The first day of the New Year has almost ended … and mine had several interesting twists. This came about during a long conversation. There were several points that are going to be worth some strong investigation on my part. And, of course, I will post my journey as it goes along (most of it anyway). There was a discussion about truth that started my thoughts about this post. I have always maintained the necessity for truth … in people, in government, in life. Sadly, that is one attribute that seems to be sadly lacking in some. I know some who regard truth as this overriding idea that somehow floats along and may or may not provide some kind of order. I have others who regard it as a convenience of the moment. I regard truth as something that operates not only without as a principle, but something that has to be within as a core value to make our lives real, powerful and aligned with one another.
“In our time, what is at issue is the very nature of man, the image we have of his limits and possibilities as a man. History is not yet done with its exploration of the limits and meanings of ‘human nature’.”
C. Wright Mills
“A man of clear ideas errs grievously if he imagines that whatever is seen confusedly does not exist; it belongs to him, when he meets with such a thing, to dispel the midst, and fix the outlines of the vague form which is looming through it.”
“Truth is a shining goddess, always veiled, always distant, never wholly approachable, but worthy of all the devotion of which the human spirit is capable.”
“But whoever is a genuine follower of Truth, keeps his eye steady upon his guide, indifferent whither he is led, provided that she is the leader.”
A Vindication of Natural Society
“…truth is much more than a means to expose the malevolent. It is the great creative force of civilization. For truth is knowledge; and a civilized man is one who, in Hobbes’ words,has a “perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge.”
Hobbes also writes: “Joy, arising from imagination of a man’s own power and ability, is that exaltation of mind called glorying.” And so it is; for the pursuit of truth is our civilization’s glory, and the joy we obtain from it is the nearest we shall approach to happiness, at least on this side of the grave. If we are steadfast in this aim, we need not fear the enemies of society.”
“The essence of civilization is the orderly quest for truth, the rational perception of reality and all its facets, and the adaptation of man’s behaviour to its laws. So long as we follow the path of reason we shall not move far from the lighted circle of civilization.
Its enemies invariably lie among those who, for whatever motive, deny, distort, minimize, exaggerate or poison the truth, and who falsify the processes of reason. At all times civilization has its enemies, though they are constantly changing their guise and their weapons.
The great defensive art is to detect and unmask them before the damage they inflict becomes fatal. ‘Hell.’ wrote Thomas Hobbes, ‘is truth seen too late.’ Survival is falsehood detected in time.
“Civilization… is the rational pursuit of truth within a framework of order. The discovery of truth, of course, is part of this ordering process, the way by which man located himself in the universe. This is a very long, complicated and cumulative process.
Man needs to orientate himself in time, by discovering and perfecting chronology; in space, by acquiring geographical and astronomical knowledge; in nature, by discovering its laws and using them to master his environment.
He is also engaged in a continuous effort of moral and social orientation, reflected in his attempts to improve his designs for civil government, for legal and ethical codes, and his image of what a just society should be. There is, likewise, a process of moral ordering, in which man seeks to discover his worth in relation to other men, and to the potentialities of his surroundings.
Human beings need to know where they stand in all these matters, for such knowledge is an essential element in their security, and… their happiness…”
“Enemies of Society”