our faith beliefs come from religious scriptures and creeds that are exclusive, literal, inerrant, and reflect absolute truths.
Despite the fact that compassion is the publicly stated goal of most organized religions, the ability of organized religions to actually manifest compassion in the world is significantly limited by the rigidity of their faith beliefs, creeds, and claims of absolute truth. In other words, regardless of whether we are talking about an individual or a religious institution, compassion and absolute truth are simply not compatible.
A true sustainable compassion will not be possible in our emerging global culture until all religions renounce their claims of ultimate truth and accept the reality that all paths to God are valid. All human beliefs are relative and subjective to the person who holds them. This is especially true regarding the unverifiable beliefs of faith.
To assume that any human being, or human institution, can somehow "absolutely" know or understand the mind of the Initiating or Universal Consciousness of the universe is as absurd as a dog claiming to understand what it means to be human by simply using a sniff test. Absolute certainty is a dangerous form of mental illness and ignorance.
Unfortunately, the majority of our institutional main line religions are still based on a religious imperialism that demands an uncritical obedience to religious authority, and the conservative assumption that the faith beliefs and creeds of their particular religion actually represent ultimate truth. Any challenge or inquiry into the validity of such claims are ignored, suppressed, or assumed to represent heresy.
Stated simply, when any person or institution claims to possess the absolute truth on any subject, including religious faith beliefs, it is conclusive proof that they are working out of their inner-child's primitive ego and have not yet awakened spiritually. They are trapped in the dangerous ignorance we call the "absolute certainty" of religious imperialism and focused on projecting their "holy" criticism and judgment onto others.
* See Internet Rauscher Dick
(American philosopher, b 1922)
Justice is not founded on truth but on ‘overlapping consensus’
John Rawls’ “political liberalism” intends to do away with any metaphysical account of the truth of moral judgements and their validity. It replaces truth by ‘reasonableness’ as a standard of correctness and does not want to go beyond that. Rawls wants to substitute ‘political liberalism’ in place of ‘philosophical liberalism’ in order to enable the exclusion of all metaphysical premises. According to him political philosophy has nothing to gain from the truth and validity of fundamental shared moral convictions. ‘Political liberalism’ sees metaphysics as a dispensable luxury rather than a prerequisite of a theory of human rights. Metaphysics is unhelpful stumbling block to the ‘overlapping consensus’ that Rawls advocates. The wide array of metaphysical views and concepts of truth that encumber the world of philosophical speculations is the major obstacle to such a consensus. His ‘political liberalism’ claims metaphysical ‘impartiality’ – that is to say it claims to elaborate the principles of political justice without relying on any disputable philosophical doctrine. Only an ‘overlapping consensus’ can be the space where diverse philosophical and religious doctrines can find common ground. The fundamental question for him is to determine how citizens, who are deeply divided in religious and philosophical doctrines, can still maintain a just and stable democratic society. His conception of justice is ‘political’, he claims, and not moral or philosophical. It does not argue for the truth or metaphysical validity of its grounding principles. Rawls’ concept of justice is derived from the political culture and tradition of liberal democratic societies. Following Kant’s concept of categorical imperative, Rawls sees the ‘political’ conception of justice as ‘intuited’, pertaining to the human intellect as self-evident, therefore in no need of other justification than itself. It is self-validating, not founded on metaphysical validation or philosophical concept of truth.
The position of Rawls is based on a distinction between what is ‘true’ and what is ‘reasonable’. What is reasonable for him has no metaphysical basis. It is unnecessary, he claims, to try to ground maxims of practical reason – which is the content of his ‘overlapping consensus’ – in an order of reality beyond itself. He does not criticize metaphysical accounts of the truth of moral judgements but claims that ‘reasonableness’ can do without any concept of metaphysical truth, being only a matter of ‘overlapping consensus’.
* Rawls, John, Political Liberalism, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, 1993
(Contemporary American reformed Anglican writer)
Either Scripture is the final arbiter of truth or we don't know the truth at all.
Why is that so many Reformed ministers think ecumenicalism is a desirable thing? History shows that when unity is sought at the expense of the truth, the results are always bad. The corrupt human nature "naturally" rebels against the sovereignty of God and absolute truth. If the devil can introduce subtle half-truths, paradoxes and contradictions and unity at all costs, the ultimate end of such deception is relativism and skeptism.
According to the Reformed theologian Tuininga: “ True Christian unity must be able to allow variations of practice and conviction within the breadth of fidelity to the gospel and the authority of Scripture, not because we are willing to compromise the truth, but because each of us is humble enough to recognize that our interpretations, judgments, or practices are not the same thing as the truth itself.”
But Ray disagrees, for if the Scriptures are at no single point the univocal truth claims and logical propositions of God Himself in written form, then for all practical purposes there is no truth. All that remains is an Evangelical version of neo-orthodoxy. He likes to call it "semi neo-orthodoxy". While these so-called Evangelical Calvinists and Presbyterians pretend to be conservative they in fact deny the truth is absolute or that Scripture IS the Word of God.
If ". . .our interpretations, judgments, or practices are not the same thing as the truth itself . . ." then what IS the truth? Of course, only Scripture is the infallible and inerrant word of God. But if we cannot understand the plain logic of God's special revelation and the information it contains, then it follows that no one knows "the truth itself".
Any so-called union of Reformed denominations into a larger communion or denomination will never be a true union apart from accepting the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, including the absolute truth claims Scripture asserts. Those truth claims demand that believers individually and in confessional communions and organized fellowships stand on the truth. Either Scripture is the final authority and arbiter of truth or we don't know the truth at all. Unions based on relative truth claims are false unions based on skepticism and relativism, not propositional Scriptural truth and the univocal Word of God. Scripture alone is the infallible, inerrant and plenarily inspired Word of God. The Scriptures cannot be broken--not even for the sake of union with other churches and denominations.
* See Internet Ray J.Charley
Truth is elusive, most of the time
Everyone thinks they know what truth means. It seems to be clear cut. Something either is, or is not. Yet ask any group of witnesses at an accident to report what happened and they will all have seen something different. Each person believes they are telling the truth.
This could lead us to thinking truth is elastic or elusive. Elusive it certainly is. Trying to establish what really happened in a past period is difficult. If only because later all the facts are not available. We can deduce what might have happened, what is likely to have happened from evidence and filling in the apparently obvious; but, we cannot know the whole truth. It is one of the frustrating things about history.
There are other sorts of truth. The true religion. The true figures in the accounts. Both depend on what essentials are taken. For some religious groups, the emphasis is on certain aspects of living. These are seen as the most important part to follow and anyone not following this belief is considered wrong.
It is possible to tell the truth, yet not give a full picture, because certain elements are omitted or pared down. This does not mean it is a fiction. We all present 'facts' in ways which show us in the best light. Just what that is depends on our visions of the world.
Even in science, where we expect researchers to acknowledge their findings clearly, there is room for manipulating data. Adjustments have to be made to ensure the results are measuring the same thing.
Then truth becomes an issue when rumors are spread purporting to be the truth, but which are, in reality, the result of someone's imagination. This is when we can become very confused about the truth. If it appears in print it seems to have far more validity than if the person tells us themselves.
Absolute truth is difficult to establish unlike absolute zero. The version we are given might not be fiction but it is not necessary the truth. Truth is something we trust and aim to get right. But establishing the truth in some cases is very tricky.
*See Internet Rosemary Redfern
(German philosopher of science, 1891-1953)
Hans Reichenbach, a leading representative of the Vienna circle of logical positivism, made important contributions to the analysis of probabilistic reasoning in the field of science and philosophy. Throughout his career he was concerned to elaborate a cogent and consistent empiricism based on a theory of probability.
Reichenbach argues that truth is unattainable, and that we have to content ourselves with probability. The attempt to find a basis of certain truth by appealing to the verification of sentences that refer immediately to what is given (‘protocol-sentences’) is a mistaken one. Truth and falsity are ideal limiting cases, and between these lies a range of probability. The weight of a proposition is the degree of its probability. Propositions are neither true nor false but more or less probable, and this is something that can be statistically calculated.
There is no certainty in any knowledge about the world, because knowledge of the world involves prediction of the future and any statement concerning the future is a ‘gamble’. We are all gamblers, the man of science as well as the religious man. But there is a big difference between their wagers. The scientist proceeds from observed phenomena by induction to statements having a determinate weight, but in the case of the religious man, it would be hard to show that his statements have any weight at all. The weight of a proposition is the degree of its probability. To believe that the sun will rise tomorrow is a pretty safe bet but to believe that God has revealed himself in history has just no comparable weight. Thus for Reichenbach, if science does not offer us truth, it does show us the best wagers. It has been rightly pointed out that his argument for scientific induction bears an astonishing resemblance to Pascal’s wager argument for religion.
* Reichenbach, Hans, The Theory of probability, London, Cambridge University press, 1949
(Scottish philosopher, 1710-1796)
Thomas Reid, the founder of the Scottish school of common sense, placed the criterion of truth in the common sense of man. He insisted that our knowledge is based on principles which are evident and are recognized as such by the common sense of man; from these principles man derives a body of primordial "truths of common sense" which serve as a sort of general fund of knowledge for mankind. Reid believes that common sense - the truths about reality that naturally occur among all human beings - should be the measure of the truth of all philosophical assertions.
Reid was critical of Hume's skepticism and Berkeley's immaterialism which according to him led to untenable results. He took the position that there was something radically wrong with philosophy in general if such conclusions were possible. He also challenged the philosophical skepticism implicit in Cartesianism. Descartes sought certitude through universal doubts, but Reid condemned this method as artificial. He stated the evidence of common sense to reject Descartes'assumption that an individual should be capable of doubting the outer world through introspection. For Reid the "self-evident is the province, and the sole province, of common sense."
Reid sees common sense as a body of self-evident principles which guide our judgment in the normal course of life. These self-evident principles are not acquired through critical reflection - they are not, strictly speaking, knowledge, but instead, instinct - like beliefs, innate to human nature, which make knowledge possible and which no human beings can deny.
For him, philosophy arises from common sense. Philosophers must take common sense as their point of departure. The denial of the self (Hume) and the view that there is no material world (Berkeley) are two examples of 'the metaphysical lunacy' of thinkers who have rejected the common sense principles as the basis for philosophical truth-searching. Reid wanted to show that philosophy grows out of common sense, and that common sense taken in its strict meaning is a kind of foreshadowing of philosophy proper. Any philosophy, therefore, that strays very far from common sense is suspect. In contradicting the basic certitudes of common sense, it is guilty of denying reality itself, and on this point common sense can pass judgment on it.
* Reid, Thomas, An inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, Baruch A.Brody, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1969
(German philosopher of religion, 1694- 1768)
The essential truths of religion are rational, not revealed
Reimarus thought that truth could be discovered by reason alone. He was part of what we now often call the "Enlightenment". In an age and country where philosophy was thought by many to be a path to certainty, Reimarus thought that mathematics was the only valid and complete system of knowledge. Philosophy for Reimarus has a moral aim - the promotion of the happiness and perfectibility of humans. He was among the first of a long line of German philosophers and theologians who concluded that the essence of Christianity was its moral lessons.
In religion the standpoint of the Reimarus is that of pure naturalistic deism. Miracles and mysteries are denied and natural religion is put forward as the absolute contradiction of revealed. The essential truths of the former are the existence of a wise and good Creator and the immortality of the soul. These truths are discoverable by reason, and are such as can constitute the basis of a universal religion. A revealed religion could never obtain universality, as it could never be intelligible and credible to all men.
He refused to accept the Bible as the revealed Word of God. His radical refutation of revelation - the fundamental basis of traditional theology in his times as today - differed from similar contemporary approaches. Many attacked traditional teachings in a speculative, superficial way. Reimarus’ approach was much more historically oriented. He argued that the Gospels were not history but theological exposition by their authors. Reimarus' importance lies in his attempt to understand Jesus as an historical person, rather than as a divine being about whom only the Church knows the full truth.
For Reimarus the design of the writers of the New Testament, as well as that of Jesus, was not to teach true rational religion, but to serve their own selfish ambitions, in promoting which they exhibit an amazing combination of conscious fraud and enthusiasm.
* Reimarus, Hermann Samuel, Charles H. Talbert, and David Friedrich Strauss. Fragments. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970
(French philosopher and writer, 1823-18920
Science is the only access to the truth
It is Renan’s claim in L’Avenir de la Science that science alone allows to know the truth: there is no partcular supernatural. The universe goes towards its end, which is the realization of ‘the ideal’ under the impulse of an internal necessity. Man participates to the work of the universe by science, morality and art, that is to say, by the disinterested striving towards the ideal. One should not see in the universe the work of a creative Mind, a God external to and ruler of the world. The world must be seen on the way to a perpetual transformation, and as the infinite and spontaneous development of an inner principle.
Christian theology must be rejected and replaced by the principles of Hegelian philosophy which promote the progressive realization of the ideal in humanity. Such disinterested search of the ideal is what constitutes for Renan the ‘eternal religion’, distinct from the particular religions limited by their dogmas and condemned to perish.
Thus the originality of Renan’s philosophy is a blend of the general principles of Hegelianism with the idea of the positive sciences. For the scientist philosophers, positive science assumes the character of a religion. Like priests, they constitute an intellectual elite with the task of bringing people to participate to the ideal of mankind which is the work of science. Renan is convinced that, in spite of a large amount of errors and failures, the ideal will be realized in the long run and truth will prevail.
However Renan recognizes that the most important moral event in the history of mankind is the invention of the Christian religion, which in spite of its scientific errors and the narrowness of its theological dogmatism, has proclaimed eternal moral truths.
Renan Ernest, L’Avenir de la Science,, 1890
(French philosopher, 1815-1903)
For Renouvier, the philosopher of personalism and freedom, all knowledge depends upon a “will to believe.” "The première vérité is a free personal act of faith. Renouvier is more concerned with subjective certitude than objective truth.
His discussion of certitude is very closely bound up with his treatment of the problem of freedom and his attitude to belief and knowledge. He considers it advisable to approach the problem of certitude by considering its opposite, doubt. He states the circumstances under which we do not doubt and that is, "when we see, when we know, when we believe." Owing to our liability to error (even seeing is not believing, and we frequently change our minds even about our ‘seeing’), it appears that belief is always involved, and more correctly: ‘we believe’ that we see, ‘we believe’ that we know. Belief is a state of consciousness involved in a certain affirmation of which the motives show themselves as adequate. Certitude arises when the possibility of an affirmation of the contrary is entirely rejected by the mind. Certitude thus appears as a kind of belief. For all knowledge, Renouvier maintains, involves an affirmation of will. "Every affirmation in which consciousness is reflective is subordinated, in consciousness, to the determination to affirm." Our knowledge, our certitude, our belief, whatever we prefer to call it, is a construction not purely intellectual but involving elements of feeling and, above all, of will. Even the most logically incontrovertible truth are sometimes unconvincing. This is because certitude is not purely intellectual; it is une affaire passionnelle. Renouvier here approaches the pragmatist position. He would agree with Maine de Biran who had suggested the substitution of Volo, ergo sum in place of the inadequate Cartesian Cogito, ergo sum. As all demonstration is deductive in character and so requires existing premises, we cannot expect the première vérité to be demonstrable. From the will to create certainty, we must turn to the will to create beliefs, for no evidence or previous truths exist for us. The Cogito, ergo sum really does not give us a starting point because the thinking self is always preceded by the willing self. "I refuse," says Renouvier, "to follow the work of a knowledge which would not be mine. I accept the certainty of which I am the author." Thus the première vérité is a free personal act of faith. Certainty in philosophy or in science reposes ultimately upon freedom and the consciousness of freedom.
* Renouvier, Charles, Le Personalisme, Verlag, Paris, 1903
(American philsopher, b. 1928)
Our “knowledge” is no more than our best estimate of the truth of things.
Rescher accepts the correspondence of knowledge to fact as providing the best definition of truth, but finds it can provide no workable criterion for determining which of our beliefs are true. In contrast, coherence cannot provide the meaning of truth, but it can be the arbiter of factual claims. Coherence presupposes logical consistency, so logical truth is justified on principally pragmatic grounds. Rescher is more concerned with presenting coherence as a dynamic theory as to how we can sort out our beliefs to approximate the truth than to consider what the idealized final result might look like. This involves “degrees of truth” or, more precisely, degrees with respect to what we are justifiably warranted in claiming to be true. His main contentions are as follows:
1. Given that “the real truth” is guaranteed only by ideal coherence – by optimal coherence with a perfected data base that we do not have, rather than by apparent coherence with the data base we actually have in hand – we have no categorical assurance of the actual correctness of our coherence-guided inquiries, and no unqualified guarantee that their deliverances provide “the real truth” that we seek in matters of empirical inquiry.
2. The history of science shows that our “discoveries” about how things work in the world secured through scientific coherentism constantly require adjustment, correction, replacement.
3. We cannot say that our coherence-grounded inductive inquiries provide us with real (definitive) truth, but just that they provide us with the best estimate of the truth that we can achieve in the circumstances at hand.
4. Our “knowledge” is no more than our best estimate of the truth of things. Lacking the advantage of a God’s eye view, we have no access to the world’s facts save through the mediation of (potentially flawed) inquiry. All we can do is to do the best we can in the cognitive state of the art to estimate “the correct” answer to our scientific questions.
5. We must pursue the cognitive enterprise of our sciences amid the harsh realities and complexities of an imperfect world. In deliberating about the truth of our scientific claims, as elsewhere, the gap between the real and the ideal must be acknowledged.
*Nicholas Rescher, The Coherence Theory of Truth, Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy, Clarendon Press, 1973. 374 pp.
(French philosopher, 1913- )
1. There are two types of truths: the lazy, already established truths to acknowledge and the inventive, creative truths to conquer.
- When the order of things is already structured and mapped, and when the rules of language are well established, then knowledge and truth are mere acknowledgments, repetitions, much like taking photographs. Truth is the recognition of what is, the correspondence and agreement of mind and fact. The proposition that ”The wall is white” is the passive acknowledgment of what is. Ricoeur calls such propositions the expressions of lazy, uninteresting truths belonging to fields which are already mapped and well known. Of course one has to ascertain that the mapping is satisfactory, not erroneous and that there is sufficient guarantees that the established order is right.
- However most of the time our mind is called to structure the reality. No order is yet established, it is an unknown , unexplored ground. Here there is room for investigation, room for man’s mental activity in search of truth. Here knowledge is not mere recognition but creation of meaning. It is the field of interesting truths.
2. We are constantly called to structure reality on three different levels, which determine three types or orders of truths : the scientific, the ethical and the existential.
- Scientific truth. Science structures reality and establishes a type of truth that depends on its method of verification. Truth in science is solidary of the process of verification. Verification is the measure , the criterion of truth. Science presents itself as the exemplar of all truths. However the temptation is to ‘dogmatize’ and reduce all truths to scientific truth ,i.e. the empirically verifiable. The scientific activity must be replaced in its context of moral responsability and human existence. Science is not the totality of knowledge. Scientific truth must be open to the ethical and existential higher sphere of life. Submission to scientific truth is indispensable but it must be followed by the call into question of scientific truth, and the admission that it is challenged by the higher order of ethical truth.
- Ethical truth. Human beings find a moral order or structure to which they conform their behaviour. They submit to that order just as the scientists submit to their own. But like the scientists too they are called to question the moral order in being open to the higher level of existential truth. To avoid the narrow dogmatisation of rigid ethical truths they remain open to the highest level of existential truth.
- Existential truth of the subjective self. Here too the two movements of submission and questioning must take place for a healthy pursuit of truth.
The three levels – scientific, ethical and existential - must communicate with each other. One particular level of truth de-humanizes if it is not related and open to the other. No area of truth can be dealt in isolation. Every level is problematic, there is questioning and need for further structuring at every stage. Each order of truth includes the truth of submission and the truth of questioning.
3. Truths seem to be plural, as is evidenced by the above mentioned distinction of the three levels of truths and also by the pluriformity of truth within each level. But the unity of truth, asserts Ricoeur, is “a requirement of our reason, and a passion of the will”. We want unity but that formal unity is empty. Of course, one could speak of an eschatological unity of truth, but not more. In the meantime we have to accept the situation of pluriformity and not want to impose the unity of truth. Many want to close the circle too quickly. This is the historical lie of the one truth imposed by authority and violence in politics and religions. The greatest temptation of the lying mind is to contaminate the search for truth by its exigency of unity and to make the false step of the total to the ‘totalitarian’. The religious totality and the political totality pervert the honest search for truth. This phenomenon manifests the amazing solidarity between totality, lie and power: the total truth imposed by force is a lie. The history of theology, in particular, reveals how the task of achieving the unity of truth coincides with the sociological phenomenon of authority. Theology includes necessarily a character of authority. Authority is a fundamental character of Revelation. The Word of God is authority on personal and social life. In theology the word “dogma” means truth grounded in authority. But then the temptation is to substitute the authority of the Word by the authority of man over man, specially when the first is used to authenticate the second. Ricoeur calls it the “snare of clerical passion” for authority, all the more perfidious that it claims to serve the truth. According to him, the guilt of clerical violence has too often accompanied the history of Christian Churches. It has engendered all forms of lies and dissimulations, used today also by political dictatorships. The Galileo incident is a summary of the permanent tragedy of the authoritarian truth of religion and the libertarian truth of science. Whereas the theological pathos is the pathos of authority, the philosophical pathos is the pathos of freedom. Theology is obedience to established truth, philosophy is audacity in search of truth.
The lesson of history for contemporary theology is that the breakdown of the violent unity of truth is good and beneficial because it produces a greater awareness of the various levels of truths. The Word of God is better understood when it is not confused with the word of science, cosmology and ethics. It belongs to another order of truth. The traditional enforced unity of truth collapses with the modern awareness of a plurality of levels of truth. It is not clear to us now how all the planes of truth can be harmoniously synthezised but it is certain that “clerical” and other syntheses that make violence to truth are no longer permissible. If there exists a harmony of all truths, it is to be found at an end not yet in view. The unity of truth is “eschatological”. Our time is one of struggle and debate, discernment and patience. At present the unity of truth is an illusion, truth is plural.
4. There is an apparent contradiction between the ideal of one truth and the history of multiple philosophies. We all aspire for the fulfilment of knowledge in unity and immutability. The opposition of philosophical systems in history is a disturbing phenomenon that fosters an attitude of skepticism. How should one reconcile the philosophical ideal of the one truth with the historical plurality of contradictory philosophical systems? The cheap way to face the problem is either to adopt the ‘eclectic’ solution according to which Truth is regarded as the additions of all scattered pieces of truth found in history here and there or to ratify some sort of Hegelian solution in which the histories of philosophy are subjectively interpreted as converging towards one’s own philosophy.
One could avoid scepticism in understanding the history of philosophical systems not as various solutions of the same immutable problems but as discoveries of new problematics requiring radically new solutions. Great philosophers are those who have questioned in a different ways that their predecessors. However this interpretation of the history of philosophy would reduce it to a succession of singular discontinuous philosophies that have nothing in common. History as development and progress vanishes, the one truth being multiplied is denied. Philosophies are no longer true or false but different from each other.
A deeper understanding of truth at the personal level is needed to unravel the deadly dilemma of the ideal unity and historical plurality of truth. Truth as an impersonal abstract limit-idea is the final target proposed to concrete subjects. The two poles are : the aim or horizon and my personal situation of a truth-searcher. I have to discover the meaning of my existence, the truth of my being. But my perspective is narrow and finite. At the same time I aspire to link my limited and partial discoveries with reality as such in a language valid for all. This requires dialogue. Communication belongs to the structure of true knowing. I need to have recourse to the history of philosophy. This is the way for me to get out of myself. In my personal search for truth I have to get rid a monadic definition of truth, where truth is reduced to the adequation of my answers to my problematics. I must open myself to an intersubjective definition of truth. Then I understand truth as the being common of philosophers. Philosophia perennis springs forth from the community of honest searchers for the truth.
But how can the community of the search for truth be truth itself? It looks nothing more that a divided and torn apart reign of truth. We are back to the deadly dilemma of the ideal philosophical unity of truth and the historical plurality of truths: dogmatism versus scepticism, the one versus the many.
Ricoeur replies that the “one” of the history of philosophhy, which is the subjective side of the duty of philosophical thinking, is constituted by the endless dialogue of all philosophers. That “one” is the object of eschatological hope. We hope to be in the truth, we do not possess it. The function of hope is to maintain the dialogue always open and to introduce a fraternal intention in the most heated debates. History remains polemical and disconcerting but what unifies is the eschaton.. Thus scepticism is vanquished in the “one”, even though the “one” cannot be said. No one can write the perennial philosophy but every one must take it as the eschaton towards which all philosophical endeavours aim at.
* Ricoeur, Paul, Histoire et Vérité, Seuil, Paris, 1967
(Contemporary Lithuanian psychologist))
The question of truth in the practice of existential therapy : no search for truth"in itself”, but respect for the truth of the client. The relation of truth and lie, or falsehood, is important, both in human relations in general, and, more specifically, in the client's and therapist's communication in the process of psychotherapy. This relation is inseparable from the language which we use to express (or conceal) our own truths. It is obvious that words appear to be a very imperfect means to express truths, since the truth commonly lies "beyond words". In many cases, "stories", "descriptions" or, in general, any verbal narratives allow to distort or conceal truth.
Existential therapy skeptically views possibilities that final or objective truths may exist at all and emphasizes subjectivity of any truths. This may pose certain threats to a therapist tempting to make "a deal" with a client in accepting his/her distorted perspective of reality, in helping to conceal its truths and also avoiding, together with the client, to bring forward painful aspects of life. A therapist should seek to maintain the perspective of life of the client as wide as possible with more attention to what is true for the client and what is provided by these truths in his/her everyday life. Even without acceptance of clients' truths, it is possible to try to understand and respect their choice.
Can I believe the story told by the client? May he/she be deceiving me? Or himself/herself? What truths does he/she consider as basic in life? When trying to understand the client, on which truths of my own do I base myself? In which way, if any, do our truths cooperate in the process of our joint efforts? May psychotherapy itself be considered as a work supposed to open up truths?. These questions encourage to think deeper about truth in psychotherapeutic practice. Existential approach to psychotherapy may be classified among those which are most cautious, even sceptical, about possibilities to base on "truths" established in advance, which doubt the very tendency of attachment to truths that are uniform for everybody.
The basic principle of existential thinking and existential therapy is, among others, the idea of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard that any truth is subjective. One truth for all is impossible; every truth bears the mark of subjectivity. This, however, does not mean that everyone has a set of exceptionally own truths. Subjectivity of truth implies that every person carries a unique and responsible being which is truthful for her/him, since any other being is simply not possible. As Kierkegaard puts it, truth is not what you know but what you are. It is impossible to know truth: one is either in it or outside. Therefore truth may be only subjective, existential, i.e. inseparable from the existence of a particular human being.
Thus the practice of existential therapy does not focus on "searching for truth" in itself. The therapist seeks to come in touch with the story of the client, to respond to his subjective experience altogether trying to maintain the perspective on truth as wide as possible. This makes the therapist a stable point of reference for the client in their joint quest of order in his confused world. It is of foremost importance for the therapist to try to understand what the client's truths are, what is truthful for him. In a case study, once it was stated that for the therapist it was not important if Don Juan really existed, but it was the trace of the books by Castaneda left within the "being-in-the-world" of the client that was relevant, i.e. it is important to try to understand the person, but not "objectivity" or "truthfulness" of his ideas about the world. Altogether, we should not forget that any understanding is never complete or absolutely exact, and this makes the role of the therapist in exploring client's life even more modest.
If the therapist and his client can accept the idea of Jean-Paul Sartre that "there are no truthful stories", this may allow to refrain from searching for "objective" truths. After all, our understanding of ourselves and clients is and will always remain incomplete and inaccurate due to multiple contexts which are difficult to account for because of our inevitable subjectivity. When we disagree with the "truths" of the client, but are able to accept and respect his/her choice of the way to see things and situations as he/she wants to see them, we maintain the possibility to preserve partnership for further search of points where our "truths" may come into contact.
* See Internet Kociunas Rimantas
(Contemporary American entreprneur and writer)
The holy responsibility to perpetually search for truth
“Truth is the ultimate certitude. Even if the whole world goes insane, you have a holy responsibility to yourself to perpetually search for truth.When all about you are losing their heads, the surest way to keep yours is to be vigilant about basing your actions on truth. Truth is the best friend you will ever have, because, unlike people, it will never desert you in your time of need.
Our job is not to invent truth, but to search for it. To the extent our search is successful, we achieve positive results; to the extent our search is defective, our results are negative. Unfortunately, truth is not an easy proposition. For one thing, truth can sometimes make you unpopular. In extreme cases it has even cost people their lives. Bruno (burned at the stake as a heretic) and Socrates (forced to drink poison after being accused of corrupting youth by questioning tradition) are two well-known examples of this. As a baseline, then, anyone searching for truth must desire truth more than popularity. As we have all witnessed, fools are often among the most popular people in society.
What makes the search for truth a difficult proposition is that our observations are made through the eyes of our individual conditioning. Thus, because of our differing environments and experiences, your truth may be very different from my truth. One person may see the flag of his country as a symbol of freedom, while someone else may see it as a symbol of oppression. The difference lies in their belief structures.
Your search for truth, then, will be flawed to the same extent as your conditioning and premises are flawed, meaning that you cannot expect to have truth on your terms. To lay down conditions in advance of searching for truth is the height of frivolity. If you insist on enlightenment on your terms, you will find only illusion and falsehood. You must be careful not to confuse truth with personal desires; i.e., you must be willing to subordinate your wishes - your dreams, as it were - to reality. That is not to say that you should not have dreams. What it does mean, however, is that you should not allow your dreams or desires to override reality.Put another way, your love of truth must be greater than your desire to make your dreams come true. Many people allow themselves to live in a world of self-delusions that protect them from truth. Even though we know, or at least suspect, that certain facts are contrary to our desires, we often choose to ignore the facts and cling to our cherished beliefs.
In psychology, the term used to describe the anxiety resulting from this self-destructive state of mind is cognitive dissonance. A person so afflicted simply blocks out information that contradicts his established belief structure. To avoid this trap, you must be vigilant about not allowing your search for truth to be stifled by the widespread delusions of the masses. Which means you must be willing to question everything, even if it represents generations of so-called conventional wisdom. Truth is Stoic in nature; it does not concern itself with human intentions. It cares nothing about whether we think it is just or unjust; our feelings are irrelevant to truth.Truth overwhelms everything and everyone in its path.
Discovering truth involves courage, honesty, and, above all, a great deal of effort on one's part. No one can go on believing whatever he wants to believe - creating his own reality - without suffering appropriate consequences. And if those consequences do not arrive until later in life, when the individual is ill-prepared to handle them, so much the worse. Thus, when it comes to truth, the future is now. There will never be a better day than today to begin your search for truth.”
*Ringer Robert, To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?: That is the Question. 2002. ISBN 1590770358.
(Tibetan spiritual master, b.1947)
The most important thing, says Rinpoche, is not to get trapped in what I see everywhere in the West, a “shopping mentality”: shopping around from master to master, teaching to teaching, without any continuity or real, sustained dedication to any one discipline. Nearly all the great spiritual masters of all traditions agree that the essential thing is to master one way, one path to the truth, by following one tradition with all your heart and mind to the end of the spiritual journey, while, of course, remaining open and respectful toward the insights of all others. In Tibet we used to say: “knowing one, you accomplish all.” The modem faddish idea that we can always keep all our options open and so never need commit ourselves to anything is one of the greatest and most dangerous delusions of our culture, and one of ego’s most effective ways of sabotaging our spiritual search.
When you have explored the great mystical traditions, choose one master and follow him or her. It’s one thing to set out on the spiritual journey; it’s quite another to find the patience and endurance, the wisdom, courage, and humility to follow it to the end. You may have the karma to find a teacher, but you must then create the karma to follow your teacher. For very few of us know how truly to follow a master, which is an art in itself. So however great the teaching or master may be, what is essential is that you find in yourself the insight and skill to learn how to love and follow the master and the teaching.
* Rinpoche, Sogyal, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Ryder, London, 1992
(German protestant theologian, 1822-1889)
Ritschl's theological system rests on an epistemology influenced by the philosophy of Kant. Ritschl denies human mind the power to arrive at a rational knowledge of God. Consequently religion cannot have an intellectual, but merely a practical-moral foundation. Religious knowledge is essentially distinct from scientific and philosophical knowledge. It is not acquired by a theoretical insight into truth, but, as the product of religious faith, it is bound up with the practical interests of the human life. Religion is practice, not theory. Knowledge and faith are not only distinct domains; they are independent of and separated from each other. While knowledge rests on judgements of existence, faith proceeds on independent "judgements of value", which affirm nothing concerning the essence or nature of Divine things, but refer simply to the usefulness and fruitfulness of religious ideas. Anticipating to some extent the principles of later Pragmatism, Ritschl declared that knowledge alone is valuable which in practice brings us forward. Not what the thing is "in itself", but what it is "for us", is decisive.
See Barth, Karl, Protestant thought, Chap.11 on Ritschl, p. 390sq, Clarion Book, Simon & Schuster, 1959
( American Calvinist philosopher, 1948-2008)
The Biblical Truth is propositional, and only propositional
The view of truth that Robbins wishes to state is this: in the Bible – as anywhere else - truth is propositional, and only propositional. To put it even more plainly, truth is a property, characteristic, or attribute only of propositions. This view is in stark contrast to views, both academic and popular, of truth as encounter, truth as event, truth as pictorial, truth as experiential, truth as emotive, truth as personal, truth as mystic absorption into or union with the divine.
The view, that truth is personal, not propositional, has led theologians to substitute the nebulous concepts of commitment, personal relationship, and union for the clear and Biblical concept of belief, thus undermining the Gospel itself. Part of the anti-intellectualism that pervades all religions - Eastern, Western, Christian, non-Christian, Roman, Orthodox, and Protestant - at the start of the 21st century is the head/heart dichotomy. This notion that the head, representing the mind and intellect, is inferior to the heart, representing the soul and emotions, is completely foreign to Scripture. Nevertheless, one constantly hears and reads theologians, professedly Christian, who prattle on about “heart religion” versus “head religion”, praising the former and condemning the latter.
In fact, complains Robbins, contemporary churches have repudiated the Biblical view of truth. Something called the “larger and all-embracing truth of Christ”, which encompasses and unifies all paradoxes, contradictions, and irreconcilable truths, and which passes all understanding, is opposed to the Biblical literal propositional truth. “God in himself or in his revelation as Word and words, is never really verbal. He always transcends language”. Such is a common assertion of mystics, who generally describe union with God as an ineffable experience. It is also an assertion of Neo-orthodox theology, which says that God’s revelation is not in propositions but in events, especially the event of an encounter of persons. But all these claims are incompatible with the Biblical view of truth, with the doctrine of propositional revelation, and with the Biblical idea that God communicates truth about himself, man, and the world to men in words and propositions.
Robbins forcefully denounces the disparagement of propositional truth, through the notion that truth is personal, the notion that Christ spoke almost exclusively in metaphors and parables, the notion that reality transcends speech.
The ecstatic principle, that “God transcends language”, contradicts the first chapter of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God”. Logos is Word. It is an intellectual term. It means speech, wisdom, theology, doctrine, proposition, logic. Scripture says that the Word is God; it never says that God transcends language.
* Robbins John W. Scripture Twisting in the Seminary, ISBN 0940931109 (0-940931-10-9)
Softcover, Trinity Foundation
(English theologian, 1919-1983)
Robinson’s central idea is that there are cases – in particular the case of the concept of God as “Thou” (in Christian tradition) and “That” (in the Vedantic tradition) – when the unity of truth is impossible to achieve. It is futile and even harmless to want the unity of truth at all cost. Wisdom consists in holding the two ends of the chain – the thesis and the antithesis – without attempting to find an impossible synthesis. In such cases truth should not be symbolised by the tracing of a circle with one center but by one of an ellipse with two centers. Truth is not one-eyed but two-eyed. In many instances a dualistic or even a pluralistic view of truth is inescapable.
According to Robinson – who authored the well-known book ‘Honest to God’ - the problem of the knowledge of God, seen in the Christian perspective, needs a significant overhauling when confronted with the Hindu view of the same. After a journey to the Indian subcontinent, he added another book to his credit, entitled ‘Truth is two-eyed’. The contact with the Hindu tradition compelled him, so he felt, to look at truth with a different glass of vision. Dealing principally with the crucial question whether God’s essence is personal or impersonal, he came to the following conclusions:
a) There are two distinct traditional views of God: the Christian and the Hindu.
- In Christianity one finds the primacy and ultimacy of the “Thou” over the “That”. The Christian view of God cannot be expressed by categories inferior to those required to describe what is the highest in personal relationship: love, trust, freedom, responsibility. The God of Christianity is a personal God.
- In Hinduism one finds the opposite movement of the primacy and ultimacy of the “That” over the “Thou”. The sa-guna (qualified) Brahman, that is, Is’vara, the personal divinity, is an anthropomorphic representation. The ‘I-Thou’ understanding of Christian personalism is inferior to the ‘I-That’ or ‘Tat-Tvam-Asi’ view of the Upanishadic tradition. The impersonal Brahman is the ultimate truth whereas the anthropomorphic Is’vara is a concession to popular devotion, unable to raise itself above a human image of the divine.
b) Which viewpoint should one adopt? Which of the two concepts of God is the “true” one? To solve the dilemma, Robinson makes three observations.
- First: each intuition - the personal and the impersonal - taken in isolation is inadequate and responsible for serious distortions.
- Second: it is equally wrong to think that a synthesis of both traditions in the Hegelian sense is possible. The ‘one-eyed’ approach is necessarily biased. One must adopt the ‘two-eyed’ attitude without attempting to make a synthesis. In fact not a few wise thinkers within their own traditions have shown openness and sensitivity to the pull of the other pole. Robinson invites us to live with both poles, within the tension occasioned by both. The best working model of reality in this case may be elliptical or bi-polar: not one centre but two centres of the same reality . The I-Thou and the Tat-tvam-asi do not say the same thing. They should be neither isolated nor fused. There should be neither absorption and nor syncretism but the ‘unitive pluralism’ of an unresolved dialogue. -Third: Robinson remarked that by temperament or tradition one may be inevitably drawn to one side rather than to the other. Do we not have always a stronger eye?
Incidentally Robinson’s “two-eyed” approach to truth on the divine essence was also adopted to resolve the famous 16th c. Church controversy between Jesuits and Dominicans in the controversy “De Auxiliis”. The question was how to reconcile the divine omnipotence and omniscience with the free-will of created human beings. To affirm the former amounted to deny the latter and vice versa. The controversy ended after centuries of debates with the admission that no synthesis is possible and that both ends of the chain must nonetheless be upheld. It was finally recognized that truth, in this matter at least, is two-eyed.
* Robinson, J.A.T. Truth is two-eyed, London, SCM, 1979; Honest to God, London, SCM, 1962
(Contemporary American theosophist)
Truth is that which is: our belief systems are what we believe to be true
What is more important: our beliefs, whatever these bekiefs are, or Truth? Isn't more important to keep Truth incorrupt than to assume that our beliefs are the true ones? And, particularly when everybody else is going to assume the same thing, that what they have been taught to believe, are the only statements that are the true ones. It is that kind of thinking that has kept us all in the dark for thousands of years. It is not possible for any of us to possess Truth, or the possibility that Truth agrees with our sense of separateness and our divisions, with religious intolerance and sectarian denunciation and violence. Why! -- Because we know in our heart that we are one family, we know that Humanity is One, and we know that we all are rooted in that Absolute Truth.
We should adopt the principle of Truth -- absolute Truth as the ultimate reality – to which we all should bow and aspire to. If we do that we would be resolving an old conflict that has kept us divided for thousands of years. The One Truth would be that which connects us all.
Truth is One and Total. It can never be possessed by anyone, or by any group; and is always unknown. Although its influence is to be felt everywhere, and by each of us in our own heart. It is unknown because we can never know all the ramifications and depth of every thing that we try to understand, and the consequences of every action that we take. All things are connected and there is no way that the limited human mind can encompass all the connections and every result of our actions in an instant. Anyhow, we sense in our mind's heart that there is a continuous connection between our intuition and the reality of that Absolute Truth. Absolute Truth is the common essence of ourselves and all other beings in the entire universe, it is Universal, it unites and includes everybody and everything.
We can have any belief as long as we hold that belief in comparison with Truth. It has been said that Truth meets the following criterion: "Truth is true at all times, in all places and for all people." In other words, our belief system is what we believe to be true, and Truth is that which IS. The two of these are separate. Our choices which result in our actions should always reflect our love and respect for honesty and Truth. If we begin to act impersonally, impartially, with love for all, and no longer allow ourselves to be limited by our old belief systems, but change so that we are in accordance with the spirit of Truth, we may notice that our belief system will start to change. It will widen. It will improve. It will include a greater sphere of the whole world without imposing on them our beliefs. We will then act as true brothers to all beings.
*See Internet Rodolpho Don
(Contemporary American Baptist pastor and wife)
Better to be divided by truth than to be united in error
It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. Let me tell you something, friend, it is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It's better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel and Paul said, 'If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed’.
Mrs. Joyce Rogers, wife of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, has the following to say on the same topic. 1. "It is better to be divided by truth than united in error." 2. "It's better to be hated for telling the truth than loved for telling a lie." 3. "It's better to know the truth and to stand alone than it is to be wrong with a multitude." 4. "It's better to speak truth that hurts and then helps than falsehood that comforts and then kills." 5. "It's better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie." Yes, peace and unity are very high in my hierarchy of values. But in my value system, "Truth trumps peace and unity." You see, in the long run, there will be no lasting peace and unity without truth. How grateful I am for grace and forgiveness. But in my value system, if there is a conflict, "Truth trumps even grace and forgiveness." For without truth there is no grace or forgiveness.
* Rogers Adrian, Standing for Light and Truth
(American philosopher, b.1931)
Philosophy must abandon the pursuit of Truth
We have no access to reality that is independent of those beliefs and theories about the world, the truth and falsity of which we are interested in determining. We have no possibility of comparing our beliefs with reality to see whether they “correspond” to each other in order to reach the truth. Objective true knowledge is an illusion.
Rorty agrees with the pragmatist view that truth is “what is good for us to believe” (W.James). To say that what we believe may not be true, is simply to say that somebody else has come up with a better idea. The test of truth is not reality; we are the test of truth or untruth in that we are the source of better or worse ideas in which to believe. One idea is better than another insofar as it enables us more effectively to achieve our goals. But there are a multiplicity of goals, hence a multiplicity of conflicting discourses about the world. This proliferation of discourses is not only inevitable; it is preferable than the convergence of opinions upon one final belief. Rorty’s pragmatism is more radical than its classical forms. According to him the Peircean pragmatist (see Peirce) notion of truth as the convergence of all views should be abandoned. The task of philosophy in an “ocean of alternatives” is not to minimize the differences between them. Philosophers should foster conversation between the participants, with no intention that the conversation may lead anywhere - and certainly not to the truth. The conversation has no particular destination because, in any case, the pursuit of truth is an absurd and impossible project. The philosophical activity has nothing more serious to achieve than the playful exchange of opinions. We should not expect more than that in a world that we inhabit temporarily and which defies our attempts to say anything final about it. None of our theories and beliefs are true , but simply ‘good in the way of belief’. The concept of “truth” should be dropped. The philosopher discusses for the sheer delight of exchanging opinions, nothing more. Rorty’ pragmatism agrees with the Nietzschean view that the will of truth must be abandoned.
• Rorty, Richard, Truth and Progress, Cambridge University Press, 1998
(Contemporary American author)
The absurd post-modernist questioning of the value of truth
According to Rosenau, the post-modern view—there is no truth, and all is construction—is itself the ultimate contradiction. By making this statement, post-modernists assume a position of privilege. They assert as true their own view that “there is no truth.” In so doing they affirm the possibility of truth itself
It is on an epistemological basis that Rosenau summarily dismisses post-modernism. What is interrogated by post-modernism is not the content of social science theories, but the very epistemological foundations of theory and truth from the modernist paradigm. According to Rosenau, “Theory implies truth, and truth, at least in the social sciences, is theoretical in character. Post modernists are suspicious regarding modern versions of both”.
She discusses the post-modern skeptics’ contention that truth is language-bound and therefore either meaningless or arbitrary, and also considers the post-modernist problématique of anti-representationalism. She describes the post-modernist skeptical anti-representational view that “ truth, to the extent that it strives to re-present reality, is fraudulent”. This “extreme linguistic relativism” is summed up in the following way: “Post-modernists question the value of truth because they consider it impossible to evaluate the adequacy of knowledge claims with any certitude”.
Rosenau describes as “enormous” the consequences of post-modern view of theory and truth. These consequences include “an absolute equality of all discourse, and end to foundational claims”, a questioning of “the very basis for a social science”, an erasure of “the difference between truth and error, between theory and nonsense” and ultimately, “an adaptation to a situation where the goal of seeking truth is abandoned”. Rosenau demonstrates that postmodernist philosophy paradoxically proclaims that no one philosophy is superior to another, yet in so doing it simultaneously proclaims itself as superior to all. Its core belief is that there must be no beliefs. Its radical doctrine is that there must be no absolute truths. Although initially post-modernism seems to trouble all theory and to terrorize all truth, ultimately what is cannibalized by the post-modernists is post-modernism itself.
* Rosenau Paulin, Post-Modernism and November 29, 2010 – Houston.
(Italian philosopher and theologian, 1797-1855)
To know and to know the truth is the same thing. Error is not found rooted in the intellect but in the will.
Objectivity, in Rosmini’s view, is essentially a characteristic of what is known. Certainty is a characteristic of the person who knows, and can be defined as ‘a firm and reasonable persuasion that conforms to the truth’. We can be certain only of knowledge, not of error, and this because, according to Rosmini, to know and to know the truth is the same thing. The person who does not know the truth, does not know. There is no doubt, of course, that it is possible to be persuaded, and firmly persuaded, of error. But rational persuasion of error arrived at through one's own reasoning is not possible. In this case, either the premiss is wrong, or the argument is erroneous. Formal error will not be found rooted in the intellect nor in the senses nor in involuntary reflection. It begins with the will, the only human faculty capable of drawing the reason to invent what it does not see, or to deny what it sees. Under pressure from the will, reason will falsely affirm that being is not, or deny that being is.
Rosmini argues that the truth of a thing is, in last analysis, its being, and since being is the form of the human intellect, it follows that a criterion of truth and certainty lies at the base of all thought and reasoning. The principles which govern reflection and argument are founded on the primitive intuition of being. "Being is the object of thought"; this is the principle of cognition, and it is antecedent to the principle of contradiction. Error is found, not in the idea of being, which is without any determination, nor in the principles of reasoning, which simply express the essential object of the mind in the form of a proposition without adding anything foreign, but in reflection, and hence in the will, which usually initiates reflection. Logic is the science which shows us how to use reflection so as to attain truth and avoid error.
The light of being, the first and universal form of truth, is the objective, constitutive element of human intelligence. Certainty is 'a firm and reasonable persuasion which conforms to the truth'. Formal error, which excludes certainty, is ultimately our willed attempt to create truth for ourselves and the only interior source capable of harming our intellectual and moral development; the most obvious manifestation of such error is hardened scepticism which leads us to deny reflectively the principles whose truths we know directly.
In a word, Rosmini holds that basic knowledge, consisting of the idea of being and its immediate determinations, provides all that is needed for objective thought.
*See Davidson, Rosmini's Philosophical System ,London, 1882
(British moral philosopher,1877-1971)
There are objective moral truths
Ross defended ethical intuitionism. He argued that there are objective ethical truths, that the basic ones are self-evident, and that skeptical attacks on morality fail. He further argued that our ethical intuitions are best captured, not by utilitarianism, but by a set of "prima facie" duties that are Kantian in nature, i.e., universal and deontic. Ross calls such general principles prima facie duties in light of the fact that, "all things being equal" i.e., no other opposing circumstances present, we ought to follow the principle. For example, all things being equal, we ought to keep promises.
He felt that it accords better with common sense to recognize various prima facie duties: we ought to do good to others, keep our promises, avoid harming others, and so forth. When these duties conflict, we have to weigh one duty against another and see which is stronger in the situation.
Following common sense, we should recognize an objective moral order. The basic principles of ethics, like those of math and logic, are self-evident truths. These principles become clear to us when we reach sufficient intellectual maturity.
Skeptics may doubt these first principles, the fact is that we all rely on them in daily life. We can't rid ourselves of such common sense intuitions - nor should we try. Our considered common sense intuitions are the data to which ethical theory must conform.
The moral intuition or perception about which we are talking is not the same as perceiving a color, a sound, a taste, a texture, or a smell; nor is it the same as perceiving physical thing. The moral perception is a grasping of a truth. When it picks out morally relevant parts of a situation, it makes use of perceptions of the non-moral kind, but it goes beyond them to certain features as morally relevant, features that call for applying a prima facie duty to the situation. When moral intuition grasps the prima facie duties themselves, it is a grasping of a moral general truth.
* Sir David Ross, The Right and the Good (1930)
We have the ability to construct truth and knowledge with metaphors
We forget that we, humans, construct truth with metaphors (arbitrary words that become concepts). We tend to accept the “serious premises” and treat truth as stable, firm, and natural .
Think about “love” as a metaphor. We can’t know for SURE or with absolute certainty what “love” is. We can only group together similar (but not identical) experiences and feelings and stories and moments and call them “love.” But the essence of that concept is unknowable — we can only “know” it through what we say about it and what people agree to call “love.”
There isn’t much on the line when we talk about “squirrels” or “trees” … but when we believe we know the “truth” about bigger issues like what “life” truly is or what it means to be a true “American,” then it becomes important to remember how “flighty” knowledge can be and how we have the ability to create and revise knowledge–for good or for bad.
The point is not that truth doesn’t exist and so we shouldn’t even talk about it. We’re not saying that “anything goes.” Rather, because we have the ability to construct truth and knowledge with metaphors, we should pay attention to the rhetorical process that creates our knowledge. Whenever someone claims to have the definitive truth or knowledge, we should pay attention to how and why that knowledge came to be.
The way we think about communication impacts the way we think about “truth.” We tend to think about truth as something that is objective and verifiable, something that has always existed, something that we just need to discover and describe. And when we use the “tool” of communication to describe or “convey” or “transmit” truth we usually judge the communication by whether it was “true” or “false;” “correct” or “incorrect;” “right” or “wrong.” We want people to be truthful and honest. We value finding and discovering objective Truth. We tend to want to cut through all the illusions and discover Truth.
Likewise, we don’t like it when it seems like people twist the objective “facts” of a situation. We certainly don’t want to be deceived by lies and illusions. We make people swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in court with the understanding that they will not spin the facts or manipulate anything. We usually think about lies or distortion or spin or rhetoric as things that get in the way of clear, truthful, transparent, successful communication of the truth.
* Rossning Jonathan, Posted in Rhetoric and Public Culture, Socrates (Plato), Truth and Reality.
(French biologist, 1894-1977)
Impossible to believe in a Truth behind us
Rostand adopts what he calls the stand of “philosophical actualism”. It is impossible to believe in a “truth” that is behind us and to take into account a “revelation” supposed to have occured to our ancestors in some distant past. Perhaps these old traditions are quite respectable; they have played an important role in history, specially for the promotion of ethical values. But it is impossible for the man of today to take these traditions as the foundation of certain truths to live by. Rostand’s view agrees with Lessing’s contention (see Lessing) that there is a gulf between historical probabilities and the demonstrable truths of reason and that nothing can be demonstrated by means of so-called historical truths.
Worthy beliefs are those that can be recreated at any moment by our intellectual capacity and the proper use of reason from materials provided by science and free reflection. This is the stand of “philosophical actualism” which uncompromisingly excludes a whole portion of the human past. The only truth to which one should adhere is the one that is discovered slowly, gradually, painfully by the man of today in the context of the present socio-cultural environment.
* Rostand, Jean, Ce que je Crois, Grasset, Paris, 1953
(French writer and philosopher, 1712-1778)
Conscience is the infallible guide to truth
“Cherchez la vérité vous-même”, search for truth by yourself. God has given human beings conscience and reason, the passive power of feeling and the active power of judging. In giving heed to the inner voice of conscience in the contemplation of Nature man follows the light which God has given him. This is the ‘natural religion’, through which God speaks directly to every human heart.
One should not care for the wisdom of philosophers. The truth that God exists is found in the depths of one’s heart, written by Nature in ineffaceable characters. Conscience is in all circumstances an infallible guide to truth and right action. This makes human beings free from the terrifying apparatus of philosophies and revealed religions. One would waste one’s time in studying this immense labyrinth of human opinions. Truth is better reached in trusting natural feelings. It is enough for man to listen to what God says to the heart. This is Rousseau’s “natural religion” which has the advantage of being revealed directly to each individual. The so-called revealed religions are futile because in them God is supposed to have spoken to certain individuals and this can only be known by human testimony, which is fallible.
* Rousseau, Jean Jacques, Confessions, PUF, Paris, 1996
(American philosopher, 1855-1916)
Error implies absolute truth
Josiah Royce, the leading American proponent of absolute idealism, introduced a novel defense of absolute Truth through his “argument from error”.
The failure of most philosophical systems to solve problems seems to lead to scepticism, for on every side one finds conflict, doubt and error. But Royce thinks that the problem of scepticism is solved in this, that the very fact that there can be error implies that there must be an absolute truth. What is error? It is the failure of thought to agree with its intended object. But one cannot step outside one’s thought to compare that thought with the reality that one intends to think about. Still it is a fact that we recognise that we can be in error: therefore that implies that there is a higher thought which includes both the thought and its intended object. The assumption on which all rational thinking proceeds – that objective truth and error are possible - implies the Absolute, the all embracing thought which includes all thoughts and objects. From the possibility of error, Royce concluded that truth exists in an Absolute Knower, a mind for which all thoughts do correspond correctly and adequately to their objects. And just as error implies absolute truth, so also evil implies absolute goodness. Both error and evil are overcome in the Absolute. Whatever happens to our poor selves - error and evil - we know that the Whole is perfect, being the absolute truth and the absolute goodness.
* Royce, Josiah, The Religious Aspect of Philosophjy, See Macquarrie, J. Twentieth-Century Religious Thought, Harper & Row, New york,1963, p35-38
(Contemporary French writer))
La vérité se situe dans l'être (libéralisme), non dans le discours (orthodoxie).
"Orthodoxie" désigne, conformément à l'étymologie du mot, un point de vue en quête de vérité et de cohérence. Il s'agit d'une opinion droite ou qui, du moins, tente de l'être. Il n'y a là, a priori, rien à redire . Mais libéralis et orthodoxie s’opposent, car orthodoxie devient souvent synonyme de dogmatisme. L'expression "orthodoxie libérale" est en fait un monstre conceptuel.
Parler de libéralisme théologique, ce n'est pas vouloir opposer une doctrine à une autre. La véritable différence entre "orthodoxie" et "libéralisme" ne se situe pas dans l'existence de contenus de pensée obligatoirement divergents (même s'ils le sont souvent). Elle réside, de façon radicale, dans une relation différente à l'usage du pouvoir. Il ne s'agit pas, seulement, de désigner par là le recours si fréquent des orthodoxies de toutes sortes au bras séculier, avec son cortège d'inquisitions, de censures et d'exclusives. Il s'agit, tout autant, de préciser si la vérité, pour nous, est un donné préétabli qu'il s'agirait simplement de répandre - ou si la vérité qui est la nôtre, étant l'horizon de notre condition humaine, se construit dans le débat.
Le partage s'effectue alors entre les partisans d'un devoir-croire et ceux pour lesquels la vérité, hors de portée de l'homme, lui ouvre cependant le chemin d'une recherche sans certitudes. Entre affirmation dogmatique et espérance. Entre croyance et foi.
De fait, la croyance est le contraire de la foi, l'opposé de l'espérance. Espérer, ce n'est pas en premier lieu espérer "en ceci" ou "en cela". C'est découvrir et traverser l'expérience de l'espérance. Jamais le Maître de l'Evangile ne dira : "Voici ce en quoi vous devez espérer". Jamais il n'induira, que la vérité résiderait en un discours, fût-ce le sien. Il eût été abrupt de prétendre : "Je dis la vérité". Mais il a dit : "Je suis la vérité". La vérité se situe donc dans l'être, non dans le discours. Or, l'être est précisément ce qui est là, sans qu'on puisse jamais répondre à la question : "Qu'est-ce donc ?"
Partisan d'une foi sans religion, d'une conviction sans certitudes, d'une espérance placée sous l'horizon de la promesse, on n’admettra jamais pour vrai ce qui n'apparaîtra pas tel à la conscience. On ne peut faire sien qu'un propos visant l'universel, se risquant au débat, acceptant toute forme de dialogue.
* See Internet Pierre Yves Ruff
(Mexican “spiritualist” author. b. 1952)
The truth doesn't need you to believe it; the truth simply is, and it survives whether you believe it or not.
Everything we believe about ourselves is a story we create that is based in reality, but is just our point of view. Our point of view is based on our experience, on what we know, on what we believe. And what we know and believe is just a program; it is nothing but words, opinions, and ideas we learn from others and from our own life experience. Humans perceive truth, but the way we justify and explain what we perceive is not truth; it is a story. I call this story a dream. The human mind mixes perception, imagination, and emotion to create a whole dream. But the story doesn’t end there, because every mind of every human mixes together and creates the mind of the planet Earth — the dream of the planet.
For thousands of years people have believed there is a conflict between good and evil in the universe. But this is not true. The real conflict is between truth and what is not truth. The conflict exists in the human mind, not in the rest of nature. Good and evil are the result of that conflict. Believing in truth results in goodness; believing in and defending what is not truth results in evil. Evil is just the result of believing in lies.
All human suffering is the result of believing in lies. To become aware of this is the first thing we must do. Why? Because this awareness will guide us to truth, and the truth will lead us to God, to love, to happiness. The truth will set us free from all the lies we believe in. But we have to experience the truth to know the truth; we cannot put the truth into words. As soon as we start to talk about the truth, as soon as we put it into words, it is no longer the truth. We can experience truth, and we can feel truth, but when we make the story, that story is only true for us. For everyone else, it is not truth. Everyone creates his or her own story; everyone lives in his or her own dream.
Be skeptical because most of what you hear isn’t true. Be skeptical is masterful because it uses the power of doubt to discern the truth. Whenever you hear a message from yourself, or from another artist, simply ask: Is it truth, or is it not truth? Is it reality or is it a virtual reality? The doubt takes you behind the symbols, and makes you responsible for every message you deliver and receive. Why would you want to invest your faith in any message that is not true? By being skeptical, you don't believe every message; you don't put your faith in symbols, and when your faith is not in symbols, your faith is in yourself. Then if faith is believing without a doubt, and doubt is not believing, be skeptical. Don’t believe. And what will you not believe? Well, you will not believe all the stories that we artists create with our knowledge. You know that most of our knowledge isn't true - the whole symbology isn't true - so don't believe me, don't believe yourself, and don't believe anybody else. The truth doesn't need you to believe it; the truth simply is, and it survives whether you believe it or not.
*Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Wisdom (A Toltec Wisdom Book), 1997, Amber-Allen Publishing
(Contemporary American philosopher)
Absolutism in religion is a matter of commitment, not of truth
Runzo defends relativism and tries to show that absolute religious faith is compatible with it. He asserts that it is rational to be absolutely committed to something one knows is not cognitively absolute. The lack of certainty, he says, makes the leap of faith necessary. In this absolute commitment, serious skepticism about the fundamental tenets of one’s theistic world-view becomes literally impossible.
This means that Runzo’s solution to the dilemma posed to religious faith by cognitive relativism is to define religious faith in such a way that the absoluteness of that faith turns out to be not with regard to the objective truth of the claims that faith makes but, rather, to be with regard to the psychological absoluteness of the commitment, the trust or the fiducia, faith-in, rather than fides, faith-that. Within such an absolutely trusting commitment one cannot be skeptical about the claims which are part of that commitment, even though one knows quite well that those claims are only relatively true. Absolutism is, thus, a matter of commitment, not of truth.
Runzo’s argument for this view leans heavily upon his reading of William James’ view of religious faith, particularly James “right to believe” justification of faith. In a live, momentous, forced situation that cannot be decided on intellectual grounds it would be irrational, says James, not to decide on passional grounds. In fact, to fail to decide to believe or not believe is, in effect, not to believe. Such belief is justified by the fact that in some situations, e.g. that of friendship, if we did not follow our hearts, we would cut ourselves off from ever being in a position to discover whether certain beliefs would be true. The religious case is like that. The person who does not open his heart to God cannot discover whether religious faith does or does not have the merits it claims to have. That is, some beliefs can be verified only if we follow our hearts and assent to them. It would be irrational to remain in a holding position, waiting for the issue to be decided by evidence that can never be had outside of the commitment’s being made first.
Since cognitive relativism renders the religious case to be precisely like that, it is rational for a person to follow his heart, commit himself absolutely to a belief he knows can be relatively true, and discover, thereby, the possibility of the benefits of a life of religious faith. At the same time, this commitment’s absoluteness renders skepticism with regard to the absolute truth of the requisite beliefs psychologically impossible. Hence, absolute religious faith is compatible with cognitive relativism.
But several critics have sharply denounced Runzo’s view in pointing out that Runzo makes faith into what Sartre would call 'bad faith'. That is, for Runzo faith is a kind of psychological or existential deception one tries on oneself.
Runzo seems to say. “Commit yourself to a belief that you know is neither absolutely true nor absolutely false, but commit yourself absolutely, i.e., religiously. This commitment, if it is truly absolute will put you into such a psychological or existential state that you will no longer be able to doubt the absolute truth of the relative truth you have committed to. Hence, you see, relativism is compatible with absolute religious faith.”
Critics have pointed out that this is hardly adequate to the notion of absolute religious faith. In fact, it is not even a Jamesian situation. The person in James’ situation believes that certain statements about God are absolutely true or false; he just doesn’t know which. Hence, he follows his heart and commits himself to their being absolutely true. That is, it is possible for the person in James’ situation to get it right. But in Runzo’s situation one cannot possible get it right, because it is absolutely false both that it is absolutely true that God exists and that God does not exist. So, whereas the Jamesian is not fooling himself (he could be right), the Runzoian is engaging in the bad faith of trying to convince himself of the absolute truth of something he knows cannot possibly be absolutely true.
*Runzo Joseph Global Philosophy of Religion: A Short Introduction, Publisher: Oneworld Publications ISBN: 185168235X
(English b. Canadian philosopher of biology, b.1940)
The truth of evolution does not contradict a non-literal reading of the Bible
Ruse looks closely at the common beliefs surrounding the idea that Christianity and Darwinian evolution necessarily contradict each other. What he finds, he believes, is that this conclusion lacks real substance. By offering an analysis of the basic beliefs of what might be called “traditional” Christianity and comparing them to the basic premises of Darwinism, he tries to show how the two can be compatible.
After exploring the basics of both Darwinian evolution and traditional Christianity, he investigates a number of key issues on which the two are usually thought to conflict. Vital to his argument is his contention that the Biblical texts being used do not need to be read literally. Most disagreements seem to be based upon the conclusion that the discoveries of natural science do not conform to a literalistic interpretation of books like Genesis.
Ruse makes a good case for the position that non-literal readings of Biblical texts are not a new innovation. Rather, it is a part of traditional and orthodox Christian teachings and it is the literalistic fundamentalists who have adopted an unorthodox set of doctrines. A problem here, however, is the question of which texts to read literally and which texts to read as allegorical or metaphorical.
Most importantly to evaluate Ruse’s claim one must take into account that his starting point is that Darwinism is true: ‘We are not asking the question, Is Darwinism true? Rather, having assumed the truth of (some version of) Darwinism, we are asking, Can a Darwinian be a Christian?’ Ruse’s approach is certainly presuppositional, but diametrically opposed to biblical presuppositionalism. To accept the Bible as the revealed, infallible Word of God means that our starting point is Scripture, and we view the world in light of this presupposition. Ruse’s starting point is the ‘truth’ of Darwinism, and hence he views everything in light of this presupposition.
Ruse’s task in discussing origins is to demonstrate that Genesis need not be read as history. This is his only option given his evolutionary commitment, and he knows it . He appeals to Augustine’s non-literal interpretation of Genesis. (not noting that it was actually an anomaly among the church fathers). He argues for the equality of science with Scripture as sources of truth. In practice, however, he places science above Scripture: i.e. science informs us when the Bible is wrong, not vice versa. He insists, ‘Truth cannot be opposed to truth’. But, of course, the problem goes back to Ruse’s initial presupposition that Darwinism is truth.
* Ruse Michael, Can a Darwinian be a Christian? the relationship between science and religion (2001) ISBN 0-521-63716-3
(British philosopher, 1872-1970)
Truth is wider than human knowledge
True propositions are not necessarily verifiable
1. Truth and falsehood are properties of beliefs.
True and false belong to beliefs, and derivatively to statements and propositions. Beliefs have a subjective side and an objective side. Subectively the belief points at the state of the person who makes the assertion. It depends on the mind of the asserter. It is the expression of his conviction. Objectively the belief is related to something that makes it true or false. It indicates a fact. The belief is true when it is appropriately related to the fact, that Russel calls the ‘verifier’. Thus the three elements in belief are: a) the believer who holds certain convictions (and expresses them or not), b) the content of the belief, its meaning, c) the reference of the belief to the facts, the event of the fact
Beliefs depend on the mind of the asserter for their existence but they do not depend on the mind for their truth. The mind creates beliefs but it does not create their truth. Truth is a property of beliefs that depends on something outside the beliefs. It is an extrinsic property of beliefs. The facts alone are not to be said “true”, but only beliefs may be true, depending on their relation with the facts. Russel adopts a realistic correspondence theory of truth, which he vindicates on the basis of an analysis of simple, basic perceptual propositions. (See below)
2. Truth is wider than knowledge
A belief may be true even if there is no possibility to know that it is true. There are many cases where the verifier is unavailable. The assertion-belief is meaningful, it can be true or false but it is impossible to know it because the facts are inaccessible to verification. Russel refuses to identify truth with verification. He holds firmly that the nature of truth is different than its criteria. It is commonsensical to recognize that it is imposssible to verify many assertions we make in life. What we can know by direct personal experience is extremely narrow.
There are two different correspondence theory of truth. One says that the assertions must be related to experience and the other says they must be related to the facts. According to the first theory of correspondence, if the basic propositions do not derive from experience, one cannot say that they are true or false. Truth in that case is confined to propositions asserting what a person now perceives or remembers. Russel calls it the ‘epistemological’ theory which he considers a very narrow theory because it limits knowledge to a degree that is excessive. In its stead Russel turns to the "logical" theory, according to which the basic propositions need not be related to experience, but only to "fact". It holds that many propositions that are not related to experience, that is, not known propositions, can nevertheless be true or false. In this theory propositions can be said to be true even if no one has any experience of it and no evidence for it. Pure empiricism which claims that all true propositions are verifiable must be abandoned. Truth is wider than knowledge.
3. The criteria of truth
Whereas the meaning and definition of truth are easy to spell out, the problem of the criteria of truth is more complex. How to know that some assertion is true ? One must distinguish here:
a) Inferential, derivative knowledge in which a conclusion is validly deduced from premises. This does not raise any problem.The real question is how do we come to know that the premises are true. Russel is little concerned with argumentations of pure logic. They are tautologies, unrelated to experience. The meaning of “truth” applied to logical tautologies is quite different from the meaning of “truth” applied to empirical statements. Russel is interested in the latter, in “intuitive” knowledge rather than inferential knowledge.
b) Intuitive knowledge. Here our knowledge is infected with some degree of doubts so that the problem of the criteria of truth is complex. Two cases are possible:
- i) Either we are directly acquainted with some facts so that the knowledge obtained is self-evident. This is the case with “basic propositions” derived from direct observation. However this acquaintance is valid for one person only: the direct experiencer and no one else. In some cases many minds are acquainted with the same universals. Then some sort of universally valid experience is reached.
- ii) In case of any given judgement linking facts, it is not certain that the judgement is true. Error may have slipped in the linking of the facts. In the passage from direct perception to judgement, we move from the evident to the not so evident. The facts known by acquaintance may be absolutely infallible, but a judgement believed to correspond to facts is not absolutely infallible. There are degrees of evidences. Some judgements are more probable than others. The coherence theory – which fails to define truth - is of some use as a criterion of truth as it offers a certain degree of evidence when a variety of opinions are shown be be mutually coherent.
The lack of certainty in the field of intutive knowledge is not to be deplored. On the contrary the demand for certainty is an intellectual vice. To endure uncertainty is difficult but inescapable. Belief in “a divine mission” is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted humanity. One must learn to suspend one’s judgment and for this the best discipline is philosophy. It does not teach scepticism. While dogmatism is harmful, scepticism is useless. What good philosophy must do is to dissipate certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.
4. Common-sense truth
Russel claims that his realistic epistemology agrees with the common-sense notion of truth and that is surely the strong point of his standpoint against all those who subjectivize knowledge and see it as a human creation or projection. He does not deny that truth is related to knowledge but that does not prevent him to follow the common-sense view that many things that could be known as true or false remain unknown by lack of verifiers. His correspondence theory of truth is rooted on the consideration of basic perceptual propositions. The trouble with most philosophers, he claims, is that they elaborate a theory of truth of complex propositions. The sin of all epistemologies is to neglect the analysis of ordinary basic propositions – where it is clear and evident that a correspondence theory is the answer.
Some critics have remarked that in claiming that some truths are unknown and unknowable, Russel has placed truth outside human knowledge and made it “supra-human”. Rejecting the “humanism” of truth, he has championed an almost ‘Platonist’ realm of truth beyond the human world. But then one should keep in mind that Russel never said that “facts” or “reality” are true, but only beliefs and assertions are. He seems to imply that non- or supra-human beliefs could be true. There is a realm of beliefs beyond human beliefs that might be true. One can imagine such a world, not human, where all beliefs are true because related to the facts, some sort of ideal world with many more verifiers than those found in our human world in which many verifiers are hidden. Thus for Russel truth is never outside knowledge but often outside human knowledge. However in some of his latest writings Russel seems to have repudiated his former view of an impersonal, non-human truth and found it to be a delusion. “My intellect, he wrote, goes with the humanists, though my emotions violently rebel against it.” (My Mental development, in Allen Wood, The Philosophy of Bertrand Russel, Evanston and Cambridge, 1944)
* Russel, Bertrand, The Problems of Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1967, p.69-81 ; An Enquiry into Meaning and Truth, Penguin, Hamondsworth, 1963; Eames, E.,R. Bertrand Russel’s Theory of Knowledge, George Allen & Unwin, London,, 1969, p. 144-156
(Contemporary American public writer)
Absolute truth has a place in morality but only a limited one.
Some people believe that a society without absolute truth is possible, but throwing absolute truth out of our legal system seems to invite anarchy and court disaster.
Of course, there is a difference between legality and morality, and discussions concerning absolute truth generally deal with morality. I believe the careful non-absolutist will recognize this distinction when making his or her case. Of the two concepts, morality is generally thought to be the more important. In fact, morality should help dictate what constitutes legality, and if laws are unjust, presumably it is morality that drives the citizens to protest and fix them.
When people claim there is no Absolute Truth, do they mean there is no moral truth? If so, that is a very dangerous position indeed. The very foundation of our legal system crumbles-we have no real reason to obey the law, and laws can be passed in a whimsical or even draconian fashion. Clearly, we need morality in some form or other when we are passing laws. But how should we understand moral truth? Is it absolute or is it relative?
For myself, I believe it is a mix. Contrast the following statements: "All moral truths are absolute," "Some moral truths are absolute," and "No moral truths are absolute." For the sake of clarity, let me point out a moral absolute so obvious that you can't deny it and expect to be taken seriously. It seems clear that there are moral absolutes. The next question is whether or not there are moral non-absolutes. I believe so. Consider the classic example, "Never lie." It seems to be a good rule, generally, but not absolutely. If one is hiding Jews in one's basement in Nazi Germany, it would be a moral error to inform Nazi troops if asked about it directly. Rather, the right thing to do would be to lie to their face and let them pass on to the next house.
Basically, I believe that it is impossible to construct a society with no moral absolutes at all. I have written elsewhere of a principle of moral minimalism, a principle that states that there is an absolute moral minimum beneath which a society cannot transgress and still retain the privilege of calling itself "civilized." It is within this area that moral absolutes reign. And these absolutes are usually so obvious that to deny them is to give sanction to tyrants and serial-killers, something, I'm sure, most of us do not want to do.
But the absolutist makes a mistake when he or she claims that all moral truths are absolute and society as a whole needs to recognize this. Many moral truths are simply general rules with specific exceptions. Other times, moral truths are true but only relative to context, be it time or place, or culture
Ultimately, I believe morality is a complicated subject in which absolutism has a place but only a limited one. It certainly is not the whole story. I believe a mixed view of morality is far superior. Moral absolutes provide the foundation of morality; they are the starting point. One cannot build a house without a foundation. Likewise, one cannot build a moral system without moral absolutes. A society that rejects moral absolutes in their entirety is destined to fail. It may struggle on whimpering as it goes, but ultimately it will crumble into ruin.
( British philosopher, 1900-1976)
Knowledge-that aims at truth while knowledge-how aims at success.
The difference between engineering knowledge and scientific knowledge in terms of their goals - "knowing how" to accomplish something, as opposed to "knowing that" the universe - operates in a particular way. The question of whether knowledge-how and knowledge-that are, in fact, two distinct types of knowledge has been hotly debated among philosophers over the last several decades.
Gilbert Ryle is widely credited with establishing the popular view that knowledge-how cannot be reduced to a form of knowledge-that., Ryle argues that the contrary position - which he called "the intellectualist legend" - leads to a vicious regress. If every intelligent action (the exercise of knowledge-how) requires a previous contemplation of relevant propositions (the exercise of knowledge-that), then such contemplation itself - as an intelligent action - also requires a previous contemplation of relevant propositions, and so on to infinity. In other words, the intellectualist has it backwards - knowledge-how is logically prior to knowledge-that, because in order to obtain and use knowledge-that, one must first possess the knowledge-how to do so.
Some additional contrasting concepts may help to clarify the matter further:
* Knowledge-that is theoretical; knowledge-how is practical.
* Knowledge-that is aimed at truth; knowledge-how is aimed at success.
* Knowledge-that is manifested in words; knowledge-how is manifested in actions.
* Someone who possesses knowledge-that is informed; someone who possesses knowledge-how is skilled.
* Someone who lacks knowledge-that is ignorant; someone who lacks knowledge-how is incompetent.
* Ryle Gilbert,The Concept of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Pp. 327.
(Anglican bishop and theologian,1816-1900)
“Unity Obtained by the Sacrifice of Truth Is Worth Nothing”
Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion. They weaken the cause of true Christianity. They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme. But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved. False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin. It is easy to make sneering remarks about “itching ears,” and ” love of excitement”; but it is not so easy to convince a plain reader of the Bible that it is his duty to hear false doctrine every Sunday, when by a little exertion he can hear truth. The old saying must never be forgotten, “He is the schismatic who causes the schism.”
Unity, quiet, and order among professing Christians are mighty blessings. They give strength, beauty, and efficiency to the cause of Christ. But even gold may be bought too dear. Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing. It is not the unity which pleases God. The Church of Rome boasts loudly of a unity which does not deserve the name. It is unity which is obtained by taking away the Bible from the people, by gagging private judgment, by encouraging ignorance, by forbidding men to think for themselves. It was the false prophets who cried “Peace,” when there was no peace.
Controversy in religion is a hateful thing. It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world, and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp. But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation. It was controversy that won the battle of Protestant Reformation…There are times when controversy is not only a duty but a benefit. Give me the mighty thunderstorm rather than the pestilential malaria. The one walks in darkness and poisons us in silence, and we are never safe. The other frightens and alarms for a little season. But it is soon over, and it clears the air. It is a plain Scriptural duty to ” contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3),.
- J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), taken from: Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Point, see Internet
(Contemporary American Christian apologist)
Three “isms” that spell the destruction of Truth
Relativism, pluralism and universalism: these three terms and are frequently found in secular and religious writings these days.
1. Relativism is the view that absolute (or universal) truth doesn’t exist; i.e., there is no truth that applies to all people at all times under all circumstances. What do exist, so-called progressives say, are truths (actually, they are merely ‘opinions’) conditioned by culture, individual tastes, moral expediency (where actions guide morals instead of the other way around) and the struggle for control of society. Truth, they say, is found only among individuals, the group to which they happen to belong and nearly always in agreement with whatever agenda they are pursuing, which might range from saving the whales to world domination.
Now, looking at this more closely we can see at least two things. First, the claim “absolute truth doesn’t exist” must be absolutely true since it allows for no exceptions. This appears to mean that it is absolutely true that absolute truth doesn’t exist. Clearly this is a contradiction and indicates just how muddleheaded such thinking really is.
Secondly, it is assumed that knowing any kind of truth is wholly dependent on human reason. The notion of Divine revelation is rejected and is generally assigned the same status as absolute truth, it simply doesn’t exist. We are left to our own devices, they say, and must figure it out on our own. We can appeal to no higher authority than ourselves and what we are capable of understanding. It is the apex of Protagoras’ axiom that ‘man is the measure of all things’.
The upshot of all this is that no one can say to another that their thinking is wrong, their moral life is wrong, or any such thing because since absolutes don’t exist, there is no measure against which people’s lives can be measured, except by each other. There simply is no way to determine what is ‘right’ or ‘just’ other than what the group or society decides it must be. The final consequence is moral anarchy which is the root of the “lawlessness” and ‘perplexity’ that already pervades our world.
With respect to religion, relativism suggests that no religion is better than another because no single religion has access to absolute truth and therefore cannot lay claim to being the ‘one true religion’. Christianity, they say, is merely one religion among many with no special claims on anyone except those who choose to be part of it. In fact, all religions have just part of the truth and only by being ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive’ towards other religious views can we hope to create a civilized world where religious conflict will cease.
2. The essence of pluralism in general and religious pluralism in particular is that culture/religion has its own kind of ‘truth’ and no other culture/religion has the right to suggest it is superior to any other world view. The operative words of pluralism are tolerance and inclusiveness. We are to overlook differences and embrace whatever common causes we can find. But overlooking the differences is really the most problematic part of this philosophy. For example, how does a Christian overlook the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the live and no one comes to Father except through Him. Either you have to ‘overlook’ this claim and assert that other avenues of salvation are open to humanity or you squarely place yourself against any view that makes Jesus only one way among many to God. There is simply no middle ground here.
3. Universalism is a natural outcome of the first two views. It claims that salvation is in no way restrictive and that, in the end, God’s love and grace will triumph over evil and all shall be saved, even Satan and his minions. It is based on the view that God’s love and grace is inconsistent with eternal damnation and, therefore, hell and the final judgment are mere scare tactics meant to keep the faithful in line. Even other religions can be a way to God if the person is sincere in searching for salvation. That is, God’s plan is not restricted to Christianities teachings. Of course, ideas like repentance, commitment to following Jesus Christ, evangelism, and personal holiness are mere appendages to the wider view that all will be saved no matter what they happen to believe or what they have done.
Together, then, these ‘isms’ and their spinoffs spell destruction, a destruction easily witnessed in our society and societies around the world. In the absence of absolute truth there remains no center around which a person, a group, or a country can find a stable and meaningful existence. All that can be gleaned from such views as relativism, pluralism and universalism is lawlessness and destruction.
* Ryzek William, see Internet