The human truths evolve: they are born, grow and decline. Therefore the human spirit can live easily without truths, but the human being can not live without certainties
Frequently the truth is confused with the certainty. This last term serves to designate the state of the spirit who believes is in possession of the truth; we should not talk of the certainty of a proposal if is refer to the truth or the evidence: the certainty is a mental state, therefore we can say that is the conviction that has the spirit of which the objects are as the human being conceives them. The simple certainty is a belief, the truth is a knowledge, and before knowing a single truth the humanity owned many certainties.
The conception of the truth has varied considerably during the ages. For some it was an identity, for another an utility, and a comfort for others. To the skeptics simply seems an irrefutable error at any given time. The dictionaries discover clearly those divergences. Their definitions are limited generally to consider to the truth like quality by which the things appear such as they are, also represents the conformity of the thought with the reality, the Real Academy gives a definition that committed little: “The truth - it says is the reality to what is true”. If we refer to the true word true, we see that the true thing represents “what is according to the truth”. Such explanations visibly are deprived of real sense. The dictionaries would gain in exactitude and clarity if they simply called the truth to the idea that we formed of the things.
The scientific definitions are more modest, but also more precise. The wise person, leaving separate the inaccessible realities, considers all truth like a relation, generally mensurable, between two phenomena, whose essence remains ignored. Have been necessary more than a few centuries of reflections and efforts not to arrive at this formula . This is of application to the scientific knowledge, not to the religious, political beliefs or morals. These originated by their affective, mystical or collective origin, have as unique base the adhesion of those who accepts them. One admits them, either by supposed evidence, or because the opposite conceptions seem unacceptable, or mainly, because they have obtained the universal assent, that assent that is considered like the only criterion of the truths that are not of scientific nature.
The pragmatic ones imagine, nevertheless, to have discovered in the utility a new criterion of the truth; and it is not another thing that those we found advantageous in the order of our thought, of equal way that the good is simply what we reputed advisable in the order of our actions. Such definition hardly seems to me permissible. The utility and the truth are clearly different kind of knowledge. It is possible to accepted what is useful, but without confusing it for the truth.
In its evolution the truth was formerly inseparable of the fixation. The truths constituted independent immutable entity of the times and the men. That belief of the immutable of the things and the certainties from that immutable were derived reigned until the day in which the progresses of the science condemned them to disappear. Astronomy showed that the stars, considered before like immovable in the firmament, ran by space at a vertiginous speed. Biology proved that the live species, before considered as invariable they transform slowly. The same atom lost its eternity and came to be an aggregate of forces transitory condensed.
Before such results, the concept really is more and more vacillating, until the point to seem to many thinkers a concept lacking of real sense. Religious certainties, philosophical, morals and scientists have been collapsed successively, not leaving in their place more than a succession continues of ephemeral things. Such conception seems to entirely eliminate the notion of the fixed truths. I, judge, nevertheless, possible council the idea of his transitory character. Some very simple examples will be enough to justify this proposal. It is known that the photography reproduces the fast displacement of a body, example the one of a horse' gallop, by means of images, whose duration of the impression is of the order of hundredth of second.
The image thus obtained represents a phase of movements of a absolute truth, but ephemeral. Absolute during a short moment, later it happens to be false. It is precise to replace it, like the cinema or the video does, for other image as absolute value as ephemeral. This comparison, modifying simply the time scale, is applicable to the diverse truths.
These, although changeable, have the same relation with the reality that the instantaneous photography's of which we finished speaking, or also the wave reflection of a mirror. The image is movable and, nevertheless always true. In the fast transformations, the absolute of the truth can not last more of hundredth of second. For certain morals truths, the unit of that time will be the route of some generations. For the truths that talk about the invariability of the species, the unit will be represented by million of years. Thus the duration of the truths varies from some hundredth of second to several million centuries. This verifies that a truth can at the same time be absolute and transitory.
The preceding exact comparisons from the point of view of the objective truths independent of us, are it many less for the subjective certainties: religious conceptions, political and morals, especially. As it does not contain more than weak portions of reality, they are conditional solely to the idea that we formed of the things, according to the time, the race, the degree of knowledge and culture, etc. Is, then, natural that, varying they, the truth correspond to the thoughts and to the needs of a time even if is not enough to fill those of another time.
The notion of truth, simultaneously stable and ephemeral, will replace surely in the philosophy of the future to the immutable truths of another time or to the summary negations of the present moment. In fact it is rare that the human being chooses his certainties freely. They are imposed by the environment and it follows the variations of this one. The opinions and beliefs are modify by this reason within each social group.
The means that influence our conceptions can change slowly, but at the end they always changing. The march of the world can be compared to the course of a river, this one always drags molecules more or less similar, whereas in most of the phenomena of the universe, those of the social life especially, the time constantly drags modified elements. They modify because a being , plants, animal, human being or society is put under two forces that work incessantly, and transform them gradually: the pasts resources of which the inheritance conserves its seal and the a presents resources. This double influence conditioning all the mental life, and therefore the social and morals truths, that are their expression. If the time, for example, precipitated its course like in the images, the existence would be of such brief way that our ideas morals would be disconcert. Almost not lasting the life of the individual, this one would be interested only in those in their own species. An intense altruism would dominate all the relations. If, on the contrary, the time marched slow and the existence would last several centuries, the characteristic of the humans would be a ferocious egoism.
We will say to conclude that, like all the phenomena of the nature, the human truths evolve: they are born, they grow and they decline. Therefore the human spirit can live easily without truths, but he cannot live without certainties.