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Truth?

Truth

W. E. B. Dubois on Truth Transcending Color

Go I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed earth and the tracery of the stars I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So wed with Truth I dwell above the Veil. Is this the life you grudge us, O knightly America? Is this the life you long to change into the dull red hideousness of Georgia? Are you so afraid lest peering from this high Pisgah, between Philistine and Amalekite, we sight the Promised Land?

The Two Sides of Truth

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Christian Larson argues that the defect in many systems of belief is that what are partial truths are taken to be the whole truth. It is in virtue of that portion of truth that the whole “system” or world view is even plausible. As an example of such a half-truth rounded up to a whole falsehood, Larson critiques what sounds like either idealism or the superstitious belief in the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thinking (a la Rhonda Byme’s The Secret). Larson’s critique in this excerpt of that idea — that “thinking makes it so”, that our mental powers in themselves are so potent that they can determine reality — begs questions, since he was, after all, a major proponent of New Thought. What interests me is his more general observation that the shortcoming in many systems of thought is that they are overblown half-truths. Truths are taken for the truth. His words are one entry into an ongoing project along these lines, collected in “Half-Truths“. ~ Nate

Jacob Merrill Manning on Half Truths

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This work is not undertaken in a controversial or partisan spirit. I am no dogmatist or polemic, though my point of view, to which much patient study has led me, is the supernaturalism of Jesus of Nazareth. It seemed needful to say this at the outset, owing to the acrimonious and denunciatory style in which, for the most part, the questions between Christianity and its assailants have been hitherto debated. The natural presumption, in view of the past, is, that whoever appears on this field has only entered into the strifes of other zealots; that he comes as a warrior thirsting for victims, and in no sense as an inquirer. The terms which this ancient debate has bequeathed to us, and to some of which a certain odium still adheres cannot be now laid aside. They have such a currency, in the language of the day, that no candid person will charge it to bigotry or unfairness, but purely to the necessity of the case, that they continue to be used. It will be seen, in the title which I have chosen for this work, that I regard many forms of infidelity as half truths, at least in their origin. Believing that the human intellect naturally craves truth, I shall not easily be persuaded that any body of doctrines, which has been put forth by earnest thinkers, is unmixed error; nor shall I fail, so far as the nature of my undertaking will permit, to point out the merits of writers whom, as to their main tenets, I may feel bound to condemn. Some of those writers manifest, at times, a calm spirit of inquiry which their critics would do well to emulate. It is not only lawful, but often greatly for our advantage to learn from those with whom we disagree. Truth has not as yet revealed itself wholly to any finite mind; and the remark of Him who was the Truth, about the beam in the eye which sees the mote in a brother’s eye is not altogether inapplicable to those who are defending scriptural doctrine against the assaults of infidelity.

E.J. Lowe on Ontology, Partial Truth, and Reality

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Why cannot each special science, be it empirical or a priori, address its own ontological questions on its own behalf, without recourse to any overarching ‘science of being’? The short answer to this question is that reality is one and truth indivisible. Each special science aims at truth, seeking to portray accurately some part of reality. But the various portrayals of different parts of reality must, if they are all to be true, fit together to make a portrait which can be true of reality as a whole. No special science can arrogate to itself the task of rendering mutually consistent the various partial portraits: that task can alone belong to an overarching science of being, that is, to ontology. But we should not be misled by this talk of ‘portraits’ of reality. The proper concern of ontology is not the portraits we construct of it, but reality itself.

E. J. Lowe on Progress in Metaphysics and Philosophy

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There is a widespread assumption amongst non-philosophers, which is shared by a good many practising philosophers too, that ‘progress’ is never really made in philosophy, and above all in metaphysics. In this respect, philosophy is often compared, for the most part unfavourably, with the empirical sciences, and especially the natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry and biology. Sometimes, philosophy is defended on the grounds that to deplore the lack of ‘progress’ in it is to misconceive its central aim, which is to challenge and criticise received ideas and assumptions rather than to advance positive theses. But this defence itself is liable to be attacked by the practitioners of other disciplines as unwarranted special pleading on the part of philosophers, whose comparative lack of expertise in other disciplines, it will be said, ill-equips them to play the role of all-purpose intellectual critic. It is sometimes even urged that philosophy is now ‘dead’, the relic of a pre-scientific age whose useful functions, such as they were, have been taken over at last by genuine sciences. What were once ‘philosophical’ questions have now been transmuted, allegedly, into questions for more specialised modes of scientific inquiry, with their own distinctive methodological principles and theoretical foundations.

Paul McHugh on the Impossibility of Changing Sex

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At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is a civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.

Facebook on Gender

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Agender; Androgyne; Androgynous; Bigender; Cis; Cis Female; Cis Male; Cis Man; Cis Woman; Cisgender; Cisgender Female; Cisgender Male; Cisgender Man; Cisgender Woman; Female to Male; FTM; Gender Fluid; Gender Nonconforming; Gender Questioning; Gender Variant; Genderqueer; Intersex; Male to Female; MTF; Neither; Neutrois; Non-binary; Other; Pangender; Trans; Trans Female; Trans Male; Trans Man; Trans Person; Trans*Female; Trans*Male; Trans*Man; Trans*Person; Trans*Woman; Transexual; Transexual Female; Transexual Male; Transexual Man; Transexual Person; Transexual Woman; Transgender Female; Transgender Person; Transmasculine; Two-spirit

The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays

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The Epistemology of Disagreement brings together essays from a dozen philosophers on the epistemic significance of disagreement; all but one of the essays are new. Questions discussed include: When (if ever) does the disagreement of others require a rational agent to revise her beliefs? Do ‘conciliatory’ accounts, on which agents are required to revise significantly, suffer from fatal problems of self-defeat, given the disagreement about disagreement? What is the significance of disagreement about philosophical topics in particular? How does the epistemology of disagreement relate to broader epistemic theorizing? Does the increased significance of multiple disagreeing agents depend on their being independent of one another?

Half-Truths

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Discover the truth (and the falsehood) in the sound bites that rule so much of your life! Today they’re called sound bits, but they’re older by far than sound bites, and they play a larger role in your life — those pithy, quotable phrass that capture in a few words the wisdom of the world: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “Talk is cheap.” “It doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you’re sincere.” “Love is blind.” “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” In a few words — wisdom in shorthand — they speak truth won from generations of experience (and we know from our mothers that “experience is the best teacher “). These sayings survive because they work; which is why, in good times and bad, we use them to guide our actions and even to resolve intractable disputes (“Hey, let’s just agree to disagree”). The problem is that most of them are not really true: they’re half-truths. And when we rely on them uncritically (as often we do) they lead us out of one difficulty right smack into another. That’s why philosopher Montague Brown, author The One Minute Philosopher, has here taken up the task of considering over 75 of these popular sayings, plucking from each the wisdom they contain while showing just where they steer you wrong. Presented here in an easy-to-read format are the common understandings of each saying, plus the additional insights you need to transform each from a dangerous cliché into a living truth that will improve your understanding and effectiveness in our world. But this is mor than just a book of aphorisms; taken togehter, it’s a delightful mini-course in philosophy, studied by means of the perennial wisdom that’s been embodied in these sayings over the years. Hey, why not try it? After all, “The proof is in the pudding!” ~ Publisher’s Description

R.C. Sproul on Protagoras and Humanism

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Protagoras, probably the most influential Sophist in Athens, is frequently described by modern historians as the "father of humanism." His famous maxim, "Homo mensura," declares that "man is the measure of all things," of the existence of things that are and of the nonexistence of things that are not. ¶ From a biblical perspective, of course, the honor of being the first humanist does not belong to Protagoras. Indeed, it is accorded not to a man, but to a serpent whose maxim was "Sicut erat Dei," "You will be like God" (Gen. 3:4).

Cornel West on Truth as … huh?

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I think in many ways it is the ultimate question: What is truth? How do we understand truth and what are the ways in which we wrestle with truth? And I believe that Theodor Adorno was right when he said that the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. He said that the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak — that gives it an existential emphasis, you see, so that we’re really talking about truth as a way of life, as opposed to a set of propositions that correspond to a set of things in the world.

Jane Davis on a Separate Truth for Each of Us

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The other thing that I have become increasingly aware of is that there is not just a single version of events called the truth. Life is not nearly as simple as that. Each of us brings to the table our own beliefs, backgrounds and experiences and we all have the potential to interpret a single event differently. One person’s experience is a truth of sorts, but it is never the whole story. There is a separate truth for each one of us. The brain is such an incredible organ that if we repeat things often enough, we come to believe them. It can be the use of the phrase, ‘I’m not a good sleeper,’ that creates the insomniac, the repetition of prayers that creates faith. After almost thirty year of working in the legal profession, I have lost confidence in a system that looks for a single set of facts by relying on the evidence of others based on something as elastic as memory, and labels it as truth. The plain fact is that I wouldn’t want to be judged by twelve of my peers, let alone by a higher being. Let’s hope that if there is a God, he takes a greater interest in what is in our hearts than our actions, otherwise I fear we’re all for the high jump.

Stephen King on the Afterlife

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I’m not sure there is an afterlife. OK. If there is one, here’s what I think it is. I think it’s whatever you think you’re going to get. Those suicide bombers, if they really believe that they are going to wind up in heaven with 71 virgins, yeah, that’s probably what they’re going to get in the afterlife. This is sort of predicated on the idea that there’s a part of your mind programmed to create the way that dreams are created what you’ve been expecting to kind of ease you out of this life. Think of it this way. I think of the brain as this great, big, crenelated library with many rooms, billions and billions of books, rooms without number, but at the very end of all those rooms, there’s a little tiny box that says “pull lever in case of emergency,” because that’s the door out, and when you go out, you get pretty much what you expected, because some chemical in your brain is programmed to give you that particular dream at the very end. If you’re expecting [H.P. Lovecraft’s] Yogg Sothoth, there he’ll be, along with the 900 blind fiddlers, or whatever it is.

Barack Obama on Racism and Perspective

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Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias. But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

Joseph Ratzinger Asks, But What If It Is True?

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The cross was not God’s last word in Jesus Christ. The tomb did not hold him fast: he is risen, and God speaks to us through the Risen One. The rich glutton in hell asked that Lazarus might appear to his brothers and warn them lest they share his dreadful fate. He thinks: “If someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (Lk 1627ff). But the true Lazarus has come. He is here, and he speaks to us: This life is not everything. There is an eternity. Today, it is very unmodern to say this, even in theology. To speak of life beyond death looks like a flight from life here on earth. But what if it is true? Can one simply pass it by? Can one dismiss it as mere consolation? Is it not precisely this reality that bestows on life its seriousness, its freedom, its hope.

Os Guinness on the Impossibility of Objectivity

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By the very nature of the problem, no one stands outside the issues and speaks with complete detachment, objectivity, and neutrality. Certainly I do not. None of us speaks from nowhere; that would be impossible. None of us speaks from everywhere; that would be incoherent. All of us speak from somewhere — which is our freedom and responsibility as well as our fate.

Fear of Knowledge

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The idea that science is just one more way of knowing the world and that there are other, radically different, yet equally valid ways, has taken deep root in academia. In Fear of Knowledge, Paul Boghossian tears these relativist theories of knowledge to shreds. He argues forcefully for the intuitive, common-sense view — that the world exists independent of human opinion and that there is a way to arrive at beliefs about the world that are objectively reasonable to anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence, regardless of their social or cultural perspective. This short, lucid, witty book shows that philosophy provides rock-solid support for common sense against the relativists; it is provocative reading throughout the discipline and beyond. ~ Product Description

Cosmopolitanism

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AAppiah, a Princeton philosophy professor, articulates a precise yet flexible ethical manifesto for a world characterized by heretofore unthinkable interconnection but riven by escalating fractiousness. Drawing on his Ghanaian roots and on examples from philosophy and literature, he attempts to steer a course between the extremes of liberal universalism, with its tendency to impose our values on others, and cultural relativism, with its implicit conviction that gulfs in understanding cannot be bridged. Cosmopolitanism, in Appiah’s formulation, balances our “obligations to others” with the "value not just of human life but of particular human lives" — what he calls “universality plus difference.” Appiah remains skeptical of simple maxims for ethical behavior — like the Golden Rule, whose failings as a moral precept he swiftly demonstrates — and argues that cosmopolitanism is the name not "of the solution but of the challenge." ~ The New Yorker

Kevin Fleming on Half or Superficial Answers

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The beginning of my illusive half-truth model of life started to rear its ugly head for the first time in my consciousness. The doctor wasn’t completely wrong for chastising me. I was young and brash, and I had broken some of the rules. I initially denied this and got the empty pleasure of being right, but not happy. Only later did I realize that what bothered me more than his carping was something that lay hidden inside or underneath his words: my job was not to find or even look for innovative therapeutic strategies, but to keep the professional waters calm. The only problem was that the half-truths and psychological formulas the instructors were using didn’t go far into the process or mystery of finding real solutions or optimal responses to human conflict or pain. I was grateful for my training but I wanted something more than worn-out reactions and half-answers. ¶ A half-truth is always a representation of some part or aspect of a situation. But if we take it to be the whole truth about that situation, we can go dangerously wrong. I’ve come to feel that psychology is full of half-truths. So many popular books and feel-good gurus trade on half-truths. We are always in danger of falling for a half-truth if it gives us enough to validate our first reactions to a situation, eases our discomfort, and keeps us from doing the hard work of penetrating through to the full truth of the problem or problems we confront.

Flip Spagnoli on No Tolerance for Intolerance

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Unlimited tolerance — tolerance even of intolerance — destroys itself, or at least helps those who want to destroy it. A tolerant society disappears if it tolerates certain things for too long. Intolerant people can use tolerance and the institutions of tolerance in order to destroy tolerance. It is unreasonable to demand that a system — in this case a tolerant system — contains the seeds of its own destruction. One cannot reasonably impose fatal contradictions upon a system, so one cannot impose tolerance for intolerance. … Only tolerance and, at most, theoretical intolerance can be tolerated. Tolerating violations of human rights is a logical contradiction, because human rights guarantee tolerance and because tolerance guarantees human rights. If you want to enjoy the benefits of tolerance — for example as a means to protect your own opinions — then you have to respect human rights. Tolerance and human rights go together. You cannot choose one without the other. You cannot violate human rights and expect to be tolerated, no more than you can claim rights and reject tolerance. Rights without tolerance are nonsense, because tolerance protects the use of rights.

On Truth

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Having outlined a theory of bullshit and falsehood, Harry G. Frankfurt turns to what lies beyond them: the truth, a concept not as obvious as some might expect. Our culture’s devotion to bullshit may seem much stronger than our apparently halfhearted attachment to truth. Some people (professional thinkers) won’t even acknowledge “true” and “false” as meaningful categories, and even those who claim to love truth cause the rest of us to wonder whether they, too, aren’t simply full of it. Practically speaking, many of us deploy the truth only when absolutely necessary, often finding alternatives to be more saleable, and yet somehow civilization seems to be muddling along. But where are we headed? Is our fast and easy way with the facts actually crippling us? Or is it “all good”? Really, what’s the use of truth, anyway? With the same leavening wit and commonsense wisdom that animates his pathbreaking work On Bullshit, Frankfurt encourages us to take another look at the truth: there may be something there that is perhaps too plain to notice but for which we have a mostly unacknowledged yet deep-seated passion. His book will have sentient beings across America asking, “The truth—why didn’t I think of that?” ~ Product Description