The True Definition of Truth.

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jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 09:38 pm
@DasTrnegras,
I was getting at the idea that the word 'truth' has different meanings in different contexts. For example, even though 'water consists of hydrogen and oxygen' and 'I am sorry to inform you that your [wife/sister/daughter] has been killed in an aircraft accident' are both true statements, the kinds of truth that is being conveyed are vastly different. One is a bald factual statement, the other a significant life event. There are many other kinds of truth that we have to wrestle with in life - difficult things to discover, hard facts about the way people behave, and so on.

Now why did I say that? Recall the original, disdainful post in this thread which began with an argument for a specific definition of 'truth':
Quote:
It is observed that for a person to determine a statement to be "true", they compare said statement with what is observed


This is in actual fact very close to A. J. Ayer's definition of truth as being an 'attribute of verdical propositions' (Language Truth and Logic). I always detested this book with about the same disdain that DasTranegras reserves for 'armchair philosophers', and perhaps for similar reasons. This is because I believe that to come to an understanding of life, to discover wisdom, requires the 'will to truth'. And even though this requires sound thinking skills, and the ability to solve problems, it is more than a matter of just being able to frame 'veridical propositions'.

A.J. Ayer consigned a great deal of what is valuable in philosophy to the category of 'emotive noises' or 'meaningless utterances'. So (recalling that he actually served for British Intelligence during the War) I decided that his problem was actually that he was spiritually inert. He might have been a brilliant logician, but he had no sense of the mystery and majesty of life about him at all. Give me the romantic poets and the German idealists any day. They may be hard to understand, illogical and sentimental and obscure, but at least they appreciate and respond to the 'drama of the human condition'.

Quote:
Which brings the discussion to the ultimate prize of the armchair philosopher, "Absolute truth". Distrustful of perception, the armchair philosopher yearns for some "transcendent truth to be directly percieved without the aid of(stupid I know) perception". To them, reality is something "behind" observation. Yet they yearn to observe it.


In which case, why study philosophy? Stick to something sensible, like science.

---------- Post added 07-21-2009 at 02:48 PM ----------

From Wikipedia article on A.J. Ayer

Quote:
Ayer's logical empiricism makes an important contribution to philosophy in that it provides a method of putting an end to otherwise irresolvable philosophical disputes. In Ayer's logical empiricism, philosophy is no longer seen as a metaphysical concern, nor as an attempt to provide speculative truths about the nature of ultimate reality. Instead, philosophy is seen as an activity of defining and clarifying the logical relationships of empirical propositions.


I don't agree, however, that what this ends up with is actually philosophy any more.


Interesting postscript on Ayer's near-death experience.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 06:13 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78529 wrote:
I was getting at the idea that the word 'truth' has different meanings in different contexts. For example, even though 'water consists of hydrogen and oxygen' and 'I am sorry to inform you that your [wife/sister/daughter] has been killed in an aircraft accident' are both true statements, the kinds of truth that is being conveyed are vastly different. One is a bald factual statement, the other a significant life event. There are many other kinds of truth that we have to wrestle with in life - difficult things to discover, hard facts about the way people behave, and so on.

.


None of that means that the notion of truth is different in both cases. To say that both statements are true is to say that both correspond to a fact. You are talking about something quite extraneous to the notion of truth, namely the significance that the statement has for the audience. It is about the statement, not about the truth of the statement. The statements are very different in how they affect people, but that has nothing at all with why the statements are both true. You have to distinguish between the significance of the statement, and the truth of the statement.
 
ACB
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 07:20 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;78580 wrote:
None of that means that the notion of truth is different in both cases. To say that both statements are true is to say that both correspond to a fact. You are talking about something quite extraneous to the notion of truth, namely the significance that the statement has for the audience. It is about the statement, not about the truth of the statement. The statements are very different in how they affect people, but that has nothing at all with why the statements are both true. You have to distinguish between the significance of the statement, and the truth of the statement.


As in so many of these discussions about truth, much confusion arises from the multiple meanings of the word 'truth'. For example, it can mean correspondence to a fact or facts (the truth), or it can mean the fact itself (a truth). Kennethamy is using it in the former sense, while jeeprs (I think) is using it in the latter. I suggest we say that the two statements are the truth about different kinds of fact.
 
pagan
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 08:22 am
@ACB,
hi ACB
Quote:

As in so many of these discussions about truth, much confusion arises from the multiple meanings of the word 'truth'.
yes. Truth is necessarily a language statement. And common languages aren't fixed or unambiguous. In fact these characteristics often follow from each other.

(Reality isn't necessarily a language statement, but we often use the word truth to mean reality).
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 08:50 am
@ACB,
ACB;78585 wrote:
As in so many of these discussions about truth, much confusion arises from the multiple meanings of the word 'truth'. For example, it can mean correspondence to a fact or facts (the truth), or it can mean the fact itself (a truth). Kennethamy is using it in the former sense, while jeeprs (I think) is using it in the latter. I suggest we say that the two statements are the truth about different kinds of fact.


Yes, I suppose there are a lots of different kinds of statement that are true, but they are all, true. As I pointed out, although there are many different kinds of things that are red, they are, nevertheless, all red.
 
berjm
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 09:31 am
@DasTrnegras,
The Definition of truth that you are espousing is called The Correspondence Theory of Truth.
The Correspondence Theory of Truth is Fatally Flawed.
Please read up on its weaknesses before you go on berating those who are trying hard to find a valid Definition of Truth.
:rolleyes:
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 04:05 pm
@DasTrnegras,
Perhaps you might provide a brief summary of your views of the flaws of the correspondence theory? Thanks.
 
berjm
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 07:55 am
@jeeprs,
Glad to ... Smile

Correspondence: --------------------------

The most famous version of this theory was given by Aristotle in 335 BC in his Metaphysics, Book IV, Chapter 7 [26]
To say of what is, that it is not; or of what is not, that it is- is false. While to say of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not- is true.

Randall, J. & Buchler, J.; Philosophy: An Introduction. p133
According to this theory (correspondence), truth consists in the agreement of our thought with reality. This view ... seems to conform rather closely to our ordinary common sense usage when we speak of truth. The flaws in the definition arise when we ask what is meant by "agreement" or "correspondence" of ideas and objects, beliefs and facts, thought and reality. In order to test the truth of an idea or belief we must presumably compare it with the reality in some sense.
1- In order to make the comparison, we must know what it is that we are comparing, namely, the belief on the one hand and the reality on the other. But if we already know the reality, why do we need to make a comparison? And if we don't know the reality, how can we make a comparison?
2- The making of the comparison is itself a fact about which we have a belief. We have to believe that the belief about the comparison is true. How do we know that our belief in this agreement is "true"? This leads to an infinite regress, leaving us with no assurance of true belief.

Brightman, E. S.; Philosophy of Religion, Ch4.
Correspondence fails because it can never be applied to a situation. A present proposition is impossible to compare with a past, future or an eternal object; such a comparison would require the past, the future or eternity to be now present for comparison, which is a plain impossibility.
Even propositions about the present are incapable of being tested by correspondence; for the process of comparison would take time and before it had occurred, the present object would have become past.
Correspondence fails because it is not a criterion of truth.
Correspondence fails because it is not a source of truth.

Rescher, N.; The Coherence Theory of Truth, p8.
(Correspondence is) ... not workable for genuinely universal propositions: how can one possibly check ... the 'correspondence with the facts' of a universal proposition with potential infinity of instances? e.g. All lions are carnivorous.

Beck, L.W. & Holmes, R.L.; Philosophic Inquiry, p130.
Although it seems ... obvious to say, "Truth is correspondence of thought (belief, proposition) to what is actually the case", such an assertion nevertheless involves a metaphysical assumption - that there is a fact, object, or state of affairs, independent of our knowledge to which our knowledge corresponds.
"How, on your principles, could you know you have a true proposition?" ... or ... "How can you use your definition of truth, it being the correspondence between a judgment and its object, as a criterion of truth? How can you know when such correspondence actually holds?"
I cannot step outside my mind to compare a thought in it with something outside it.

Hospers, J.; An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, p116.
Does a true proposition correspond to a fact in the way that the color sample on the color chart corresponds to the color of the paint on the wall? No, there is certainly no resemblance between a proposition and a state-of-affairs. .
Priest, Graham; Truth & Contradiction, Philos. Qtly, v50;n200;p317;2000
. . . it is not clear that we meet any facts in experience. We meet people, stars, chairs, and other objects, but not facts or states of affairs. And if this is so, and the objection is cogent, it tells against all correspondence theories of truth.

Ewing, A.C.; The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy, pp54-55.
The word 'correspondence' suggests that, when we make a true judgment, we have a sort of picture of the real in our minds and that our judgment is true because this picture is like the reality it represents. But our judgments are not like the physical things to which they refer. The images we use in judging may indeed in certain respects copy or resemble physical things, but we can make a judgment without using any imagery except words, and words are not in the least similar to the things which they represent. We must not understand 'correspondence' as meaning copying or even resemblance.
p57- ... the correspondence theory . . . does not give us much information unless we can succeed in defining correspondence, and unfortunately nobody has been able yet to give a satisfactory definition.

Brennan, J. G.; The Meaning of Philosophy, p78.
A less ambiguous formulation of the correspondence theory is: "A sentence is true if there are such facts as it designates." There cannot be an exact correspondence between a sentence and a situation in the empirical world, for there are no sentences in Nature. - The correspondence theory tries to explain what is the case when a sentence is true. It says nothing about how we discover or how we prove that a sentence corresponds to the facts.

Vision, Gerald; Veritas, px
... the correspondence theory doesn't tell us directly what, if anything, is true: that is, it doesn't carry immediate implications for the extension of the property of truth. It doesn't even, as some of its competitors do, give us something to go by, a criterion, for detecting particular truths.

Aquinas, Thomas; Truth, Vol. II, Qs. 10, Article 4.
All cognition takes place through assimilation. But there is no assimilation possible between the mind and material things, because likeness depends on sameness of quality. However, the qualities of material things are bodily accidents which cannot exist in the mind. Therefore, the mind cannot know material things.

Morton, A. & Stich, S., eds.; Benacerraf and his Critics, p61
... what is missing [with correspondence] is precisely... an account of the link between our cognitive faculties and the objects known.

Frege, G.; The Thought: A Logical Inquiry, In Strawson, P.F., ed. Philosophical Logic, p19
Truth cannot tolerate a more or less. Can it not be laid down that truth exists when there is a correspondence in a certain respect? But in which? For what would we then have to do to decide whether something were true? We should have to inquire whether it were true that an idea and a reality, perhaps, corresponded in the laid-down respect. And then we should be confronted by a question of the same kind and the game could begin again. So the attempt to explain truth as correspondence collapses... Consequently, it is probable that the content of the word 'true' is unique and indefinable.

Kaufmann, F.; Basic Issues in Logical Positivism, in Philosophic Thought in France & the US., p568
... we cannot compare propositions with reality, but only with other propositions. This amounts to the rejection of correspondence theories of truth...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 10:31 am
@berjm,
berjm;79769 wrote:
Glad to ... Smile

Correspondence: --------------------------

The most famous version of this theory was given by Aristotle in 335 BC in his Metaphysics, Book IV, Chapter 7 [26]
To say of what is, that it is not; or of what is not, that it is- is false. While to say of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not- is true.

Randall, J. & Buchler, J.; Philosophy: An Introduction. p133
According to this theory (correspondence), truth consists in the agreement of our thought with reality. This view ... seems to conform rather closely to our ordinary common sense usage when we speak of truth. The flaws in the definition arise when we ask what is meant by "agreement" or "correspondence" of ideas and objects, beliefs and facts, thought and reality. In order to test the truth of an idea or belief we must presumably compare it with the reality in some sense.
1- In order to make the comparison, we must know what it is that we are comparing, namely, the belief on the one hand and the reality on the other. But if we already know the reality, why do we need to make a comparison? And if we don't know the reality, how can we make a comparison?
2- The making of the comparison is itself a fact about which we have a belief. We have to believe that the belief about the comparison is true. How do we know that our belief in this agreement is "true"? This leads to an infinite regress, leaving us with no assurance of true belief.

Brightman, E. S.; Philosophy of Religion, Ch4.
Correspondence fails because it can never be applied to a situation. A present proposition is impossible to compare with a past, future or an eternal object; such a comparison would require the past, the future or eternity to be now present for comparison, which is a plain impossibility.
Even propositions about the present are incapable of being tested by correspondence; for the process of comparison would take time and before it had occurred, the present object would have become past.
Correspondence fails because it is not a criterion of truth.
Correspondence fails because it is not a source of truth.

Rescher, N.; The Coherence Theory of Truth, p8.
(Correspondence is) ... not workable for genuinely universal propositions: how can one possibly check ... the 'correspondence with the facts' of a universal proposition with potential infinity of instances? e.g. All lions are carnivorous.

Beck, L.W. & Holmes, R.L.; Philosophic Inquiry, p130.
Although it seems ... obvious to say, "Truth is correspondence of thought (belief, proposition) to what is actually the case", such an assertion nevertheless involves a metaphysical assumption - that there is a fact, object, or state of affairs, independent of our knowledge to which our knowledge corresponds.
"How, on your principles, could you know you have a true proposition?" ... or ... "How can you use your definition of truth, it being the correspondence between a judgment and its object, as a criterion of truth? How can you know when such correspondence actually holds?"
I cannot step outside my mind to compare a thought in it with something outside it.

Hospers, J.; An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, p116.
Does a true proposition correspond to a fact in the way that the color sample on the color chart corresponds to the color of the paint on the wall? No, there is certainly no resemblance between a proposition and a state-of-affairs. .
Priest, Graham; Truth & Contradiction, Philos. Qtly, v50;n200;p317;2000
. . . it is not clear that we meet any facts in experience. We meet people, stars, chairs, and other objects, but not facts or states of affairs. And if this is so, and the objection is cogent, it tells against all correspondence theories of truth.

Ewing, A.C.; The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy, pp54-55.
The word 'correspondence' suggests that, when we make a true judgment, we have a sort of picture of the real in our minds and that our judgment is true because this picture is like the reality it represents. But our judgments are not like the physical things to which they refer. The images we use in judging may indeed in certain respects copy or resemble physical things, but we can make a judgment without using any imagery except words, and words are not in the least similar to the things which they represent. We must not understand 'correspondence' as meaning copying or even resemblance.
p57- ... the correspondence theory . . . does not give us much information unless we can succeed in defining correspondence, and unfortunately nobody has been able yet to give a satisfactory definition.

Brennan, J. G.; The Meaning of Philosophy, p78.
A less ambiguous formulation of the correspondence theory is: "A sentence is true if there are such facts as it designates." There cannot be an exact correspondence between a sentence and a situation in the empirical world, for there are no sentences in Nature. - The correspondence theory tries to explain what is the case when a sentence is true. It says nothing about how we discover or how we prove that a sentence corresponds to the facts.

Vision, Gerald; Veritas, px
... the correspondence theory doesn't tell us directly what, if anything, is true: that is, it doesn't carry immediate implications for the extension of the property of truth. It doesn't even, as some of its competitors do, give us something to go by, a criterion, for detecting particular truths.

Aquinas, Thomas; Truth, Vol. II, Qs. 10, Article 4.
All cognition takes place through assimilation. But there is no assimilation possible between the mind and material things, because likeness depends on sameness of quality. However, the qualities of material things are bodily accidents which cannot exist in the mind. Therefore, the mind cannot know material things.

Morton, A. & Stich, S., eds.; Benacerraf and his Critics, p61
... what is missing [with correspondence] is precisely... an account of the link between our cognitive faculties and the objects known.

Frege, G.; The Thought: A Logical Inquiry, In Strawson, P.F., ed. Philosophical Logic, p19
Truth cannot tolerate a more or less. Can it not be laid down that truth exists when there is a correspondence in a certain respect? But in which? For what would we then have to do to decide whether something were true? We should have to inquire whether it were true that an idea and a reality, perhaps, corresponded in the laid-down respect. And then we should be confronted by a question of the same kind and the game could begin again. So the attempt to explain truth as correspondence collapses... Consequently, it is probable that the content of the word 'true' is unique and indefinable.

Kaufmann, F.; Basic Issues in Logical Positivism, in Philosophic Thought in France & the US., p568
... we cannot compare propositions with reality, but only with other propositions. This amounts to the rejection of correspondence theories of truth...



Suppose I believe Mary is at home. I note that her only car is in her driveway, that the lights are on, and that Mary's favorite music is blaring from the house. So I knock on Mary's door, and Mary answers, and welcomes me in. Do I now know that it is true that Mary is home?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 03:15 pm
@DasTrnegras,
I will follow up on that information, thanks. Very interesting indeed.
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 04:29 pm
@jeeprs,
hi berjm Smile nice.

Quote:

Ewing, A.C.
p57- ... the correspondence theory . . . does not give us much information unless we can succeed in defining correspondence, and unfortunately nobody has been able yet to give a satisfactory definition.
I couldn't resist the temptation, off the top of my head.

Correspondence in the context of truth, is the degree of agreement of experience within a community, of the prediction of a truth statement.

eg."that is a clock" is thus dependent upon a community of people that share that language, agreeing (and coming to agree) that it is a clock.

This makes wittgensteins observation that there is no such thing as a private language central to an understanding of truth.... by recognising that truth is intrinsically a language statement.

Thus the scientific community by placing strict controls on language(mathematics) and reason(reading) and equipment readings(visual/aural), has its own criterion for 'degree of agreement' and also what is valid 'experience'. Valid experience being that the equipment readings are shared communally and repeatably, and were produced using the scientific method.

I am not positing the correspondence theory of truth as by any means being complete, but surely because something is flawed does not make it useless? For example even in science, a lot is taken on trust by individuals within the community rather than going out and performing expensive time consuming experiments. Though trust undermines correspondence theory as a complete definition of truth (scientific or otherwise), nevertheless the conjunction of the two are very powerful. The element of trust that there are universal truths across space and time....... becomes a driving force of a truth narrative within the community.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 05:14 pm
@DasTrnegras,
My initial take is that the correspondence theory is perfectly sound as far as it goes. I think an underlying assumption on the part of analytical philosophers and positivists is that the actual discovery of truth is a scientific matter, so us philosophers can just content ourselves with swimming around in the wake of science which will always be turning out new discoveries and hypotheses and enlarging our knowledge of truth. I think, in any case, this is why the scientifically-minded philosophers, such as Ayer and Russell, were always so comfortable with the correspondence theory.

Quote:
Suppose I believe Mary is at home. I note that her only car is in her driveway, that the lights are on, and that Mary's favorite music is blaring from the house. So I knock on Mary's door, and Mary answers, and welcomes me in. Do I now know that it is true that Mary is home?

Quite. But it turns out that it is possible that the real Mary has been the victim of identity theft and that the person you have known as 'Mary' for these last seven months is actually Marsha, a devious illegal immigrant from Eastern Europe who has been using false identities to manipulate the social welfare system in a massive fraud. So- is Mary at home? How will you discover the truth in this case?
 
berjm
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 05:59 pm
@jeeprs,
This post contains responses to both jeepers and pagan.
Thank you for your thoughtful questions and comments.:flowers:

-> jeepers:
You have not addressed any of the objections in my last post.
If the quotations I have given you have not convinced you of the bankruptcy of the Correspondence Theory, I don't know what will.
The issue of who is dealing with the problem, scientist or philosopher, is immaterial and only clouds the issue.
Furthermore, your definition of "Truth" is not clear.
If you can supply me with what your definition of Truth is, i would have something solid to deal with.
To save time, I am expecting a respone that begins with "Truth is....."
i.e. Not Conditions for Truth, but a Definition.
You have used the term several times, and I wonder what you mean by it.

->pagan:
You have not solved the problem of correspondence by introducing the beliefs of a multitude of people as a solution. Just because many people agree on a prop. does not guarantee its validity. (notice I am not using the word truth, because so far we don't agree on what it means.)
Furthermore, I did not say that the idea of correspondence is USELESS. An idea does not have to be true to be useful. The atomic theory is a useful idea, but we'll never know if it is true. Geometry is full of useful ideas, but none of them are true.
I am looking for Truth, and Correspondence does NOT provide it.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 06:18 pm
@DasTrnegras,
well this is going to take some time - several days at least. But I will get back then. (Incidentally it is not in the interests of my position to "address your objections", because I too am opposing the correspondence position, however you have provided much better reasons as to why it should be criticized and I might have something to say about that.)
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 07:30 pm
@jeeprs,
berjm Smile

Quote:
Just because many people agree on a prop. does not guarantee its validity.
do you mean by that, that validity itself exists outside of agreement by people who interpret the proposition? Whether people agree with it or not? ie that the validity of a statement can exist in a non conscious limbo?

Since a proposition is necessarily a language statement then how can it be valid unless people agree upon it? A proposition has to be tested by peoples experience. What people agree upon at one time, may not be agreed upon previously or subsequently or with another community for sure. Agreement is not absolute. We may change our minds, we may look back at a proposition and decide it to be no longer valid even in the context of the original statement. But a proposition is not reality itself. Truth is not reality(generally) if we accept that it is a language statement and reality is not a pure langauge statement. Therefore is it not the case that if we believe that a statements validity is latent within reality, then there is a potential correspondence between the statement, its validity and agreement by conscious beings. Before that it would imply a correspondence between the statement and its quality of validity. What, where and when does this quality exist? Does the validity of a statement come into being with the uttering of the statement? Or is the validity encapsulated by the statement floating around outside of language in some aspect of reality?

With regard to solving the problem of correspondence i wasnt saying that the correspondence of peoples experience to a statement was 'the truth'. I was saying that it is a truth narrative that is used, agreed upon and is useful for all its limitations. ie problem solved with regard to countering a purely 'flawed' perspective of it, by alleviating some of that extreme negativity.

I also believe there are truths of experience that cannot easily be put into words because of the limitations of language. As such they fall way outside correspondence to truth statements. eg "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" Many would dismiss this question as nonsense. Others would interpret it literally as meaning silence. Others are trying to share something that the language cannot easily communicate.
 
salima
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 08:23 pm
@DasTrnegras,
definitions of truth, justice, beauty, evil, virtue, etc....have never satisfied me. we can say that each person can make up his own-or we can say there is a universal concept somewhere that we are trying to find, recognize and live up to. you can say all kinds of things to describe what they might be, but i am not sure there are any definitions for that which we have never encountered.

for instance, i have seen beautiful things, beautiful people, heard beautiful songs,etc...but how can i see 'beauty'?

the clock statement is a great example. 'this is a clock' is false, because the fact is that 'this in the english language may be called a clock'. to answer the question 'what is a clock?' we could never reply with all the possibilities of what a clock could be or do, so how could any answer be considered 'true'?
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 08:39 pm
@salima,
i agree saiima that the definitions are bound to be incomplete. Which is kind of unsatisfying. That disatisfaction, how important it is to us and for how long we experience it moves us on in one way or another.

Which is to say that i believe your statement is true in the sense i agree with you. Namely i trust we share many thoughts and feelings on the subject.... but we can also agree that something is a clock also, for all practical purposes (of that time). Another time (another narrative) and we can agree that it isn't a clock. Smile
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 10:01 pm
@pagan,
pagan;79914 wrote:
i agree saiima that the definitions are bound to be incomplete. Which is kind of unsatisfying. That disatisfaction, how important it is to us and for how long we experience it moves us on in one way or another.

Which is to say that i believe your statement is true in the sense i agree with you. Namely i trust we share many thoughts and feelings on the subject.... but we can also agree that something is a clock also, for all practical purposes (of that time). Another time (another narrative) and we can agree that it isn't a clock. Smile


If you both agree at one time that something is a clock, and if you agree a minute later that something is not a clock, are you right both times, or wrong both times? Or, doesn't it matter? Do you agree on that?
 
salima
 
Reply Mon 27 Jul, 2009 10:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;79921 wrote:
If you both agree at one time that something is a clock, and if you agree a minute later that something is not a clock, are you right both times, or wrong both times? Or, doesn't it matter? Do you agree on that?


i dont think about the issues of right and wrong because they are the same as 'truth' in being impossible to define (to my satisfaction).

but for the sake of getting on with a conversation and knowing that is the reason for it, any two or more people could agree that 'this is a clock' ... or not, depending on the nature of the conversation, inquiry or task at hand. there may not be any need to specify whether it is a sundial or a clock run on batteries or a windup pendulum etc...while at another time such as discussing the accuracy of a particular type of timepiece, for the sake of ease we could agree that 'clock' will mean the type we are discussing.

and for practical purposes, it would be impossible to speak thus:
please meet me at what is commonly called the the corner of what is known as the junction of that which has been given the names 'main st' and 'prospect ave' within the context of that which has been referred to as 'speech' when using the ....and so on.

i think this is why so many of the threads here seem to get bogged down, because nobody wants to say or respond to something that isnt exactly 'corresponding' to what they mean to say and what others will understand when they hear it. in some instances, such as the case of philosophical discussions or law, it is necessary.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 02:37 am
@DasTrnegras,
Now that I think about it, any attempt to provide a 'definition of truth' would fall victim to all of the arguments put forward about the correspondence theory. Because, one would hope, there would be some correspondence between the definition and the truth! Alas, berjm, your arguments are so successful in this regard that I dare not hazard a reply. If you have a 'definition of truth' that is immune to these criticisms, I would love to hear it.

I have indicated earlier in this thread, I think without much success, that truth is something that has to be striven for, that we often don't know what it might be and have to find it through earnest toil. So it is not just a matter of true propositions, but truth hard won. This is very much the traditional notion of the way to truth. I have just now read the following passage from Karen Armstrong's splendid new title, The Case for God:

Quote:
Plato did not impose his ideas on his pupils or expound them systematically, like a modern academic, but introduced them playfully and allusively in the course of a conversation in which other viewpoints were also expressed. In his writings we find no definitive account of the 'doctrine of the forms', for example, because each dialog was addressed to a different audience with its own needs and problems. His written work...was no substitute for the intensity of a oral dialogue that had an emotional aspect that was essential to the philosophical experience (emphasis added)...

'It is only when all these things, names and definitions, visual and other sensations, are rubbed together and subjected to tests to which questions and answers are exchanged in good faith and without malice that finally when human capacity is stretched to the limit, a spark of understanding and intelligence flashes out and illuminates the issue.'

Pp 72-73


It is in my view meaningless to discuss truth in the abstract, because it is 'neither this nor that'. There is no such 'thing' as truth. It can't be defined because a definition only states what something is not. In fact it is only when we have a commitment to truth that it means anything at all. This is one of the reasons, or the only reason, why we study philosophy, is it not?
 
 

 
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