„Two currents of ideas are very prominent in modern thought and culture. On the one hand, there is an intense commitment to truthfulness--or, at any rate, a pervasive suspiciousness, a readiness against being fooled, an eagerness to see through appearances to the real structures and motives that lie behind them. Always familiar in politics, it stretches to historical understanding, to the social sciences, and even to interpretations of discoveries and research in the natural sciences.
Together with this demand for truthfulness, however, or (to put it less positively) this reflex against deceptiveness, there is an equally pervasive suspicion about truth itself: whether there is such a thing; if there is, whether it can be more than relative or subjective or something of that kind; altogether, whether we should bother about it, in carrying on our activities or in giving an account of them. These two things, the devotion to truthfulness and the suspicion directed to the idea of truth, are connected to one other. The desire for truthfulness drives a process of criticism which weakens the assurance that there is any secure or unqualifiedly stateable truth.“

—  Bernard Williams, p. 1; Chapter 1: The problem
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Bernard Williams1
1929 - 2003
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„I think it is possible, and that is the most dramatic element in modern civilization, that a human truth is opposed to another human truth no less human, ideal against ideal, positive worth against worth no less positive, instead of the struggle being as we are so often told, one between noble truth and vile selfish error.“

—  Karel Čapek Czech writer 1890 - 1938
Context: Be these people either Conservatives or Socialists, Yellows or Reds, the most important thing is — and that is the point I want to stress — that all of them are right in the plain and moral sense of the word... I ask whether it is not possible to see in the present social conflict of the world an analogous struggle between two, three, five equally serious verities and equally generous idealisms? I think it is possible, and that is the most dramatic element in modern civilization, that a human truth is opposed to another human truth no less human, ideal against ideal, positive worth against worth no less positive, instead of the struggle being as we are so often told, one between noble truth and vile selfish error. R.U.R. supplement in The Saturday Review (1923)

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„The intentionality peculiar to motor activity is not a search for truth but the pursuit of a result, whether objective or subjective; and to succeed is not to discover a truth.“

—  Jean Piaget Swiss psychologist, biologist, logician, philosopher & academic 1896 - 1980
Context: Generally speaking, one can say that motor intelligence contains the germs of completed reason. But it gives promise of more than reason pure and simple. From the moral as from the intellectual point of view, the child is born neither good nor bad, but master of his destiny. Now, if there is intelligence in the schemas of motor adaptation, there is also the element of play. The intentionality peculiar to motor activity is not a search for truth but the pursuit of a result, whether objective or subjective; and to succeed is not to discover a truth. Ch. 2 : Adult Constraint and Moral Realism <!-- p. 93 -->

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„The truth is larger than any one man's thought of it. The truth of God usually has relations that stretch out in such a way that men may see it very differently, and all of them be true in spots, although they do not have the whole truth.“

—  Henry Ward Beecher American clergyman and activist 1813 - 1887
Context: I look at a large tree on the lawn, and say to my neighbour: "What is that tree to you?" He looks at it, and says: "Well, I think that would cut about twenty cords of wood. You could work in a good many branches, and as the price of wood is in the market, I think I could make fifty dollars out of that tree easily, and perhaps more than that." His answer shows what the tree is to him — and it is that." I call up a boy, and say to him: "What do you think of when you look at that tree?" "Ah!" he says, "there will be a bushel of hickory-nuts on that tree, anyhow; and he begins to think how he will climb it, and shake them down, and what he will do with them. That is what the tree says to him. I say to another person: "What is that tree to you?" He says: "I would not take fifty dollars for it. Under it my cows stand in summer. The shade of that tree has stood me instead of a shed ever since I owned this farm. That tree is worth its weight in gold." He values it for its economic uses. I ask a painter: "What is that tree to you?" At once he says: "Do you see what an exquisite form it has? How picturesque it is? If you were to take it and put it in the foreground of the landscape that I am working on, what a magnificent effect you would get!" It has an aesthetic value to him. I ask another man: "What is it to you?" He goes into an explanation of its structure and qualities. He is a botanist, and he has his peculiar view of it. I ask myself: "What is that tree?" It is everything. It is God's voice, when the winds are abroad. It is God's thought, when in the deep stillness of the noon it is silent. It is the house which God has built for a thousand birds. It is a harbour of comfort to weary men and to the cattle of the field. It is that which has in it the record of ages. There it has stood for a century. The winter could not kill it, and the summer could not destroy it. It is full of beauty and strength. It has in it all these things; and as different men look at it, each looks at so much of it as he needs; but it takes ten men to see everything that there is in that tree — and they all do not half see it. So it is with truths. Men sort them. They bring different faculties to bear in considering them. One person has philosophical reason; another has factual reason. One man brings one part of his mind to it; another brings to it another part of his mind. The truth is larger than any one man's thought of it. The truth of God usually has relations that stretch out in such a way that men may see it very differently, and all of them be true in spots, although they do not have the whole truth.

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„Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.“

—  George Eliot, Adam Bede
Context: These fellow-mortals, every one, must be accepted as they are: you can neither straighten their noses, nor brighten their wit, nor rectify their dispositions; and it is these people — amongst whom your life is passed — that it is needful you should tolerate, pity, and love: it is these more or less ugly, stupid, inconsistent people whose movements of goodness you should be able to admire — for whom you should cherish all possible hopes, all possible patience. And I would not, even if I had the choice, be the clever novelist who could create a world so much better than this, in which we get up in the morning to do our daily work, that you would be likely to turn a harder, colder eye on the dusty streets and the common green fields — on the real breathing men and women, who can be chilled by your indifference or injured by your prejudice; who can be cheered and helped onward by your fellow-feeling, your forbearance, your outspoken, brave justice. So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but falsity, which, in spite of one's best efforts, there is reason to dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin — the longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that marvellous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.

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