Truth

The unexamined life, said Socrates, is unfit to be lived by man. This is the virtue of liberty, and the ground on which we may justify our belief in it, that it tolerates error in order to serve truth.

We say that the truth will make us free. Yes, but that truth is a thousand truths which grow and change.

When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative in to an absolute.

Firmness or stiffness of the mind is not from adherence to truth, but submission to prejudice.

I think there cannot any one moral rule be proposed whereof a man may not justly demand a reason: which would be perfectly ridiculous and absurd if they were innate; or so much as self-evident, which every innate principle must needs be, and not need any proof to ascertain its truth, nor want any reason to gain its approbation.

It is one thing to show a man that his is in an error, and another to put him in possession of truth.

Nothing being so beautiful to the eye as truth is to the mind; nothing so deformed and irreconcilable to the understanding as a lie.

To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.

There are three ways whereby a man may become great: being loyal, telling the truth and not thinking idle thoughts.

All men who know not where to look for truth, save in the narrow well of self, will find their own image at the bottom, and mistake it for what they are seeking.

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm, eloquence produces conviction for the moment; but it is only by truth to Nature and the everlasting institutions of mankind that those abiding influences are won that enlarge from generation to generation.

The only conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerity is that he gives himself for a principle. Words, money, all things else, are comparatively easy to give away; but when a man makes a gift of his daily life and practice, it is plain that the truth whatever it may be, has taken possession of him.

Truth is by its very nature intolerant, exclusive, for every truth is the denial of its opposing error.

The attempted transformation of the Indian by the white man and the chaos that has resulted are but the fruits of the white man’s disobedience of a fundamental and spiritual law. “Civilization” has been thrust upon me since the days of reservations, and it has not added one whit to my sense of justice, to my reverence for the rights of life, to my love of truth, honesty, and generosity, or to my faith in Wakan Tanka, God of the Lakotas. For after all the great religions have been preached and expounded, or have been revealed by brilliant scholars, or have been written in fine books and embellished in fine language with finer covers, man - all man - is still confronted with the Great Mystery.

You will be able to overcome desires without excessive difficulty when you become aware of their illusory nature. The pleasure of eating, for example, is really of very short duration. You feel the pleasure for only the short amount of time the food is in your mouth. As soon as you have swallowed the food, it is already forgotten... All physical pleasures are similar. Give the matter sufficient thought and you will realize that even the illusory good lasts only a short time. On the other hand, the negative consequences of physical pleasures can be severe and long lasting. A thinking person will definitely not want to place himself in a situation fraught with dangers for momentary pleasures. By habitually thinking about this truth, one will gradually be able to free himself from the prison of foolishly pursuing physical pleasures.

Prejudice is the conjurer of imaginary wrongs, strangling truth, overpowering reason, making strongmen weak and weak men weaker. God give us the large-hearted charity which "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things," which "thinketh no evil."

Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through is history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are a part to be construed... Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious strutters in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resource. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition fro heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues.

But it is not enough to possess a truth; it is essential that the truth should possess us.

Half a fact is a whole falsehood. He who gives the truth a false coloring by his false manner of telling it, is the worst of liars.