Truth word on group of stones on the sand

Truth is that which is in accord with reality, fact, and experience, that which is authentic. Truth can include facts, and truth can include a coherence with experience. The word in English derives from an older word similar to that meaning faithful (truth is that which is faithful to reality or experience), and ultimately is derived from a root meaning tree. To be truthful is to be as straight and strong as a tree. Other languages have words for truth (veritas, pravda, etc.) that have different derivations.

These quotations explore aspects of truth and truth-telling.

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Great learning and superior abilities … will be of little value and small estimation unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them.

— Abigail Adams

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’

— Abraham Lincoln

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.

— Abraham Lincoln

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

— Abraham Lincoln

In war, truth is the first casualty.

— Aeschylus

It is the human condition to question one god after another, one appearance after another, or better, one apparition after another, always pursuing the truth of the imagination, which is not the same as the truth of appearance.

— Alain

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.

— Albert Einstein

Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

— Albert Einstein

[M]y consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.

— Albert Einstein

The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.

— Albert Einstein

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.

— Allan Bloom

The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.

— Anaïs Nin

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.

— Anais Nin

Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

— Andre Gide

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.

— Anne Lamott

The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.

— Aristotle

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

To free a man from error is to give, not take away.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.

— Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals

Among us, on the other hand, ‘the righteous man lives by faith.’ Now, if you take away positive affirmation, you take away faith, for without positive affirmation nothing is believed. And there are truths about things unseen, and unless they are believed, we cannot attain to the happy life, which is nothing less than life eternal.

— Augustine of Hippo

Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.

— Baruch Spinoza

To be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true.

— Bayard Rustin

The heart of justice is truth telling, seeing ourselves and the world the way it is rather than the way we want it to be. More than ever before we, as a society, need to renew a commitment to truth telling.

— bell hooks

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.

— Benjamin Disraeli

May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young.

— Bob Dylan

Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?

— Carl Sagan

We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.

— Carl Sagan

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.

— Carl Sagan

The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.

— Carl Sagan

Superstition is marked not by its pretension to a body of knowledge but by its method of seeking truth.

— Carl Sagan
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