File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9810, message 25

Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 15:30:16 +0100
Subject: Re: BHA: truth again

Hi Ruth,

That's ok. You can get cranky. It's my turn now. But I agree we aren't
getting anywhere.

>I don't think we are getting anywhere here.  The disagreement is about
>whether or not it is a good idea to think that the concept "the nature of
>things" is interchangeable with (part of) the concept "truth".  

This is part of the issue and very much depends upon how you define the
word truth. Insofar as I define alethic truth as the "way things are" then
when you appeal to the "way things are" you are appealing to their alethia.

Also, after claiming to reject the "nature of things" as being their
alethia, you then go onto claim:

>What we regard knowledge claims as being "about" is, indeed, nothing other
>than "the nature of things."  

OK, so in my terminology you are appealing to the alethia of things. What
you will have to do now is come up some good arguments WHY the nature of
things is not their alethia. 

Lets make this simple, by alethia, and we have done this before, RB means:
"A species [Note the A, this species of truth does not exhaust the idea of
truth] of ontological truth constituting and following on the truth of, or
real reason(s) for, or dialectical ground of, things, as distinct from
propositions, possible in virtue of the ontological stratification [and I
would add necessary in virtue of the structured nature of] of the
world...." Plato, p. 251. Now I have left the last part of this definition
out because I don't necessary agree with RB that it is attainable in virtue
of the dynamic character of science".

>But because, again, the argument being put forward is precisely that "the
>nature of things" is *NOT* usefully recast as "their alethia," none of us
>find that the concept of the "intransitive object" of natural science, to
>use the classic RB language, is undermined or compromised in any way by
>distinguishing it from the concept of "truth".

Then you will have to provide good arguments as to why alethia is not a
good term for the nature of things as opposed to simply saying that things
have no alethia, whilst at the same time continuing to say that there is a
way things are. If, that is, you want to insist on thinking of truth as
purely a relational concept then alethia will indeed be problematic to you.

>1.  The claim is that our thoughts, and specifically our judgments
>concerning the veracity of our causal accounts, are ours and ours alone --
>that none of our concepts ought to be seen as inhering in "things."  This
is >hardly an argument for idealism.

Well Ruth, I absolutely agree, and the argument you present here is my
argument. So where are we? You say that our concepts do not inhere in
things. I agree. Things have their own mode of being their alethia, and no
matter what concepts we understand them through this does not mean that
those things become their description. If however, (which I know you don't,
you simply want to reject a certain word) you consistently want to reject
the alethia of things (the nature of things) then you would have to
conclude that the truth of things is a function of the concepts we
designate true about them.

What makes you presume that a commitment to alethia, puts our concepts into
the things? Quite the reverse in fact. It is the argument that things have
no alethia, and that the truth of things has no meaning apart from the
concepts we give them that puts our concepts into things. On your reading
the truth about the nature of things can only be a function of our
concepts. So idealism is threatening. 

>2. In my view, anyway, the concept of "truth" is not the same as the
concept of "knowledge."  (I know that mainstream epistemologists agree that
>"justified true belief" is a fine definition of knowledge, but I'm
inclined >to consider the concepts separately..)

Me too. We have lots of what might be quaintly called knowledge that is

 Thus, although I *do* believe that,
>were there no people there'd be no concept of "truth," 

Well of course there couldn't be a concept of truth, if there were no
people. But that doesn't mean there would be no such thing (however
defined) anymore than the lack of a concept of reality means that there
would be none.

It seems to me that you and Heikki are somehow inferring from the
commitment to alethia of things that I am claiming to possess it. Nothing
could be further from the truth (an alethic one at that - one that is that
existed prior to any proposition of it).



Dr. Colin Wight
Department of International Politics
University of Wales
telephone: +44 (0)1970-621769
fax      : +44 (0)1970-622709

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