Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Still true...

"Certainly there was once a superstition that all that was old was true; but we are now suffering from the contrary and no less dangerous superstition that all that is old is false and all that is new is true.  In fact, time has nothing to do with truth.  New truth can and must replace old errors, but it cannot replace older truths.  If you have a right to say that nothing is true until it has become true to you, this does not mean that it is because a truth has become your own truth that it is true; on the contrary, it had to become yours because it was, is, or will be true to every normal human mind that is able to grasp it.  It was very foolish of some men of the middle ages to believe that everything Aristotle had said was true, just because he had said it.  But would it not be equally and perhaps still more foolish to believe that everything Aristotle has said is false because he said it four centuries before Christ?  When I read in his Ethics that justice is the supreme and ruling principle of social life, or that scientific knowledge is the highest form of human activity, am I bound to believe, in order to be original, that injustice is the ideal type of social life and motor driving the most perfect form of human activity? Let us, on the contrary, keep our minds open to every truth, whether it be old or new; let us joyously submit to it, whatever may be the time or the direction from which it comes.  Be ready always to yield to it, resolved to stick to it, and it will spare you the burden of yielding to anybody or anything else.  Truth will make you free; submission to it will make you great."

—Etienne Gilson, "The Ethics of Higher Studies" (1927)