a certain amount of truth

Posted in opinion on February 5th, 2010 by george

Through the ages, the word and the notion, truth, has been the subject of conjecture, debate, and reams of written opinion and discourse. I don’t pretend to have anything startlingly new to add. But the phrase which is the title of this post, and what it suggests, has always disturbed me.

One of the dictionary definitions of certain is, ‘some though not much‘. For some reason, this is the meaning I assume to be in use in the phrase. In which case, ‘a certain amount of truth’ is a convoluted way of saying something is mostly a pack of lies!

My instinctive response when encountering this phrase has always been, “Well either its true, or it isn’t.” But truth isn’t  necessarily such an absolute. In the material world it often is. A pint of beer, a dozen eggs, dawn, winter…There’s no denying these things. They just are. A pint of beer is a very certain amount of truth. As in sure, finite…

However in the realm of ideas, philosophy, metaphysics and such, there seem as many degrees of truth as there are colours in the spectrum. Perhaps it is something to do with the nature of words, which ultimately fail us when we try to convey our insights to others. Music or pictures often do a better job. But at best, even they allow only momentary glimpses of something we yearn to know better. And that something we suspect is truth, or at least part of it.

‘A certain amount of truth’ sounds like a kind of seasoning that one might add to one’s reality or perception of it. Enough would make it truthful, but anything less would not.

If we are spicing our lives in this way, let us serve generous helpings!

Click to share this post with friends.

For more great content, remember to subscribe to my RSS feed. Subscribe

Get Adobe Flash player