File spoon-archives/phillitcrit.archive/phillitcrit_1998/phillitcrit.9806, message 38

Date: Mon, 29 Jun 1998 15:04:49 -0230 (NDT)
Subject: Re: PLC: Truth and its friends

Please see specific replies below.

On Tue, 12 May 1998, Eric Yost wrote:

> Walter writes: All truth-claims are public in the sense that the
> intelligibility of the
> claim is based upon socially shared meanings and its actual truth/falsity
> is able to be determined, at least in principle, by publicly agreed upon
> methods of inquiry.
> I am reinforcing his claim by asking, "Is this statement true?"  But I will
> ask it anyway.
> Is the preceding paragraph true?

Now that's a tough one Eric. I would claim that my above par. states
philosophical truths. I want to differentiate such truths from empirical
truths the truth or falsity of which can be setled by observation (however
remotely or indirectly in some cases.) A philosophical truth, aka a
conceptual truth identifies necessary features and limits of discourse. A
phil. truth is, as such, "true" if it successfully claims something about
possibility rather than about actuality (the empirical order). 

> When we search for truth inside ourselves, when we open our whole being up
> to the possibility of the existence of God, when we experience the mystical
> (ala Wittgenstein, THAT the world is), when we reflect on the falseness of
> our own behavior in light of our freedom to act otherwise --- is its
> truth-content "determined, at least in principle, by publicly agreed upon
> methods of inquiry"?

Most of what you say here has to do more with wisdom and with the moods
defining our human condition (i.e., awe, reverence) than with truth and
method. However, reflection upon the "falseness" or "truth" of behavior
comprises reflection upon authenticity and autonomy comprehended as moral
categories. Moral discourse possesses features intrinsic to itself and
these can be philosophically reconstructed. Prescriptivity, overridingness
and universalizability, for example, are criteria/conditions necessary for
the possibility of moral discourse and deliberation. Any "method of
inquiry" used in moral reflection that does not abide by these necessary
conditions fails to be distinctly "moral" inquiry. 

> I would argue that the real truth of our existence is PRIVATE, and that the
> socialized language games of verification are but a template through which
> we experience truth and falsehood, a method of appealing to an introjected
> authority saying "Look!  Look!  I am making true claims."

Saying that truth is private is like saying a language can be private.
Again, I understand your use of the expression "truth of our existence" to
be referring to a personally formulated wisdom giving meaning to one's
life. Such language-games, traditions of belief,"vocabularies" (Rorty)
enable truth but do so only upon a prior disclosure of sense, a background
of shared meaning and value. Morality is a much more homogenous feature of
our lives than we tend to think in these postmodern days. We tend to all
agree on the fundamentals.
> [For this reason, certain kinds of art may venture further into truth by
> summing up the unverifiable.  Hence the notion of innovative art CREATING
> its audience, by stepping ahead of the "publicly agreed upon methods of
> inquiry." Only after a work of art has established a tradition may it be
> said to firmly rest on conventional language games.]
To be able to grasp the unverifiable truth is a matter of wisdom and
faith. We reach here, I think,  the limits of philosophical analysis. But
before we reach those limits, we do find innovation, artistic creativity
in all the major disciplines and fields. But these always rely on some
precursive texts, procedures, and values the initiation into which allows
for the creativity. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, I hope we WILL  be
remembered more for our poems than our wars.


Walter C. Okshevsky
Memorial University

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