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Truth is the first object.
1809 - from a letter to Dr. Maese
He who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
John Paul II, Pope
The first and fundamental structure for 'human ecology' is the family, in which man receives his first ideas about truth and goodness and learns what it means to love and be loved, and thus what it means to be a person.
May 1, 1991 - from
The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.
... by cutting the umbilical cord with God, our source of ethical vitality would be gone. Morally we would become nothing better than a species of fantastically clever monkeys. Our ultimate fate would be too horrible to contemplate. For the truth is that we humans are all Jekyll and Hyde creatures, and the monster within each of us is always striving to take over.
Jun. 1985 - from an essay in
Nothing appeals to intellectuals more than the feeling that they represent 'the people'. Nothing, as a rule, is further from the truth.
1991 - from
Birth of the Modern
, Harper Collins
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 [Thomas] Hobbes' words, has a 'perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge.'
1977 - from
Enemies of Society
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.
1977 - from
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.
1977 - from
Enemies of Society
Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.
1777 - quoted in
Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D
by James Boswell
Kennedy, John F.
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.
Apr. 27, 1961 - from an address to newspaper publishers
... a great university is always enlisted against the spread of illusion and on the side of reality.
Jun. 11, 1962 - from a speech at Yale University
... many of our so-called humanists, professors of English or philosophy and so forth today, are anything but humanists. They tell us about the end of man, the end of the human. ... they think they've gotten to the truth when they've uncovered as much untruth as possible. The place of radical skepticism and nihilism about human relations, about the achievements of our culture is business as usual in the academy today, and I think it's something that anyone with an interest in culture and an interest in the future of our civilization has to take very seriously and be alarmed about.
Aug. 12, 1990 - from an interview on
, a program on C-SPAN television
The inner censor of the mind of the true believer completes the work of the public censor; his self-discipline is as tyrannical as the obedience imposed by the regime; he terrorizes his own conscience into submission; he carries his private Iron Curtain inside his skull, to protect his illusions against the intrusion of reality.
The truth is not what happened. It is what sells.
Aug. 31, 1998 - describing the attitude of the Clinton White House in "Finally, the telltale lie",
Beware of those who would use violence, too often it is the violence they want and neither truth or freedom.
1984 - from
The Walking Drum
[Study of] geography has fallen on hard times ... geography is discredited, if not discreditable, by its nature. It tells an unpleasant truth, namely, that nature like life is unfair, unequal in its favours; further, that nature's unfairness is not easily remedied. A civilization like ours, with its drive to mastery, does not like to be thwarted. It disapproves of discouraging words, which geographic comparisons abound in.
1998 - from
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Lawrence, David Herbert
This is the very worst wickedness, that we refuse to acknowledge the passionate evil that is in us.
What the blood feels, and believes, and says, is always true.
A half truth, like half a brick, is always more forcible as an argument than a whole one. It carries better.
Unlike libel, slander and the anti-hate law provisions of the criminal code, truth is not a defence against a charge of violating the bans on statements expressing hatred or contempt for members of protected groups in the Canadian or Alberta human rights codes. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada -- the most fearsomely oppressive institution in Canada today -- has decreed that the absence of truth as a defence in these codes does not violate the guarantee of freedom of expression in Section 2 of the Charter.
Apr. 24, 1999 - from "'Civil Rights' Trump Free Speech in Canada", a presentation to the Civitas National Conference, Toronto
Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich
A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
Lieberman, Sen. Joseph
By driving religion from the public square, we have gone a long way toward dislodging our values from their mooring in moral truth. ... Without the connection to a higher law, we have made it more and more difficult for people to answer the question why it is wrong to lie, cheat or steal; to settle conflicts with violence, to be unfaithful to one's spouse, or to exploit children; to despoil the environment, to defraud a customer, or to demean any employee.
Nov. 1, 2000 - from a speech delivered at Notre Dame University
I am nothing. Truth is everything.
The principles of the good society call for a concern with an order of being - which cannot be proved existentially to the sense organs - where it matters supremely that the human person is inviolable, that reason shall regulate the will, that truth shall prevail over error.
1955 - from
The Public Philosphy
The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble upon a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it the representative of a whole class.
Lowell, James Russell
New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth; They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth.
Superstition, idolatry and hypocrisy have ample wages, but the truth goes begging.
Macaulay, Lord Thomas Babbington
Government, as government, can bring nothing but the influence of hopes and fears to support its doctrines. It carries on controversy, not with reasons, but with threats and bribes. If it employs reason, it does so, not in virtue of any powers which belong to it as a government. Thus, instead of a contest between argument and argument, we have a contest between argument and force, Instead of a contest in which truth, from the natural constitution of the human mind, has a decided advantage over falsehood, we have a contest in which truth can be victorious only by accident.
Jan. 1830 - from a book review published in the
This road can be travelled together by all who are not afraid of truth.
Maugham, W. Somerset
Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. He lives by make-believe.
1938 - from
The Summing Up
Mencken, Henry Louis
Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.
1916 - from
A Little Book in C Major
The smallest atom of truth represents some man's bitter toil and agony; for every ponderable chunk of it there is a brave truth-seeker's grave upon some lonely ash-heap and a soul roasting in hell.
Prejudices: First Series
That erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.
Apr. 24, 1924 - from "The Library", published in
The American Mercury
It is [a politician's] business to get and hold his job at all costs. If he can hold it by lying, he will hold it by lying; if lying peters out, he will try to hold it by embracing new truths. His ear is ever close to the ground.
1926 - from
Notes on Democracy
The argument that capital punishment degrades the state is moonshine, for if that were true then it would degrade the state to send men to war... The state, in truth, is degraded in its very nature: a few butcheries cannot do it any further damage.
Nov. 30, 1924 - from "The Library" in
The American Mercury
The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth - that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.
I believe it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than to be ignorant.
Meyer, Frank Straus
Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core and soon brings about conditions that pave the way for surrender to tyranny.
Mill, John Stuart
Truth emerges from the clash of adverse ideas.
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
1859 - from
The real advantage which truth has, consists in this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favorable circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to suppress it.
1859 - from
What does it matter how one comes by the truth so long as one pounces upon it and lives by it?
1939 - from
Tropic of Capricorn
... nationalism provides an escape from triviality. Implicitly or explicitly, men suffering a social upheaval put to themselves the question: What is happening to us? The nationalist answer is clear: our nation is struggling to be born, it is fighting for independence against its enemies. This answer is never the whole truth, and sometimes it has absolutely nothing to do with the truth at all. But that does not matter.
1967 - from
The enemies of the truth are always awfully nice.
Truth is the strong compost in which beauty may sometimes germinate.
1923 - from
Moses of Leon
Nowadays falsehood stands erect and truth lies prostrate on the ground.
1275 - from
The process of death-wishing, in the guise of liberalism, has been eroding the civilization of the West for a century and more, and now would seem about to reach its apogee ... Previous civilizations have been overthrown from without by the incursion of barbarian hordes; ours has dreamed up its own dissolution in the minds of its own intellectual elite. Not Bolshevism, which Stalin liquidated along with the old Bolsheviks; not Nazism, which perished with Hitler in his Berlin bunker; not Fascism, which was left hanging upside down from a lamppost along with Mussolini and his mistress – none of these, history will record, was responsible for bringing down the darkness on our civilization, but Liberalism: a solvent rather than a precipitate, a sedative rather than a stimulant, a slough rather than a precipice; blurring the edges of truth, the definition of virtue, the shape of beauty; a cracked bell, a mist, a death wish.
1977 - from his essay "The Great Liberal Death Wish"
Mulroney, Martin Brian
I know full well that if you let a lie go around the world, you spend the rest of your life chasing it.
Apr. 1996 - wisdom from the least honest Prime Minister in Canadian history, quoted in the
We all know that Prime Ministers are wedded to the truth, but like other wedded couples they sometimes live apart.
The ideology of equality has done some good. For example, it is not possible as a practical matter to be an identifiable racist or sexist and still hold public office. But most of its effects are bad. Given the power of contemporary news media to imprint a nation-wide image overnight, mainstream political figures have found that their allegiance to the rhetoric of equality must extend very far indeed, for a single careless remark can irretrievably damage or even end a public career. In everyday life, the ideology of equality censors and straitjackets everything from pedagogy to humor. The ideology of equality has stunted the range of moral dialogue to triviality. In daily life-conversations, the lessons taught in public schools, the kinds of screenplays or newspaper feature stories that people choose to write-the moral ascendancy of equality has made it difficult to use concepts such as virtue, excellence, beauty and-above all-truth.
1994 - from
The Bell Curve
, The Free Press, New York
Murrow, Edward R.
To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.
National Post, The
[Dalhousie University accepts an anonymous grant with the condition that an unqualified left-wing Sierra Club activist activist be hired as professor] Some professors still believe in teaching about arts and sciences the way they are - not the way politicians want them to be. Some universities still place an emphasis on objective truth, not the spin of an anonymous foreign donor. Dalhousie University used to be such a place.
Jul. 28, 1999 - from its editorial
Needham, Richard J.
In a dictatorship, the people are afraid to tell the truth to the leaders; in a democracy, the leaders are afraid to tell the truth to the people.
Columbo's New Canadian Quotations
John Robert Columbo
Newman, Peter C.
When [Canadian Liberal cabinet minister] Jane Stewart finally admits she's lying, nobody will believe her.
Mar. 15, 2000 - from a column in the
, commenting on her handling of a massive government grant boondoggle in her ministry
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
1886 - from
Human, All Too Human
No one now dies of fatal truths: there are too many antidotes to them.
1878 - from
Human, All Too Human
... the love of truth has its reward in heaven and even on earth.
1886 - from
Beyond Good and Evil
There are no facts, only interpretations.
1900 - from
, Nietzsche's posthumously-published notebooks
The ideologies which gained entry into the academy in the sixties claimed that the fundamental intellectual principles of Western culture were illegitimate and must be overthrown. With that destroyed, terms like truth, good, evil, and soul could be discarded.
quoted by Cal Thomas in "The Sixties Are Dead: Long Live the Nineties" a presentation at Hillsdale College
If all human beings in a population either are declared equal in their native strengths and rights, or else are persuaded to believe this, then the eventual realization of the hard truth of the matter that no amount of redistribution of wealth and status can ever obliterate inequality in one form or another must often take the form of covetousness mixed with resentment: that is, envy. ....The only remedy for the poisons created by egalitarianism in a society is emphatically not ever-greater dosages of political redistribution of wealth and status, for such dosages worsen the disease, producing fevers of avarice and envy. No, the sole remedy for this pathology is the introduction and diffusion of individual liberty as a sovereign value. Respect for individual liberty makes it possible for human beings to live in and be aware of differentiation a condition that, in biology, is recognized for what it is, the basis of progressive evolution, but which, in its social manifestation, receives no such recognition because of both the inequality intrinsic to all social differentiation and the ideology of equality that has spread so widely and so devastatingly in the twentieth century.
1982 - from
Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary
, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA
The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Honesty on questions of race is rare in the United States. So many and unrecognized have been the injustices committed against blacks that no one wishes to be unkind, or subject himself to intimidating charges. Hence, even simple truths are commonly evaded.
Sep. 1975 - from his review of
Race and Economics
, by Thomas Sowell, review published by the
New York Times
I hate political correctness because it's founded on the idea that by means of language you can escape truth -- that if you simply give a different name to something you've somehow changed it. It is a very childlike idea.
Oct. 20, 1994 - from
When a country is at ease with itself, conservatism is largely unnecessary. It will exist as a set of prudent maxims - existing institutions embody the wisdom of previous generations; prejudice, experience and habit are better guides than reason, logic and abstractions - but these will have little political purchase. When something like the French Revolution comes along, however, these maxims become vital political truths.
Feb. 16, 1999 - from his lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies in London, England
Oakes, Edward T.
Moral philosophers are caught in a peculiar paradox these days. On the one hand, their field is flourishing: No longer intimidated by the logical positivists (who denied truth to moral assertions except as expressions of likes and dislikes), thinkers as diverse as Iris Murdoch, Martha Nussbaum, and Bernard Williams are leading the attack against such debilitating philosophical notions as Hume's notorious 'Is/Ought' distinction and Kant's simplistic fusion of morality with mere duty. On the other hand, the world in which these moral philosophers flourish is a world that has lost its moral bearings in an unprecedented way.
Aug. 01, 1996 - from "The Achievement of Alasdair MacIntyre", published in
Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.
The weakness of all left-wing parties is their inability to tell the truth about the immediate future.
Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders, than from the arguments of it opposers.
1693 - from
Some Fruits of Solitude
Where thou art obliged to speak, be sure speak the truth: for equivocation is half way to lying, as lying, the whole way to hell.
1693 - from
Some Fruits of Solitude
Philosophy is a kind of journey, ever learning yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of truth.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.
Poe, Edgar Allan
Truth is not always in a well. In fact, as regards the more important knowledge, I do believe that she is invariably superficial. The depth lies in the valleys where we seek her, and not upon the mountain-tops where she is found.
1841 - from
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
When war is declared, truth is the first casualty... When war enters a country, it produces lies like sand.
[Public openness] There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.
Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all accurately so they will be guided by its light.
Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it -- that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life -- that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.
1957 - from
There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some hold only in their youth, and a few hold to the end of their days - the conviction that IDEAS MATTER. In one's youth that conviction is experienced as a self-evident absolute, and one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth.
Reagan, Ronald Wilson
Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, 'What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.' But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.
Oct. 27, 1964 - speech at the Republican National Convention
We believe faith and freedom must be our guiding stars, for they show us truth, they make us brave, give us hope, and leave us wiser than we were.
1985 - from his fourth State of the Nation address
Every precaution must early be used to place the interests of freedom in the hands of truth, which is eternal, rather than in those of men who change; so that if the government forgets the interests of the people or falls into the hands of men corrupted, according to the natural course of things, the light of acknowledged principles should unmask their treasons, and that every new faction may read its death in the very thought of a crime.
Feb. 5, 1794 - from "Report On the Principles of Political Morality"
It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth...
On Becoming a Person
Roosevelt, Franklin D.
If the fires of freedom and civil liberties burn low in other lands, they must be made brighter in our own... If in other lands the eternal truths of the past are threatened by intolerance we must provide a safe place for their perpetuation.
Jun. 30, 1938 - from a speech to the U.S. National Education Association
It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorius history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Apr. 10, 1899 - from "The Strenuous Life", a speech to the Hamilton Club, Chicago
Ross, Kelly L.
The truth is that our failure of virtue is not so much a private, social, and moral one, manifest in pornography, etc., but in fact a political failure, just as the likes of Paine, Jefferson, and Madison feared it would be. ... Our failure of political virtue comes in our supine accommodation to the growing tyrannies and thieveries of government.
Sep. 19, 1993 -
from a letter to the editors of
The American Scholar
I might show facts as plain as day: but, since your eyes are blind, you'd say, "Where? What?" and turn away.
The argument against the persecution of opinion does not depend upon what the excuse for persecution may be. The argument is that we none of us know all truth, that the discovery of new truth is promoted by free discussion and rendered very difficult by suppression, and that, in the long run, human welfare is increased by the discovery of truth and hindered by action based on error. New truth is often inconvenient to some vested interest ... But it is in the interest of the community at large that new truth should be freely promulgated. And since, at first, it cannot be known whether a new doctrine is true, freedom for new truth involves equal freedom for error.
1935 - from his book
Religion and Science
, Henry Holt
What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
The governors of the world believe, and have always believed, that virtue can only be taught by teaching falsehood, and that any man who knew the truth would be wicked. I disbelieve this, absolutely and entirely. I believe that love of truth is the basis of all real virtue, and that virtues based upon lies can only do harm.
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.
I say this with all the emphasis of which I am capable--that there can ever be any good excuse for refusing to face the evidence in favour of something unwelcome. It is not by delusion, however exalted, that mankind can prosper, but only by unswerving courage in the pursuit of truth.
Sagan, Carl Edward
Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us - and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.
from "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection"
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.
from "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection"
Where skeptical observation and discussion are suppressed, the truth is hidden.
1978 - from
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
1996 - from
The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark
The well-meaning contention that all ideas have equal merit seems to me little different from the disastrous contention that no ideas have any merit.
1978 - from
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Schwarzkopf, Gen. Norman
The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.