Semblance of truth & Lying truth (Pt. 1)

I’ve been exploring texts written in antiquity to see if there are things in them that can help me understand how truth functions in an experience of psychoanalysis today.

Today, I want to focus on a text titled De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods) by Cicero. In this text, three Roman philosophers representing three schools of philosophical thought meet to discuss what can be known about the nature of the gods.

Here is a very short summary of my understanding of the three arguments. Please keep in mind that the way I understand these arguments might be wrong.

  • Velleius/Epicurean — The idea of God/ is human reason personified.
  • Balbus/Stoic — A version of, if you found an intricate watch on a beach, you would not assume it just came into being; someone would have had to construct it. Balbas says the world is like the watch and that God/the Gods are its maker.
  • Cotta/Skeptic—He does not not believe in God or the Gods, but he also does not think anyone has proven God's/the God's existence or God's/the God's nature and motives can be known.

Anyway, the arguments themselves are not what interests me the most in this text. What does is something Cicero writes:

Cotta’s argument seemed to Velleius to be more truthful; but in my eyes, Balbus’s case seemed to come more closely to a semblance of the truth. (Emphasis mine)

What I find interesting about this is the way that Cicero’s semblance of the truth might be another term for what Lacan (and Miller) call the Lying truth., or the truth that has a structure of fiction.

I read this as Cicero recognizing that none of the arguments are The Truth, but after hearing all of them, one seemed more true than the others, that one "seemed to come more closely to a semblance of the truth."

I’m too tired to think through this now, but I suspect I’ll be thinking about it via writing posts here in the foreseeable future.

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