Aristotle, Hegel and Lenin on Truth

François Lemoyne (1688-1737), Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, 1737 (completed on the day before the artist’s suicide), Wallace Collection, London

François Lemoyne (1688-1737), Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, 1737 (completed on the day before the artist’s suicide), Wallace Collection, London

Now it is also the case that there can be nothing intermediate to an assertion and a denial. We must either assert or deny any single predicate of any single subject. The quickest way to show this is by defining truth and falsity. Well, falsity is the assertion that that which is is not or that that which is not is and truth is the assertion that that which is is and that that which is not is not. Thus anyone who asserts anything to be or not to be is either telling the truth or telling a falsehood. On the other hand, neither that which is is said either not to be or to be nor is that which is not.

And if there were an intermediate of contradictory statements, then it would either be like grey between black and white or like the non-man-non-horse between man and horse.

Aristotle, The Metaphysics, Trans and Introduction by Hugh Lawson-Tancred, Penguin, London, 2004, 107 (Gamma 7 1011b)

*  *  *

It is admitted that the law of identity expresses only a one-sided determinateness, that it contains only formal truth, a truth which is abstract, incomplete. In this correct judgement, however, it is immediately implied that truth is complete only in the unity of identity with difference, and hence consists only in this unity.

G.W.F. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, Trans., A.V. Miller, Humanities Press, New York, 1976, 414

the truth is concrete; that is, while it gives a bond and principle of unity, it also possesses an internal source of development

G.W.F. Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, Trans., William Wallace, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, 19-20

For what subject matter can cognition have that is more sublime than truth itself!

G.W.F. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, Trans., A.V. Miller, Humanities Press, New York, 1976, 575

*  *  *

Contemporary fideism does not at all reject science; all it rejects is the “exaggerated claims” of science, to wit, its claim to objective truth. If objective truth exists (as the materialists think), if natural science, reflecting the outer world in human “experience”, is alone capable of giving us objective truth, then all fideism is absolutely refuted. But if there is no objective truth, if truth (including scientific truth) is only an organising form of human experience, then this in itself is an admission of the fundamental premise of clericalism, the door is thrown open for it, and a place is cleared for the “organising forms” of religious experience.

V.I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, 1908, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 110

Dialectics—as Hegel in his time explained—contains an element of relativism, of negation, of scepticism, but is not reducible to relativism. The materialist dialectics of Marx and Engels certainly does contain relativism, but is not reducible to relativism, that is, it recognises the relativity of all our knowledge, not in the sense of denying objective truth, but in the sense that the limits of approximation of our knowledge to this truth are historically conditional.

V.I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, 1908, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 121

The standpoint of life, of practice, should be first and fundamental in the theory of knowledge. And it inevitably leads to materialism, sweeping aside the endless fabrications of professorial scholasticism. Of course, we must not forget that the criterion of practice can never, in the nature of things, either confirm or refute any human idea completely. This criterion too is sufficiently “indefinite” not to allow human knowledge to become “absolute”, but at the same time it is sufficiently definite to wage a ruthless fight on all varieties of idealism and agnosticism. If what our practice confirms is the sole, ultimate and objective truth, then from this must follow the recognition that the only path to this truth is the path of science, which holds the materialist point of view.

V.I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, 1908, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 126-27

red-star

Image

8 thoughts on “Aristotle, Hegel and Lenin on Truth

  1. Thank you for your summary.

    I am interested in introducing a distinction between our reality that is projection and reality, between our self or identity and the whole self who is in and of reality and projects our reality – our “noumenal” source, if you like.

    I have only managed to cover aspects of it, but much potential lies in our relation with the whole body. It is indirect and elusive (as the noumanon is supposed to be) but the whole body is a special entity of reality, for all others in reality only manifest in our projected reality as indications formed from our senses by the Central Nervous System.

    Like

    • Hello tt4r, Thank you for your comment. You write that ‘much potential lies in our relation with the whole body’. As a materialist (one who holds that ‘matter’ or objective reality is primary to consciousness), I think that the potential lies not only in the conscious relation of our brain with the whole body but with the world – of which our body and its consciousness are its product. Kant believed that we cannot get past appearances, Hegel correctly recognised appearances as the ‘doorway’ to essence and the dialectical relationship between the two. Phil

      Like

      • Back again Phil. Can we make a distinction between the world we experience and are conscious of, and the real world that contains the whole being who projects our consciousness and our sense of things?

        Like

      • Hello tt4r, You write of the world and ‘the real world’ – not only as though there is a distinction between the two but as though the latter is more ‘real’ than the former. From my perspective, there is one world in which matter organised in particular ways is able to consciously experience and to reflect on itself as it does so as well as on matter organised in other ways. What do you think?

        Like

      • Thank you for this exchange. I’d like to sort things through.
        I understand our reality to be projection, and the whole body is more real in the sense that he or she is in and of reality and projects our reality. Our sense of self, conscious experience, self reflection and the ability to do so, and what we sense of the world, our all is projection projected by the whole body, who is also the whole self and whole being.
        I agree with Kant that we “can’t” know the noumenon even if it exists. We, as self distinct from the whole self in and of reality, are in phenomenon. It is a projected part of reality but reality cannot exist in this, its part. What is more is that the whole body is a special entity in reality for us as an individual because we are his or her projected part. Every other entity in reality can manifest only within our projected reality as an indication.
        Projection is an important concept, not so much for the primacy of the body over mind, but as a projected actuality, our reality including our self as is, the “doorway” opens to a relation with reality, the whole body alive in creation and present in the present. It is this relation I pursue. Not directly for that isolates us in projection, in our identification with what appears.

        Like

      • Hello tt4r, Thank you for your reply. I understand that the concept ‘projection’ is very important to you – that you believe we project our reality. You write of the whole body being ‘alive in creation and present in the present’. I understand that as ‘living fully in the moment’ & I think that is an admirable goal. I also understand that the ‘inner life’ is extremely important to you. But I am not clear on what you are seeking to resolve or clarify in your comments. Phil

        Like

  2. Hello Phil. Thanks for kindly persevering with me. I’ve got issues and perhaps they can be clarified.

    I make a distinction between we/me/us the self or identity, and the whole body. The whole body projects “us”, what, and can we reserve who for the whole body, we are identified with. Projection is used in psychology to denote imparting a figure such as a father onto an identity that may suit for a substitute such as a teacher or an older man. I wish to use it also for the creation, or the formulation and manifestation, of our reality by the whole body through his or her Central Nervous System.

    Our outer world as well as our inner life and reality are both within projection. The whole body is touched by the rest of reality or creation, and together make up the whole of creation. Our “here and now” is a projected part of the whole body present in the present, in reality.

    We do not project or create our reality, the whole body of whom we as an individual identity belong to, does.

    What do you think? I appreciate your more resent entry on materialism and mysticism. Our deeper emotive, instinctive and intuitive self-s show there are many self-s. We are a different self on different occasions and conditions or states. Shouldn’t we insist on discriminating the whole body from the self, and our projected reality from reality, if only to clarify what and whom we are talking about?
    Projection : we in our moment, his or her presence present in the present, we in our in or out all in projection validated as part of whole body, in and of reality, creation, and Earth. Orientation from within projection! Forever lost in a paper bag of projection (like Plato’s cave) if not for whole body to orientate with.

    Like

    • Hello tt4r, I think that the question underlying all philosophical questions is ‘Which precedes the other – “matter” (objective reality) or consciousness?’. Your position on this will influence your position on all the others. I believe, consistent with science, that matter is primary and consciousness its product, that the universe is approximately 14 billion years of age (as is known so far) and that consciousness has occupied only the tiniest sliver of that period. If you think that consciousness is primary, that will determine how you think about matter, and vice versa. A person has to resolve their position on this question before they can resolve it on any other of philosophical concern. Best wishes.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s