What is Truth?

November 6, 2007

I don’t know about Truth with a capital T. The word is used often to express or imply the idea of some one big overriding Answer to Everything, something transcending ordinary verbal logic. I don’t know that there is such a thing, and anyway I see no reason to talk about it if it transcends verbal logic.

I do care about descriptive accuracy. It helps us in many ways to manage our lives, to predict and manipulate the flow of phenomena; and since I find some phenomena to be very pleasant, and others quite the contrary, I regard their prediction and manipulation to be a most worthy enterprise.

This has nothing to do with whether I believe it all to be Ultimately Real. As in the old limeric –

There was a faith healer from Deal
Who said, “Although pain is not real,
When I sit on a pin
And it punctures my skin
I dislike what I fancy I feel.”

So, you can say that for me “truth” with a small t, “truth” in the sense of descriptive accuracy, is a value. Not the only value, not an absolute ultimate value, but an instrumental value, important to me in my constant endeavor to get the other things I want.

But rather than say that there are other kinds of “truth” besides descriptive accuracy, I find it less misleading – more descriptively accurate, and so more “true” – to say that I have other values besides “truth.”


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