College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

6: Can truth be spoken?

Lord Williams of Oystermouth's Gifford Lecture series is made of six lectures under the overall title ‘Making representations: religious faith and the habits of language’; the sixth and last lecture of the series is entitled 'Can truth be spoken?'.

Lecture abstract

In what sense can we legitimately think about silence as a mode of knowing? We need to be cautious about using such a notion as an excuse for giving up the challenges of truthful speech.

But it is true that, if what is ultimately most important is to be attuned to the reality that we invite to ‘inhabit’ us, silence may be the most appropriate means of representation. The challenge is to frame silence in order to render it meaningful; that is, as more than an absence of sound or concept. And to identify such deliberate and ‘strategic’ silence - in meditation, in music, but also in aspects of our habitual discourse - is to raise the question of how silence ‘refers’ and so puts all we say in a new, and questioning, light.

Lecture video