Intelligent Design

Truth Rests With the Minority

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Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.

Soren Kierkegaard, The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard, pt. 5, sct. 3, no 128 (1850)

15 Replies to “Truth Rests With the Minority

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    So, by Kierkegaard’s argument, in the US truth rests with atheists since they are a minority according to the polls?

  2. 2

    Seversky:

    So, by Kierkegaard’s argument, in the US truth rests with atheists since they are a minority according to the polls?

    Beat me to it. Gallup:

    “Three in Four in U.S. Still See the Bible as Word of God

    But 21%, near the 40-year high, consider it fables and history.”

  3. 3
    Mapou says:

    So, by Kierkegaard’s argument, in the US truth rests with atheists since they are a minority according to the polls?

    Nah. The real minority consists of those who oppose both atheists and organized religions.

  4. 4
    Tim says:

    Chesterton (in Orthodoxy):

    To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.

    So to our friends, Seversky and RB, beware the stagnant “truth” which the proud have long claimed as unique — (the “pure” atheists being only an offshoot coalition). It is deeply true that Christianity is not a religion, but a revelation. How is this true? Merry Christmas.

  5. 5
    redwave says:

    The Diary of Søren Kierkegaard, 1850, Denmark

    “Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion, which then becomes that of the majority, i.e., becomes nonsense by having the whole [mass] on its side, while Truth again reverts to a new minority.

    “In regard to Truth, this troublesome monster, the majority, the public, etc., fares in the same way as we say of someone who is traveling to regain his health: he is always one station behind.”

    (http://www.brainpickings.org/2.....-minority/)

    The Philosophy Pages by Garth Kemerling. 2011

    “Kierkegaard’s theoretical distinction between objective and subjective truth, worked out in the Afsluttende Uvidenskabelig Efterskrift (Concluding Unscientific Postscript) (1846) to the Philosophical Fragments. Considered objectively, truth merely seeks attachment to the right object, correspondence with an independent reality. Considered subjectively, however, truth seeks achievement of the right attitude, an appropriate relation between object and knower.” … “For Kierkegaard, it is clearly subjective truth that counts in life.” (http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/5t.htm)

  6. 6
    polistra says:

    Nope, bad correlation. When it comes to questions of common sense and natural law (What’s really happening? What does God want us to do?) the unwashed majority is usually right, and the aristocrats are always wrong.

    If you’re talking about questions of formal or symbolic verbiage (What does IRS code section 535.76P want us to do? What’s the answer to this partial differential equation?) then a well-trained minority may have a better answer. But those questions are temporary and trivial.

  7. 7
    rvb8 says:

    That would also mean that truth rests with the scientists and not the vast swathe of the religious, politicians,and business leaders. Damn that’s reassuring.

  8. 8
    JWTruthInLove says:

    Truth about what??!!

  9. 9
    hrun0815 says:

    Problem is always when there are multiple minorities with conflicting opinions. Ah, right, this is just one of those quotes one can use when it is convenient (i.e. when one is part of the minority)-it is of course invalid when one is part of the majority.

  10. 10
    redwave says:

    Concluding Unscientific Postscript To The Philosophical Fragments. 1846. English by David Swenson.1941

    “Here is such a definition of truth: An objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness is the truth, the highest truth attainable for an existing individual.” (http://www.quodlibet.net/artic.....ruth.shtml)

    Psy. 307; Review for Psy. 462

    SØREN KIERKEGAARD: SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT IDEAS

    2. In K’s view, truth is found through subjectivity, through our individual, unique apprehension of things.
    a) We do not find truth through a detached “objectivity” but through a deep engagement with the world.
    b) “The task is precisely to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others.” (https://www.sonoma.edu/users/d/daniels/kierkegaard_sum.html)

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Now every ID critic and her brother will claim that they know the truth, what with being in a minority of one and all.

  12. 12
    Robert Byers says:

    Its a good point a minority, more likely, gets things rioght as its opinion is thoughtful.
    however a minority can be very wrong also.
    so its not a good test of truth.
    Its just a test of thoughtful people relative to the majority who are not thoughtful usually.
    The majority could be right though.

  13. 13
    johnnyb says:

    I think that you have all missed the point of the quote. It is not about belief content. It is that actually knowing something about something puts you in the minority already. Even if you believe in a “majority opinion”, I would venture that if you actually knew something about it you would be in a minority opinion about the majority opinion.

    The question is whether you are being driven by fads or genuinely curious and interested. This puts you in the minority nearly every time.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    johnnyb,

    Thank you. I was wondering if anyone would get it. You do.

  15. 15
    hrun0815 says:

    I’m truly confused Barry and Johnnyb: what are you trying to say? What does it mean to be in the minority’s opinion about the majority opinion? And do you really mean to assert that curiosity and interest virtually always lead to minority opinions? And do you agree with Rvb8 when he suggests that very likely then the truth rests with the scientists who are both curious and interested? Or do you want to suggest that only some of the scientists (very likely the ones who hold minority opinions about things like evolution or human cause climate change) are the ones that are truly curious and interested?

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