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It only humbly seeks to provide a diagnosis for ITT's predicament. While this is the case, it is hoped that the distinction and the diagnosis to be provided are significant in at least two ways: For better or for worse, how we view the concept of truth has serious implications to various aspects of human existence e.

Despite the complexity of the problem of truth, it is possible for us to explain it in a clear and simple way. Consider the following statements:. As to how statements 1 - 5 may be used to setup SP, several points are in order.


First, statements 1 - 5 are just some of the numerous statements that any person may reasonably believe or accept to be true. They are in fact true. Second, it is the content of statements like 1 - 5 that make them capable of being true or false. Third, while statements 1 - 5 are all true, it can be said that the content of these statements are varied i. Fourth, given the variety of the content of statements 1 - 5 , it is difficult to identify a single theory of truth which can handle all of them without remainder.

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Let me elaborate on the fourth point. From the list of statements above, we can easily say that statement 2 can best be explained by the correspondence theory of truth. The rudiments of the correspondence theory of truth, put in quite general terms, are language , on the one hand, and the world or reality , on the other. These elements constitute the correspondence intuition. Those who adhere to the correspondence theory of truth therefore contend that truth is to be conceived of as a correspondence relation between a statement proposition and the world.

In such a view, a statement is true if it corresponds to how things are in the world.

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The same theory of truth however cannot explain the truth of statements like 1 and 4 unless we are willing to admit the literal existence of mathematical objects. Ordinarily, statements 1 and 4 can best be explained by the coherence theory of truth. In general, the coherence theory of truth states that a statement is true if and only if it forms a coherent whole together with the other statements that we embrace or accept to be true, for instance, the different statements in the domain of mathematics.

Notice that the aforementioned formulation does not talk about facts or state of affairs but merely about statements and their coherence with other statements. Finally, it can be said that neither the correspondence nor the coherence theory of truth can handle statements like 3 and 5 since they belong to different domains e. The problematique can thus be expressed in its full complexity in the following way: If statements 1 - 5 are all true, then they must have a property that they all share for them to belong to the class of true statements.

This intuition however is prone to an important objection. It can be said that statements 1 - 5 's ways of being true are significantly different i. This line of reasoning suggests that truth has no uniform structure. In other words, truth, if construed as a property of statements or propositions is ambiguous. As the foregoing discussion shows, without a satisfactory solution to SP, philosophers who subscribe to ITT are required, at the very least, to rethink their positions and underlying assumptions on the problem of truth.

In a very general way, a theory of truth has a two-fold task. It seeks to explicate: On this juncture, I would like to point out an important distinction. The two-fold task of a theory of truth corresponds to two approaches in theorizing about the concept of truth. Sometimes, philosophers combine these approaches without fully realizing the delicate distinctions and commitments that they involve.

The first task, that is, the task of answering what truth is, the question itself is metaphysical. Consequently, it leads a philosopher to take a route or an approach which is also metaphysical. For the sake of brevity, let us call this the essentialist approach henceforth EA. The second task, that is, the task of answering what the predicate 'is true' means, the question itself merely seeks to understand the truth predicate within the confines of a language e.

Let us call this the use approach henceforth UA. Moreover, as UA only seeks to understand the truth predicate within the confines of a language, it can be argued that it is metaphysically neutral on the fundamental disagreements between those who accept ITT or DTT e. It is important to note that the distinction rests on the approach or methodology those philosophers implicitly or explicitly pursue in their attempts to understand the concept of truth. For the sake of clarity, we can summarize the abovementioned distinction this way: Asking about the nature of truth is different from asking about the truth predicate, for to ask about the nature of truth is to deal with its ontology, whereas, to ask about the truth predicate is to deal with its use or function in the context of a given language.

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If philosophy is a "critique of language" Wittgenstein, Tractatus 23 then the principal task of a philosophical work is one of clarification. This idea is part of Wittgenstein's view on the nature of philosophy in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In his view, the philosopher's work involves the clarification of thought via the analysis of the logic of our language. Such clarification is important because "Language disguises thought. On this juncture, the distinction put forth earlier between EA and UA is to be construed as an attempt to clarify how we approach the concept of truth and is crucial in the discussions that follow.

It is a truism in the study of history that in order to better appreciate and understand the present and the future, it is important to understand the past. For the current purposes of this paper, it is imperative to trace the origin of EA in order to better understand why many philosophers who accept ITT have been accustomed to think or at least have a strong tendency to think that truth has an underlying nature that needs to be discovered.

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  • I shall argue that essentialism as a methodological stance employed and deeply embedded in the Socratic-Platonic dialogues can account for such a tendency. Essentialism, as a methodological stance and as a systematized theory is traceable to the writings of Plato, most especially in his doctrine of the Forms. It is important to note that Plato ascribes an ontological status to the Forms.

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    This is to say that in Plato's view, the Forms are real in the strongest sense of the term. In Plato's theory, sensible objects in the world such as tables and chairs may be said to participate or partake in what he refers to as the Forms. Such being the case, sensible objects are, in Plato's view, mere copies of the Form, thereby less in terms of reality. The relation between objects and the Forms, as Plato conceives of it, is a certain kind of copying or imitation mimesis.

    Although Plato scholars usually understand Platonic mimesis negatively, Monroe Beardsley provides us with an idea of its importance via the concept of representation when he writes:. Let me briefly articulate why the sense of copying involved in Platonic mimesis is also significant to epistemology.

    Images and copies for instance might be considered as inferior to the things that they bear semblance to but given the conditions of human existence, what one immediately encounters are images and copies. Images and copies are therefore important because it is through them that one is able to bring to mind the recognition of the Forms. From a methodological standpoint then, Platonic mimesis may be understood as a necessary condition for the recognition of reality.

    How about the Forms? Plato has these things to say about the Forms e. The foregoing passage suggests that for Plato, the Forms constitute the underlying reality behind the sensible objects that we encounter. This is to say that for Plato, the Forms, by virtue of being primary substances and as answers to "What is F?

    In the previously quoted passage from the Phaedo , when one asks, "What makes a thing beautiful? It is the Form of Beauty, which ultimately explains why a thing is beautiful. We can summarize the underlying idea as follows: Although there are many beautiful things, there is something that all of these things share or have in common as to why we call them beautiful, and this is the Form of Beauty.

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    Aside from having a crucial role to perform in explanations, Plato ascribes something more to the Forms in the Parmenides:. The abovementioned passage points out that for Plato, the Forms are not merely important because of their role in explanations. More importantly, it is through the admission of the existence of the Forms that one can explain the very possibility of discourse: There is much disagreement between and among Plato scholars particularly in terms of the internal consistency of the Theory of Forms but this section will not deal with them. The modest claim raised at this point is that there are occasions when Plato employs the term essence the Greek word for which is ousia to refer to the nature of a thing: That which makes a thing the kind of thing that it is.

    Theories of Truth

    As the foregoing discussion suggests, the quest for the nature of things turns out to be a quest for the essence of things. This is because for Plato, Forms and not particulars are "the bearer of essences. Schmitt is Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University. He is the author of Knowledge and Belief , Truth: Table of contents Reviews Features Acknowledgements.

    Pragmatist Theories of Truth:. Coherence Theories of Truth:. On the Nature of Truth: In Defense of the Coherence Theory of Truth: Correspondence Theories of Truth:. Truth and Language-World Connections: James aims at patiently displaying — through his restless efforts of demystification of meanings — crucial implications of the Pragmatic conception of experience. Experience and Reality , Lexington Books, Author retains copyright and grants the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.

    European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy. Contents - Next document. Bibliographical reference Robert Schwartz, Rethinking Pragmatism: Full text PDF Send by e-mail. Notes 1 Perry R. Essays on the Philosophy of Richard J. Interview with Charlene Haddock Seigfried [Full text]. Interview with Hilary Putnam [Full text]. Copyright Author retains copyright and grants the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.

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