Shakespeare on Truth.

The quality of Truth

Noble Prince, As there comes light from heaven and words from breath,

As there is sense in truth and truth in virtue,”

The suppression of Truth

That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.”

Testing Truth

Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies

To his confine; and of the truth herein

This present object made probation.”

Finding Truth

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;

And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,

With windlasses and with assays of bias,

By indirections find directions out.

Believing in Truth

Doubt truth to be a liar;

What Liars are

If they speak more or less than truth, they are villains and the sons of darkness.

The law of identity

Is not the truth the truth?

The effect of Truth

By telling truth. Tell truth and shame the devil.

Perceiving Truth

'Tis so strange That, though the truth of it stands off as gross

As black and white, my eye will scarcely see it.

Fearing power suppresses truth

Great lords and gentlemen, what means this silence?

Dare no man answer in a case of truth?


An early example of the correspondence theory of truth:

Is found in the proposition from Aristotle, Metaphysic book IV ch 7: 1011b 26-7:

(1) “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false,

Whereas a more modern version taken from Descartes understands

truth, in the strict sense as:

(2) Denoting “the conformity of thought with its object”

Perhaps the most recently acceptable version taken from Russell Chapter XII understands truth where:

(3) A belief is true when there is a corresponding fact, and is false when there is no corresponding fact.

Personally I am less happy with the third notion, than the first. It appears to me

the objectivity of truth has become subjectivised to belief, which in my notion occupies the lower level of that space in the vast distinction between Knowledge and Belief.

One may believe in anything true or false, One cannot know something false, one may know that it IS false.

It is the distinction between ' a priori' and 'a posteriori' in that the latter is a derivative of experience, and the former is innate to thinking. It is possible to believe that one knows something, but that belief may be false. One knows when one believes something, and that the belief is supported by circumstance, as in

But yet, I say,

If imputation and strong circumstances,

Which lead directly to the door of truth,

Will give you satisfaction, you may have't.

But yet also one knows that the consequences of this kind of epistemology is that truth itself remains undetermined and subject to the the laws of probability theory, namely that no matter how many confirming instances of a nomic relationship, or of observation of events, just one disconfirming instance is sufficient to doubt the belief. This is the principle of necessary and sufficient conditions and a reliable way of confirming, as near as probability may allow, the close proximity of ones belief's to ones knowledge of Truth. As provided elsewhere in these texts.

For example, if there were a very simple, nomic relationship in causation of life, “The presence of oxygen is necessary for life, if and only if the absence of oxygen is sufficient for the absence of life.” One disconfirming instance of life without oxygen is sufficient to compel the theory to be revised perhaps to mammals only.

The closest a posteriori argument I am aware of; that experience and empiricism may derive knowledge is that of existence in Descarte's “cogito ergo sum”, “I think therefore I AM” where a posteriori reasoning derives a conclusion that has that quality of certainty becoming of knowledge. It has reached a level of being inconceivable. If one posits some infinite regress argument that the experience of thinking is not a necessary and sufficient condition for existence, but an illusion contrived by some super clever orchestrator being played out on some non-self consciousness that does not exist, one is forced to a conclusion that at least the non-self consciousness must exist for it to be able to consider its self. (this needs expanding).

Whereas LOGIC, and 'a priori' propositions provide theories of epistemology from which flow a kind of certainty that is irresistible, inconceivable as false, and suggested as true in any space, any time and any worlds.

For this reason, it is my fervently held view that prior to empirical verification of any object of experience there should be a dialectic flowing from syllogistic logic and the three laws of thought. From the calculus of logic flows a series of tautologies that generally include propositions that require holding a view and its opposite as perfectly reasonable. Just as in the paradox of the sea battle below, where its truth is determined by the course of events.

I can perfectly and reasonably follow Aristotle's paradox of the sea battle which allows statements abut the future to be perfectly true, while as yet undetermined. This is an area of logical determinism I shall no delve into deeply, save to say that the proposition “There will be a sea battle tomorrow” is either a true or a false statement, and its derivative “There will or there will not be a sea battle tomorrow” as true under the law of excluded middle, but as yet undetermined.

I should interpose at this juncture that the laws of thought, and their primitive set of propositions; where for example it is a contradiction to say that a thing cannot be both the same as itself and not the same as itself in the same respect and time, formally “~(p & ~p)” takes full account of the notion embodied in Zeno's paradox that one cannot step into the same stream twice, namely that the universes are in flux. (at least four dimensions excluding the psychical) making anything different from its former self, an indivisible moment after the initial observation. Take a God's eye view in the mind, a kind of Laplacean view of the universes as all part of a coherent structure where from one moment to the next, a time slice, like a cat scan, may show all the determinants and antecedents to events that , in the unlikely event they are known, one could predict with certainty the next state of the universe.

For me, knowledge and belief are so very distinct, where belief is subject to a protracted empirical verification process involving perceptions and sensory data, and there remain certain notions for which it appears there is no possibility of establishing any scientific methodology for such determinations. I have in mind the notion of the existence of God.

Briefly the problem of His existence has been well expounded in the ontological and cosmological arguments, but they somehow leave the latter correspondence theory indeterminate, especially when one has to consider one of the particular problems of language, namely whether existence is an attribute.

While this reveals my bias towards the Platonic distinction between Understanding and Opinion. I should point out the particular purpose of this historical explanation is to bring these concepts into the courtroom, and explain where I feel there is a serious deficiency; in my view, in testimony deposed as “I believe the above statements are true” where the deponent has committed so many serious breaches of logical reasoning as to make any testimony as to their closeness of epistemological contact with the objects of their perception, totally unreliable, and closer to fiction, than reality (as it is in the objective world).

The particular relevance of this explanation will I hope become clearer as the reader examines the priorities between testimony presented as facts, which depend on the witnesses, and their aforementioned testimony, depending on processes of reasoning, where the coherence of the whole is totally undermined by assertions that are unmistakably fallacious. It appears in many of the cases I have had the misfortune to be enjoined, that my adversary, while relying on a book of rules, will seek to get a case dismissed, for reasons that have no bearing whatsoever on the arguments themselves being considered.

The last defendant, case Winter v Amtrak express parcels Ltd,, reveals a powerful inclination to the use of words, mandaciously and without there being the relevant charge (that positive or negative characterisation in their usage that makes the words move emotions, events and actions in the outside world). Words uttered with understanding and coined in their usage; rather than taken from a clipboard of useful phrases (without understanding them), act as touchstones to the potentialities in the minds of their recipients.

I have in mind here:

L97 <King. [Rising.]> My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:

|L98 Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Hamlet prior to the bedroom scene)

The consequence of failing to use words with understanding, is in my view that consequence where the party so doing;

Gets lost in a sea of words, who's meanings so elude them, they eventually drown in gibberish.” (Questor the sister site to this

To resume on the earlier theme, the first priority for the claimant or defendant, whoever you may be, is to subject the other party's arguments to some tests of logic, (not particularly within the formal calculus of logic, to which the unaccustomed reader may have little familiarity) but by merely observing the consistency, and contradictory nature of a mendacious opponent, and holdingthese against at least the three primitive axioms of logic, expressed by the law of Contradiction, Identity and excluded middle. These three laws are explained more fully on the sister site mentioned above, and a direct link follows.

Dealing with these priorities, will reveal the design and purpose of the other party, and once that is clarified, all the other pieces of testimony will most likely fall into a schema that may be called their willful intent and teleology.

Noble Prince, As there comes light from heaven and words from breath,

As there is sense in truth and truth in virtue,”

That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.”

Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies

To his confine; and of the truth herein

This present object made probation.”

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;

And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,

With windlasses and with assays of bias,

By indirections find directions out.

Doubt truth to be a liar;

If they speak more or less than truth, they are villains and the sons of darkness.

Is not the truth the truth?

By telling truth. Tell truth and shame the devil.

'Tis so strange That, though the truth of it stands off as gross

As black and white, my eye will scarcely see it.

Great lords and gentlemen, what means this silence?

Dare no man answer in a case of truth?

Tut, tut, here is a mannerly forbearance:

The truth appears so naked on my side

That any purblind eye may find it out.

SOMERSET. Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet?

PLANTAGENET. Ay, sharp and piercing, to maintain his truth;

Whiles thy consuming canker eats his falsehood.

Peace, impudent and shameless Warwick,

Proud setter up and puller down of kings!

I will not hence till with my talk and tears,

Both full of truth, I make King Lewis behold

Thy sly conveyance and thy lord's false love;

For both of you are birds of self-same feather.

That come to hear a merry bawdy play, A noise of targets, or to see a fellow In a long motley coat guarded with yellow, Will be deceiv'd; for, gentle hearers, know, To rank our chosen truth with such a show As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting Our own brains, and the opinion that we bring To make that only true we now intend, Will leave us never an understanding friend.

for it is you Have blown this coal betwixt my lord and me- Which God's dew quench! Therefore I say again, I utterly abhor, yea, from my soul Refuse you for my judge, whom yet once more I hold my most malicious foe and think not At all a friend to truth.

Out with it boldly; truth loves open dealing.

Most dread liege, The good I stand on is my truth and honesty; If they shall fail, I with mine enemies Will triumph o'er my person; which I weigh not, Being of those virtues vacant. I fear nothing What can be said against me.

For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss Is not amiss when it is truly done; And being not done, where doing tends to ill, The truth is then most done not doing it; The better act of purposes mistook Is to mistake again; though indirect, Yet indirection thereby grows direct, And falsehood cures, as fire cools fire

But for the certain knowledge of that truth

To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid. All my reports go with the modest truth; Nor more nor clipp'd, but so.

DUKE SENIOR. If there be truth in sight, you are my daughter. ORLANDO. If there be truth in sight, you are my Rosalind. PHEBE. If sight and shape be true, Why then, my love adieu!

To seek the light of truth; while truth the while Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look. Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile; So, ere you find where light in darkness lies, Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes. Study me how to please the eye indeed, By fixing it upon a fairer eye;

'By heaven, that thou art fair is most infallible; true that thou art beauteous; truth itself that thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous, truer than truth itself, have commiseration on thy heroical vassal.

And for himself himself must forsake: Then where is truth, if there be no self-trust? When shall he think to find a stranger just

'I will not poison thee with my attaint, Nor fold my fault in cleanly-coined excuses; My sable ground of sin I will not paint To hide the truth of this false night's abuses. My tongue shall utter all; mine eyes, like sluices, As from a mountain-spring that feeds a dale, Shall gush pure streams to purge my impure tale.'

Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the

knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well,

old man, I will tell you news of your son. Give me your blessing;

truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son

may, but in the end truth will out.

Thus ornament is but the guiled shore

To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf

Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,

The seeming truth which cunning times put on

To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,

Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;

MACBETH. [Aside.] Two truths are told, As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme-I thank you, gentlemen. [Aside.] This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, Against the use of nature? Present fears Are less than horrible imaginings: My thought, whose murther yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man that function Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is But what is not.

I pull in resolution and begin To doubt the equivocation of the fiend That lies like truth. "Fear not, till Birnam Wood Do come to Dunsinane," and now a wood Comes toward Dunsinane.

It is not truer he is Angelo

Than this is all as true as it is strange;

Nay, it is ten times true; for truth is truth

To th' end of reck'ning.

DUKE. By mine honesty,

If she be mad, as I believe no other,

Her madness hath the oddest frame of sense,

Such a dependency of thing on thing,

As e'er I heard in madness.

ISABELLA. O gracious Duke,

Harp not on that; nor do not banish reason

For inequality; but let your reason serve

To make the truth appear where it seems hid,

And hide the false seems true.

DUKE. Many that are not mad

Have, sure, more lack of reason. What would you say?

You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray! These vows are Hermia's. Will you give her o'er? Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh: Your vows to her and me, put in two scales, Will even weigh; and both as light as tales.

They will scarcely believe this without trial. Offer them instances; which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at her chamber window, hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended wedding (for in the meantime I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent) and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero's disloyalty that jealousy shall be call'd assurance and all the preparation overthrown.

Sweet Prince, you learn me noble thankfulness. There, Leonato, take her back again. Give not this rotten orange to your friend. She's but the sign and semblance of her honour. Behold how like a maid she blushes here! O, what authority and show of truth Can cunning sin cover itself withal! Comes not that blood as modest evidence To witness simple virtue, Would you not swear, All you that see her, that she were a maid By these exterior shows? But she is none: She knows the heat of a luxurious bed; Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.

But yet, I say, If imputation and strong circumstances, Which lead directly to the door of truth, Will give you satisfaction, you may have't.

When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutored youth, Unskilful in the world's false forgeries.

Beauty, truth, and rarity, Grace in all simplicity, Here enclosed, in cinders lie. Death is now the phoenix' nest; And the turtle's loyal breast To eternity doth rest. Leaving no posterity, 'Twas not their infirmity, It was married chastity. Truth may seem, but cannot be; Beauty brag, but 'tis not she; Truth and beauty buried be.

O truant Muse what shall be thy amends, For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed? Both truth and beauty on my love depends: So dost thou too, and therein dignified:

Why of eyes' falsehood hast thou forged hooks, Whereto the judgment of my heart is tied? Why should my heart think that a several plot, Which my heart knows the wide world's common place? Or mine eyes seeing this, say this is not To put fair truth upon so foul a face? In things right true my heart and eyes have erred, And to this false plague are they now transferred.

When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutored youth, Unlearned in the world's false subtleties. Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young, Although she knows my days are past the best, Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue, On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed: But wherefore says she not she is unjust? And wherefore say not I that I am old? O love's best habit is in seeming trust, And age in love, loves not to have years told. Therefore I lie with her, and she with me, And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

PROSPERO. I pray thee, mark me. I thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated To closeness and the bettering of my mind With that which, but by being so retir'd, O'er-priz'd all popular rate, in my false brother Awak'd an evil nature; and my trust, Like a good parent, did beget of him A falsehood, in its contrary as great As my trust was; which had indeed no limit, A confidence sans bound. He being thus lorded, Not only with what my revenue yielded, But what my power might else exact, like one Who having into truth, by telling of it, Made such a sinner of his memory, To credit his own lie-he did believe He was indeed the Duke; out o' th' substitution, And executing th' outward face of royalty With all prerogative. Hence his ambition growing- Dost thou hear?

PANDARUS. YOU have no judgment, niece. Helen herself swore th' other day that Troilus, for a brown favour, for so 'tis, I must confess- not brown neither- CRESSIDA. No, but brown. PANDARUS. Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown. CRESSIDA. To say the truth, true and not true.

TROILUS. O that I thought it could be in a woman- As, if it can, I will presume in you- To feed for aye her lamp and flames of love; To keep her constancy in plight and youth, Outliving beauty's outward, with a mind That doth renew swifter than blood decays! Or that persuasion could but thus convince me That my integrity and truth to you Might be affronted with the match and weight Of such a winnowed purity in love. How were I then uplifted! but, alas, I am as true as truth's simplicity, And simpler than the infancy of truth.

What, gone without a word? Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak; For truth hath better deeds than words to grace it.

Most true, if ever truth were pregnant by circumstance. That which you hear you'll swear you see, there is such unity in the proofs. The mantle of Queen Hermione's; her jewel about the neck of it; the letters of Antigonus found with it, which they know to be his character; the majesty of the creature in resemblance of the mother; the affection of nobleness which nature shows above her breeding; and many other evidences- proclaim her with all certainty to be the King's daughter. Did you see the meeting of the two kings?

Be not thy tongue thy own shame's orator; Look sweet, speak fair, become disloyalty; Apparel vice like virtue's harbinger; Bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted; Teach sin the carriage of a holy saint; Be secret-false. What need she be acquainted? What simple thief brags of his own attaint?

'O, that infected moisture of his eye, O, that false fire which in his cheek so glowed, O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly, O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestowed, O, all that borrowed motion, seeming owed, Would yet again betray the fore-betrayed, And new pervert a reconciled maid.'