Truth: Wikis


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Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, François Lemoyne, 1737

Truth can have a variety of meanings, from the state of being the case, being in accord with a particular fact or reality, being in accord with the body of real things, events, actuality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard. In archaic usage it could be fidelity, constancy or sincerity in action, character, and utterance.[1] The term has no single definition yet about which over fifty percent of professional philosophers and scholars agree, and various theories and views of truth continue to be debated. There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth; what things are truthbearers capable of being true or false; how to define and identify truth; the roles that revealed and acquired knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective, relative, objective, or absolute. This article introduces the various perspectives and claims, both today and throughout history.


Nomenclature and etymology

The English word truth is from Old English tríewþ, tréowþ, trýwþ, Middle English trewþe, cognate to Old High German triuwida, Old Norse tryggð. Like troth, it is a -th nominalisation of the adjective true (Old English tréowe).

The English word true is from Old English (West Saxon) (ge)tríewe, tréowe, cognate to Old Saxon (gi)trûui, Old High German (ga)triuwu (Modern German treu "faithful"), Old Norse tryggr, Gothic triggws,[2] all from a Proto-Germanic *trewwj- "having good faith". Old Norse trú, "faith, word of honour; religious faith, belief"[3] (archaic English troth "loyalty, honesty, good faith", compare Ásatrú).

Thus, 'truth' involves both the quality of "faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, sincerity, veracity",[4] and that of "agreement with fact or reality", in Anglo-Saxon expressed by sōþ.

All Germanic languages besides English have introduced a terminological distinction between truth "fidelity" and truth "factuality". To express "factuality", North Germanic opted for nouns derived from sanna "to assert, affirm", while continental West Germanic (German and Dutch) opted for continuations of wâra "faith, trust, pact" (cognate to Slavic věra "(religious) faith", but influenced by Latin verus). Romance languages use terms following the Latin veritas, while the Greek aletheia and Slavic pravda have separate etymological origins.

The major theories of truth

The question of what is a proper basis for deciding how words, symbols, ideas and beliefs may properly be considered true, whether by a single person or an entire society, is dealt with by the five major substantive theories introduced below. Each theory presents perspectives that are widely shared by published scholars.[5][6] There also have more recently arisen "deflationary" or "minimalist" theories of truth based on the idea that the application of a term like true to a statement does not assert anything significant about it, for instance, anything about its nature, but that the label truth is a tool of discourse used to express agreement, to emphasize claims, or to form certain types of generalizations.[5][7][8]

Substantive theories

Truth, holding a mirror and a serpent (1896). Olin Levi Warner, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Correspondence theory

For the truth to correspond it must first be proved by evidence or an individuals valid opinion, which have similar meaning or context..[9] This type of theory posits a relationship between thoughts or statements on the one hand, and things or objects on the other. It is a traditional model which goes back at least to some of the classical Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.[10] This class of theories holds that the truth or the falsity of a representation is determined in principle solely by how it relates to "things", by whether it accurately describes those "things". An example of correspondence theory is the statement by the Thirteenth Century philosopher/theologian Thomas Aquinas: Veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus ("Truth is the equation [or adequation] of things and intellect"), a statement which Aquinas attributed to the Ninth Century neoplatonist Isaac Israeli.[11][12] Aquinas also restated the theory as: “A judgment is said to be true when it conforms to the external reality” [13]

Correspondence theory practically operates on the assumption that truth is a matter of accurately copying what was much later called "objective reality" and then representing it in thoughts, words and other symbols.[14] Many modern theorists have stated that this ideal cannot be achieved independently of some analysis of additional factors.[5][15] For example, language plays a role in that all languages have words that are not easily translatable into another. The German word Zeitgeist is one such example: one who speaks or understands the language may "know" what it means, but any translation of the word fails to accurately capture its full meaning (this is a problem with many abstract words, especially those derived in agglutinative languages). Thus, some words add an additional parameter to the construction of an accurate truth predicate. Among the philosophers who grappled with this problem is Alfred Tarski, whose semantic theory is summarized further below in this article.[16]

Proponents of several of the theories below have gone further to assert that there are yet other issues necessary to the analysis, such as interpersonal power struggles, community interactions, personal biases and other factors involved in deciding what is seen as truth.

Coherence theory

For coherence theories in general, truth requires a proper fit of elements within a whole system. Very often, though, coherence is taken to imply something more than simple logical consistency; often there is a demand that the propositions in a coherent system lend mutual inferential support to each other. So, for example, the completeness and comprehensiveness of the underlying set of concepts is a critical factor in judging the validity and usefulness of a coherent system.[17] A pervasive tenet of coherence theories is the idea that truth is primarily a property of whole systems of propositions, and can be ascribed to individual propositions only according to their coherence with the whole. Among the assortment of perspectives commonly regarded as coherence theory, theorists differ on the question of whether coherence entails many possible true systems of thought or only a single absolute system.

Some variants of coherence theory are claimed to characterize the essential and intrinsic properties of formal systems in logic and mathematics.[18] However, formal reasoners are content to contemplate axiomatically independent and sometimes mutually contradictory systems side by side, for example, the various alternative geometries. On the whole, coherence theories have been criticized as lacking justification in their application to other areas of truth, especially with respect to assertions about the natural world, empirical data in general, assertions about practical matters of psychology and society, especially when used without support from the other major theories of truth.[19]

Coherence theories distinguish the thought of rationalist philosophers, particularly of Spinoza, Leibniz, and G.W.F. Hegel, along with the British philosopher F.H. Bradley.[20] They have found a resurgence also among several proponents of logical positivism, notably Otto Neurath and Carl Hempel.

Constructivist theory

Social constructivism holds that truth is constructed by social processes, is historically and culturally specific, and that it is in part shaped through the power struggles within a community. Constructivism views all of our knowledge as "constructed," because it does not reflect any external "transcendent" realities (as a pure correspondence theory might hold). Rather, perceptions of truth are viewed as contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including race, sexuality, and gender are socially constructed.

Giambattista Vico was among the first to claim that history and culture were man-made. Vico's epistemological orientation gathers the most diverse rays and unfolds in one axiom – verum ipsum factum – "truth itself is constructed". Hegel and Marx were among the other early proponents of the premise that truth is, or can be, socially constructed. Marx, like many critical theorists who followed, did not reject the existence of objective truth but rather distinguished between true knowledge and knowledge that has been distorted through power or ideology. For Marx scientific and true knowledge is 'in accordance with the dialectical understanding of history' and ideological knowledge 'an epiphenomenal expression of the relation of material forces in a given economic arrangement'.[21]

Consensus theory

Consensus theory holds that truth is whatever is agreed upon, or in some versions, might come to be agreed upon, by some specified group. Such a group might include all human beings, or a subset thereof consisting of more than one person.

Among the current advocates of consensus theory as a useful accounting of the concept of "truth" is the philosopher Jürgen Habermas.[22] Habermas maintains that truth is what would be agreed upon in an ideal speech situation.[23] Among the current strong critics of consensus theory is the philosopher Nicholas Rescher.[24]

Pragmatic theory

The three most influential forms of the pragmatic theory of truth were introduced around the turn of the 20th century by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Although there are wide differences in viewpoint among these and other proponents of pragmatic theory, they hold in common that truth is verified and confirmed by the results of putting one's concepts into practice.[25]

Peirce defines truth as follows: "Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth."[26] This statement emphasizes Peirce's view that ideas of approximation, incompleteness, and partiality, what he describes elsewhere as fallibilism and "reference to the future", are essential to a proper conception of truth. Although Peirce uses words like concordance and correspondence to describe one aspect of the pragmatic sign relation, he is also quite explicit in saying that definitions of truth based on mere correspondence are no more than nominal definitions, which he accords a lower status than real definitions.

William James's version of pragmatic theory, while complex, is often summarized by his statement that "the 'true' is only the expedient in our way of thinking, just as the 'right' is only the expedient in our way of behaving."[27] By this, James meant that truth is a quality the value of which is confirmed by its effectiveness when applying concepts to actual practice (thus, "pragmatic").

John Dewey, less broadly than James but more broadly than Peirce, held that inquiry, whether scientific, technical, sociological, philosophical or cultural, is self-corrective over time if openly submitted for testing by a community of inquirers in order to clarify, justify, refine and/or refute proposed truths.[28]

Minimalist (deflationary) theories

A number of philosophers reject the thesis that the concept or term truth refers to a real property of sentences or propositions. These philosophers are responding, in part, to the common use of truth predicates (e.g., that some particular thing " true") which was particularly prevalent in philosophical discourse on truth in the first half of the 20th century. From this point of view, to assert the proposition “'2 + 2 = 4' is true” is logically equivalent to asserting the proposition “2 + 2 = 4”, and the phrase “is true” is completely dispensable in this and every other context. These positions are broadly described

  • as deflationary theories of truth, since they attempt to deflate the presumed importance of the words "true" or truth,
  • as disquotational theories, to draw attention to the disappearance of the quotation marks in cases like the above example, or
  • as minimalist theories of truth.[5][29]

Whichever term is used, deflationary theories can be said to hold in common that "[t]he predicate 'true' is an expressive convenience, not the name of a property requiring deep analysis."[5] Once we have identified the truth predicate's formal features and utility, deflationists argue, we have said all there is to be said about truth. Among the theoretical concerns of these views is to explain away those special cases where it does appear that the concept of truth has peculiar and interesting properties. (See, e.g., Semantic paradoxes, and below.)

In addition to highlighting such formal aspects of the predicate "is true", some deflationists point out that the concept enables us to express things that might otherwise require infinitely long sentences. For example, one cannot express confidence in Michael's accuracy by asserting the endless sentence:

Michael says, 'snow is white' and snow is white, or he says 'roses are red' and roses are red or he says ... etc.

This assertion can also be succinctly expressed by saying: What Michael says is true.[30]

Performative theory of truth

Attributed to P. F. Strawson is the performative theory of truth which holds that to say "'Snow is white' is true" is to perform the speech act of signaling one's agreement with the claim that snow is white (much like nodding one's head in agreement). The idea that some statements are more actions than communicative statements is not as odd as it may seem. Consider, for example, that when the bride says "I do" at the appropriate time in a wedding, she is performing the act of taking this man to be her lawful wedded husband. She is not describing herself as taking this man, but actually doing so (perhaps the most thorough analysis of such "perlocutionary" statements is J. L. Austin, "How to Do Things With Words"[31]).

Strawson holds that a similar analysis is applicable to all speech acts, not only to special perlocutionary ones: "To say a statement is true is not to make a statement about a statement, but rather to perform the act of agreeing with, accepting, or endorsing a statement. When one says 'It's true that it's raining,' one asserts no more than 'It's raining.' The function of [the statement] 'It's true that...' is to agree with, accept, or endorse the statement that 'it's raining.'"[32]

Redundancy and related theories

According to the redundancy theory of truth, asserting that a statement is true is completely equivalent to asserting the statement itself. For example, making the assertion that " 'Snow is white' is true" is equivalent to asserting "Snow is white". Redundancy theorists infer from this premise that truth is a redundant concept; that is, it is merely a word that is traditionally used in conversation or writing, generally for emphasis, but not a word that actually equates to anything in reality. This theory is commonly attributed to Frank P. Ramsey, who held that the use of words like fact and truth was nothing but a roundabout way of asserting a proposition, and that treating these words as separate problems in isolation from judgment was merely a "linguistic muddle".[5][33][34]

A variant of redundancy theory is the disquotational theory which uses a modified form of Tarski's schema: To say that '"P" is true' is to say that P. Yet another version of deflationism is the prosentential theory of truth, first developed by Dorothy Grover, Joseph Camp, and Nuel Belnap as an elaboration of Ramsey's claims. They argue that sentences like "That's true", when said in response to "It's raining", are prosentences, expressions that merely repeat the content of other expressions. In the same way that it means the same as my dog in the sentence My dog was hungry, so I fed it, That's true is supposed to mean the same as It's raining — if you say the latter and I then say the former. These variations do not necessarily follow Ramsey in asserting that truth is not a property, but rather can be understood to say that, for instance, the assertion "P" may well involve a substantial truth, and the theorists in this case are minimalizing only the redundancy or prosentence involved in the statement such as "that's true."[5]

Deflationary principles do not apply to representations that are not analogous to sentences, and also do not apply to many other things that are commonly judged to be true or otherwise. Consider the analogy between the sentence "Snow is white" and the character named Snow White, both of which can be true in some sense. To a minimalist, saying "Snow is white is true" is the same as saying "Snow is white," but to say "Snow White is true" is not the same as saying "Snow White."

Pluralist theories

Several of the major theories of truth hold that there is a particular property the having of which makes a belief or proposition true. Pluralist theories of truth assert that there may be more than one property that makes propositions true: ethical propositions might be true by virtue of coherence. Propositions about the physical world might be true by corresponding to the objects and properties they are about.

Some of the pragmatic theories, such as those by Charles Peirce and William James, included aspects of correspondence, coherence and constructivist theories.[26][27] Crispin Wright argued in his 1992 book Truth and Objectivity that any predicate which satisfied certain platitudes about truth qualified as a truth predicate. In some discourses, Wright argued, the role of the truth predicate might be played by the notion of superassertibility.[35] Michael Lynch, in a 2009 book Truth as One and Many, argued that we should see truth as a functional property capable of being multiply manifested in distinct properties like correspondence or coherence. [36]

Most believed theories

According to a survey of professional philosophers and others on their philosophical views which was carried out in November 2009 (taken by 3226 respondents, including 1803 philosophy faculty members and/or PhDs and 829 philosophy graduate students) 44.9% of respondents accept or lean towards correspondence theories, 20.7% accept or lean towards deflationary theories and 13.8% epistemic theories.[37]

Formal theories

Truth in logic

Logic is concerned with the patterns in reason that can help tell us if a proposition is true or not. However, logic does not deal with truth in the absolute sense, as for instance a metaphysician does. Logicians use formal languages to express the truths which they are concerned with, and as such there is only truth under some interpretation or truth within some logical system.

A logical truth (also called an analytic truth or a necessary truth) is a statement which is true in all possible worlds[38] or under all possible interpretations, as contrasted to a fact (also called a synthetic claim or a contingency) which is only true in this world as it has historically unfolded. A proposition such as “If p and q, then p.” is considered to be logical truth because it is true because of the meaning of the symbols and words in it and not because of any facts of any particular world. They are such that they could not be untrue.

Truth in mathematics

There are two main approaches to truth in mathematics. They are the model theory of truth and the proof theory of truth[citation needed].

Historically, with the nineteenth century development of Boolean algebra mathematical models of logic began to treat "truth", also represented as "T" or "1", as an arbitrary constant. "Falsity" is also an arbitrary constant, which can be represented as "F" or "0". In propositional logic, these symbols can be manipulated according to a set of axioms and rules of inference, often given in the form of truth tables.

In addition, from at least the time of Hilbert's program at the turn of the twentieth century to the proof of Gödel's theorem and the development of the Church-Turing thesis in the early part of that century, true statements in mathematics were generally assumed to be those statements which are provable in a formal axiomatic system.

The works of Kurt Gödel, Alan Turing, and others shook this assumption, with the development of statements that are true but cannot be proven within the system.[39] Two examples of the latter can be found in Hilbert's problems. Work on Hilbert's 10th problem led in the late twentieth century to the construction of specific Diophantine equations for which it is undecidable whether they have a solution,[40] or even if they do, whether they have a finite or infinite number of solutions. More fundamentally, Hilbert's first problem was on the continuum hypothesis.[41] Gödel and Paul Cohen showed that this hypothesis cannot be proved or disproved using the standard axioms of set theory and a finite number of proof steps.[42] In the view of some, then, it is equally reasonable to take either the continuum hypothesis or its negation as a new axiom.

Semantic theory of truth

The semantic theory of truth has as its general case for a given language:

'P' is true if and only if P

where 'P' is a reference to the sentence (the sentence's name), and P is just the sentence itself.

Logician and philosopher Alfred Tarski developed the theory for formal languages (such as formal logic). Here he restricted it in this way: no language could contain its own truth predicate, that is, the expression is true could only apply to sentences in some other language. The latter he called an object language, the language being talked about. (It may, in turn, have a truth predicate that can be applied to sentences in still another language.) The reason for his restriction was that languages that contain their own truth predicate will contain paradoxical sentences like the Liar: This sentence is not true. See The Liar paradox. As a result Tarski held that the semantic theory could not be applied to any natural language, such as English, because they contain their own truth predicates. Donald Davidson used it as the foundation of his truth-conditional semantics and linked it to radical interpretation in a form of coherentism.

Bertrand Russell is credited with noticing the existence of such paradoxes even in the best symbolic formalizations of mathematics in his day, in particular the paradox that came to be named after him, Russell's paradox. Russell and Whitehead attempted to solve these problems in Principia Mathematica by putting statements into a hierarchy of types, wherein a statement cannot refer to itself, but only to statements lower in the hierarchy. This in turn led to new orders of difficulty regarding the precise natures of types and the structures of conceptually possible type systems that have yet to be resolved to this day.

Kripke's theory of truth

Saul Kripke contends that a natural language can in fact contain its own truth predicate without giving rise to contradiction. He showed how to construct one as follows:

  • Begin with a subset of sentences of a natural language that contains no occurrences of the expression "is true" (or "is false"). So The barn is big is included in the subset, but not " The barn is big is true", nor problematic sentences such as "This sentence is false".
  • Define truth just for the sentences in that subset.
  • Then extend the definition of truth to include sentences that predicate truth or falsity of one of the original subset of sentences. So "The barn is big is true" is now included, but not either "This sentence is false" nor "'The barn is big is true' is true".
  • Next, define truth for all sentences that predicate truth or falsity of a member of the second set. Imagine this process repeated infinitely, so that truth is defined for The barn is big; then for "The barn is big is true"; then for "'The barn is big is true' is true", and so on.

Notice that truth never gets defined for sentences like This sentence is false, since it was not in the original subset and does not predicate truth of any sentence in the original or any subsequent set. In Kripke's terms, these are "ungrounded." Since these sentences are never assigned either truth or falsehood even if the process is carried out infinitely, Kripke's theory implies that some sentences are neither true nor false. This contradicts the Principle of bivalence: every sentence must be either true or false. Since this principle is a key premise in deriving the Liar paradox, the paradox is dissolved.[43]

View of truth as somebody

Expressing the serious view of Christians, especially the Catholic Church, not limited to truth in matters of religion, Father John Corapi repeatedly states and is frequently quoted as stating (with minor variations in wording) that "The Truth is not a something. It is a Somebody. And His Name is Jesus Christ.”[44] Christians cite the Gospel of John, in which Jesus Christ is quoted as telling Thomas the Apostle that "I am the way, the truth, and the life."[45] The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "God ... is the truth"[46] and that "the whole of God's truth" is manifest in His son, Jesus Christ.[47] "He is the Truth." [emphasis in original][48] Ancient Egyptians held "In a hymn to Amon-Re, the creator and sustainer of the world, Ma’at equates with truth: Thy Mother is Truth, O Amon!" In Zoroastrian theology, the angel Rashnu, who presides at the "ordeal court", is truth personified. [49] Islamic prophecy projects: "All glory will come after his advent. He will be the personification of Truth and Uprightness, as if Allah had descended from the Heaven." (Tazkira, Page 691)

Notable views

La Vérité ("Truth") by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

Ancient history

The ancient Greek origins of the words "true" and "truth" have some consistent definitions throughout great spans of history that were often associated with topics of logic, geometry, mathematics, deduction, induction, and natural philosophy.

Socrates', Plato's and Aristotle's ideas about truth are commonly seen as consistent with correspondence theory. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle stated: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true”.[50] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy proceeds to say of Aristotle:

Aristotle sounds much more like a genuine correspondence theorist in the Categories (12b11, 14b14), where he talks of “underlying things” that make statements true and implies that these “things” (pragmata) are logically structured situations or facts (viz., his sitting, his not sitting). Most influential is his claim in De Interpretatione (16a3) that thoughts are “likenessess” (homoiosis) of things. Although he nowhere defines truth in terms of a thought's likeness to a thing or fact, it is clear that such a definition would fit well into his overall philosophy of mind.[50]

Very similar statements can also be found in Plato (Cratylus 385b2, Sophist 263b).[50]

Medieval age


In early Islamic philosophy, Avicenna (Ibn Sina) defined truth in his Metaphysics of Healing, Book I, Chapter 8, as:

What corresponds in the mind to what is outside it.[51]

Avicenna elaborated on his definition of truth in his Metaphysics Book Eight, Chapter 6:

The truth of a thing is the property of the being of each thing which has been established in it.[52]

However, this definition is merely a translation of the Latin translation from the Middle Ages.[53] A modern translation of the original Arabic text states:

Truth is also said of the veridical belief in the existence [of something].[54]


Following Avicenna, and also Augustine and Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas stated in his Disputed Questions on Truth:

A natural thing, being placed between two intellects, is called true insofar as it conforms to either. It is said to be true with respect to its conformity with the divine intellect insofar as it fulfills the end to which it was ordained by the divine intellect... With respect to its conformity with a human intellect, a thing is said to be true insofar as it is such as to cause a true estimate about itself.[55]

Thus, for Aquinas, the truth of the human intellect (logical truth) is based on the truth in things (ontological truth).[56] Following this, he wrote an elegant re-statement of Aristotle's view in his Summa I.16.1:

Veritas est adæquatio intellectus et rei.
(Truth is the conformity of the intellect to the things.)

Aquinas also said that real things participate in the act of being of the Creator God who is Subsistent Being, Intelligence, and Truth. Thus, these beings possess the light of intelligibility and are knowable. These things (beings; reality) are the foundation of the truth that is found in the human mind, when it acquires knowledge of things, first through the senses, then through the understanding and the judgement done by reason. For Aquinas, human intelligence ("intus", within and "legere", to read) has the capability to reach the essence and existence of things because it has a non-material, spiritual element, although some moral, educational, and other elements might interfere with its capability.

Modern age


Immanuel Kant discussed the correspondence theory of truth[50] in the following manner, criticizing correspondence theory as circular reasoning.

Truth is said to consist in the agreement of knowledge with the object. According to this mere verbal definition, then, my knowledge, in order to be true, must agree with the object. Now, I can only compare the object with my knowledge by this means, namely, by taking knowledge of it. My knowledge, then, is to be verified by itself, which is far from being sufficient for truth. For as the object is external to me, and the knowledge is in me, I can only judge whether my knowledge of the object agrees with my knowledge of the object. Such a circle in explanation was called by the ancients Diallelos. And the logicians were accused of this fallacy by the sceptics, who remarked that this account of truth was as if a man before a judicial tribunal should make a statement, and appeal in support of it to a witness whom no one knows, but who defends his own credibility by saying that the man who had called him as a witness is an honourable man.[57]

According to Kant, the definition of truth as correspondence is a "mere verbal definition", here making use of Aristotle's distinction between a nominal definition: a definition in name only, and a real definition: a definition that shows the true cause or essence of the term that is being defined. From Kant's account of the history, the definition of truth as correspondence was already in dispute from classical times, the "skeptics" criticizing the "logicians" for a form of circular reasoning, though the extent to which the "logicians" actually held such a theory is not evaluated.[57]


Hegel tried to distance his philosophy from psychology by presenting truth as being an external self–moving object instead of being related to inner, subjective thoughts. Hegel's truth is analogous to the mechanics of a material body in motion under the influence of its own inner force. "Truth is its own self–movement within itself."[58] Teleological truth moves itself in the three–step form of dialectical triplicity toward the final goal of perfect, final, absolute truth. For Hegel, the progression of philosophical truth is a resolution of past oppositions into increasingly more accurate approximations to absolute truth. Chalybäus used the terms "thesis," "antithesis," and "synthesis" to describe Hegel's dialectical triplicity. The "thesis" consists of an incomplete historical movement. To resolve the incompletion, an "antithesis" occurs which opposes the "thesis." In turn, the "synthesis" appears when the "thesis" and "antithesis" become reconciled and a higher level of truth is obtained. This "synthesis" thereby becomes a "thesis," which will again necessitate an "antithesis," requiring a new "synthesis" until a final state is reached as the result of reason's historical movement. History is the Absolute Spirit moving toward a goal. This historical progression will finally conclude itself when the Absolute Spirit understands its own infinite self at the very end of history. Absolute Spirit will then be the complete expression of an infinite God.


For Schopenhauer,[59] a judgment is a combination or separation of two or more concepts. If a judgment is to be an expression of knowledge, it must have a sufficient reason or ground by which the judgment could be called true. Truth is the reference of a judgment to something different from itself which is its sufficient reason (ground). Judgments can have material, formal, transcendental, or metalogical truth. A judgment has material truth if its concepts are based on intuitive perceptions that are generated from sensations. If a judgment has its reason (ground) in another judgment, its truth is called logical or formal. If a judgment, of, for example, pure mathematics or pure science, is based on the forms (space, time, causality) of intuitive, empirical knowledge, then the judgment has transcendental truth.


When Søren Kierkegaard, as his character Johannes Climacus, wrote that "Truth is Subjectivity", he does not advocate for subjectivism in its extreme form (the theory that something is true simply because one believes it to be so), but rather that the objective approach to matters of personal truth cannot shed any light upon that which is most essential to a person's life. Objective truths are concerned with the facts of a person's being, while subjective truths are concerned with a person's way of being. Kierkegaard agrees that objective truths for the study of subjects like mathematics, science, and history are relevant and necessary, but argues that objective truths do not shed any light on a person's inner relationship to existence. At best, these truths can only provide a severely narrowed perspective that has little to do with one's actual experience of life.[60]

While objective truths are final and static, subjective truths are continuing and dynamic. The truth of one's existence is a living, inward, and subjective experience that is always in the process of becoming. The values, morals, and spiritual approaches a person adopts, while not denying the existence of objective truths of those beliefs, can only become truly known when they have been inwardly appropriated through subjective experience. Thus, Kierkegaard criticizes all systematic philosophies which attempt to know life or the truth of existence via theories and objective knowledge about reality. As Kierkegaard claims, human truth is something that is continually occurring, and a human being cannot find truth separate from the subjective experience of one's own existing, defined by the values and fundamental essence that consist of one's way of life.[61]


Friedrich Nietzsche believed the search for truth or 'the will to truth' was a consequence of the will to power of philosophers. He thought that truth should be used as long as it promoted life and the will to power, and he thought untruth was better than truth if it had this life enhancement as a consequence. As he wrote in Beyond Good and Evil, "The falseness of a judgment is to us not necessarily an objection to a judgment... The question is to what extent it is life-advancing, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-breeding..." (aphorism 4). He proposed the will to power as a truth only because according to him it was the most life affirming and sincere perspective one could have.

Robert Wicks discusses Nietzsche's basic view of truth as follows:

Some scholars regard Nietzsche's 1873 unpublished essay, "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" ("Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn") as a keystone in his thought. In this essay, Nietzsche rejects the idea of universal constants, and claims that what we call "truth" is only "a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms." His view at this time is that arbitrariness completely prevails within human experience: concepts originate via the very artistic transference of nerve stimuli into images; "truth" is nothing more than the invention of fixed conventions for merely practical purposes, especially those of repose, security and consistence.[62]


Alfred North Whitehead a British mathematician who became an American philosopher, said: "There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that play the devil".

The logical progression or connection of this line of thought is to conclude that truth can lie, since half-truths are deceptive and may lead to a false conclusion.


According to Kitaro Nishida, "knowledge of things in the world begins with the differentiation of unitary consciousness into knower and known and ends with self and things becoming one again. Such unification takes form not only in knowing but in the valuing (of truth) that directs knowing, the willing that directs action, and the feeling or emotive reach that directs sensing."[63]


Erich Fromm finds that trying to discuss truth as "absolute truth" is sterile and that emphasis ought to be placed on "optimal truth". He considers truth as stemming from the survival imperative of grasping one's environment physically and intellectually, whereby young children instinctively seek truth so as to orient themselves in "a strange and powerful world". The accuracy of their perceived approximation of the truth will therefore have direct consequences on their ability to deal with their environment. Fromm can be understood to define truth as a functional approximation of reality. His vision of optimal truth is described partly in "Man from Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics" (1947), from which excerpts are included below.

the dichotomy between 'absolute = perfect' and 'relative = imperfect' has been superseded in all fields of scientific thought, where "it is generally recognized that there is no absolute truth but nevertheless that there are objectively valid laws and principles".
In that respect, "a scientifically or rationally valid statement means that the power of reason is applied to all the available data of observation without any of them being suppressed or falsified for the sake of a desired result". The history of science is "a history of inadequate and incomplete statements, and every new insight makes possible the recognition of the inadequacies of previous propositions and offers a springboard for creating a more adequate formulation."
As a result "the history of thought is the history of an ever-increasing approximation to the truth. Scientific knowledge is not absolute but optimal; it contains the optimum of truth attainable in a given historical period." Fromm furthermore notes that "different cultures have emphasized various aspects of the truth" and that increasing interaction between cultures allows for these aspects to reconcile and integrate, increasing further the approximation to the truth.


Truth, for Michel Foucault, is problematic when any attempt is made to see truth as an "objective" quality. He prefers not to use the term truth itself but "Regimes of Truth". In his historical investigations he found truth to be something that was itself a part of, or embedded within, a given power structure. Thus Foucault's view shares much in common with the concepts of Nietzsche. Truth for Foucault is also something that shifts through various episteme throughout history.[64]


Jean Baudrillard considered truth to be largely simulated, that is pretending to have something, as opposed to dissimulation, pretending to not have something. He took his cue from iconoclasts who he claims knew that images of God demonstrated the fact that God did not exist.[65] Baudrillard wrote in "Precession of the Simulacra":

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.

Some examples of simulacra that Baudrillard cited were: that prisons simulate the "truth" that society is free; scandals (eg, Watergate) simulate that corruption is corrected; Disney simulates that the U.S. itself is an adult place. One must remember that though such examples seem extreme, such extremity is an important part of Baudrillard's theory. For a less extreme example, consider how movies usually end with the bad being punished, humiliated, or otherwise failing, thus affirming for viewers the concept that the good end happily and the bad unhappily, a narrative which implies that the status quo and institutionalised power structures are largely legitimate.[65]


Philosopher and theologian Joseph Ratzinger, before his election as Benedict XVI, commented upon the relationship of truth with tolerance,[68] conscience,[69] freedom,[70] and religion.[68] For him, "beyond all particular questions, the real problem lies in the question of truth."[68]

Ratzinger refers to achievements of the natural sciences as evidence that human reason has the power to know reality and arrive at truth. He also argues that "the modern self-limitation of reason" rooted in Immanuel Kant's philosophy, which views itself incapable of knowing religion and the human sciences such as ethics, leads to dangerous pathologies of religion and pathologies of science.[68][71] He thinks that this self-limitation, which "amputates" the mind's capacity to answer fundamental questions such as man's origin and purpose, dishonors reason and is contradictory to the modern acclamation of science, whose basis is the power of reason.[68][71]

In his book Truth and Tolerance, Ratzinger argued that truth and love are identical. And if well understood, according to him, this is "the surest guarantee of tolerance."[68]

See also

Truth in logic

Theories of truth

Major theorists


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, truth, 2005
  2. ^ see Holtzmann's law for the -ww- : -gg- alternation.
  3. ^ A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic, Geir T. Zoëga (1910),
  4. ^ OED on true has "Steadfast in adherence to a commander or friend, to a principle or cause, to one's promises, faith, etc.; firm in allegiance; faithful, loyal, constant, trusty; Honest, honourable, upright, virtuous, trustworthy; free from deceit, sincere, truthful " besides "Conformity with fact; agreement with reality; accuracy, correctness, verity; Consistent with fact; agreeing with the reality; representing the thing as it is; Real, genuine; rightly answering to the description; properly so called; not counterfeit, spurious, or imaginary."
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Supp., "Truth", auth: Michael Williams, p572-573 (Macmillan, 1996)
  6. ^ Blackburn, Simon, and Simmons, Keith (eds., 1999), Truth, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Includes papers by James, Ramsey, Russell, Tarski, and more recent work.
  7. ^ Horwich, Paul, Truth, (2nd edition, 1988),
  8. ^ Field, Hartry, Truth and the Absence of Fact (2001).
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Correspondence Theory of Truth", auth: Arthur N. Prior, p223 (Macmillan, 1969) Prior uses Bertrand Russell's wording in defining correspondence theory. According to Prior, Russell was substantially responsible for helping to make correspondence theory widely known under this name.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Correspondence Theory of Truth", auth: Arthur N. Prior, p223-224 Macmillan, 1969)
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Correspondence Theory of Truth", auth: Arthur N. Prior, p224, Macmillan, 1969.
  12. ^ "Correspondence Theory of Truth", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  13. ^ "Correspondence Theory of Truth", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (citing De Veritate Q.1, A.1&3; cf. Summa Theologiae Q.16).
  14. ^ See, e.g., Bradley, F.H., "On Truth and Copying", in Blackburn, et al. (eds., 1999),Truth, 31-45.
  15. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Correspondence Theory of Truth", auth: Arthur N. Prior, p223 ff. Macmillan, 1969). See especially, section on "Moore's Correspondence Theory", 225-226, "Russell's Correspondence Theory", 226-227, "Remsey and Later Wittgenstein", 228-229, "Tarski's Semantic Theory", 230-231.
  16. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Correspondence Theory of Truth", auth: Arthur N. Prior, p223 ff. Macmillan, 1969). See the section on "Tarski's Semantic Theory", 230-231.
  17. ^ Immanuel Kant, for instance, assembled a controversial but quite coherent system in the early 19th century, whose validity and usefulness continues to be debated even today. Similarly, the systems of Leibniz and Spinoza are characteristic systems that are internally coherent but controversial in terms of their utility and validity.
  18. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Coherence Theory of Truth", auth: Alan R. White, p130-131 (Macmillan, 1969)
  19. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Coherence Theory of Truth", auth: Alan R. White, p131-133, see esp., section on "Epistemological assumptions" (Macmillan, 1969)
  20. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Coherence Theory of Truth", auth: Alan R. White, p130
  21. ^ May, Todd, 1993, Between Genealogy and Epistemology: Psychology, politics in the thought of Michel Foucault' with reference to Althusser and Balibar, 1970
  22. ^ See, e.g., Habermas, Jürgen, Knowledge and Human Interests (English translation, 1972).
  23. ^ See, e.g., Habermas, Jürgen, Knowledge and Human Interests (English translation, 1972), esp. PART III, pp 187 ff.
  24. ^ Rescher, Nicholas, Pluralism: Against the Demand for Consensus (1995).
  25. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.5, "Pragmatic Theory of Truth", 427 (Macmillan, 1969).
  26. ^ a b Peirce, C.S. (1901), "Truth and Falsity and Error" (in part), pp. 716–720 in James Mark Baldwin, ed., Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, v. 2. Peirce's section is entitled "Logical", beginning on p. 718, column 1, and ending on p. 720 with the intials "(C.S.P.)", see Google Books Eprint. Reprinted, Collected Papers v. 5, pp. 565–573.
  27. ^ a b James, William, The Meaning of Truth, A Sequel to 'Pragmatism', (1909).
  28. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.2, "Dewey, John", auth Richard J. Bernstein, p383 (Macmillan, 1969)
  29. ^ Blackburn, Simon, and Simmons, Keith (eds., 1999), Truth in the Introductory section of the book.
  30. ^ Kirkham, Theories of Truth, MIT Press, 1992.
  31. ^ J. L. Austin, "How to Do Things With Words". Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975
  32. ^ Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol.6: Performative Theory of Truth, auth: Gertrude Ezorsky, p88 (Macmillan, 1969)
  33. ^ Ramsey, F.P. (1927), "Facts and Propositions", Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 7, 153–170. Reprinted, pp. 34–51 in F.P. Ramsey, Philosophical Papers, David Hugh Mellor (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990
  34. ^ Le Morvan, Pierre. (2004) "Ramsey on Truth and Truth on Ramsey", The British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12(4), pp. 705-718.
  35. ^ Truth and Objectivity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.
  36. ^ Truth as One and Many (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  37. ^
  38. ^ Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
  39. ^ See, e.g., Chaitin, Gregory L., The Limits of Mathematics (1997) esp. 89 ff.
  40. ^ M. Davis. "Hilbert's Tenth Problem is Unsolvable." American Mathematical Monthly 80, pp. 233-269, 1973
  41. ^ Yandell, Benjamin H.. The Honors Class. Hilbert's Problems and Their Solvers (2002).
  42. ^ Chaitin, Gregory L., The Limits of Mathematics (1997) 1-28, 89 ff.
  43. ^ Kripke, Saul. "Outline of a Theory of Truth", Journal of Philosophy, 72 (1975), 690-716
  44. ^ See, for example, Father John Corapi's Easter Triduum.
  45. ^ John 14:6.
  46. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church #2464.
  47. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church #2466.
  48. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church #2466.
  49. ^ [1].
  50. ^ a b c d David, Marion (2005). "Correspondence Theory of Truth" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  51. ^ Osman Amin (2007), "Influence of Muslim Philosophy on the West", Monthly Renaissance 17 (11).
  52. ^ Jan A. Aertsen (1988), Nature and Creature: Thomas Aquinas's Way of Thought, p. 152. BRILL, ISBN 9004084517.
  53. ^ Simone van Riet (in Latin). Liber de philosophia prima, sive Scientia divina. p. 413. 
  54. ^ Avicenna: The Metaphysics of The Healing. Brigham Young University Press. 2005. p. 284. 
  55. ^ Disputed Questions on Truth, 1, 2, c, reply to Obj. 1. Trans. Mulligan, McGlynn, Schmidt, Truth, vol. I, pp. 10-12.
  56. ^ "Veritas supra ens fundatur" (Truth is founded on being). Disputed Questions on Truth, 10, 2, reply to Obj. 3.
  57. ^ a b Kant, Immanuel (1800), Introduction to Logic. Reprinted, Thomas Kingsmill Abbott (trans.), Dennis Sweet (intro.) (2005)
  58. ^ "Die Wahrheit ist die Bewegung ihrer an ihr selbst." The Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, ¶ 48
  59. ^ On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, §§ 29–33
  60. ^ Kierkegaard, Søren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1992
  61. ^ Watts, Michael. Kierkegaard, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003
  62. ^ Robert Wicks, Friedrich Nietzsche - Early Writings: 1872-1876, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  63. ^ John Maraldo, Nishida Kitarô - Self-Awareness, in: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2005 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  64. ^ Foucault, M. "The Order of Things", London: Vintage Books, 1970 (1966)
  65. ^ a b Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulation. Michigan: Michigan University Press, 1994.
  66. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. "Simulacra and Simulations", in Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster, Stanford University Press, 1988) 166 ff
  67. ^ Baudrillard's attribution of this quote to Ecclesiastes is deliberately fictional. "Baudrillard attributes this quote to Ecclesiastes. However, the quote is a fabrication (see Jean Baudrillard. Cool Memories III, 1991-95. London: Verso, 1997). Editor’s note: In Fragments: Conversations With François L’Yvonnet. New York: Routledge, 2004:11, Baudrillard acknowledges this 'Borges-like' fabrication." Cited in footnote #4 in Smith, Richard G., "Lights, Camera, Action: Baudrillard and the Performance of Representations", International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Volume 2, Number 1 (January 2005)
  68. ^ a b c d e f Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief And World Religions, Ignatius Press, 2004
  69. ^ Ratzinger, Truth and Conscience, 10th Workshop for Bishops, Dallas, 1991
  70. ^ Ratzinger, Truth and Freedom, Communio: International Catholic Review, Spring 1996
  71. ^ a b Benedict XVI, Address at the University of Regensburg 2006


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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Truth is always strange — stranger than fiction. ~ Lord Byron

Quotations about truth.



Arranged alphabetically by author
Do not try to bend the spoon; that's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon. ~ Young boy in The Matrix
  • The national argument right now is, one, who's got the truth and, two, who's got the facts… Until we can manage to get the two of them back together again, we're not going to make much progress.
    • Michael Adams, lexicology professor at North Carolina State University, discussing the neologism "truthiness", defined as "the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts" in "Linguists Vote 'Truthiness' Word of 2005", AP via Yahoo! News, (6 January 2006)]
  • To say of what is, that it is, or of what is not, that it is not, is true.
  • Not being known doesn't stop the truth from being true.
  • You must be ever vigilant to discover the unifying Truth behind all the scintillating variety.
  • What is truth? said jesting Pilate, but would not stay for an answer.
  • No pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage-ground of truth.
    • Francis Bacon, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 603.
  • Yes, there is a Divinity, one from which we must never turn aside for the guidance of our huge inward life and of the share we have as well in the life of all men. It is called the truth.
  • Truth is the cry of all, but the game of the few.
  • The world is made up, for the most part, of fools and knaves, both irreconcilable foes to truth.
    • George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, in "Letter to Mr. Clifford, on his Human Reason"; also in The Works of His Grace, George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham (London: T. Evans, 1770) vol. 2, p. 105.
  • Truth makes on the surface of nature no one track of light — every eye looking on finds its own.
  • Truth is always strange — stranger than fiction.
  • I smile when I'm angry, I cheat and I lie. I do what I have to do to get by. But I know what is wrong and I know what is right, and I'd die for the truth in my secret life.
  • The wayfarer,
    Perceiving the pathway to truth,
    Was struck with astonishment.
    It was thickly grown with weeds.
    "Ha," he said,
    "I see that none has passed here
    In a long time."
    Later he saw that each weed
    Was a singular knife.
    "Well," he mumbled at last,
    "Doubtless there are other roads."
  • If the truth were a palpable object, it would be a modeling clay.
    • André Dahmer, in the Brazilian webcomic Malvados
  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things.
  • Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
    Success in Circuit lies
    Too bright for our infirm Delight
    The Truth's superb surprise

    As Lightning to the Children eased
    With explanation kind
    The Truth must dazzle gradually
    Or every man be blind —

  • If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky, in a letter To Mme. N. D. Fonvisin (1854), as published in Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends (1914), translated by Ethel Golburn Mayne, Letter XXI, p. 71.
  • Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
  • The enemy is subtle, how be it we're deceived? When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe?
  • Truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow...that it passes through
  • A man of truth must also be a man of care.
  • An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.
  • Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.
  • It is a fool's prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.
  • In this life-long fight, to be waged by every one of us singlehanded against a host of foes, the last requisite for a good fight, the last proof and test of our courage and manfulness, must be loyalty to truth — the most rare and difficult of all human qualities. For such loyalty, as it grows in perfection, asks ever more and more of us, and sets before us a standard of manliness always rising higher and higher.
  • Yet ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
  • I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
  • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
    • Jesus in John 17:17 - 19
  • Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
  • Truth will triumph. It always does. However, I figure truth is a variable, so we're right back where we started from.
  • Just gimme some truth — all I want is the truth.
  • Truth certainly would do well enough, if she were once left to shift for herself. She seldom has received and, I fear, never will receive much assistance from the power of great men, to whom she is but rarely known and more rarely welcome. She is not taught by laws, nor has she any need of force to procure her entrance into the minds of men. Errors, indeed, prevail by the assistance of foreign and borrowed succours. But if Truth makes not her way into the understanding by her own light, she will be but the weaker for any borrowed force violence can add to her.
  • Truth is a very difficult concept, many faceted.
    • Ian McDonald, senior Ministry of Defence Civil Servant, giving evidence to the Scott Inquiry on (6 October 1993), quoted in "Faded idol returns with same old song" by Joe Joseph and Michael Dynes The Times (7 October 1993).
  • Actions are the fruit of all truth, it is by your words you may be heard, but by your actions you will be judged.
  • The Ultimate Truth is called God. This one can realize in the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. A circle can have only one centre but it can have numerous radii. The centre can be compared to God and the radii to religions. So, no one sect, no one religion or book can make an absolute claim of It. He who works for It gets It.
  • Plato is my friend — Aristotle is my friend — but my greatest friend is truth.
    • Isaac Newton, Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae [Certain Philosophical Questions] (c. 1664)
  • Suppose truth is a woman, what then?
  • The "general welfare" is not the sphere of truth; for truth demands to be declared even if it is ugly and unethical.
  • What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.
  • At every step one has to wrestle for truth; one has to surrender for it almost everything to which the heart, to which our love, our trust in life, cling otherwise. That requires greatness of soul: the service of truth is the hardest service. What does it mean, after all, to have integrity in matters of the spirit? That one is severe against one's heart...that one makes of every Yes and No a matter of conscience.
  • The errors of great men are venerable because they are more fruitful then the truths of little men.
  • To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
    • George Orwell, Collected Essays, Vol. IV. In front of Your Nose
  • Such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness.
  • Gentlemen, that is surely true, it is absolutely paradoxical; we cannot understand it, and we don't know what it means. But we have proved it, and therefore we know it must be the truth.
    • Benjamin Peirce , on Euler's identity, e^{i \pi} + 1 = 0. \,\! as quoted in notes by W. E. Byerly, published in Benjamin Peirce, 1809-1880: Biographical Sketch and Bibliography (1925) by R. C. Archibald; also in Mathematics and the Imagination (1940) by Edward Kasner and James Newman
  • The truth isn't easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap, and much more difficult to find...
  • The word 'truth' applies to a man's dignity.
  • You can't handle the truth.
    • Aaron Sorkin in A Few Good Men, lines spoken by Jack Nicholson in the film version of his play.
  • The truth comes as conqueror only because we have lost the art of receiving it as guest.
    • Rabindranath Tagore in The Fourfold Way of India (1924); this has become paraphrased as "Truth comes as conqueror only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as friend."
  • It takes two to speak the truth — one to speak, and another to hear.
  • When truth cannot make itself known in words, it will make itself known in deeds.
  • This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.
    • William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British poet and dramatist. Hamlet, Act I, sc. iii. (Polonius giving advice to his son Laertes, departing for France.)
  • A liar is one who is too good to be true.
    • Leonid S. Sukhorukov, in All About Everything
  • Boris asked him to tell them how and where he got his wound. This pleased Rostov and he began talking about it, and as he went on became more and more animated. He told them of his Schon Grabern affair, just as those who have taken part in a battle generally do describe it, that is, as they would like it to have been, as they have heard it described by others, and as sounds well, but not at all as it really was. Rostov was a truthful young man and would on no account have told a deliberate lie. He began his story meaning to tell everything just as it happened, but imperceptibly, involuntarily, and inevitably he lapsed into falsehood. If he had told the truth to his hearers — who like himself had often heard stories of attacks and had formed a definite idea of what an attack was and were expecting to hear just such a story — they would either not have believed him or, still worse, would have thought that Rostov was himself to blame since what generally happens to the narrators of cavalry attacks had not happened to him. He could not tell them simply that everyone went at a trot and that he fell off his horse and sprained his arm and then ran as hard as he could from a Frenchman into the wood. Besides, to tell everything as it really happened, it would have been necessary to make an effort of will to tell only what happened. It is very difficult to tell the truth, and young people are rarely capable of it. His hearers expected a story of how beside himself and all aflame with excitement, he had flown like a storm at the square, cut his way in, slashed right and left, how his saber had tasted flesh and he had fallen exhausted, and so on. And so he told them all that.
  • One owes respect to the living: To the Dead one owes only the truth.
  • Do not try to bend the spoon — that's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon.
  • In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow — and that is likely to hurt.
  • Time waits for no man; but truth waits for the old guard to die.
  • There are no whole truths: All truths are half-truths.
  • Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.
  • If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.
    • Oscar Wilde, in "Phrases and Philosophies for the use of the young" om The Chameleon (December 1894)
  • Pure truth no man has seen, nor ever shall know.
  • Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best!

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • One of the sublimest things in this world is plain truth.
    • Edward Bulwer Lytton, p. 602.
  • Truth is the shortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line.
  • Time, beneath whose influence the pyramids moulder into dust, and the flinty rocks decay, does not and cannot destroy a fact, nor strip a truth of one portion of its essential importance.
  • Truth is a very different thing from fact; it is the loving contact of the soul with spiritual fact, vital and potent. It does not work in the soul independently of all faculty or qualification there for setting it forth or defending it. Truth in the inward parts is a power, not an opinion.
  • Truth does not consist in minute accuracy of detail; but in conveying a right impression.
    • Dean Alford, p. 603.
  • No truth can be said to be seen as it is until it is seen in its relation to all other truths. In this relation only is it true.
  • The deepest truth blooms only from the deepest love.
  • Truth and justice are the immutable laws of social order.
    • Pierre Simon Laplace, p. 603.
  • Peace, if possible, but the truth at any rate.
  • Truth will ever be unpalatable to those who are determined not to relinquish error.
    • E. W. Montagu, p. 604.
  • It is one thing to wish to have truth on our side, and another thing to wish to be on the side of truth.
  • The advent of truth, like the dawn of day, agitates the elements, while it disperses the gloom.
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, p. 604.
  • Dare to be true; nothing can need a lie;
    A fault which needs it most grows two thereby.
  • He who seeks truth must be content with a lonely, little-trodden path. If he cannot worship her till she has been canonized by the shouts of the multitude, he must take his place with the members of that wretched crowd who shouted for two long hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" till truth, reason, and calmness were all drowned in noise.
  • Give us that calm certainty of truth, that nearness to Thee, that conviction of the reality of the life to come, which we shall need to bear us through the troubles of this.
  • The golden beams of truth and the silken cords of love, twisted together, will draw men on with a sweet violence whether they will or not.
  • How sweet the words of truth breathed from the lips of love!
  • Pray over every truth ; for though the renewed heart is not " desperately wicked," it is quite deceitful enough to become so, if God be forgotten a moment.
  • There is an inward state of the heart which makes truth credible the moment it is stated. It is credible to some men because of what they are. Love is credible to a loving heart; purity is credible to a pure mind; life is credible to a spirit in which life beats strongly — it is incredible to other men.
  • In all matters of eternal truth, the soul is before the intellect; the things of God are spiritually discerned. You know truth by being true; you recognize God by being like Him.
  • We must not let go manifest truths because we cannot answer all questions about them.
  • We must never throw away a bushel of truth because it happens to contain a few grains of chaff.
  • Stick to the old truths and the old paths, and learn their di- vineness by sick-beds and in every-day work, and do not darken your mind with intellectual puzzles, which may breed disbelief, but can never breed vital religion or practical usefulness.
  • Truth does not require your painting, brother; it is itself beauty. Unfold it, and men will be captivated. Take your brush to set off the rainbow, or give a new tinge of splendor to the setting sun, but keep it away from the "Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley."
  • Truth is as impossible to be soiled by any outward touch as the sunbeam.
  • Just as soon as any conviction of important truth becomes central and vital, there comes the desire to utter it—a desire which is immediate and irresistible. Sacrifice is gladness, service is joy, when such an idea becomes a commanding power.
    • R. S. Storrs, p. 606.
  • It is perilous to separate thinking rightly from acting rightly. He is already half false who speculates on truth and does not do it. Truth is given, not to be contemplated, but to be done. Life is an action — not a thought. And the penalty paid by him who speculates on truth, is that by degrees the very truth he holds becomes a falsehood.


This section needs further organization and cleanup
  • Truth is truth.
  • Truth is absolute.
    • in "K-PAX"
  • There is some fiction in your truth, and some truth in your fiction. To know the truth, you must risk everything.
    • The Animatrix ( collection its from named, but needs an author)
  • It does not require many words to speak the thruth.
  • Any fool can be honest, for it is only what he knows. A wise man is aware of when to share the truth.
    • Vedran Empress Yoweri XXIII, CY 2932.
  • Lies, however numerous, will be caught by truth when it rises up.
  • Look within for truth, look without for reality.
    • Richard B. Autry (12 April 1983)
  • One man's truth is another man's lies.
  • The most difficult thing in life to do is explaining truth.
  • The voice of truth is easily known.
  • Mankind will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
  • The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement, but the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.
  • Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
  • Truth — Something somehow discreditable to someone.
  • Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
  • To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And, at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can't remember, all rolled into one big 'thing'. This is truth, to me.
  • One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may . . . We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.
  • The quest to abandon illusions about our condition is also a quest to abandon conditions which support illusions.
  • Show up & choose to be present, pay attention to what has heart and meaning, tell the truth without blame or judgment, and be open rather than attached to the outcome.
    • Angeles Arrien
  • I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
  • The language of truth is unadorned and always simple.
    • Marcellinus Ammianus
  • Tell the truth and run.
    • Serbian proverb
  • The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them.
  • Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.
  • I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.
  • Truth has rough flavours if we bite it through.
  • A man protesting against error is on the way towards uniting himself with all men that believe in truth.
  • Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers.
    • George Prentice
  • I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it is hell.
  • Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.
  • The army of Truth is the real Invincible Armada. Truths are always destined to be victorious.
  • There are truths that are not for all men, nor for all times.
  • There are no whole truths. All truths are half truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
  • I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.
  • Perhaps, moreover, he whose genius appears deepest and truest excels his fellows in nothing save the knack of expression; he throws out occasionally a lucky hint at truths of which every human soul is profoundly though unutterably conscious.
  • Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
  • The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
  • In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
  • The truth is never sad, but it has no remedy.
    • Joan Manuel Serrat
  • Yet the deepest truths are best read between the lines, and, for the most part, refuse to be written.
    • Amos Bronson Alcott
  • As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.
  • It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.
  • It is easier to find a score of men wise enough to discover the truth than to find one intrepid enough, in the face of opposition, to stand up for it.
  • From error to error, one discovers the entire truth.
  • Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth.
  • Chase after truth like hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails.
  • Propaganda must not serve the truth, especially insofar as it might bring out something favourable for the opponent.
  • The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.
  • The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world.
  • Man is fed with fables through life, and leaves it in the belief he knows something of what has been passing, when in truth he has known nothing but what has passed under his own eye.
  • My convictions, positive and negative, on all the matters of which you speak, are of long and slow growth and are firmly rooted. But the great blow which fell on me [Huxley's little son had died some days earlier] seemed to stir them to their foundation, and had I lived a couple of centuries earlier I could have fancied a devil scoffing at me and them — and asking me what profit it was to have stripped myself of the hopes and consolations of the mass of mankind? To which my only reply was and is — Oh devil! Truth is better than much profit. I have searched over the grounds of my belief, and if wife and child and name and fame were all to be lost to me one after the other as the penalty, still I will not lie.
  • All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
  • No pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage-ground of truth.
  • I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
  • There are but few saints amongst scientists, as among other men, but truth itself is a goal comparable with sanctity.
  • Basically, I have this theory that there are five kinds of truth. (This is Joe's Theory of the Five Truths.) There is the truth you tell to casual strangers and acquaintances. There is the truth you tell to your general circle of friends and family members. There is the truth you tell to only one or two people in your entire life. There is the truth you tell to yourself. And finally, there is the truth that you do not admit even to yourself. And it's that fifth truth that provides some of the most interesting drama ...
  • Nothing is true. All is permitted.
    • Last words of Hassan i Sabbah; this also occurs in the Thomas Common translation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
  • You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.
  • The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple
  • I have said to you to speak the truth is a painful thing. To be forced to tell lies is much worse.
  • Honesty is the best policy, therefore by the process of elimination, dishonesty is the second best policy.
  • Believing something that is not truth is a waste of time.
  • When it comes to the truth, you can never be too honest.
  • If you want the truth, don't believe it.
  • If a man tells a lie, thinking it is the truth, does that make him a liar?
    • Sudo
  • Between the truth and the search for truth, I choose the latter
  • The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.
  • Not to oppose error is to approve of it, and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and, indeed, to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is not less a sin than to encourage them.
    • Pope Felix III
  • It's not a lie if you believe it.
    • George Costanza, in Seinfeld (advice on lying effectively)
  • If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
  • There are always four sides to a story: your side, their side, the truth and what really happened.
  • You need not tell all the truth, unless to those who have a right to know it all, but let all you tell be truth.
  • Faith is free, and hope is sold, while truth will leave you cold. But while we thirst for faith, and hunger for hope, we will always be served the truth.
    • Steven Moody
  • Truth has a shelf life.
    • Michael Applebaum, MD, JD, FCLM at
  • The truth is so simple that it is regarded as a pretentious banality.
  • You're never terrified when you say what you mean — are you?
    • Mo Mowlem, (Taken from an appearance on a television talk show, c 2000.)
  • The truth hurts, a lot, but it makes us see the world a hell of a lot differently.'
    • Leahkim Nosliw

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up truth in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Truth may refer to:

  • Truth, a poem by Christopher Smart
  • Truth, an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Used in various senses in Scripture. In Prov. 12:17, 19, it denotes that which is opposed to falsehood. In Isa. 59:14, 15, Jer. 7:28, it means fidelity or truthfulness. The doctrine of Christ is called "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5), "the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7; 4:4). Our Lord says of himself, "I am the way, and the truth" (John 14:6).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

Truth is what is real. A thing is true if it is a fact. The English word truth is from Old English tríewþ, tréowþ, trýwþ, Middle English trewþe. Aristotle said: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true”.[1]

Truth is a noun, and the corresponding adverb and adjective is true.



For example, it is a truth (true) that a dog is an animal. It is untrue (or false) that a dog is a plant.

Other words

Something untrue is false. A half truth is something true mixed with something false, or where something is partly true but you do not tell the whole story.

If the things you say are true, then you are speaking the truth, or speaking truly. Saying something that is untrue can be called 'a lie', if the person who is saying it knows it is untrue. A person who says something untrue is often called a "liar".

True & false in logic and philosophy

True is also one of the two basic values of logic. The other such value is usually called false.

Aristotle was the first to put logic into a formal framework. His version is called propositional logic (see also syllogism and deductive reasoning). Other forms of logic use types of mathematics (mathematical logic) or logical notations (symbolic logic). Boolean algebra is about things being true and false.

The relationship between verbal claims and external reality is handled by epistemology and the philosophy of science.

Other pages


  1. David, Marion (2005). "Correspondence Theory of Truth" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


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