To Tell the Truth is about making the reader’s life better. The author isolates the issues, identifies the problems and their causes, and offers a simple, practical and effective solution. I was asked to review this book.
Author of To Tell the Truth
Fred L Fox is an American retired geologist, entrepreneur, photographer, writer, rally champion, and jazz accordionist.
To Tell the Truth contains a preface, an introduction, 13 chapters which are divided into 3 parts and an appendix (A Peak Experience). Part 1 is It’s All About You and contains 6 chapters. Part 2 is A New Perspective: Thinking Creatively and is made up of 3 chapters. Part 3 is The Age of Mind and has 4 chapters.
The chapters are:
1. Vital Relationships and What You Already Know
2. The Group: Group Relationships and Their Inherent Problems
3. Developing A Philosophy For Living
4. Beyond Community
5. Resolution Of The Problem
6. Doing It – Living The Good Life
7. Exploring Space – Looking For What Really Matters
8. Philosophy And The World Beyond: Something To Think About
9. Believe What You Already Know and Become Who You Already Are
10. The Philosophy Of Mind
11. The New Paradigm – Mind
12. You, The Metaphysicist
13. The Future: Are We There Yet?
Review of To Tell the Truth
To Tell the Truth is a philosophy book about life. The author defines philosophy as a set of principles for guidance in practical affairs. The main premise of this book is “You Matter”.
The truth is a given which is immutable and includes both morality (honesty and its extension, trust) and ethics (which is founded in truth). However, our attitude towards truth is that we tend to be indifferent toward equivocation, duplicity, outright lies, often excusing the deceiver out of hand.
The purpose of a group is to provide a channel for the creative power of the individual, improve a product, increase the clout of the group or further the power of individuals within it. Groups push their own agendas, seeing only what they want to see, ignoring whatever does not promote whatever it is that they are getting done.
It is not vital like humanity and community, and cannot replace the individuals, family, or community, no matter how large and pervasive the group is. Thus, no group, including our state-of-the-art society, may speak for the whole of humanity.
The system of laws by which our society is governed is devised for the purpose of regulating behaviour in and of itself. It serves the purposes of society and may be modified as purposes of our society change. Laws are often imperfect and subject to opinion.
True community is fundamentally ethical, whereas the group need not be. Community nurtures, protects and respects its progeny, investing in them and relying on them to carry on not only as individuals but as part of the community. They learn not only how to do things but what to avoid, and more importantly, to be and become themselves. This vital dimension is missing from many groups.
Power of individual
We cannot control what we are, but we have the power to be whoever we want to be. The ultimate deciding ethical factors are conscience and intuition which are unequivocally personal attributes independent of anyone else’s influence and anathema to many groups. All men are created equal, and at the same time each is unique and develops uniquely, while remaining at all times equal.
No one can be totally independent and still maintain our vital connection but we can become not dependent and be interdependent instead. Autonomy presupposes humanity and the mutual dependence necessary for its survival.
It is a natural inclination to become engrossed in one’s own work and relate only to others who understand and approve of what we are doing, while disregarding other aspects of our own lives and those of others. This leads to the formation of groups.
Feelings themselves are not immoral but how you deal with them may be. It is our reaction to what happens that determines its effect on us as we can only deal with our response to it.
Purpose of life
The purpose of life is creating and the meaning of life is acknowledging, becoming, doing, contributing, and creating, responsibly. In short, the function of mankind is to be, become and create.
Our lives are neither logical nor planned, nor they are mapped out for us, just like our minds. Each of us creates our own life as we live it, thereby helping create the world as well. Starting with our conception, much of our individual lives is accidental, a response to apparently random happenings and circumstances over which we had no control but to which we constantly adapt in our own unique way.
From this point, we can know that the author is not a fatalist.
Points to ponder
There is no reason to assume or accept the influence of the rich and famous beyond their fame.
If you must be unethical, be honest about it. It means if you find yourself in violation of ethics, admit it honestly, accept responsibility for it and resolve it in the best interest of mankind. No one is perfect.
The author recommends to break free of the bonds of the scientific method to explore the dimensions beyond the mind through metaphysics.
There is more than one way to reach a goal and the shortest route may not be the best. Even if that goal is not reached, it does not mean failure if we learn from what we have done along the way.
We cannot stop or slow down if we expect to gain or even keep up as the world is a dynamic system that does not stop.
My different point of view
There are some statements that are weird to me such as white is colour and black is the absence of colour. Isn’t white the complete reflection of light, while black is the complete absorption of light? But they are true opposites as the author claims.
The author said that it is impossible to spontaneously create oneself. How about cloning?
The basic foundational axioms, especially truth, form the backbone of this book. To apply these axioms, the author suggests this way of living: Stick with the truth and act honestly. Realise your vital relationships, deal with others as you would be dealt with by others, and do no harm. By doing so, you will live, create and progress.
Overall, To Tell the Truth is not an easy read. It requires time and brainpower to digest the author’s points. However, the author wants the readers to think and reflect, so his objective is achieved. Some points are repeated a few times throughout the book. Repetition imbues familiarity, perhaps this is the author’s way to drive his points home. I noticed some minor typos towards the end of the book but they do not affect its readability.
I think the appendix sums up this book succinctly. The author shared his enlightenment experience in the appendix and also what I think is the summary of this book.
One-sentence summary for To Tell the Truth
By improving yourself, you are making the world a better place for everyone.
- It’s easy to convey a simple meaning, but it’s equally easy to confuse the issue by reading more into a simple question than is intended.
- Who you is what you do with what you are.
- It only takes one person to change the world, and any one of us, including you, can be that person.
- While the mind is how the brain relates each individual beyond himself, its use necessarily is limited to terms that its owner can deal with.
- It’s human nature to mistrust what you can’t understand.
Interested in To Tell the Truth?
I was given a copy of this book to review and I could not find it in Malaysia yet.