Truth is defined as being that which is in accord with fact or reality.
The commonly understood opposite of truth is falsehood, which can be assessed according to a number of criteria – logical, factual, or ethical.
The concept of truth is explored in several contexts, including philosophy and religion. Many activities depend upon the concept including science, law, and, even, everyday life. Scholars, philosophers, and theologians debate incessantly the subject of truth and there are differing claims on what constitutes truth.
A major source of contention is how to define and identify truth.
The essential issue is whether truth is subjective or objective, relative or absolute. In a well known paraphrased dialogue with Socrates, Protagoras said: “What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me.”
Friedrich Nietzsche had a different view when he claimed “All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth”.
Here are some other interpretations:
Arthur Conan Doyle:
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.
In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
James A. Garfield:
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
Arthur Conan Doyle:
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
So, is truth relative or absolute? It probably all depends on the circumstances.
To quote well known columnist H.L. Mencken, “It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.”
And that cynical observation says it all. Or does it? What do you think?
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