What is truth? Here are some quotes to consider.

April 30, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More

What is truth?  Such a timely topic these days, now that we seem to be in the post-truth era.  I gathered these quotes on the meaning of truth from my favorite quote site, The Quotations Page.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well.
Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902)

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
Niels Bohr (1885 – 1962)

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
Lenin (1870 – 1924)

I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.
Harry S Truman (1884 – 1972), in Look, Apr. 3, 1956

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950), Annajanska (1919)

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth.
William O. Douglas (1898 – 1980)

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

An error is the more dangerous the more truth it contains.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007), Cold Turkey

If you want the truth, ask a child.
French Proverb

All truth passes through 3 stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)


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Category: Politics, Psychology Cognition, Quotes

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Marlon says:

    I like those. Here are some of my favorite quotes re truth:

    …man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.

    Winston S. Churchill

    Its not lying if what you say would be true if the facts were different.

    Hal – Malcolm in the Middle

    Seek the company of those who search for truth; run from those who've found it.

    Vaclev Havel

    As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.

    Josh Billings, the pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw

    Just because an idea is held by the masses does not make it true. Indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, an idea that is widely held is more likely to be false than true.

    Bertrand Russell (?)

  2. Sumner Fan says:

    Here's my favorite quote re: truth –

    "Nothing from man's hands, nor law, nor constitution, can be final. Truth alone is final." – Senator Charles Sumner

  3. seek says:

    Just adding quotes:

    "The truth is God's alone, but there is a human truth, namely, to be devoted to the truth." – Martin Buber Good and Evil

    "Because we wish, we easily believe." – Francis Bacon Novum Organum

    "Quod volumus, facile credimus; what suits our wishes, is forwardly believed." – John Locke An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

    "When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true." Blaise Pascal Thoughts

    "Our discussion will be adequate if it achieves clarity within the limits of the subject matter. For precision cannot be expected in the treatment of all subjects alike…. Therefore, in a discussion of such subjects, which has to start from a basis of this kind, we must be satisfied to indicate the truth with a rough sketch: when the subject and the basis of a discussion consist of matters that hold good only as a general rule, but not always, the conclusions reached must be of the same order. The various points that are made must be received in the same spirit. For a well-schooled man is one who searches for that degree of precision in each kind of study which the nature of the subject at hand admits: it is obviously just as foolish to accept arguments of probability from a mathematician as to demand strict demonstration from an orator." Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics

    "…it is the risk of self-transcendence which keeps like in the bondage of tested institutions." – Paul Tillich Systematic Theology

    "A false transcendence is given to things which are very much of this world." – C. S. Lewis Four Loves

    "Fundamentalism fails to make contact with the present situation, not because it speaks from beyond every situation, but because it speaks from a situation of the past. It elevates something finite and transitory to infinite and eternal validity. In this respect fundamentalism has demonic traits. It destroys the humble honesty of the search for truth, it splits the conscience of its thoughtful adherents, and it makes them fanatical because they are forced to suppress elements of truth of which they are dimly aware." – Tillich

    "When natural things look most divine, the demonic is just around the corner." – Lewis

    "We must not attempt to find an absolute in the flesh." – Lewis

    "O Lord, if there is a Lord, save my soul, if I have a soul." – Ernest Renan Priere d'un Sceptique

    “All depends on this: in our idea of God is the non-rational overborne, even perhaps wholly excluded, by the rational? Or conversely, does the non-rational itself preponderate over the rational?” – Rudolf Otto Idea Of The Holy

    “Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him (sic).” –Nietzsce Daybreak?

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Seek: Thanks. Such worthy supplements to the list.

    Here's another that might be only tangentially relevant . . .

    It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.

    O. Henry (1862 – 1910)

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