Philosophy is largely conceived as a career of seeking the TRUTH.

But I doubt whether I should believe in truth when doing philosophy because really, when we start our journey of philosophy, who knows what we would end up finding? If it turns out no truth actually exists, then will the original belief in truth not itself our mistake, some dogmatic thing we should abandon?

But, if I don't believe, what would be my support and leader in my journey?

Kinda like a paradox.

Do you have any thoughts about this?thx!

  • Can you edit this? "will the original belief in truth not itself our mistake" Apr 1 '14 at 18:58
  • Sorry for my poor statement.Well, the point I want to make is that since Kant, dogmatic attitudes in philosophy have been abandoned once for all. Presupposing the existence of truth is just one of this kind of mistakes.
    – Melpomene
    Apr 2 '14 at 0:16

If "there is no truth" is true, then it is a truth. Therefore, the claim, "there is no truth" is a paradox, and truth exists.


"Truth" is a heavily overloaded term. From an outside view we might assign it a meaning based on it's usage in different fields:

  • In foundational mathematics, truth is a privilege awarded to certain symbol strings.
  • In common mathematics it is anything you can derive from a ZFC-equivalent set theory.
  • In physics it is the mathematical description behaviour of the universe around us.
  • In experimental science it is any result with a p-value below a certain threshold.
  • In engineering it is whatever principles you can use to build a comoddity which works as advertised and therefore is marketable.
  • In court it is what can be proven to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • In philosophy it is what can be convincingly argued.
  • In rethoric it is whatever the one who won the debate was advocating.
  • In politics it is what gets you re-elected.

The thing is that these all hinge on trying to elaborate on our native intuitive grasp of truth. Why should you believe the "truth?" Depends on what field you work in.

If you want to do things in philosophy, only believe in the truth for which proponents of it convince you. Do some critical thinking, pick a side. Maybe you'll agree with the old masters, maybe you won't: It's up to you.

  • Yeah, that would be what I choose to do when doing philosophy. thank you:)
    – Melpomene
    Apr 2 '14 at 13:40

You doubt is reminiscent of Pascal's Wager, and I'll suggest you a similar argument :

what is your risk in believing in truth ? Of course, I mean the belief in the existence of an objective world of "facts" and in the possibility of attaining a "reasonable" knowledge about it. You are not "forced" to belief in this possibility; but if not, what's the sense of philosophical inquiry ? There are lots of nice things to do (music, sport, buisness) other than philosphical inquiry...

  • Got you. It's interesting, but I think it belongs to the realm of practical reason whether we believe it or not. It's another kind of storytelling as to whether it can be justified on the basis of pure theoretical reason. Right?
    – Melpomene
    Apr 2 '14 at 1:02
  • @Melpomene - theoretical ? I don't think so. You must start somewhere in your proof, theory, philosophical system... At some point we need a nail in the wall to hang our theories. The idea of truth is so "basic"; of course there are lots of discussion about, but I think we cannot "demonstrate" some "ultimate truth" about truth and the relationship between our knowledge of the world "out there" ... Apr 2 '14 at 6:30

You state that you doubt so let's begin with "dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum" -- "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I exist", by which you can establish that your existence is true. Now you can consider that your perceptions -- forgoing any interpretation by yourself -- are true perceptions (neural stimulii at least). In this way you can build up a contingent reality. It is contingent upon interpretations that you know may be mistaken. Nevertheless you have a kernel of real truth at the centre at least. Further structures of truth/reason in your world depend on how well you trust your reasoning.


"Seeking truth" is a euphemism, like "life insurance". The craft of philosophy is about the destruction of perceived truth. Philosophy is the science and accumulation of methods for disproving ideas. As philosophy advances, and the methods become more powerful, the candidates for "truth" get fewer. Some say already that there are no candidates remaining.

Sources? how about Popper, Nietzsche

  • 2
    Any source on this?
    – Lukas
    Apr 1 '14 at 20:51
  • 1
    But besides destruction, shouldn't philosophers also take the responsibility of construction?
    – Melpomene
    Apr 2 '14 at 0:26

You say that you should not believe in truth because you find out there is no truth. There are a few problems here.

(1) It doesn't matter what ideas you start out with provided you are willing to correct errors. Knowledge is created by conjecture and criticism, see "Realism and the Aim of Science" by Karl Popper.

(2) What problem do you know of that would be solved by the idea that there is no truth? If no such problem exists then why are you adopting the idea that there is no truth?


Would you rather:

1.) seek TRUTH, and find that the only truth is that there is none, or

2.) embrace ignorance, and fall victim to those who claim truth where there is none

  • Thank you for your answer. But... I feel this somehow begs the question...
    – Melpomene
    Apr 2 '14 at 0:24
  • @Melpomene It's just a "worst case scenario" for each path. At worst, you spend years of your life seeking truth only to discover that truth is something that doesn't exist. Alternatively, you do not seek truth and are without the knowledge to evaluate the claims of the ignorant and charlatans. It's a time investment/return on value comparison. Were we talking about seeking HAMBURGERS, then a good answer could very well be "I'll just take my chances with the random burger joint down the street rather than researching the best HAMBURGER in the area." Apr 2 '14 at 16:58

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