Quid est veritas? Veritas veritas est?

Is Truth True?

Elliot Bougis

When I proposed (in appallingly feeble Latin) a motto, which was revised by my Latinate superiors thus: Potest veritas se defendere (Truth can defend itself), someone brought up Pilate’s question to Christ, “Quid est veritas? What is truth?” and asked me for some help in responding to arguments against truth in favor of relativism. This post is my effort to help that reader, and perhaps others.

Relativism is the idea, immensely popular in our age, that truth is different things to different people and cultures in different places and times. By now relativism is not so much a specific argument, as a general climate of thought in most of the world. It denies that there is something like absolute, universal Truth “out there”. Even if there were such an absolute reality, relativists add, we are not equipped to know it. We can never reach a “God’s eye view” of reality, which is what they take Truth to be. According to relativists, we are all confined to our own narrow perspectives and limited by our own cultural biases. There is not truth: there are many truths, all relative to the inquirer. …

Because this article is being considered for publication in a magazine, I can’t have it “published” online or in any other periodical, so, if you’d like to read it, email me at fidescogitactio AT gmail DOT com.

Development of Doctrine III

John of Fides Quaerens Intellectum has replied to my post Development of Doctrine II, primarily with a 1,700-word comment thatis longer than the post itself.  As supporting material, he has posted two entries at his own blog: one consisting chiefly of quotations from the late Prof. JND Kelly and Fr. John Behr on St. Irenaeus; the other consisting chiefly of quotations from Klaus Schatz, SJ’s Papal Primacy: From its Origins to the Present. Given that each exchange in our discussion—one which stretches back to old comboxes at Sacramentum Vitaeis longer than its predecessors, I find myself wondering with some amusement how many faculty and students will stick around for the seminar. At least the seminars in real academic departments have scheduled beginnings and ends! But even if the education ends up being John’s and mine alone, I think the discussion well worth pursuing. Speaking for myself, I come off every online discussion of DD better equipped to carry on the next one—and there always seems to be a next one, even when that’s not the plan. Who knows whom I might thereby reach? It might even be somebody here. And so I proceed with my latest reply as a productive exercise in what contemporary Catholic theologians term “fundamental theology.”

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