Part of the question of fact and truth is the inherent indifference fact is to goodness. Thats why I wonder if truth is something that cannot be known through the mind but through the heart.
I don’t understand the concept that “goodness and beauty” is an element of “truth.”
I say “truth” is simply that which is true. It is true, and therefore a truth, that pure ice is lighter than an equal volume of pure water. It is also a fact that pure ice is lighter than an equal volume of pure water. There is no difference between the two statements except that two different words are used for the same concept. Thus “truth” is tantamount to “fact.”
Does the truth that pure ice is lighter than an equal volume of pure water contain some element of goodness and beauty that the fact lacks? To me, that thought seems meaningless.
Coleridge: “Beauty is truth, and truth Beauty, that is all you can know upon earth and all you need to know”
That’s a lovely sentiment, but unless you give a rather special meaning to the words, something not in ordinary language, it’s just sentiment.
That quote I would say is just a poetic way of describing transcendent reality that cannot be easily put into words.
Yep, that’s why I said it was not ‘ordinary language’ - it’s kind of like ‘language on vacation’ - LW.
But certainly there is some ‘truth’ that is not beautiful? Unless one is using ‘poetic diction’.
I dont know if we are just using different terminology, but I best see fact as an aspect of truth. Now correct me if I am misinterpreting your words, but it sounds to me like what you are referring to as truth is small ‘t’ truth as compared to “The Truth” or Ultimate Truth.
But I honestly believe that ultimate truth would have to necessarily be good and beautiful. I had come across materialistic viewpoints where everything that is real is either matter, energy, time or space. So I questioned why should I accept this truth even if it were true? Why accept there is no Meaning, God, Eternity, Love, Goodness or Beauty when this is going to do no good? If I died and there was nothing, I would be dead either way and would not experience disappointment.
Now this also reminds me of why Goodness, Truth and Beauty are inseparable. In the Harry Potter novels, Dumbledore warns harry not to return to the Mirror of Erised, and explains that this mirror gives no knowledge or truth. This also reminds me of Star Trek, where Captain Pike was given the choice to live in pleasant dreams or to live out a confining disability. So I agree, that we cannot have goodness without truth, while pretending its real.
Oh I think we’re on the same page, if not in the same paragraph.
Which is more true, that my cat is now sitting on my lap, or that God so loved the world…?
I don’t see degrees of truth, if we are talking true/false. Certainly some truths are more important in certain ways - if we are talking the immortality of the soul, then my cat, wonderful as she is, is not quite as important a truth as the question of immortality. At least to me - she’s not talking.
‘Beauty’ is an aesthetic judgment; ‘truth’ is a matter of fact. IMHO.
Perhaps the following will resolve what seems to be a problem in our various understandings of “truth”:
The Greek word “ἀληθεια” (alātheia) can mean either “truth” or “reality.”
Perhaps when Coleridge said “Beauty is truth, and truth Beauty” it would have been more accurate to have said, “Beauty is reality, and reality Beauty”
The following are a few scriptures in which the word “ἀληθεια” is used in each of these ways:
I dont know if this is just the limitations of the mind and intellect, but it seems like all premises begin on the presumption of impersonal fact over personal ideals. Yet I dont know if it is even possible to understand how truth, goodness and beauty are one, as that would be stating a potential fact.
I like that last statement:
Dave brought something to my attention - in another thread. It appears that the AMC show, the Walking Dead…will feature a totally nude zombie. Would this qualify, to make that statement true?
What concerns me with the matter of truth is that in order to think and philosophize, a belief in absolute truth is absolutely necessary. However, when it comes to goodness and beauty, these are optional. In order to think or speak, truth statements are absolutely necessary. For example, saying that truth does not exist is a contradiction, as the statement as such is a truth statement. However, saying morality is relative or beauty is in the eye of the beholder are not contradictions, as no statements affirming goodness or beauty are made. So essentially it is completely possible to think and talk without making some goodness or beauty statements. Now I do believe that motivations in saying morality is relative is often for moralistic motivations, which is a whole other topic.
Richard Rohr has an interesting video on the matter of language and its relation to Dualistic thinking.
However, in normal thinking, the mind has divided truth, goodness and beauty into three different entities. However, Christian tradition reveals that truth, goodness and beauty are absolute and unchanging. I find that we know right and wrong from natural law, but does not always seem realistic, and mere ideals. This reminds me of the idea that “Might makes right”, which is more profound of a problem than just some rant against tyrants. Considering that what we observe is a world where what can and be done should not be done, and what should be done cannot always be done. So in this way, goodness can seem like unrealistic ideals.
I had an insight on an old explanation of evil as absence of being. So this inherently would mean that being is both true and good. Yet evil seems like a something than nothing. From the Aesthetic point of view, we definitely see ugliness as something. For example, physical pain is repressed through use of anesthetics, which inherently causes a lack of feeling as opposed to pain. Plus, from an aesthetic pov, more is often ugly and less can be more. I remember in a book on death by Peter Kreeft, he explained that death is a friend in that death gives our life form, and without death, we risk becoming everything in general and nothing in particular. Most storytellers know well that for a story to be good, there has to be limitations. Like in most fantasy, there is no infinitely powerful magic where you can snap things into existence at will.
Sorry this went a little off topic. This was just meant to address the problem of the seeming conflicts between truth, goodness and beauty.
Good stuff Joe.
The story of Adam and Eve is true. It does not matter whether or not the account of the story is factual. Mere facts are not the same as Truth.
It does matter. If the account is not factual, then the story is not true.
Thanks for response. My own view is that a story can be true whether the facts are or not. For example, it does not matter if the factual details of a parable such as ‘The prodigal son’ actually occurred or not. Either way, the story is true. For me, it seems possible that the story of Adam and Eve was intended as a story to account for basic truths. God made all people and all people rebel against him. This seems to me to be True. The facts in the story may or may not be true, but the message is. Hope this makes my position clearer.
Perhaps you are using the word “true” in an unusual way. The story probably did not occur, and is therefore not true. But the MEANING of the parable is true. If the details of the story are not factual, it seems to that it is false to affirm that the story is true. Rather it portrays how a loving father would behave.
Here is a modern parable that does the same. If the story is not factual, then the story is not true. But the story illustrates a truth—namely that losing one’s temper can cause permanent damage to others:
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence…
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The day passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one."
I wasn’t aware that I was using ‘true’ in an unusual way. I guess another discussion could arise where we would attempt to differentiate between meaning, facts and truth.
As a person with an ‘arty’ kind of mind (I spent most of my working life as a pro musician), I often feel that, in the sense I mean it, art comes closer to real Truth than do facts. In the ‘Prodigal son’ story therefore, the ‘meaning’ is the underlying truth and the facts are less important (i.e., the meaning could be arrived at using different words and different stories), but the ultimate Truth we are to take from the story is that God loves us more than we can ever know, and all that we have to do is turn around and come back to him.
Conversely, even if the story’s independent ‘facts’ (e.g., the son really did eat pig-food!) could be proved to be true, it wouldn’t affect the truth of the meaning of the story. Maybe he could’ve sunk so low that he rummaged through other people’s dustbins for stale bread instead for example. In other words, the ultimate meaning is ‘Truth’ in the sense I was using it. I think there’s a distinction between this kind of Truth and truth which can be attached to individual data and facts.
In a musical sense, I could point to the development of notation, the physics of sound…vibrating strings, columns of air etc., etc; the fact that our ears detect certain combinations of frequencies as being more ‘pleasing’ than others, and so on, but at the end of my endless analysis, I would have said nothing whatsoever about the pieces of music we may be listening to!
Thank you for your thoughtful and considerate reply, I respect and appreciate artsy minds, for mine is more mathematical and scientific. Yet I do understand the way in which you are using “truth.”