Saint Augustine                                            The Augustinian Paradigm


The Account of Truth


 

RETURN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE IDEA OF TRUTH

 

Humanity finds itself in a situation which requires explanation. It is necessary to determine, in the form of knowledge, what humanityís present reality is, what future realities are possible, and how to achieve the most desirable  reality. That explanation, if it can be achieved, is the truth about ourselves and our situation. The discovery of this truth is the purpose of the Western Intellectual Tradition and from its pursuit flow the many intellectual problems that must be solved.

In the Augustinian system Truth is explained as the meaning of reality where reality is the origin of experience. The explanation, itself, needs to be explained since many explanations are possible, although they are not all equally good. The explanation needs to be justified by convincing evidences adduced from reality itself. That justified explanation is knowledge of reality. The objective of the Augustinian philosophy is the search for truth in the form of  knowledge.

 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  

 

Subjective Reality

 

The individual in Western Culture is faced with two concepts of reality, which are the reality he sees about him at the present time and the reality he would like if all his present needs, wants and wishes were fulfilled.

Human beings make choices every day of their lives. People are not uniformly rational and normally human choices are based on attitudes which vary from the positive and optimistic to the most negative and despairing.  

The negative thinker sees only a future of ever more difficult problems. While the pessimist may wish for better things hope is seen as a fallacy. The experiences of each day confirm the expectation of ever worsening realities.

In so far as he can the rational individual tends to make choices which realise his idea of better realities. Positive choices tend towards improvement and progress. However, success builds on success and the positive individual in the course of life tends to see and want even better realities and to choose these where possible. Life, in the positive philosophy, is progressive towards an optimal reality and the future flow of experience tends to justify the hopes and choices.

Paradoxically, both the positive and negative thinkers are right in their beliefs. They are defining the meanings of their realities, both present and future, and their future experiences corroborate that truth. Reality is not static but progressive towards those realities which are believed to be possible and are therefore chosen and expected. The subjective truth is that reality conforms to individual beliefs and attitudes.

For individuals generally a development or progression can be imagined from the present state of affairs to some, perhaps vague, optimal reality in which all problems are overcome and all hopes are realised. Differences arise from what is considered possible or realistic.  

For the rational and progressive individual a perfect reality may be envisaged, if not defined, and this perfect reality would constitute the ultimate truth for the individual. Perfect subjective truth is then the meaning of the perfect subjective reality.

 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  

 

Materialist Reality

Change in objective reality obeys the same rules as in the subjective. A culture which follows the materialist philosophy will have different experiences from one which makes decisions within the Christian philosophy. In Western culture the choice of philosophies is given by the decision as to which line of enquiry is fundamental and primary, physical research or the religious quest.

In the history of scientific enquiry the primary vision of reality was given by the mechanical universe which had a religious, if deistic, foundation. Newtonís definition of physical reality was replaced by new theories that claimed to give more perfect truths in which the idea of God plays no part. It is reasonable to expect that these theories will eventually be replaced by a new theory which promises an even more perfect truth. Ultimately, Western physical science will, it is hoped, theoretically and fully define physical reality and describe how the universe has reached its present state.

The idea of how the perfect understanding of the physical universe can be achieved has been changing in recent times. The first belief was that the analysis of the material reality would lead to a theory and explanation of everything and show how the present observable reality is the natural consequence of the mechanisms of matter. The dead-end result given by particle theory has destroyed that hope.

The revised hypothesis is that the rules of physics are changeable and progressive and the observable diversity of reality can be explained by earlier, as well as present, states of the physical laws, in combination. The truth of physics as the explanation for reality now lies in the ability to explain how and why the laws have changed and what the nature of these laws is. Ultimate success for this enquiry is the achievement of the ability to explain how everything, including Life, came into being, given the initial condition of the Big Bang.

Success in the materialist enquiry, even if achievable, falls far short of the vision of a perfect reality. If the laws of the Cosmos determine the human situation and they are beyond human interference humanity is the passive subject of impassive events. The most that can be expected is that humanity, being no more than matter, can preserve its future comfort and prosperity in an indifferent material reality.

 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

 

Spiritual Reality as Ultimate Truth  

In the Christian view the search for ultimate truth through the analysis of matter is a mistaken and obsessive delusion. It is natural for the young and the uneducated to see reality in terms of matter and these groups constitute a large part of society so public support can often be found for materialist theories but consensus is not justification.

The Christian view that Life controls matter contradicts the materialist assumption that matter controls life. In this view the material reality is a product of the purposes of both God and Life itself.  The Christ, as the ground of Life, has made decisions which have resulted in the human situation of life in a three dimensional universe. The Christís purposes include the individuation of the Spirit and the development of the intellects of all human individuals.

The human situation is that of the individual exercising the power of choice based on understanding as given by the intellect and physical reality, as observed, is the external reflection of the consequences of those decisions. At the cultural level social reality is the reflection of the consequences of decisions made by governments and other authorities.

Observable reality, in Christian belief, is a teaching system in the same way that the public education service is a teaching system, and it has the same stages of primary, secondary, and tertiary learning. In this view the materialist philosophy is the primary stage, the rational philosophy is the secondary stage and the tertiary stage is represented by the spiritual philosophy.

In the primary stage the individual is faced with a physical reality in which he learns to think based on the concept of order governed by rules. In the second stage he learns to direct his mental and physical effort towards the achievement of better states of reality, and in the tertiary stage he becomes a creative designer in his own right of his own vision of a perfect reality. This is the concept of self-creation which includes the creation of the perfect reality or environment as the reflection of a spiritual and rational mind.

The Christian concept of reality is not limited by the material reality, nor by the rational idea of a perfect intelligence and understanding, but envisages on-going creation by the individual, and by his associative group, of their conceptions of perfect and moral realities. This perfect moral reality is the Christian idea of the Perfect Truth. Since Truth is the meaning of reality it is progressive from the present state of affairs to the perfect state of affairs. 

 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

 

Christian Truth

Christian Truth is differentiated. There is Absolute Truth which deals with the purposes and acts of God. There is Cosmic Truth which deals with the meaning of the universe as a means of spiritual individualisation and a teaching system, and there is the Truth of Life, as a whole and in its parts, as it endeavours to achieve the Perfect Reality.

The truth of the individual, which is the perfect individual reality, is also the truth of the Teaching System which aims to form intellects to be capable of reaching the perfect reality. The truth of the teaching is also the truth of the Life principle which endeavours to bring all humanity to a state of perfect reality, and it is the truth of the Creator God as the achievement of the purpose of Creation.

As a comparison, Relativity physics and Quantum theory are seen as true but each is no more than partly true. A complete and final theory of physics can be envisaged which is true. Similarly, true theories of  Chemistry and other material sciences can be pictured where each is part of the corpus of physical truth.

In the Christian System the truth of any part of reality, absolute or created, is an aspect of the totality of truth. The different truths are arranged in a hierarchy such that whatever is true for any part is true for the whole. This is true even if it is a partial truth, whether this partial truth is material, ideal, moral , or spiritual. To speak of the truth in any context is to say it is compatible with the corpus of truth.

From the point of view of Augustinian knowledge the truth implies compatibility with the Fundamental theory which is the formal expression of the theology of the Holy Trinity of God. The Fundamental theory and its derivatives form the corpus of  Christian truth and knowledge as it stands at any point in time. The ultimate truth is the gift by God of the knowledge to decide our own futures and the power to create our own realities.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  

 

The Truth of the Augustinian Theory

 

The System of the Mother God teaches through experience and enlightenment. Experience is given through observation, reflective thinking, and analysis, and takes form as problems. Enlightenment is given in the form of problem solutions. The understanding of truth is given by the Light of Reason as the solution to the problem of the accuracy and precision of understandings of reality.

The Augustinian theory defines truth as the meaning of reality. Truth takes form as Understanding. True understanding is knowledge. The understanding of truth itself, if true, is knowledge. The understanding of truth provides the criteria for deciding what is, and is not, knowledge.

Augustinian belief and practice is an aspect of Truth, and specifically, is both a philosophy and a part of religious truth. Augustinian philosophy as explanation takes the form of theory, and as theory it is open to progressive enhancement as human philosophies and purposes require. It defines the nature and methodology of knowledge and truth, where knowledge is true explanation.

Augustinian Epistemology studies reality through experience, and Augustinian knowledge corresponds to reality and truth in all its forms. Augustinian knowledge, as the explanation of reality, describes reality and how to change that reality to achieve the improvement of the human condition.

Augustinian knowledge theory provides a compatible framework for philosophy, science and religion and enables the achievement of a unified culture. It shows how human experience can be explained in a manner which makes sense of human existence, and which can impart meaning, purpose and direction both to individual lives and to the development of the culture.  

The theoretical explanation of human cultures and individual intellects is given by Augustinian theory which shows how the problems of experience are transformed into knowledge of reality and how cultures and intellects can achieve rational truth based on knowledge.

Augustinian knowledge theory further explains human languages and shows the logical connection between experience of reality and the words of a language. Languages and explanations of reality are not divorced from the realities they describe. General purpose languages can, and do, enable truthful and useful human communication. They are fully compatible with the language of Meaning which is the language of reality itself. They are, in no sense, collections of arbitrary symbols.

 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  

 

The Theory of  True Reality

Reality in the Augustinian context is essentially God where God is defined as spirit. The characteristics of spirit are intelligence, sentience,  and creative power. God is loving, purposeful and moral.

Reality, for epistemology, must, however, include created reality in its subjective and objective forms, since the Creation is a device of God to explore, as God, the universe of possibilities. God and the Creation are One, although God is not co-terminal with the Creation. The Creation exists in the Mind of God.

God assists the development of the human understanding through the Teaching system of the Holy Spirit or God the Mother, Who was also known in antiquity as Wisdom or Sophia. The teaching system does not influence human choice but has the limited objective of creating individuals, and enabling those individuals to understand, think and choose.

Created reality is a device of the teaching system and empirical truth is the meaning of created reality gained through experience. The Teaching system operates through the problem and solution formula, and the solution to problems is given through the Inner light, and occurs as intellectual enlightenment. The Inner Light is therefore the Divine means of imparting the truth to humanity. The concept of truth is ultimately justified and supported by God as the Inner Light.

Communication between the Teaching System of God the Mother and the human individual is based on the language of Meaning which as a given language is the language of Creation.  

For the Augustinian Epistemology truth is the meaning of reality. However, reality, as understanding and as actuality, is the consequence of purpose so truth is the realisation of purpose.  These purposes are the products of Godís Will and human wills. The Creation as observed is the consequence of the choices made so far and the examination of created reality must consider the constituent parts of reality and the purposes being pursued in each part. The truth is related to these purposes and to the Creation project as a whole.

Life is a self-creating enterprise which endeavours to overcome all the problems that stand in the way of knowledge, where knowledge is the power to achieve the ends of both the group and its individual members.  There are stages of human development and each stage must be willed and achieved through the overcoming of problems. The choice and willing of this development gives rise to purposes.  

Purposes are aims to change reality, whether physical or ideal.. Where they conform to the moral demands of a self-creating philosophy, subjective or objective,  they are projects to realise better and therefore truer states of affairs.  Purposes, then, are potential truths which may be realised through the problem solving methodology.

For humanity, purposes are the products of the philosophical understanding but the philosophical understanding is equally the product of purposes. As the philosophical understanding changes so purposes change and the new purposes lead through successful achievements to new and better philosophies. In a progressive culture, group or individual, in which purposes and philosophical understandings change over time, truth is a developing understanding.

Changing purposes give rise to the Paradigm Shift described by Thomas Kuhn, and these shifts are essential stages in human progress.

Since both God and humanity are pursuing the best state of affairs for humanity there can be no conflict between the two approaches. Where inconsistencies arise humanity has, in some way, made mistakes. These inconsistencies will take form, sooner or later, as anomalies which require correction.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  

 

The Augustinian Epistemology as the Way to Truth

For the Augustinian Epistemology the Creation is a self-developing system, and every individual is a self-creating entity. The self-creating individual creates both him or herself and the reality in which they exist. That reality, as defined by the subjective philosophy, is the true reality for that individual, if it is free of anomalies and unsolved problems, although it is contingent on further experience. The personal truth is the meaning of reality where that reality is the subjective reality as defined by the individualís subjective philosophy.

The individual exists in the world, which functions, in part, as an intellectual and spiritual development system. The world, as the teaching system of God the Mother, defines what is empirically true and false for the individual. The Teaching system reflects back to the individual through experience the meaning of his subjective philosophy, and the individual learns through his mistakes and failures.

Where the subjective philosophy conflicts with the Teaching system, and the individual acts on that philosophy, anomalies will arise in experience. These anomalies imply that the subjective philosophy is, in whole or part, false according to the Teaching. Furthermore, the individual meets problems of understanding and behaviour which tell him or her that the subjective philosophy is inadequate to the individualís purposes and should be improved. If those purposes are to be satisfied. the problems of error and ignorance must be solved.

As he learns his concept of reality changes and these changes may be minor or major. The individualís subjective understanding of truth improves with each correct change.

At each stage in the individualís intellectual development the Teaching system regards the individualís definition of reality as true, since it is the expression of a self-creating entity which is free to define itself and its reality. Falsity means inconsistency with the Teaching system or inadequacy to achieve the individualís purposes and consequential behavioural objectives. Inadequacy is the common problem with subjective truth judgments.

 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

 

Objective Truth

If every individual in a group has radically different beliefs about himself and reality, opportunities for association, communication, and cooperation are curtailed. Objective knowledge is a device of Western philosophy which provides a framework for interpersonal transaction and general progress.

Objective philosophy, and the objective knowledge on which it is based, will, when expressed as behaviour, meet with anomalies and problems if they are false or inadequate, in a similar manner to subjective philosophy.  

Every philosophy that does not explain the totality of human experience and potential is subject to eventual contradiction by anomaly or inadequacy. For the Augustinian epistemology inconsistencies and inadequacies imply falsity since they cannot exist in the reality of God. The programme of knowledge is the endeavour to reach the perfect understanding and the perfect reality which is a definition of God and objective truth is the meaning of that reality.

  

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOP OF  PAGE RETURN

 

 

   

Contact Us