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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The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.

— Augustine of Hippo

The most mischievous liars are those who keep sliding on the verge of truth.

— Augustus William Hare

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.

— Barbara De Angelis

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.

— Barbara Kingsolver

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 primary function of a religious society is to ‘speak the truth to power.’

— 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

What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires — desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.

— Bertrand Russell

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

— Bertrand Russell

If you wish to become a philosopher, the first thing to realise is that most people go through life with a whole world of beliefs that have no sort of rational justification, and that one man’s world of beliefs is apt to be incompatible with another man’s, so that they cannot both be right. People’s opinions are mainly designed to make them feel comfortable; truth, for most people is a secondary consideration.

— Bertrand Russell, The Art of Philosophizing and other Essays (1942)

It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.

— Bertrand Russell

We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.

— Blaise Pascal

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

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.

— Brené Brown

And, after all, what is a lie? Tis but / The truth in masquerade; and I defy / Historians—heroes— lawyers—priests, to put /A fact without some leaven of a lie.

— Byron, Don Juan

If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old Proverb, ‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.’

— C. H. Spurgeon, 1859, sermon

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

It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

— Carl Sagan

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

— Carl Sagan

At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes — an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.

— Carl Sagan

Those who make uncritical observations or fraudulent claims lead us into error and deflect us from the major human goal of understanding how the world works. It is for this reason that playing fast and loose with the truth is a very serious matter.

— Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain

Falsehood is often rocked by truth, but she soon outgrows her cradle and discards her nurse.

— Charles Caleb Colton

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.

— Charles Peguy

We must always tell what we see. Above all, and this is more difficult, we must always see what we see.

— Charles Peguy

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

— Christopher Hitchens
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