Archive for August 21st, 2011

August 21, 2011

On truth (4): Truth and language

by Neil Rickert

In the previous post in this series, I suggested that we don’t need a concept of truth for representations that we ourselves form.  Somebody living alone as a hermit would not need to be concerned about truth.  Any method of forming a useful representation will be based on some correspondence between reality and the representation so formed.  And as long as we interpret a representation using the same correspondence, we will be fine.  That consistency between forming the representation and interpreting that representation breaks down as soon as we start to use a public language.

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August 21, 2011

On truth (3): Does truth matter?

by Neil Rickert

To answer my title question, of course truth matters.  But how and why does it matter?  That’s what I want to examine.

In the previous post in this series, I already discussed photographs.  As mentioned there, we do not question the truth of a photograph that we take ourselves.  We might, however, question the truth of one that somebody gives us.  The difference is that when we take the photograph ourselves, we know that the expected correspondence between reality and photographic representation was followed by virtue of us taking the photograph in the normal way and not doctoring the image.

What this suggests, is that truth is not needed by a solitary agent who is forming his own representations.  This, roughly speaking, is why perception seems so reliable.  Your pet cat or dog probably does not need to be concerned about truth.  That is to say, truth is needed mainly for social discourse.

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