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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Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.

— H. G. Wells

Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.

— Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.

— Henry David Thoreau

It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship.

— Henry Ward Beecher

Whosoever wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.
Knowledge is not intelligence.
In searching for the truth be ready for the unexpected.
Change alone is unchanging.
The same road goes both up and down.
The beginning of a circle is also its end.
Not I, but the world says it: all is one.
And yet everything comes in season.

— Heraclitus

At every turn when there has been an imbalance of power, the truth questioned, or our beliefs and values distorted, the change required to restore our nation has always come from the bottom up from our people.

— Howard Dean

Theories have four stages of acceptance: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so.

— J.B.S. Haldane

Now, my suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose… I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, in any philosophy.

— J.B.S. Haldane

It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.

— John Locke

A man must be both stupid and uncharitable who believes there is no virtue or truth but on his own side.

— Joseph Addison

Nevertheless, a distinction must be made between skepticism as a philosophical thesis and skepticism as an attitude in life. As a philosophical thesis, it is a contradictory one, since it affirms the impossibility of knowing truth, although this affirmation itself claims to be true. Thus, skepticism as a thesis refutes itself in the very act of being formulated. The other aspect is different: this is the abstention from all judgments, skepticism in life, which neither affirms nor denies. This skepticism appears in history time and again, although here, too, it is doubtful whether human life can remain floating in this abstention without taking root in convictions.

— Julián Marías, History of Philosophy

Of life’s two chief prizes, beauty and truth, I found the first in a loving heart and the second in a laborer’s hand.

— Kahlil Gibran

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

— Leo Tolstoy

What a word is truth. Slippery, tricky, unreliable. I tried in these books to tell the truth.

— Lillian Hellman, Three, 1979

Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels.

— Lillian Hellman, Scoundrel Time, 1976

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.

— Lillian Hellman

Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.

— Lise Meitner

The historian should be fearless and incorruptible; a man of independence, loving frankness and truth; one who, as the poet says, calls a fig a fig and a spade a spade. He should yield to neither hatred nor affection, but should be unsparing and unpitying. He should be neither shy nor deprecating, but an impartial judge, giving each side all it deserves but no more. He should know in his writings no country and no city; he should bow to no authority and acknowledge no king. He should never consider what this or that man will think, but should state the facts as they really occurred.

— Lucian, How History Should Be Written

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

— Malcolm X

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.

— Marcus Aurelius

This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up.

— Marilyn Monroe

Others are affected by what I am, and say, and do. So that a single act of mine may spread and spread in widening circles, through a nation or humanity. Through my vice I intensify the taint of vice throughout the universe. Through my misery I make multitudes sad. On the other hand, every development of my virtue makes me an ampler blessing to my race. Every new truth that I gain makes me a brighter light to humanity.

— Mark Collins

Every generalization is dangerous, especially this one.

— Mark Twain

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Namaste. I honour the place in your where the entire universe resides… a place of light, of love, of truth, of peace, of wisdom. I honour the place in you where when you are in that place and I am in that place there is only one of us.

— Mohandas K. Gandhi

What would happen if one woman told the Truth about her life?
The world would crack open.

— Muriel Rukeyser
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