A student appears for an examination and while solving a problem, he begins with the correct assumptions but loses track of the problem in the middle and ends up with a wrong answer. He is given 50% of the total marks-a step by step marking procedure-and we can say that the solution was partly right and partly wrong.

In the realms of practical philosophy however, applied to our daily life, what exists and what we observe is an absolute truth. Is there anything called “Half Truth”? Because I believe-I may be wrong-that in ethics, there is nothing but absolute truth and if we only accept half of it, rejecting the part which appears more inconvenient to accept, we still support the wrong.

Does accepting truth, which most of the times is hard to accept, in parts correct?

  • See Fuzzy logic. Dec 31 '17 at 17:18
  • @Suddhasattwa Ghosh. Welcome to Philosophy Stack Exchange : GT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Dec 31 '17 at 18:59
  • The question might be read as being trivial or profound. For the profound view consider Lao Tsu - 'True words seem paradoxical'. This is because for absolute truth (or at least rigour) we must combine two half-truths. An example would be Heraclitus "We are and are not". This may be seen as two atomic half-truths combined into a rigorous statement. This leads us on to Buddhism's doctrine of 'Two Truths', which may be seen as two half-truths.
    – user20253
    Jan 1 '18 at 14:33
  • Any idea thought or spoken by humans is clothed in human concepts and by virtue of that alone can not be "absolute truth" in the exalted sense of "absolute" (which is used concerning God's knowledge, for example). It is historically and culturally conditioned. It is hard to put numbers on "degree of truth" but it is done in certain contexts, when dealing with vague or uncertain claims, for instance. Acceptance of "truth" is not the only issue. This certainly applies to ethics where judgments must be made despite moral ambiguity and limited information about the situation and consequences.
    – Conifold
    Jan 7 '18 at 21:03

A half-truth is usually a truth which is only a part, a portion, of the significant truth about a matter. A member of the Spanish embassy during the Franco regime told me that one of Franco's great achievements was that he ended the Spanish Civil War (1936-9). He omitted to say that Franco had also started the war. What he told me was true - Franco did end the war - but he left out the probably more important fact that Franco had caused the war in the first place.

I'd say he told me a half-truth.

Or take this example : 'You can only rebuild a city by destroying all old buildings'. Well, it's true that you can rebuild a city in this way but it is not the only way of rebuilding. Old buildings can be renovated.

Another half-truth.

'The British granted India its independence'. Yes they did, that's true but this statement it omits the further and more important truth that Britain had no means of continuing to hold India. 'Britain granted India its independence' is true and sounds like a magnificent, generous gesture. The other, more important part of the truth is that the Indian Empire was no longer sustainable and the British could not hold the Empire anyway.

'Half-truth' is not arithmetically a half-truth : literally 50% true and 50% false, though there doubtless are such statements. It's a colloquial expresssion for a statement of fact that deceives people, or tries to, by stating only enough of the truth to mislead.


All is but a half truth in the end. Evil and good are only subjective, it exists, and at the same time it doesn't, because it is created by the observer. Polar opposites must exist in balance. Meaning that if dark exists so must light in equal quantity. Both are two sides of the whole. Polarity manifests in the whole world, in everything in nature. Neither one is right or wrong, both just are. Now imagine a forever expanding circle with infinite pie slices on it, all of these are truths of the whole. And all are in relation to the other.

Here is an example of a half truth. All is all, and all is not all at the same time, because all is infinite. All is forever expanding. Nothing is nothing, but it is all at the same time, because in nothing exists the possibility of all. All will follow the order of nature, which is balance. All are half truths and at the same time they are not.

  • 1
    If all is but a half-truth, does that include that statement itself ?
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jan 1 '18 at 15:41
  • @GeoffreyThomas it does, and that is the most common attempt at wit that I have seen when someone makes this argument Apr 7 '18 at 23:31
  • @Callum Bradbury. It was a fair question about the self-referentiality of a statement. It was not wit, and not an attempt at wit.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Apr 8 '18 at 4:27

The 50% marks the student was given was for his good performance though he did a trifle mistake. If he were allowed more time to verify the answer, he would have solved the problem correctly. The marks given was not for the half truth; but for his performance. That student knows the steps by step procedure correctly that was to be evaluated. So he deserves marks. But how many?...It depends on the examination/examiner (or the authority).

What exist permanently is the Absolute Truth. It is the only truth. But facts exist for a certain period. Sometimes only for a short period. Sometimes for a long period or for a very long period. For convention we call some facts, truths. It is essential in our daily life. Otherwise so many complications/problems will arise.

"The sun rises in the east." -- This statement is not actually true. But we must regard it as a true statement.

If there is a grain of truth in something we say there is half truth in it, since we cannot (or we need not) quantify it. Most often half truths are focused for getting some advantages. Half truth may exist in the listener's/thinker's mind for some time...or for a long time; but, only in the mind. Like other statements (true or false) a half true statement also can influence the listener...sometimes for a short time, sometimes for the life time. It depends on the listener/thinker.

Does accepting truth, ..................................................., in parts correct?

It depends on the gravity/rationality to be given in that particular circumstance. Sometimes we will have to accept parts as truth.

E.g.: "Jack carried the load to the railway station on the horseback."

See these two statements related to this matter. 1. Jack carried the load. 2. The horse carried the load.

Actually the horse was carrying both Jack and the load. But the fare always goes only to Jack. Did we consider all the process here? Loading and unloading are the two parts we considered here. So, if there is a grain of truth/fact in the happening/matter we will be compelled to act accordingly (truth, sometimes in parts). But it depends on the circumstances.

............accepting truth, which most of the times is hard to accept, ......................................

As in the case of atmospheric pressure, we are accustomed to the laws/rules/rights which are prevailing here before our birth. So, without any effort we believe that are not ours, as ours. (These cause sadness in the end.) We forget the truth that these things are not even half truths or truth-in-parts. So you need not make any efforts to accept these in parts. You unknowingly believe it. The effort is not for accepting them; but for rejecting. If you ask yourself whether this true, you will certainly understand the truth behind them. You may begin with asking about this device you are using now--"Is this device really mine?"


There is a perfect quote from a favourite novel of mine which perfectly answers your question.

" There is your truth and there is my truth. As for the universal truth it doesn't exist ".

Every great story has two truths . As for your example according to the student's perspective the initiation of answer was right, so according to him the answer was half right.

Now lets take it from the teacher's perspective , she rewards grades based on answers from her student. Assume that she awards 1 mark for each right answer , so she awarded half points. Since the student couldn't get the full answer , according to her he was half wrong.

These two situations can be generalised as half truths or truths from perspective as I like to call it.

Now imagine the solution to that particular problem , according to teacher or student there is only one correct answer for that question. And every teacher awards the grades based on that particular answer but if u ask anyone with some sense they will tell you that a question may have multiple answers but they cannot be completely sure of it. Therefore full truth or universal truth exists in theory not practically.Its just the matter of perspectives.

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