SP Kachru

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What’s The Truth

by S.P. Kachru  

The term ’truth’ in common parlance relates to the world as it appears to us. It applies specifically to certain objects or circumstances. It always relates to the form and not the content of a statement. We may well sample the view that the purely logical criterion of truth, namely, the agreement of knowledge with the general and formal laws of the understanding and reason, is a sine qua non, and is therefore, the negative condition of all truth. But further than this, logic cannot go. It has no touchstone for the discovery of such error as concerns not the form but the content.

Thus, although we may read all manner of statement in Upanishads, their variety is an open question and, in the last analysis, a question of belief. To put it more philosophically, no truth is more certain or independent of others and less in need of proof than this, namely that everything that exists for knowledge and hence the whole of this world, is only object in relation to the subject. Everything that in any way belongs and can belong to the world is inevitably associated with the being conditioned by the subject and exists only for the subject.

No matter how sincerely witnesses swear in court that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, their evidence is at best what they believe to be true, an imperfect substitute for ‘the truth’. Today, post modern pragmatism offers another truth substitute called contingent truth i.e., the substitution of solidarity for truth. What is normally accepted as truth depends on the society in which one lives and on the influences which it exerts. The members of a society should therefore, for the sake of orderly co-existence, reach agreement on what is to be considered true. The attitude to truth has been fiercely criticised, particularly by religious philosophers, some fearing that it may destroy the basis for any absolute truth or morality.

Are we therefore forced to make do with substitute truths or must we put our faith in believed truths ? Neither ! Completely unmoved by the above arguments, many of us are obviously pressing on with the search for absolute truth. And we are perfectly justified in these attempts as the statement "there is no truth" is actually paradoxical. For if there is no truth, the statement cannot be true.

Source: Milchar

  

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