“For it is in the long run that, somehow, truth may survive-through the decay of untruth. ” This quote, said by John Lukacs, invokes deep thought when considering the advancement of human knowledge. Lukacs is a well-known historian of Hungarian descent. While he may have directed his statement towards history, it is also applicable to certain other areas of knowledge.
We can look at knowledge as a fortification, a wall if you will. Truth is what makes it up, the blocks that build it and keep it intact. When you look closer, however, cracks and holes can be seen and so these may be the untruth that makes knowledge far from perfect.
The idea that actual truth can exist after untruth has been destroyed affirms the thought that we can know what is true if we know what is not true. This brings up the topic of pragmatism: what cannot be proven wrong, or what works without failure in any applied circumstance must be true. Once this is considered, we know that this statement holds true for certain areas of knowledge more than others. First off, what is truth? The definition of such an entity has quite a number of explanations.
Some regard truth as the actual state of something or basically anything that has been proven and is accepted. Another point to consider is that some people consider the purpose of life as basically the pursuit for truth. However, the statement made by Lukacs has several setbacks that may cause different people to form several conclusions. Untruth seems to be whatever is not truth. Why did he just not use lie or a falsity instead? Those are both conscious decisions and Lukacs knows that untruth as a whole may be unconscious and we do not merely choose to deny the truth.
Untruth ergo is ignorance; it is that we don’t know we are wrong. Also, Lukacs uses the word ‘survive’. He makes it seem that truth is being threatened by something, which in this case may be unawareness itself. The word ‘somehow’ implies that he is expressing uncertainty or hesitation about its survival and thus depends on the ‘decay’ of untruth. Lukacs makes it seem as though time is what will destroy untruth, because ‘decay’ refers to the destruction of something over a period of time.
All of these different views must be taken into consideration before discussing their relevance to the areas of knowledge. The areas of knowledge that will be explored here will be the sciences, mathematics, history, and ethics/politics. Each of these areas provides their own interpretations and explanations. Science, along with mathematics, seems to be seen as one of the most truthful of the different areas of knowledge. This is because there is so much research and tests that go into determining whether something is true or not in science. When there is an instance in which something does not acquiesce an answer, then people go to science for an explanation.
The scientific method demonstrates that over time, untruth decays and truth will live. The method includes testing certain theories over and over until the outcomes can determine that the theory is true. The original theory must be changed or even thrown out when new data is found, thus weeding out all untruth and preserving the truth. In my life, I have experienced how scientific principles change over time. When I was young, Pluto was regarded as a planet. Now, it is considered just an asteroid. Is this the truth? Or do we think it is the truth?