Friday, October 17, 2008

Paging Dr. Latin…

To anyone out there with Latin "skeelz": Does the following mean "Truth can defend itself"?

Veritate defendare se potest.

My grasp of Latin grammar is deplorably weak, so I need to know if that sentence is acceptable.

Thanks for any help!

With much gratitude, I am updating this post in light of the prompt help thomas (HTH) provided, and, in turn, I amend my little motto to say POTEST VERITAS SE DEFENDERE. [17.10.08]


thomas said...

Not bad - it certainly gets the point across, but not quite correct, exactly.

1). "Veritate" is in the wrong case. Since "truth" is the subject of the sentence, it needs to be nominative i.e., "Veritas"

2). Defendere is 3rd conjugation, not 1st.

3). I wouldn't bet my life on this, but I think "se" should go before "defendere". Putting it between the two introduces ambiguity concerning which verb it's supposed to go with.

So you're left with:

Veritas se defendere potest.


Veritas potest se defendere.

Or my personal favorite:

Potest veritas se defendere.


e. said...


Cogito: "Quid est veritas?"

the Cogitator said...

Quid est veritas?

Why, nothing less than the answer to that question.

But sewiously.

I take the Thomistic stance that "veritas aedequatio rei et intellectus est." Truth is the "adequation" (or, loosely, the correspondence) between things and the intellect. This extends to our ability to grasp the correspondence of written words (things) and their conveyed meanings. If truth were merely correspondence, say between words in an accepted lexicon, there would be no correspondence between us and the words themselves. The words might have an "inner" correspondence, but that would be opaque to our intellects, unless we had an "adequate" correspondence to those written (or spoken) things.

the Cogitator said...

And by "aedequatio" I, of course, mean adAEquatio.

e. said...


Thanks for the response; however, even such an answer as that could still play well for the relativist.

That being said, how does one counter the relativist notion "Quid est veritas"?

the Cogitator said...


Please elucidate how "veritas adaequatio rem et intellectus est" plays into the hands of relativism.

As for countering relativists, you just answer them with a realist meaning of truth. You also need to clarify which level or mode of relativism they are pushing. Absolute radical conceptual rel., historical and cultural rel., or merely subjectivist limitations?

If I find the time today or tomorrow, I will provide a few words from Montaigne which I think are pertinent. But to give the basic idea: relativism is philosophically sanctioned provincialism, theoretically blessed narrow-mindedness.

e. said...



I'll look forward to any material you might be able to provide in connection to this matter.

To try to give you a glimpse of something I've recently encountered in a similar vein:

"Is there an independent source that we can all go to and find The Truth?"

What such interlocutors of like mind have tried to express in one way or another in various & sordid discussions is that what may be one's objective truth might not be another's.

Any help you can provide in formulating a defense of The Truth would be helpful in addition to the materials you offer above.

As always, I am in your debt.

God Bless.