J. Krishnamurti and Prof. David Bohm discuss the topic of truth and actuality (reality). They touch on reality however in my opinion and understanding don't clarify or define truth.

For example, truth is described as below however it isn't clear what is truth. What is honest and faithful? Is honesty and truth the same as is faithful and truth? Does this mean that if i am dishonest, i am not telling the truth or is this not a matter of perception? What may be real to me may not be real to you? Is this also not truth?

Yes, we must consider that, but first may we look at this question of truth. I think the derivation of words is often very useful. The word 'true' in Latin, which is 'verus', means 'that which is'. The same as the English 'was' and 'were', or German 'wahr'. Now in English the root meaning of the word 'true' is honest and faithful; you see, we can often say that a line is true, or a machine is true. There was a story I once read about a thread that ran so true; it was using the image of a spinning-wheel with the thread running straight.

4 Answers 4


Part of the work in philosophy is finding clear definitions to the words we are using. It seems that the discussion you cite pursue this goal. They don't define truth and reality because they're searching for a definition. The origin of words, their etymology, can be informative in this task but it is not decisive and should rather be taken as a direction of exploration. As you point out, honesty and faithfulness are not sufficient for truth: one can be honest and faithful, but still wrong. More needs to be said.

Regarding your questions about truth and reality: philosophers have come up with the following definitions which are generally accepted:

  • reality is what exists independently of the mind (of being perceived or conceived in such or such way).

So reality, for philosophers, is not a matter of perception, quite the contrary. Assuming that reality is relative to the perceiver is actually denying that reality exists.

Truth is more contentious. There are three traditional families of theories of truth, but also deflationary, quietist or sceptic accounts. The three traditional theories are:

  • correspondence: truth is correspondence (of a belief or a proposition) to reality

  • pragmatism: truth is ideal rational assertability, or ideal verifiability, or ideal long term utility (a belief which would "work" endlessly when interacting with reality)

  • coherence: truth is the coherence of a belief with our whole system of representation (usually associated with idealism, because there is no reference to reality).

It seems that in the discussion you linked Bohm and Krishnamurti lean toward a pragmatist theory of truth.

  • I don't quite follow what you meant by reality is what exists independently of the mind (of being perceived or conceived in such or such way). Can you elaborate and provide day to day examples?
    – Motivated
    Mar 8, 2015 at 7:43
  • Again, i don't quite follow the three traditional families of truth. Are you able to give examples?
    – Motivated
    Mar 8, 2015 at 7:45
  • 1
    You belive a table is real because you believe that it continues to exist even when you stop looking at it, or even if you don't classify it as a table. The table is real because it is such independently of your concepts or observation of it. That's what 'real' means. Mar 8, 2015 at 14:09
  • Concerning truth you can have a look at en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth Mar 8, 2015 at 14:12
  • The example of the table assumes that it exists as a concept. For example,if i have never seen a table that there is the likelihood it may or may not be real. Aren't some these realities based on experience as opposed to tangible "res" or objects?
    – Motivated
    Mar 8, 2015 at 17:27

This is a complement to (and a compliment on) quen_tin's excellent answer.

Building on the three common ideas of truth:

correspondence theories say that something is true if the proposition obtains in the world. Thus, following this theory, "Sydney is the capital of Australia" is false since that does not map onto our reality. "it is raining" is true at all times when it is uttered while it is raining in the relevant scope. The basic idea is that truth is what we get when there's no mismatch between our thoughts and external reality. (In Heideggerian terms this is the more abstract vorhandenheit -- present-to-hand).

pragmatic theories of truth say that something is true when it is functionally true. In other words, if I want you to use a brick as a hammer, I can say "here's your hammer." This is ready-at-hand, and we don't really care if it our "hammer" is a mallet, hammer, axe bottom, brick, weight, or anything else as long as it does the job. Sometimes this theory is set in opposition -- as for Heidegger who calls this zuhandenheit and thinks this is a more authentic way to relate to our world. Full fledged pragmatists often make this the only definition of truth -- i.e., it does not matter whether it corresponds to reality or not.

coherence theories of truth are somewhat difficult to find and understand. As far as I know, the basic idea begins with Hegel who sees truth as kind of a web of meaning. To use Wittgenstieinian language, it is language game where everything implies everything else, and they are all true, because they as a whole compose the game. So to use chess, sentences like "this is a knight" or "this is a bishop" make sense insofar as they have that meaning in the game. It does not matter if we are talking about blocks of wood or pebbles or something else. For Hegel, our understanding and reason is this interaction between our minds ("Spirit") and the world.


This text seems to have been positioned as a Platonic Dialogue. They don't clarify or define truth because as Dr Bohm points out:

Dr Bohm: The question of truth, reality and thought has occupied philosophers over the ages. It is a difficult one.

As a dialogue it's aim is to understand what so far is known, and which way each leans - it's this clarification that is operative here.

They quickly go over the position of reality independent of thought:

Dr Bohm: would you say Nature is real?

Krishnamurti: Yes...the stars, trees, the cosmos [are real].

They don't elaborate the distinctions here, which both Virmaior and Quen Tin have so usefully done in their excellent answers.

But As they introduced three terms in this discussion - thought, reality, truth - Dr Bohm introduces another view:

Dr Bohm: let us go further with our discussion of the word thing; you see in English, the root of this word is in German bedingen, to condition; to set the conditions or determine. We should say that a thing should be conditioned.

Krishnamurti: It is conditioned. Let us accept that.

If I'm not mistaken here, Dr Bohm is introducing here in a very vague way the Kantian notion of mind conditioning reality - if one takes his introduction of ding and bedingen at face-value as Kantian terms; and this appears to be confirmed by:

Dr Bohm: Reality cannot be totally independent of man.

And go by mountains, mountain man

And light your fires - in my skies


The primary downfall of contemporary philosophy is that it takes one of two positions, reality is observer-dependent or reality is observer-independent.

The shared assumption is there is one type of real, one level of existence, one way of being.

Our experiences and sensations are undeniably real, and so are the physical objects around us. But they are just the relative reality, just shadows on a cave wall, that exist because of a deeper reality.

This has been true from Plato to Everett.

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