TWO THEORIES OF TRUTH
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?
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:
A BRIEF ANSWER TO A LARGE QUESTION
* 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
† The theological works of Swedenborg are referred to as "the Writings" or "the Heavenly
Doctrine" in this article.