/ HAS MAGAZINE
03
Truth and Belief
JUNE 2021

EDITORIAL 

by Zoltán Somhegyi

We are often tempted to think of “truth” and “belief” as straightforward concepts that define qualities, phenomena, and states that are fixed (belief) and standard (truth). As it turns out, however, neither concept is as straightforward as it seems.

Truth can have multiple aspects, and its polyvalence may result in extremely different “truths.” Something may be true for some and false for others, or its degree of truthfulness may vary significantly based upon a myriad of internal and external factors. One may believe something is absolutely true, almost true, very-close-to-true, somehow true, or completely false, depending upon prejudices, previous knowledge, further information (which itself may, naturally, be true or false), education, political inclination, religious identity, and so on. Since all these—and many other—factors influence our ability to grasp truth, our experience of truthfulness is—or, better to say, should be—its uncertainty. If we are aware of this insecurity of and in truth, that is perhaps the closest we can get to it.

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EDITORIAL 

by Zoltán Somhegyi

We are often tempted to think of “truth” and “belief” as straightforward concepts that define qualities, phenomena, and states that are fixed (belief) and standard (truth). As it turns out, however, neither concept is as straightforward as it seems.

Truth can have multiple aspects, and its polyvalence may result in extremely different “truths.” Something may be true for some and false for others, or its degree of truthfulness may vary significantly based upon a myriad of internal and external factors. One may believe something is absolutely true, almost true, very-close-to-true, somehow true, or completely false, depending upon prejudices, previous knowledge, further information (which itself may, naturally, be true or false), education, political inclination, religious identity, and so on. Since all these—and many other—factors influence our ability to grasp truth, our experience of truthfulness is—or, better to say, should be—its uncertainty. If we are aware of this insecurity of and in truth, that is perhaps the closest we can get to it.

Truth can have multiple aspects, and its polyvalence may result in extremely different “truths.” Something may be true for some and false for others, or its degree of truthfulness may vary significantly based upon a myriad of internal and external factors. One may believe something is absolutely true, almost true, very-close-to-true, somehow true, or completely false, depending upon prejudices, previous knowledge, further information (which itself may, naturally, be true or false), education, political inclination, religious identity, and so on. Since all these—and many other—factors influence our ability to grasp truth, our experience of truthfulness is—or, better to say, should be—its uncertainty. If we are aware of this insecurity of and in truth, that is perhaps the closest we can get to it.

Belief further complicates things, as it is not only a similarly convoluted concept, but has direct connections to truth and its various forms of apprehension. One can often believe that something is true, but the stronger we believe it, the less we are aware of the fact that it is precisely our strong belief that impedes us from the critical examination of what we believe. Beliefs may also be misleading, as they are often based on things merely thought to be true. Complex belief systems and stabilized ideas and considerations, on a broad range of subjects, often contain elements of truth, with additional elements that are shaped by the believing subject to fit into the system, often at the cost of unconsciously, though significantly, modifying them in order to mould them into the individual’s subjective reality.

Nevertheless, the uncertainty regarding truth is not necessarily problematic—it only requires careful, consistent critical evaluation and, especially, a sense of great  responsibility. If one is aware of the fact that truth is relative, it broadens one’s perspective, and may lead to intellectual and emotional development. On a larger scale, it may lead to further progress in all branches of science, society, humanities, and the arts. However, if this awareness is oppressed, critical thinking is not supported, and the intellectually-anaesthetized masses are manipulated along various agendas, crucial problems may arise that can have consequences for several generations.

In our new issue of HAS, the contributions analyse many aspects of these questions, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. The problems are not only examined on theoretical and philosophical levels, but applied in the investigation of tangible issues, including the manipulation of facts, fake news, exploitation, difficulties around political transparency, and ethical dilemmas.

We hope that our selection of theoretical analyses and examinations of case studies, as well as artworks and projects connected to these questions, will not only highlight the importance of being aware of the complexities of truth and belief in general, but can also contribute to a much-needed raising of critical thinking in particular.

Zoltán Somhegyi, Editor

Art historian with a PhD in aesthetics, Zoltán Somhegyi is Associate Professor of art history at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary.

All articles are edited by HAS magazine, unless indicated by * next to the author’s name.

All views or opinions expressed in HAS magazine belong to the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of HAS magazine or any of its affiliated operators.

Summary
Editorial team

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to acknowledge our gratitude to John Crowley, the Chief of Section for Research, Policy and Foresight in the UNESCO Sector for Social and Human Sciences from 2014 to 2021.

In 2016, Luiz Oosterbeek sent an open invitation to Mémoire de l’Avenir to join and to contribute to the mission of UNESCO-Most, headed by John Crowley, with The International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) and the International Year of Global understanding (IYGU): First, by providing the arts and creativity section of the WHC2017, and then since, by working together towards the global mission of the UNESCO- MOST Program and of CIPSH’s goals. The result of this collaboration is the Humanities, Arts and Society project.

It is a great honour for Mémoire de l’Avenir to initiate and then nurture the Humanities, Arts and Society (HAS) project, together with UNESCO-Most and CIPSH. Particularly to take part in this important adventure, working with people from the fields of science and research, while also collaborating with thinkers, project holders, initiators, and artists, with the common goal of proving the importance of creativity in all fields of life.

We would like to thank John for his trust and for his vision, offering support, presence, and time to HAS. This allowed us to share knowledge beyond habitual boundaries, bridging people, disciplines, places, and initiatives.

Through the HAS project, supporting multidisciplinary cooperation between various fields of research and of the arts became an integral part of the process of enhancing creativity and imagining new futures.

We would like to end this note of acknowledgement for John’s support and contribution with a quote from Robert Filliou’s that I find well suits John’s generous vision of the work we have done together:

I am not only interested in art; I am interested in society and art is one aspect of it… Art is a function of life plus fiction which tends towards zero? If function equals zero, then art and life are one and the same (speed of art). This element of fiction, i.e. the passage, is the minimum point between art and life.

We wish you luck, John, with your new venture, the PHGD Group (http://phgd.group/en/), and hope that our collaboration will continue far beyond the gates of UNESCO, In order to bring about an inclusive future.

 

We would especially also like to thank Katarina Jansdottir for her collaboration on the HAS project and its magazine, which she coordinated with great professionalism over the past two years. The whole team wishes her all the best in her future professional endeavours.

 

HAS Magazine is created upon an original proposition of Prof. Xiang Xiong Lin, President and founder of the GCACS, conceived and developed by Mémoire de l’Avenir, UNESCO-Most and CIPSH within the Humanities Arts and Society Project.

War begins in the minds of men. The only way to prevent war from happening is through humanity, culture, and the arts. Only by penetrating the hearts and thoughts of people, individually and collectively, can we enable culture to suppress and overcome humanity’s wild and barbarous instincts, and purify its avaricious and power-hungry desires and ambitions.

The digital publication Humanity, Arts & Society is an ambitious artistic and scientific biannual journal, sponsored by four intergovernmental, non-profit cultural organizations. The shared mission and vision that has brought these four organizations together is based upon the goal of serving people and society, promoting culture, the artistic spirit, and human thought with the aim of building a universal global village of trust and harmony.

Professor Lin Xiang Xiong

 


DIRECTOR Luiz Oosterbeek (CIPSH)
DIRECTOR Margalit Berriet (Mémoire de l’Avenir)
HONORARY PRESIDENT Xiang Xiong Lin (GCACS)
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Zoltán Somhegyi
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Marie-Cécile Berdaguer
GENERAL COORDINATOR Helena Schümmer
ASIA COORDINATOR Kuei Yu Ho
UNESCO-MOST COORDINATOR Camille Guinet
GCACS COORDINATOR Fion Li Xiaohong
PROJECT ASSISTANT Tamiris de Oliveira Moraes
GRAPHIC DESIGN Costanza Matteucci & Élodie Vichos
ENGLISH EDITOR Dan Meinwald
FRENCH EDITOR  Aurore Nerrinck, Marcel Rodriguez
FRENCH CORRECTORS Aurore Nerrinck, Margherita Poli & Marcel Rodriguez

FRENCH AND ENGLISH TRANSLATION Ashley Molco Castello
CHINESE TRANSLATION Kuei Yu Ho
ADMINISTRATION AND PRODUCTION Victor Gresard
DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT Active Creative Design
WEBMASTER Labib Abderemane
OPERATIONS Mémoire de l’Avenir

COVER Margalit Berriet

Advisory Panel

Aurélien Barrau Astrophysician, Professor at the University of Grenoble-Alpes and filmmaker.
Madeline Caviness Professor in Art History at Tufts University, member of CIPSH.
Divya Dwivedi Philosopher and writer, Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Wang Gungwu Historian, Professor Emeritus at the Australian National University and Professor at the National University of Singapore.
Hsiung Ping-chen Secretary-General of the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences ( CIPSH) –  and CIPSH Chair in “New Humanities”, University of California, Irvine.
Alain Husson-Dumoutier UNESCO artist for peace, painter, sculptor and writer.
Charles-Etienne Lagasse President of the Jacques Georgin Study Centre.
Liu Mengxi Founding chief editor of the magazines Chinese Culture and World Sinology, director of the Institute of Chinese Culture.
Liu Thai Ker Architect and urbanist, President of the Centre for Liveable Cities.

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