In the world inundated with a stream of lies from politicians, fake news, and alternative facts — truth has been the greatest casualty. It is no wonder then, that the term for the study of truth, alethiology, is so rarely known or used. Why study an endangered species? After all, New York attorney and legal advisor to President Trump, Rudy Giuliani recently claimed on the NBC show “Meet the Press” (August 19, 2018), “truth isn’t truth.” WTF? But perhaps Giuliani was unwittingly channeling German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who in The Will to Power (1901) wrote: “There is no truth, only interpretations.” (That is a paraphrase of the actual quotation: “‘There are only facts’—I would say, no, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations.”)
But in a civilized society, truth does matter. It is the foundation for every field of study, for a democracy, for diplomacy between nations, and significantly — for personal relationships. So forget about the politicians teaching us about truth — for real insights into truth, let us turn to some of the greatest minds:
Johan Wolfgang von Goethe: “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.”
Epictetus: “The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Falsehood has an infinity of combinations, but truth has only one mode of being.”
Winston Churchill: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The greatest homage we can pay truth is to use it.”
Mark Twain: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
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