Truth (pt. 1)

Basic given: when two minds get into conflict, they generally judge the one with more truth to be better off. So truth is a mind-good, just as gas or maintenance is a car-good.*

The opposite of the true is the false, but “false” means both incorrect and the fake (cf. false opinion, false teeth). Though we wight be tempted to take the first sense of true-false as the one the mind is looking for, it cannot be separated from the second. For the basic fact we are starting with is the conflict between minds, and two minds would not come into conflict unless at least one of them had an apparent truth. And so our notion of truth has an intrinsic opposition to the false as both fake and incorrect. In fact, the true-fake binary has more explanatory power with respect to the conflict than the true-incorrect binary, and so should be spoken of first when explaining truth.

What is true-fake is relative to an intelligence. Take three identical-looking Mona Lisa’s: the original, a replica, and a forgery. Make the appearance as identical as you please, down to the last molecule. Both the original and the replica are true in different ways (the first by being the true Mona Lisa, the second by not being a fake), but what is the difference between the forgery and the replica? They differ by different judgments, and so true-fake is formally a sort of judgment, specifically, one that can be correct or incorrect.

But judgments can be correct in two ways. Say I buy a puppy that his owner called Max. I can judge (a) He is a lab and (b) he is named Charlie. What’s interesting about the second judgment is that the judgment itself makes itself true. No matter what the breeder called the puppy, when I buy him I can name him whatever I want.  So some judgments are true and cannot be incorrect while others are not. But this needs to be sharpened up a bit: for it’s certainly the case that the (a) statement “can’t be incorrect” if it actually is the case; and that the (b) statement can be false if made by someone other than myself (e.g. if someone thinks the dogs name is Carly). When we say some judgments can’t be incorrect we mean the truth of some judgments has its origin in the very mind making the judgment. This sense of “truth” has to be taken as truth in the fullest sense, for it is not only opposed to the fake but rules out incorrectness as even a logical possibility.

*You could contest this, of course, and then our minds would be in conflict, and you’d seek to convince me you were better off because…


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