Truth and Method in Unification Thought: A Preparatory Analysis

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1 Truth and Method in Unification Thought: A Preparatory Analysis Keisuke Noda Ph.D. Associate Professor of Philosophy Unification Theological Seminary New York, USA Abstract This essay gives a preparatory analysis on the concept of truth in Unification Thought (UT). The essay begins a question of the circularity of truth raised by Plato. The examination leads to UT s view that truth exists in human mind as implicit knowledge shown in the concept of individual embodiment of truth in UT ontology. The essay explains why the truth is hidden and how it is disclosed. For the former question, it introduces a set of perspectives: creation and restoration. For the latter question, another set of perspectives: inward (internal, the self) and outward (external, the world). These two sets of ideas form a broad framework of methodologies in various sciences and religion. The essay also analyses two-fold manifestation of truth in UT: symbolic and imagery. The analysis leads to the reason why truth in mind can accord with the truth in the world, why language, which is conditioned by social cultural contexts, and logical, mathematical reasoning in mind can be a proper description of the outer world. The unity of truth in ideas and reality is explained by UT concept of logs, which explains a background for the correspondence theory of truth. It also explains why language is the primary method of capturing and expressing truth. Ⅰ. Circularity of Truth A. Plato s Question concerning the circularity of truth Plato s question is this. Suppose one does not have truth in any form and that is the reason why one seeks for truth. The, how can one determine what one finds is truth or not? If one has no criterion of truth, one certainly cannot make the judgment. But, on the contrary, if one has truth, why does one have to seek for it?

2 Plato s answer is a theory of recollection. One s soul already know truth. But it is buried deep in the soul when the soul entered into a body. Bodily desires clouded the soul and made it difficult to see it. So the knowledge is a recollection of what one already knew but has forgotten. The purification of the soul thus became the task to attain truth knowledge. Socrates, Plato s teacher and mentor, described his role as midwife. Midwife does not give a baby to a pregnant mother but only helps her to deliver a baby. The metaphor explains that a teacher can only awaken the person to truth, and help him or her to see what he or she already has. A. Concept of Individual Embodiment of Truth in UT UT (Unification Thought) conceptualizes the presence of truth by an ontological concept of individual embodiment of truth. Every being, be it a human or non-human, individual embodiment of truth. From UT perspective, every being is a manifestation of truth which is ultimately originated in God. A human being has implicit understanding of truth and the quest for truth is a process of bringing implicit understanding of truth to explicit understanding. 1 Here, a question arises. If it is hidden, is truth hidden? How is truth disclosed? 1. Concealment and Disclosure of Truth Concealment or hidden-ness means that one does not have clear conscious understanding of truth. UT explains it from a set of ideas, creation and restoration. How is the truth disclosed? UT answers with another set of ideas, inward (subject, to the self) and outward (object; to the world). These two sets of ideas form a broader framework within which truth seeking activities are carried out. Disciplinary endeavors including sciences and religion are performed within this framework. A. Creation and Restoration If one knew truth, one does not have to seek for it. If one is totally detached from truth or has nothing to do with truth, one may not even think of and seek for truth. UT views a human life as a process of discovering and embodying truth. A life can becomes a quest for 1 This definition of truth is also found in Heidegger. He defined it as aletheia, which means disclosedness, an event of uncovering. For him, philosophy is an activity to make implicit understanding explicit.

3 the meaning and the quest drives one to seek and find truth. In between the hiddenness and discovery/embodiment lie the meaning of human activities. Discovery, surprise, and awakening make a life exciting, full of surprise, and joyful. This is the original or natural process of human growth. Here is another question. Does a human being live and exist in un-truth? Does one exist in in-authentic, estranged, distorted manner? Since Plato, authenticity of the state of human existence has been questioned. This question has been central to religious traditions. Plato understood it as a struggle between the soul and bodily desires. Existentialists such as Kierkegaard and Jaspers grasped despair, anxiety, and the feeling of loss as symptoms of the loss of authentic state of being. How to restore the authenticity of human existence was the theme of their philosophical endeavors. UT conceptualizes the return to the authentic or original state restoration. Thus, a quest for truth is a process where two kinds of orientations, creation and restoration, are intertwined. The search of truth in some disciplines have a stronger inclination to restoration aspect, and others to the natural or original aspect. Self-justification: indication of the presence of truth From UT perspective, pre-presence of truth in a human being cannot be changed or altered. This fact is exemplified by phenomena of self-justification. A human being tries to justify his or her actions regardless of what those actions are. It is an inherent nature of human being to try to justify one s actions. This inclination to the good cannot be removed or eradicated even if one tries. Because it cannot be removed at will, it can reorient the self again and again to the good. 2 Moral or ethical education is an attempt to cultivate a potential the person already has. It is essentially persuasion. Understanding here basically means that one is awaken to or is opened up to truth one already has. Moral education ultimately relies on the presence of an orientation to the good in the person. This orientation to the good is what one cannot eradicate and it is transcending the self. B. Inward (subject; to the self) and Outward (object; to the world) 2 Plato viewed the good as transcending the world. Because it is transcendent the self, one cannot eradicate it no matter how one hard one attempts. A degree of concealment of the orientation to the good in each person varies.

4 A quest for truth has two orientations: one is inwardly or to the self and another is outwardly or to the world. Religion and science (physical science) are two prime examples. In religion, one examines the self, when one seeks for truth. Even in cases one does not consciously seek truth inwardly toward the self, the seeker s status is cannot be ignored or placed outside of the question. A seeker s existential status is always at stake. In religion, religious practices are required to open one s eyes. Furthermore, one not only seeks to discover the truth but also seeks to embody truth. One tries to become a substantial manifestation of truth. In Christian tradition, Jesus did not say I have a truth but instead I AM the truth. Truth is embodied. In natural sciences, in physical sciences particular, one attempts to detach and exclude oneself and directs the studies toward the world or phenomenal object. One takes by-stander s position and objectively observes the subject matter. The relationship between the self and truth is thus different in religion and science. Thus, UT conceptualizes this distinction in truth as internal truth and external truth respectively. 3. Ways of Disclosing Truth A. Religion and Science Truth in religion is internal or subjective in a qualified sense. It does not mean that truth in religion is individual subjective feeling in mind nor one s speculation. It is subjective in the sense that truth is disclosed through the mediation of the self or cognitive subject. The state of being of the subject who seeks for truth is at stake. The subject who seeks for truth is necessarily involved in the quest, and affects what is disclosed. Nevertheless, it is a quest for unbiased, universal truth. Methodologies in discipline, both in science and religion, were established in order to avoid mere opinions, speculations, and illusions. In religion, hermeneutics, practices, and rituals were historically established by each religious tradition and community. In science, research methodologies and norms of research have been historically established by research communities. 3 Two sets of factors form the framework of a research: creation and restoration, inward (subjective; self) and outward (objective; the world). These two sets of elements are intertwined. How and to which degree each factor operates is determined by the subject 3 Thomas Kuhn conceptualized historically and socially determined norms of research as paradigm. He pointed out that natural science has social, historical, and hermeneutical dimension.

5 matter. For example, physics considers the creation or natural aspect of phenomena and takes outward quest. Whereas, in psychiatric sciences, both creation and restoration aspects are considered and both inward and outward quests are taken. B. Correspondence in Truth Here is a question. We observe phenomena of the world and theorize them. We unconsciously employ logic imbedded in our thought process and try to construct a consistent theory. How can our mechanism of thought be in accord with the reality of the world? Why and how do we know that the reality is mathematically constructible and rationally explicable? How can the constructs of mind be in agreement with the reality? This is a question of epistemology and it will be fully discussed in the section of epistemology. Nevertheless, some clarification is necessary. The question can be also seen as a question of the correspondence between ideas and reality. There are several theories of truth and correspondence theory of truth is one of major theories. How does UT answer this question? This question is further extended to a question of the relationship between language and reality. Although truth cannot be fully expressed by language, language is a primary method of capturing and describing truth. Language is conditioned by cultural, historical contexts and it can be incommensurable. 4 How can historically conditioned language be the primal method of capturing and describing truth which implies universality? These two questions seem to be separate. Yet, in UT, both questions fall under the question of logos. C. Disclosure of Truth in the Individual Embodiment of Truth: Logos, Symbol (language) and Image UT presupposes two theses. 5 First, God created the world as His substantial object. Second, there are two forms of substantial object, substantial object in image and substantial object in symbol. These theses require a discussion about God, His relationship with the world, and others. They will be discussed in ontology. 4 Incommensurability thesis arises from Thomas Kuhn arguments on paradigm. When two paradigms do not have a common standard by which one can compare, two paradigms are said to be incommensurable. 5 UT presupposes other theses such as God s existence, the existence of the spirit world, and others. Each is a topic to be explored separately.

6 UT views a human being as a being divine natures are fully manifested in sensible forms. Other beings in nature are beings divine nature are manifested in symbolic forms. We can notice that one divine truth is manifested in two different degrees and levels. UT holds that the one truth originated in God is manifested in diverse symbolic forms and sensible imageries. UT further holds that God created the world through the mediation of logos. Just like DNA of human genes, logos is the fundamental information source which forms each being by determining its shapes and sensible appearances. Logos is thus individuated truth which can be manifested in mathematical and linguistic forms and sensible contents. Symbolic disclosure of truth: the mathematical and language The mathematical and the linguistic are primary symbolic representations. The mathematical is the most fundamental form that is present at all phenomena including the religious and the artistic. As we can see in mathematical logic, human discourse has mathematical structure, and religious rituals contain mathematical symbolism. They show how broad and pervasive the mathematical is. Language is also a symbolic representation of beings. Language is a social, cultural, and historical construct. Although what we can capture and express by means of language is limited, 6 language is the primary method to grasp and express truth. Logos is pre-linguistic word by which God created all beings. Logos lies as the basis of all beings and language is the closest way to describe it. The possibility of language is limited by semantic and syntactic rules. These rules are unique to each language and culturally historically conditioned. Languages may be incommensurable and may have only family resemblance. Richard Rorty, in his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, defined philosophical cognition not as a reflection of the reality like a mirror image of the reality. He took a pragmatic position, and defined it in terms of its usefulness in social contexts. He detached a perspective of truth from ontology and attempted to define philosophy and truth by social utility. UT, however, approaches truth from ontological perspective. Logos is the underlying principles and design of all beings in the world. Orders and relationships among beings are pre-determined by logos, which is God s primary plan and design for each being. Language 6 Religious traditions such as mysticism and Zen are keen to the understanding of the limit of language. Zen, for example, established practical methodologies to reach the Enlightenment by means of non-linguistic methods such as meditation and Koan (rationally inconceivable questions).

7 is a mechanism to grasp, and express logos. A human being can re-construct a world within a linguistic space. Such acts as naming, calling, answering, and understanding is human endeavor to organize the world within a linguistic sphere. Disclosure of truth by means of Images: five senses and images In Christian terms, a human being is created in the image of God. That is what embodiment of truth in image means. This concept also means that divine truth is manifested in a human being in sensible forms such as colors, shapes, textures, smells, sounds, and others. Truth is thus embodied. Meanings in language are manifested through mutual reference within linguistic system. In image, meanings are directly delivered to the recipient. For beings in nature, who do not have highly sophisticated language, sensible contents are the primary elements of communication. Movements, sounds, colors, smells, and touch are used as quasi-linguistic element. A human being has highly developed mechanism to manifest the invisible as the visible. A primary example is facial expression. Facial expression reveals subtle feelings such as joy, sadness, fear, anger, hope, disappointment, and hatred. 7 The linguistic and the sensible are intertwined. Language makes human experiences stable and communicable. It also discovers meanings of beings and uncover hidden truth. Conclusion UT conceptualizes all created beings as individual embodiment of truth. This concept explains UT view that all beings in the world are manifestation of divine truth. UT distinguishes human beings and all other beings in nature in terms of a way and a degree of its manifestation. A human being is a manifestation of truth in image and all others are a manifestation of truth in symbol. The divine truth is logos, a pre-linguistic divine Word, which defines the identity and essence of each being. It lies deep inside of human mind internally as implicit knowledge and it is also the truth which makes each being in the world. This mechanism is the basis for the correspondence of ideas and reality, a correspondence theory of truth. A quest for truth takes place within two sets of axes: creation and restoration; inward to the self and outward to the world. These two axes are intertwined and each discipline takes a different path according to the subject matter. For example, physical sciences pursue truth in natural states of phenomena without consideration of the existential status of the 7 Ekman, Paul. Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. New York: Times Books, 2003.

8 person who studies. In religions, inquirer s existential status or one s internal relation to truth is at stake for one s pursuit of truth. A quest for truth in religion is directed towards both creation and restoration aspects. Pursuit of truth in psychiatric sciences also involves both creation and restoration aspects. The task of clarifying the relationship between truth and methods points to a series of questions. Among others, a question of hermeneutics will be the next to be explored. All human inquiries, be it scientific research or religious practice, involve interpretation. Even God s revelation requires a proper interpretation. But, to determine which interpretation is right, we have to have a criterion by which we can judge interpretations. Here is again a circularity. To find truth, we need to have a right interpretation. But, to choose the right interpretation, we need to have a criterion. A question of hermeneutics includes a question of revelation, history, and language. A task of clarifying concept of truth in UT thus is led to the nest topic, a question of hermeneutics.

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