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What Is Truth

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What Is Truth

Gernilee Carter-Cauffman

Philosophy 001

Paper 1


Getting to truth: this was a truly edifying process for me because I have come through class and this process to see that there rarely, if ever, is definitive truth. We, must, of course, come to some communal agreement on certain things to get on with life, society and to establish cultural norms. I see that truth is fluid and ever changing. There are some fixed truths, I think, that until otherwise proven not true we can feel secure in believing to be true – to be real, the example given in class: gravity. Thus grounding us emotionally somewhat.

My efforts to come up with a definition of truth at any current time is that truth is the best conclusion, determination of the reality of some thing at a given time using the best information available to us, at the time, while using the methods of getting to truth as revealed to us over centuries by philosophers and others, including scientists, to come to that conclusion. Some of those methods are those favored by the practical, pragmatic, non-romantic, and non sensuous, Peirce, namely the Scientific Method. Other methods used by Plato and Socrates are more romantic, more tactile, sensuous and communal; a priori and often using Triadic Interpretation or Dyadic Intuitionism. However, Plato and Socrates, could also exhibit the pragmatic approach and hypothesis as so wonderfully pointed out by one student in class with the example being the geometry problem solved by the slave boy as guided by Socrates.

Truth then, for now, is what we as a society agrees upon it to be by consensus after the appropriate methods of discernment are used until such time that more information requires a change in seeing it as such.


Peirce was a man of the 19th and early 20th Century, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, geodesist, surveyor, cartographer, metrologist, spectroscopist, engineer, inventor; psychologist, philologist, lexicographer, historian of science, mathematical economist, lifelong student of medicine; book reviewer, dramatist, actor, short story writer; phenomenologist, semiotician, logician, rhetorician and metaphysician according to this web site: Peirce fascinates with his incredible circuitous route, consisting of complex sentences without punctuation which I had to read three times before I become accustomed to his syntax. When I finally began to understand the way he spoke, hence, what he was saying to his audience I was amazed at how he dissects the human belief system and the various ways, with all the intricacies of how we get to belief with the added, often, sarcastic prediction of the outcomes of certain belief systems. I came to embrace his insights, and to be thankful I have come to read them.

Peirce firmly believed in the scientific method of arriving at a belief (truth). He was a stickler for accuracy and covers many areas one could think of that could muddle one’s thought process, misguide your process at arriving at a conclusion to be held as a belief. Peirce walks us through the morass of human confusion, inference, prejudice, and thoughtlessness, submission to authority, and stubborn, unexamined beliefs by describing for us the four methods of coming to belief: Authority, A Priori, Tenacity and bringing us to the one he holds as the only method that will coincide with the fact, and further tells us “that there is no reason why the results of those three first methods should do so”, the Scientific Method. He also seems to not hold reasoning in high esteem stating that one can only come to a correct conclusion by reasoning if one has the correct facts in the original premise. He makes the enlightening, I think, statement that all thought is meant to bring us to belief and that a state of disbelief brings tension and stress. Peirce refers to this unease as inquiry but admits that it is not a very apt designation to the emotional state caused by doubt. Therefore one will reach conclusions to get emotional relief even if it brings one to an incorrect conclusion or belief/truth.

Plato on the other hand allows for the process to include reasoning, intuition, a priori and often using Triadic Interpretation or Dyadic Intuitionism. Plato was functioning in Greece where the gold standard was verbal discourse.

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