Handling Truth

Handling Truth

William Melvin Gardner’s Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research (Logica Books, 2012, Second Edition 2020) is available at Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, and local bookstores.

“We know no higher experience than human experience, no higher understanding than human understanding, and no truth higher than that formed within the confines of, and expressed with, language. We know only the truths of the four sovereign domains of truth.”

“In the oldest domain, RHETORICA, statements are advanced or discredited by the process of persuasion and debate, or rhetoric. In Rhetorica, truth always remains a matter of opinion. In the second domain, MYSTICA, truths are articles of faith or beliefs, arising from and tested by spiritual revelation, prophecy, sacred texts, personal enlightenment, or other mystical processes. In LOGICA, truths are inferences or proofs that have been validated with the methods of logic. The fourth domain is EMPIRICA, and its truths are empirical findings, confirmed and documented by research.”

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“Each truth arises and is validated in only one of the four domains, and may be untestable in other domains. If a truth can be tested in a second domain, it is possible or even likely that it will fail that second test. To the extent we wish to search for truth in more than one domain, we must learn to accept contradictory truths.”

“If we expect truth to be universally accepted, we will remain blind to the primary and enduring source of these contradictions and disagreements. Only when we understand and respect the borders and rules of all four domains of truth can we hope to understand why we disagree. Or, for that matter, why we agree.”

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“We each travel in the same four domains, but accidents, opportunity, and personal biases put us on a unique path to truth. Some of us tend to stay within one preferred domain, often Rhetorica, while others make ourselves at home in each domain—and many of us are distinguished by a reluctance or refusal to enter one particular domain.”