R U Truthful?
All of you will probably answer this question with a yes. But as with most conceptual, metaphysical questions, there is a lot more to examine. I don’t want to upset anyone, but the truth is not a black and white concept. It is not absolute. If we see two objects, one that is red and the other that is green, we would agree that it is the truth that one is red and the other is green. But if you are colorblind, you would see something else and it wouldn’t be true for you. This is the problem with the truth. It is contextual. What is my truth, for you may not be true?
What is the Truth?
Philosophy News, January 26, 2019, describes truth as, “Truth is difficult to define.” But we rely on it almost every moment of every day. It’s very clear to us what the truth is. “Yet it’s difficult to define because as soon as you think you have it pinned down, some case or counterexample immediately shows deficiencies. Ironically, every definition of truth that philosophers have developed falls prey to the question, Is it true?”
We assume we know the truth. Swear to tell the truth in court. State that all the things we have put in a document are true. Plato says this about the truth: “And isn’t it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are.”
Why is it hard to know things as they really are?
Knowing things as they really are, especially for people, is difficult and clouds the truth. Truth is clouded because each of us has our own beliefs and biases that impede finding out the truth. Where is the truth among all of our beliefs and biases? It is there, but it is only our version of the truth. Therefore, there is Republican truth and Democratic truth. Our beliefs and biases get in the way. The only way around this is to find a common truth that passes the test of both sets of beliefs and biases. Find the common ground. Don’t feel bad about your confusion. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there are philosophic theories about truth.
- 1. The neo-classical theories of truth
- 1.1 The correspondence theory
- 1.2 The coherence theory
- 1.3 Pragmatist theories
- 2. Tarski’s theory of truth
- 2.1 Sentences as truth-bearers
- 2.2 Convention T
- 2.3 Recursive definition of truth
- 2.4 Reference and satisfaction
- 3. Correspondence revisited
- 3.1 Correspondence without facts
- 3.2 Representation and Correspondence
- 3.3 Facts again
- 3.4 Truthmakers
- 4. Realism and anti-realism
- 4.1 Realism and truth
- 4.2 Anti-realism and truth
- 5. Deflationism
- 5.1 The redundancy theory
- 5.2 Minimalist theories
- 6. Truth and language
- 6.1 Truth-bearers
- 6.2 Truth and truth conditions
In Plato’s Republic he states that “In other words, the truth has multiple interpretations, no one being perfectly right or wrong.”
I hope you can now see the truth about the truth. It has multiple interpretations. 5 People see an accident and we get 5 descriptions of what happened. You must find your own truth. Figure out what truth is for you. Refine it as you live your life, keeping in mind that we all find truth through the lens of our beliefs and biases.
Here are five things you can do to discern the truth.
1. You have to know what your values, biases, and beliefs are. So, some self-introspection is in order.
2. Meditate and ponder what you believe and why. This will help in identifying your values and biases.
3. Read sources you trust.
4. Read sources that take positions you don’t agree with and consider why you don’t agree with them. This will also help clarify your values and beliefs.
5. Cultivate your friends so you have a mixture of views and engage in civil discourse about items of interest. Telling someone what you believe and why without calling them names or considering them brain dead zombies could lead to a common understanding.