Filed under: Moment of Zen
“Facts are many, but truth is one”
- Rabindranath Tagore
Nov 23, 2005 | 10:08 pm
The quote seems at first to inspire but then you realise it makes no sense whatsoever. Is there truth apart from facts? Why number truth?
Nov 24, 2005 | 1:56 pm
I don’t think the quote is numbering truth, all it’s saying is there is only one truth, so it’s either true or false, there are no degrees of truth, unlike facts, which can be numbered.
A fact on the other hand is something believed to be true or real, but it need not be the truth until you can prove it to be true.
Nov 25, 2005 | 4:03 pm
I quote from dictionary.com
Main Entry: fact
Etymology: Latin factum deed, real happening, something done, from neuter of factus, past participle of facere to do, make
1 : something that has actual existence : a matter of objective reality
A fact by definition is proven. The sun is a fact. Are we saying then that the collection of all facts then becomes the one truth? But even facts are only a matter of perception – if everyone on earth was blind the sun would be no more a fact that the Unicorn. A blind man believes the sun to exist because the sighted man tells him so. The so-called one-truth then is a matter of belief is it not? I don’t know what it is but I have to believe that Tagore know what he’s talking about! Is this truth?
Nov 25, 2005 | 6:59 pm
I think you are kind of getting to the point of the quote. It’s like the story of the blind men and the elephant. I feel what Tagore calls facts here are percieved truths, while the one truth is the absolute truth.
Nov 25, 2005 | 7:23 pm
Yes, but who’s say that it exists? Tagore make a glib statement but if I believe it then the statement is irrelevant since the “one truth” is lost.
Nov 25, 2005 | 7:41 pm
That’s what the one truth is about, no one can tell you it exists, and when you see it you cannot tell it to someone else, because if you do, then it would be your perspective of the one truth. That’s why it has to be a self discovery, because once you have seen it, it becomes your perception of the one truth.
Nov 25, 2005 | 10:51 pm
Surely then it’s not the one truth for it then depends on perception.
Nov 25, 2005 | 11:56 pm
I think this is going in circles, but the whole point of the statement by Tagore is that–The one truth is still the one truth, regardless of who perceives it. No one can change it, that’s why it is THE TRUTH. Ones perception of it does not affect it, it exists even if one does not perceive it. Goes back to your example of the Sun and the blind man, just because the sun is a perception of warmth to the blind man, it does not change TheTruth about the sun, because of the facts that come out of that perception.
Nov 26, 2005 | 8:10 am
The truth of the sun is surely different for the blind man than for the sighted. In the case of the eight blind men and the elephant, only the existence of the a priori elephant lends any meaning to the story at all. Therefore unless I assume there is already a “one truth” (the a priori elephant) there’s no way to perceive it. Then surely I’m perceiving my imagination – who knows if there is a “one truth”!
Nov 26, 2005 | 3:22 pm
An existance of something is not imagination, it is not within your mind, it is beyond it, and what is the truth about that existance also exits outside your mind. Your perception of that truth is what’s in your mind, and could that be imagination, sure it can. Just because you stop perceiving it, does not equate to it ceases to exist.
the little endian
Feb 28, 2006 | 10:34 pm
I think your examples of “the blind men and an elephant” as well as “the blind man and the sun” are misleading.
In the both cases, the burden is on the one who seeks the truth. The notion that man, somehow, is unable or lacks the tools to induce the truth based on facts is a cynical one.
Perhaps, a more positive interpretation may be drawn from Tagore’s statement. While it is “easy” to find the facts, it is almost always “difficult” to put them together to describe the story.
A better example would be of a detective, trying to solve a crime. He/she gathers evidence, that points to clues, which lead to observed facts. A collection of those facts in and of itself is merely the “file” of that investigation. But it is the intellect, (or insight, intuition, expertise, art, science, call it what you may) of the investigator which puts two and two together to discover the “one” solution. Naturally, because it is so hard to discover the “one” truth, mistakes can be made – but thats besides the point.
Tagore’s point is that despite the complexity of facts, (sometimes contradictory), one should always strive to seek the truth among them. Implicit in his statement is that, for when you find the one truth, you shall cherish the journey that brought you there.
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