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TWO THEORIES OF TRUTH

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Dan A. Synnestvedt*
 

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this article is to contrast two theories of truth: the secular Postmodern theory and the Neo-Christian theory. This article constitutes a sketch of a very large topic. It has seven sections. The first two introduce the topic by stating what truth is, why the subject is important, and in what sense it is important. The third, fourth, and fifth sections proceed in a dialectical manner. The secular Postmodern assertion that there is no such thing as absolute truth is followed by the Neo-Christian assertion that there is: God is absolute truth. The objection that even if there is absolute truth, we cannot know it, is met in sections four and five. In these sections I not only show (from revelation) that we can know the truth, but also that we can have an awareness that what we know is the truth. The sixth section is designed to rebut the secular Postmodern assertion that we cannot love the truth for its own sake. The final section is entitled "A Cautionary Tale." It is a memorable relation that illustrates the fate of a secular Postmodernist in the life after death.

I. WHAT IS TRUTH?
A BRIEF ANSWER TO A LARGE QUESTION

The focus of this article is the Neo-Christian absolutist theory of truth in relation to the secular Postmodern relativist theory of truth. We will begin by laying the groundwork for the Neo-Christian theory. According to the Heavenly Doctrine† of the New Church (the basis of the Neo-Christian theory), truth is a form of good (AC 4574) or, truth is the quality of good (AC 9154). When good is formed so that it may be intellectually perceived, then it is truth (AC 3049). Why don’t more people know that truth is a form of good? Here is part of the answer:


* Dr. Synnestvedt is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church. His article on Kant and Swedenborg, "Emanuel, Immanuel: Magic, Miracles, and Morals in Enlightened Religion," appeared in the July"December 1998 issue of The New Philosophy, and he will have an article, "Swedenborg and the Ancient Greek Philosophers," in a book on Swedenborg and philosophy forthcoming from the Swedenborg Society. The author welcomes comments on this paper. They can be sent to Bryn Athyn College, P.O. Box 717, Bryn Athyn, PA, USA 19009, or to dasynnes@newchurch.edu.

† The theological works of Swedenborg are referred to as "the Writings" or "the Heavenly Doctrine" in this article.


The New Philosophy is a publication of the Swedenborg Scientific Association
Incorporated October 20, 1906

This association was organized on May 27, 1898, for the preservation, translation, publication, and distribution of the scientific and philosophical works of Emanuel Swedenborg, and for the promotion of the principles taught in them, having in view likewise their relation to the science and philosophy of the present day.

The views expressed by authors are not necessarily those held by the Editor or the Editorial Board

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 06-37082
ISSN 0028-6443