Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/138

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134
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH[1]
By Professor DAVID STARR JORDAN
STANFORD UNIVERSITY

AT the January meeting of the Astral Club at Alcalde, Mr. Arthur Grimshaw, of Berkeley, the newly appointed science teacher of the Alcalde Union High School read a curious and interesting though revolutionary paper on the 'source of knowledge.' His title was 'What is Truth?' This paper was highly appreciated by the club as the example of the best results which can be attained on the material plane of thought. The author's failure to rise to the heights of astral conception was however painfully evident. It is plain that in the laboratories where his training was secured all esoteric sources of truth have been ignored. But as the Astral Club of Alcalde, though I say it who should not, is nothing if not open-minded, it shall be the duty of the secretary to transfer to this record the substance of this young man's views on the tests by which truth may be known.

Mr. Grimshaw began by a discussion of the significance of 'philosophic doubt' whereby men question the only things they know to be true, in the hope of proving the reality of things they know are not true. For if you can show that truth and falsehood are identical in the one case, it lends probability to the theory that falsehood is truth in other cases. On this general argument are founded many forms of modern philosophy and of ancient philosophy as well. Mr. Grimshaw said:

"What I mean to show is that all truth is truth so far as it goes. The things we know to be real are real and we are not deceived in believing in them. The proof of the reality of an object, the truth of a proposition lies in the fact that we can accept it and translate it into action, into life. If it were not true we could not act upon it. Acts based upon it would sooner or later put an end to existence.

"The real nature of an object before us may make little importance to us. It may be solid rock or empty vapor, if we choose to let it alone. But the moment we form relations with it its reality becomes a vital matter. If it is a rock or an apple, then rock or apple it is in all its relations. If we view the apple as something essentially different from what it is, there will be similar errors in our thought of other things. If we are deceived as to the rock we shall have unsound notions as to other things.

  1. Being further extracts from the Journal of the Astral Club of Alcalde.