Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

Is there a difference between what is true, and what is truth? Let’s look. At the moment I am writing this, the sun has just gone behind the clouds, and the first drops of rain are falling. That is true – for now. But is it truth?

No. For the truth is that at the moment of reading this, the weather where you (or I) the reader are reading it will be whatever the weather is then and there. And that’s the truth, universal truth.

Another example: all bodies are conceived. All bodies die. There will be a stated cause of death, and that will (we must trust the doctors) be true. Many die of cardiovascular disease. And that, if it is the case, will usually be true.

But the truth is that the reason that bodies die is that they are conceived. No body can die without it having been conceived, and without conception there is no bodily death. So conception is the ultimate cause of bodily death, and this is universal truth. This of course mean that lives are never saved, which is a universal truth; lives may well be extended by the heroic efforts of others, if that is true, but the bodies will still die.

Another example: is truth only available to those with many years of hard academic study? Or extensive life experience? Certainly there will be many things that are true, for now, that can be discovered by specialist investigation that will not be apparent to less exacting tests. But do these constitute truth, universal truth? Or are they conditional on the means of investigation, the circumstances  of the investigation, the overarching intellectual framework of the investigation? Will they always be true, or will they perhaps later be interpreted in a subtly, or utterly, different way? Is a photon a particle, or a wave? Is there such a thing as a ‘classical’ photon? Is it ‘just’ light? Sorry, is this geeky? In truth, it is a real issue for physics1

If a babe is washed ashore on an isolated island from a shipwreck, and somehow survives to grow to adulthood on that island as the only inhabitant, can that individual know any truth without a prior framework of investigation? Will it always be the truth that the weather at the time and place is the weather at the time and place? 

Can it be that universal truth is not universally available to all who look? Without any condition of time, or place, or circumstance? For if this is not so, universal truth is not universal — is it?

  1. For example