The Value Of Truth

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One of the central subjects in philosophy is truth. It has long been highly valued in the world. At various points, it has been considered in different theories and methods of different philosophers. Some of the philosophers are known by their works and theories, while some are recognized by their quotes. Aristotle’s philosophy is remarkable for both. Aristotle famously described truth as the verification of an occurrence, pointing out a gap between the verified phenomenon and a made-up phenomenon or occurrence. He said, “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true”. This characterization is essential in guiding the ethical conduct of humans. Plato meticulously characterized truth on the grounds of Christianity. He explained truth as something eternally beautiful for which the human soul must yearn.

Immanuel Kant argued that telling the truth is inconsequential as long as our moral duty is not contravened. Kant believed that truth be told regardless of whether it promotes the happiness of a part and not the whole. For instance, if an armed man broke into your house on a mission to kill your dad, but before then, someone called your dad to divulge the plan and your dad found a place to hide, should you point out to the armed man where your dad is hiding or should you lie you do not know about his whereabouts? That the consequence of your action is irrelevant as long as you perform your moral duty?  But an opposing formulation can be found in John Stuart Mill’s classical text on Utilitarianism. Mill focuses on the consequences of actions and not on rights nor ethical sentiments. The principle explains that our actions are right if they tend to promote the overall happiness of a whole.

The truth was considered valuable by these great figures because it enables us to see the world in a rational fashion. It enables us to act without prejudice or bias, and moreover, it enables us to act according to our moral maxim. Over the years, this issue has constituted the subject of debates. It is quite controversial. Mill’s creed on truth is obviously different from Kant’s, and in turn, the conceptions of both men are highly different from Karl Popper. Regardless of all of these conceptions, these figures agree that truth was valuable because it opened our eyes to see things realistically with our moral duty within it. Understanding the issue more personally, an individual who is truthful is someone who has integrity and therefore, cannot pretend. This implies that the individual is honest both to others and to oneself for pretence is deception to oneself.

Looking at the other side of the issue contradicts the value of truth. For if the truth is so important and so valuable, why are so many people untruthful? Socrates and Kant asserted this on people adhering to heteronomy-outside influence or public opinion- noting that it is difficult for them to reason deeply into the truth and falsity of such opinion.

Last modified: April 11, 2021

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