Friday, September 22, 2017



D. R. Khashaba

The saying that philosophy seeks truth is commonly received as a truism. There is indeed a rare and remote sense of the word ‘truth’ in which it is natural and proper to say that philosophy seeks truth: that is the exalted sense of Truth as a moral value. But in the quotidian commonsense meaning of the word, it is highly misleading and confusing to join philosophy and truth.

In the common acceptation of the term, truth implies the agreement of a statement or belief with an objective state of affairs. This is the meaning of ‘truth’ in science, in history, in law; but in philosophy it is totally irrelevant,

For millennia philosophers in the Western tradition (but not in China or India) have been deluded into thinking that they are required and can reach factual knowledge about the objective world. It is this erroneous belief that has exposed Western philosophy to ridicule and scorn culminating in Hume’s injunction to commit all metaphysical works to the flames and in the Positivists’ equating of metaphysics with nonsense.

Philosophy as the investigation of the mind, in the mind, by the mind (Plato), as the pure exercise of pure Reason (Kant), is as unrelated to the objective world as the parables of the Nazarene. A myth of Plato’s, a parable of Jesus’, a poem of Shelley’s have the same quality of — not ‘truth’ but spiritual vision.

Thus translators err in translating Plato’s alêtheia as ‘truth’: in other contexts that would be the natural and proper translation, but in Plato alêtheia, ousia, to on, ho estin, all equally refer to reality or what is real, since for Plato the mind and the ideas in the mind are all the reality that we know.

D. R. Khashaba

September 22, 2017

Posted to xnd


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