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17. Falsity

1. There can be no falsity in things, for falsity is in judgment about things. Being and the true are really one. A thing is what it is, and is necessarily known as such by the infinite mind. Thus all things are true with real or ontological truth; there is no such thing as ontological falsity, that is, real falsity, falsity in things. Things, indeed, are often called false, but this is by reason of their use, or of their effect on the creatural mind. If one says, "Sentiment is a false basis for judgement ", one is not saying that the sentiment is not sentiment; the word false is loosely used in the statement, and means unsafe or unsound, and not really false at all. And when a person speaks of false teeth or false whiskers, or says that a trunk has a false bottom, he merely means that these things resemble teeth or whiskers or the real bottom of the trunk; this resemblance in the things may lead a careless observer to judge that they are real teeth or whiskers or the real bottom of the trunk. Thus these things (which are what they are, and thus are true in themselves) may easily be the occasion for false judgment, that is for logical falsity, for falsity in a mistaken human mind. Thus the only falsity of what are called false things is falsity in judgment about the things, and not in the things themselves.

2. Is there falsity in our sense-knowledge? Do our senses ever deceive us? No, the senses themselves do not deceive us. Falsity in sensing may come from careless use of the senses, from disease or defect in a sense organ, from using a sense outside its normal and proper range of operation, or from using a sense in a medium or under conditions unsuitable for its functioning. If I glance at a drawing and judge that it is an eight-sided figure, whereas in fact it is nine-sided, I cannot justly say that my eyes have deceived me. The falsity is in my judgment which is made upon careless use of the eyes. Besides, the proper object of the sense of sight is light (that is, light diffused by refraction on a bodily surface, and thus appearing as color) and not the shape of what is seen. Falsity in sensing is always false judgment (of sense or mind) arising from misuse, defect, or unsuitable medium of operation. That is to say, falsity is not in the senses by their nature, but only as something accidental to their activity or use.

3. There can be no falsity in the divine mind, for God is truth, and God is all-knowing. But there can be falsity in human minds; we call such falsity mistake or error. The mind itself is never deceiving; there is nothing in the nature of the mind to cause false judgment about reality. Falsity of judgment comes from causes accidental to the use of the mind, such as hasty concluding without considering all the evidence; bias or prejudice or indifference which keeps the mind from looking at the evidence, and from other external factors in judging, such as disease or neuroses.

4. Truth and falsity are opposed as contraries, not as contradictories. For falsity is not merely the negation or denial of truth; falsity is the affirming of something in place of truth.

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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