Developing the mind for unfettered search for knowledge and independent investigation of truth is essential for human resource development and realizing potential. As we each develop our unique perceptions of reality constructed from our experiences and limited knowledge, we must continually revaluate and renegotiate our understandings of truth with the individuals, institutions and communities with whom we interact. Divorced from the guiding principle of the search for truth, as well as emotional principle of love and the moral standard of justice, the mind can be dangerous to both the individual and society.
The faculties of the mind are related to the capacities to think, rationalize, remember, and comprehend along with other cognitive functions that help us to know and distinguish truth from falsehood. The skill of knowing involves a disposition towards truth and is related to what is generally referred to as intelligence, defined as
A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—”catching on,” “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do. (Gottfredson, 1997, p 13).
The minds guiding principle and actualizing virtue is truth. Truth is defined as conformity to fact or actuality, a statement proven to be or accepted as true, sincerity, integrity and fidelity to an original or standard. Truth is that which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence (American Heritage Dictionary). The basic goal of the mind and object of truth is to know and understand ourselves. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses and developing our potentialities are fundamental tasks for each individual.
We learn from our experience and those of others to develop an understanding of life. Being able to think critically, constructively and creatively to solve the problems of life is an important capability. We use scientific methods to help validate what our senses, reason, traditions and intuition tell us. Each of these ways of knowing can help “to initiate positive and productive interaction with the environment” (Hatcher, 1998, p. 38), but used together, they provide a surer foundation upon which to determine truth.
Science and reason provide powerful tools for exploring physical reality; whereas religion and philosophy can be useful for exploring non-material reality. If we balance and use those tools wisely, recognizing their strengths and limitations, we can avoid the fanaticism, absolutism and fundamentalism to which they are susceptible. A scientific approach to investigating the claims and interpretations of religion and a moral and spiritual approach to our science will be essential for each to be constructive.