Monday, April 26, 2010

Truth 2- Post in progress

1 Two types of truth and their relation to each other:
In a post I did back on December 2, 2009, I talked about how truth is the correspondence of reason and reality. There 2 types of truth: truths of reason and truths of faith. Both are reasonable. The difference is that the first WE can figure out with our reasons, the second we can't figure out with our reasons, so we have to take them by faith. They follow God's reasoning. Also, one helps the other. The Catechism talks about the relationship between these types of truth in paragraph #158:

"Faith seeks understanding":33 it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens "the eyes of your hearts"34 to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God's plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. "The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood."35 In the words of St. Augustine, "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."36

33 St. Anselm, Prosl. prooem.:PL 153,225A.
34 Eph 1:18.
35 DV 5.
36 St. Augustine, Sermo 43,7,9:PL 38,257-258.

So reason helps faith and faith helps reason.

2 Difficulty of Finding Truths of Reason
(This is from Humanis Generis by Pope Pius x11 which is quoted in the Catechism here.)
Truths of Reason
are not easy to discover. The Truths of reason that have to do with God and His relationship to us are particularly hard for three main reasons, as Pope Pius XII says in his encyclical Humani Generis:
"Though human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, who watches over and controls the world by his providence, and of the natural law written in our hearts by the Creator; yet there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty. For the truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things."

1. These truths cannot be sensed. Jesus was present on earth about 2000 years ago, and the Eucharist is present with us now, but none of this makes any sense (no pun intended) if you do not even believe in a God. And the existence of God and His relationship to us is not something we can sense.

"If they [these truths of reason about God and His relation to us] are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation."

2. They demand self-surrender and self-sacrifice. Having a God means having someone you have to bow to. And many if not all people do not like, in fact, detest, bowing to anyone (Example #1: me).

"The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin."

3. Senses, imagination, and evil passions have a tendency to get in the way of the reason. An example of how the senses get in the way is the man in Letter 1 of Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. On the verge of a spiritual discovery, the man is driven by 'his demon' and hunger out of where he thinking into the street, where he sets aside his thoughts as silly compared to what he senses, which he calls "real life". An example of imagination getting in the way is me during Speech class last semester. An example of evil passions getting in the way is how sins against purity especially cloud the mind. "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." ~St. Matthew 5:8 (Douay-Rheims Bible)

"So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful."

3 Truth and Truthfulness

Truth, in the strict sense, is a concept in our intellects. We can't see it or hear it or taste truth (We can see and hear things which are true, for example, reading the Bible or catechism, and we can taste something that is true, for example, the Eucharist, but we can not see, hear, or taste truth, just things that are true.). Rather than sensing truth, we understand truth with our intellects via reason and faith.
'God is the Truth' refers to truth's utter source Who IS the very things of which He is the source. For example, "My words are true."
Truthfulness is the quality of being true
. It is when one's actions, especially one's words, line up with what is true. For example, "I am being truthful."
"To be truthful is to act and think in agreement with what is reasonable and real, especially by not misrepresenting reality in our words."~ From the essay I wrote- 'Rediscovering Love' for TMC's Faith and Reason Essay Scholarship.
Our understanding of truth has meaning and fulfillment when our lives are truthful.

4 Relationship of Truth and Intellect
While part 1 classified 2 types of truth by their source, there are three ways to classify truth by its relationship to the intellect.
The intellect is the reason. It is the faculty of the mind which thinks; it is the part I am using now, even though it is 12:30 am. So, the three types of truth according to relationship to intellect (quotes from Pocket Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., definition of Truth):

Logical Truth:

"In logical truth, the mind is conformed or in agreement with things outside of the mind, either in assenting to what is or in denying what is not. Its opposite is error."
When the mind is in tune with what is outside of it. When we know what is and know what isn't and accept that as true. The opposite is error, when a person is mistaken about what is or isn't. For Example, it is logically true that you are reading this. It is an error that you are not on a computer.

Metaphysical Truth:

In metaphysical or ontological truth, things conform with the mind. This in primary conformity, when something corresponds to the idea of its maker, and it is secondary conformity when something in intelligible and therefore true to anyone who knows it.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with first causes and sources. So metaphysical truth has to to do with things according tot heir source. When the things outside of the mind conform to the mind. This happens on two levels: 1) When something matches up to the idea of its maker (its maker is its source). 2) When something is understandable, so it is true to anyone who knows it. When the reality of what is made makes sense to someone's reason: a correspondence of reality and reason. For Example, this post is metaphysically true because it is turning out according to my plan. It is metaphysically true to you if you can understand it.

Moral Truth:

In moral truth, what is said conforms with what is on one's mind. This is truthfulness and its opposite is falsehood.
When what we say matches what we are thinking. This is truthfulness. the opposite is falsehood, when you tell a lie. For Example, this post is morally true because it aligns with what I believe.

5 Two Properties/Qualities of Truth:

(I think 'properties' is the right word).
Truth is Universal. That means that no matter where you are, from on the computer reading this post to on the 10,056th planet, what's true is true.
Truth is Eternal. That means that no matter when you lived, from today to the year 10,056, what's true is true.
These properties are a big help when it comes to sharing the truth. The truth is the easiest thing to communicate because while things like status and historical era and culture are different for people, the truth is not different and it does not change.
These properties of universal and eternal are evident in this quote:
"Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things. Truth opens and unites our minds in the 'logos' of love: this is the Christian proclamation and testimony of charity." ~Introduction to 'Caritas in Veritate' by Pope Benedict XVI

Truth allows us to move beyond cultural and historical limitations. Because Truth is beyond those limitations. Because truth is not a human invention. It is divine. God is the Truth.

6 Truth's Universality and Eternity as shown by the Intellect
In other words, the relationship between the two properties of truth and the strict sense of truth as a concept in the intellect (which we know via faith and reason).

So the concept of truth is in our intellects, and with that in mind we can see that if there seems to be change in truth, it is not in the truth itself, but in the intellect.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the Summa Theologica, in answer to the question

7 Relativity and Truth
Now, there is a screwy idea out there that truth is when two people agree on something. That is watering truth down so that it is the slave of perception. Say two color- blind people looked at my blog and thought the themes were pink or green, but the truth would be that it's mostly brown. Or consider back when people thought the world was flat. Plenty of people agreed that it was flat, but that didn't make it true that it was flat. The world is round is round is round. Truth doesn't change just because we don't know what is true.
Truth doesn't change? Really? Well, what about the truth that I'm typing right now. In half an hour that will change to I am eating dinner. But it is still and will always be true for all people in all ages that at 7:37pm on April 26 2010 the person known as philosopher was typing a brainstorm post about truth on her blog, 'Cogito et Scribo'.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Hi again; I'm sorry I haven't been blogging lately. I just can't get anything of the things I want to blog about into sentences. But anyway, I do have one thing to share.
See, I work at the library, and while I was straightening up the library for closing I found this scrap of paper which some kid had scribbled on. Maybe I'm kind of weird, but I thought the cartoon was really cute (I hate that word, but that's the best word to describe it), so I took it home and photographed it and here it is:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bit of Poetic Prose

Speaking of how a poet and philosopher are alike, here is a bit of poetic prose written by 'philosopher', yours truly, for my friend, about seeing the ocean last month:

The ocean was just how I had imagined it. It was grey-green, and everywhere slivers of land were running down and slipping away into it. It rippled and lapped like a music from a memory, as peaceful as if it were always like that and would be like that for ever and ever. Cold rain dripped down everywhere, and a chill wind shivered in the air, but the ocean remained calm,

Photos are by my brother; is he good with a camera or what?