Introduction to Philosophy
The Pragmatic Theory of Truth #29
28 October 2011
- William James holds that truth is dynamic rather than static and is to be defined in
terms of beliefs that are useful or satisfying
- the truth is in process - still becoming and changing
- yesterday's truth is today's falsehood and today's truth is tomorrow's half-truth
What Pragmatism Means:
- the pragmatic method is primarily a method of settling metaphysical disputes that
otherwise might be interminable
- is the world one or many?
- fated or free?
- material or spiritual?
- here are nations either of which may or may not hold good of the world; and disputed
over such notions are unending
Pragmatism's conception of truth:
- a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and
insignificant; finally it is seen to be so important that is adversaries claim that they
themselves discovered it
- truth is a property of certain of our ideas
- it means their "agreement," as falsity means their "disagreement," with "reality"
- pragmatists and intellectualists both accept this definition as a matter of course
- how will the truth be realized?
- what experiences will be different from those which wouldn’t obtain if the belief were
- pragmatism asks these questions
- true ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify - false ideas are those that we cannot
- therefore for it is all that truth is known-as
- truth happens to an idea
- it becomes true, is made true by events
- its verity is in fact an event, itself, its veri-ficitonal
- its validity is the process of its valid-action
- the possession of true thoughts means everywhere the possession of invaluable
instruments of actions; and that our duty to gain truth, so far from being a blank
command from out of the blue, or a "stunt" self-imposed by our intellect, can account for
itself by excellent practical reasons
- the truth of a state of mind means this function of a leading that is worth while
- when a moment in our experience inspires us with a thought that is true, that means
that sooner or later we dip by that thought's guidance into the particulars of experience
again and make advantageous connation with them
- by "realties" or "objects" here, we mean either things of common sense, sensibly
present, or else common-sense relations, such as dates, places, distances, kinds,
- such simply and fully verified leading are certainly the original and prototypes of the
- experience offers indeed other forms of truth-process, but they are all conceivable as
being primary verifications arrested, multiplied or substituted one for another
- if truths mean verification process essentially, ought we then to call such unverified
truths as this abortive?
- where circumstantial evi