Is Truth by Nature Subjective, Relative and
Provisional, or Objective, Absolute and Eternal?
What was a lie anyway, and what was the truth? The minute after an event took place, it meant different things in the memory of each individual who had witnessed or experienced it . . . The truth, whether in art or life, was whatever worked best.
Fidel [Castro] lies. He has lied all his life, although he does not see his “lies” as lies. Since everything revolves around him and his perception of reality, whatever he sees or says at any one moment is indeed “truth.”
Georgie Anne Geyer
There is some basis for the distinction, constantly made in Soviet apologetics, between subjective and objective truth. Take, for instance, Rousseau, who was convinced that his Confessions were, as he claimed, entirely truthful. In fact, for the most part, they consisted of fabrications, often to his own discredit. Nonetheless, the Confessions remain an enchanting exercise in self-revelation. Again, Harold Laski was one of the most elaborate and audacious liars I have ever known. He is still, however, and I dare say rightly, regarded as an accomplished and perceptive scholar, whose testimony about his times deserves consideration, and sometimes quotation.
I come now to the definition of “truth” and “falsehood.” Certain things are evident. Truth is a property of beliefs, and derivatively of sentences which express beliefs. Truth consists in a certain relation between a belief and one or more facts other than the belief. When this relation is absent, the belief is false. A sentence may be called “true” or “false” even if no one believes it, provided that, if it were believed, the belief would be true or false as the case may be. So much, I say, is evident. But what is not evident is the nature of the relation between belief and fact that is involved, or the definition of the possible fact that will make a given belief true, or the meaning of “possible” in this phrase. Until these questions are answered we have no adequate definition of “truth.”
Attempts have been made to define “truth” in terms of “knowledge,” or of concepts, such as “verifiability,” which involve “knowledge.” Such attempts, if carried out logically, lead to paradoxes which there is no reason to accept. I conclude that “truth” is the fundamental concept, and that “knowledge” must be defined in terms of “truth,” not vice versa. This entails the consequence that a proposition may be true although we can see no way of obtaining evidence either for or against it.
The acceptance of relativity was probably delayed by its name, which suggested a superficial connection with the philosophical concept of relativity, according to which all truth was regarded as relative. Nothing is further from the truth. In relativity, the laws of physics have a precise and absolute form, only certain specific statements that our intuition leads us to regard as absolute, turn out to be prejudiced.
R. E. Peierls
If everything were relative, there wouldn’t be anything for it to be relative to.
Thoughts about Truth & Paradox
A half truth, like half a brick, is always more forcible as an argument than a whole one. It carries better.
An epigram is a half-truth so stated as to irritate the person who believes the other half.
According to deconstructionism all truth claims, especially religious ones, are not only false, they’re oppressive.
Once people lose interest in discovering whether a thing is true or not, the only thing that’s left for them is the egocentric exercise of imposing their own patterns of words on things.
According to the hardcore naturalist truth has nothing to do with a mysterious or transcendent property of the human mind. Rather it is a byproduct of adaptive beliefs that happen to be empirically supported.
Modern scepticism is on its guard against the word ‘truth.’ But nobody will object if it is understood to denote the illumination accompanying the contact of our mind with what we call realities.
All profound truth, philosophical and spiritual, makes game with appearances, yet without really contradicting common sense.
Things are simultaneously knowable and incomprehensible.
Aristotle remarks that if one wishes to find the truth one must first consider the opinions of those who judge differently.
There are no entirely false opinions. The listener, then, must proceed from what is valid in the opinions of the speaker to the fuller and purer truth as he, the listener, understands it.
Every fact is true almost by definition. But you wouldn’t call every fact a truth.
Truth has to do with the value of the things we know.
Every heresy is a truth taught out of proportion.
G. K. Chesterton
To escape heresy we must accept paradox. Thinking with integrity is paradoxical thinking.
M. Scott Peck
Every truth has two faces, every rule two surfaces, every precept two applications.
Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise to balance it.
Everyone wants to have the truth on their side, but not everyone wants to be on the side of truth.
As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.
I believe there is a truth, and that it’s knowable.
Feminists argue that truth is a hegemonic concept devised by white bourgeois male academics to prevent their dominant intrepretation of history from being questioned.
It would seem that nothing is more effectively hidden in the farthest recesses of obscurity than the obvious.
Pragmatism is a matter of human needs; and one of the first of human needs is to be something more than a pragmatist.
G. K. Chesterton
The thinker or school that represents all thought as an accident of environment is simply smashing and discrediting all thoughts—including that one. To treat the human mind as having an ultimate authority is necessary to any kind of thinking, even pragmatic thinking.
Sometimes the surest way to upset people is to tell them the truth.
I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everyone to tell the truth—even if it costs him his job.
The chief use to which we put our love of truth is in persuading ourselves that what we love is true.
The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.
The moment truth is no longer absolute and transcendent it becomes a political and ideological weapon.
Repeat a lie often enough until it becomes the truth.
The most dangerous lies have some truth in them.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
Non-paradoxical thinking splits the truth in two. It reveals something by denying or obscuring something else.
There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
A. N. Whitehead
‘The moon is not made of green cheese’ is a whole truth, and there are innumerable others. What A. N. Whitehead must have meant when he said, ‘There are no whole truths,’ is that there are few non-trivial whole truths that have to do with human affairs.
There are truths that are not of our own making.
I may have conceived theoretical truth wrongly, but I was not wrong in thinking that there is such a thing, and that it deserves our allegiance.
Truth alone is valuable and interesting, as far as a human being is able to apprehend it.
The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him to the truth.
Truth means the conformity of the mind with some object.
Truth consists in some form of correspondence between belief and fact. It is, however, by no means an easy matter to discover a form of correspondence to which there are no irrefutable objections.
You cease being a mere logician and become a philosopher when you stop trying to eliminate paradox from reality and begin contemplating it.
The ordinary man has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual [or intellectual] sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.
G. K. Chesterton
When truth is discovered by someone else, it loses something of its attractiveness.
We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.
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