Truth and fact

Many uses of the word fact/ factual/ facticity can be re-written using truth/true, viz. a  factual claim is a true claim, a true history is factual, the truth of the matter is the fact of the matter, etc. Again, it might seem right to say that every truth is a fact, which would mean either that the two are convertible, or that factuality contains the set of all true things or truths. But it’s interesting to consider the times when the two cannot be used equivalently.

1.) Factual is not a transcendental.

2.)  No one speaks of “a brute truth”.

3.) Facticity is not a divine attribute.

With all the work that “brute facts” are called on to do in contemporary thought, one wishes someone would raise the question why truths aren’t brute. Again, it is interesting to try to imagine what the scholastic response would be to the disputed question of whether facticity is a divine attribute.


  1. vetdoctor said,

    November 12, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Are you riffing off this post? The TOF Spot: ‘sTruth!

    • November 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      I certainly read it (Flynn on on the sidebar and I check in frequently). Going back to it just now, I liked his way of dividing fact from the true too (“true North” has no “fact” equivalent. This sense of true has faded a bit, perhaps because fidelity has become less of a value. I hear baby boomers use “true” to describe directions, and I can imagine them not feeling awkward at a phrase like “being true to one another”, but most of the gen-X crowd doesn’t speak like this.)

    • November 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      This was originally supposed to be a post on Machiavelli, the thesis of which was that The Prince was the first attempt to try to replace truth with fact. It was a great idea that has some X that is true about it, but after I wrote a few hundred words about it I realized I hadn’t figured out what the X was.

  2. Mike Flynn said,

    November 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I blush to mention:
    “Be true to your school”
    “Be factual to your school.”

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