A CRITIQUE OF WIREDU'S CONCEPT OF TRUTH
A CRITIQUE OF WIREDU'S CONCEPT OF TRUTH
1.0 THEORIES of TRUTH
My essay focuses on Kwasi Wiredu's epistemological convictions regarding the problem of truth. My goal in this essay is to critically assess all of Wiredu's arguments in support of his claim that there is no such thing as truth that is distinct from opinion.
I submit that by claiming that truth is nothing more than just opinion, Wiredu fails to refute the objective nature of truth. I also believe that Wiredu fails to make truth objective. Despite his declared efforts to explain the contexts in which he use terminology such as “truth” and “opinion,” this remains the case.
As a result, this article has been broken into four chapters so that I can better comprehend the context of Wiredu's perspective as well as his main thesis.
In chapter one, I will address the concept of truth in traditional Western epistemology in general. In this chapter, I will attempt to analyse briefly the essential propositions of the two primary objectivist theories of truth, namely the semantic and correspondence theories of truth.
As well as the two non objectivist theories of truth, namely the coherence and pragmatic theories of truth. And, as we will see, Wiredu's position is neither entirely pragmatic nor entirely consistent. He just confirms both views to varying degrees.
As we will see in this chapter, Wiredu believes that truth is coherence. He also believes that truth is “warranted assertibility,” which he bases on Deweyian pragmatic ideas.
In chapter two, I will go over Wiredu's theory on truth, which states that to be true is merely to have an opinion. Prior to this, his formal critique of the correspondence theory of truth, which is the most strong depiction of all objectivist conceptions of truth, would be considered. I'll also go over his broad argument, which claims that “to be is to be known.”
In the third chapter, I will discuss the criticisms raised against Wiredu's viewpoint by three modern African philosophers, Joseph Omoregbe, P.O Bodunrin, and Abdu Ghaniyi Bello, before considering Wiredu's responses to some of the critics.
In chapter four, I will point out and critically analyse the weaknesses in Wiredu's method that I believe exist, and then proceed to show my own convictions about how truth should be conceptualised and treated.
1.1 THE NATURE AND TRADITIONAL THEORIES OF TRUTH
The word “truth” derives from the Greek word “Alenthia” and the Latin word “Veritas,” both of which signify some type of accord between thinking and its objects, knowing and that which is known.
Truth, in its most basic form, is the agreement of conformity between what is said and what is. According to Aristotle, truth is the most important factor in judging. A correct judgement is one that assigns or denies a predicate to a subject based on what reality demands.
1In terms of the condition under which a statement is said to be true or untrue, a true account of the nature of truth can be given. The same cannot be said of people: truth in this case is a derivative concept of truth. Furthermore, truth and falsehood are not valid candidates for sentences as such;
that is, unless a statement is employed to say whether or not anything is true or untrue, it is not a candidate for truth. Thus, truth and falsity are attributable to assertions, and these claims are invariably expressions of beliefs.
2Assume a statement is true. At the very least, the following questions can be raised: what do we mean when we declare a statement is true? Is a property being assigned? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for its truth, i.e., it is true if and only if and only if? These are all conceivable candidates for what is meant by the generic question “What is truth”?
Truth might be considered a consequential property of a statement. That is to say, it could be a characteristic that statements have by virtue of the fact that other things are true of them
3. In such situation, the philosophy of truth should determine what these additional factors are that are required for a statement to be true.
All of this has something to do with the correspondence theory of truth.
However, numerous theories have been proposed in addition to this one. The absolute idealist proposed a coherence theory of truth in which
“The whole” is the sole absolute truth and anything less than the whole can only aspire to degrees of truth. Validation procedures4 confirm knowledge here.
Williams James advocated for a “pragmatic theory of truth” in which the problem of truth is one of welfare economics, because a truthful assertion is one that proves the best in the long run.
Tarski attempted to overcome the issues of self-reference by stating that truth can only be defined in a metalanguage, giving rise to the “Semantic theory of truth.”
F.P Ramsey believed he had solved the problem of truth by pointing out that ‘P' and ‘P' is true mean the same thing and thus that is true” is redundant; hence the redundancy theory of truth for now”.
The main objectivistic theory of truth, primarily the semantic and correspondence theories, will be discussed in detail.
1.2 SEMANTIC THEORY OF THE TRUTH
This thesis is re-presented in Alfred Tarski's fervent works on the problem of truth. According to this theory, a syntactical system ‘L' becomes a semantical system when the rules in its meta language ‘M' specify the necessary and sufficient truth condition for each sentence of the system.
These rules, which are frequently incorporated in recursive definitions, lead to a definition of truth. And Tarski refers to the “Material Criterion” as a prerequisite of sufficiency for such a formulation.
The schema specifies the following criterion: X is true if and only if P cover P stand, for any phrase in the chosen language, and X for the name of the sentence.5
Tarski further emphasises that the concept of truth must be not only materially adequate but also formally correct, i.e. it must not lead to contradiction.
Using Tarski's example, if P stands for show is white, then the equivalence schema “T” while d is true. “If and only if snow is white, the sentence show is white is true.”
6. However, Tarski believes that the schema does not provide a complete definition of truth. Tarski regards it as a given essential condition of truth.
7. From this vantage point, it appears that Tarski's semantic theory of truth is a variant of the correspondence theory of truth. It attributes truth with an objective nature, implying that truth is an objective standard against which any language or statement is judged to be true or false.
As a result, the various critiques levelled at Tarski's theory revolve on “correspondence with fact.” Ideals are inherent to all objectivist theories of truth, although as Tarski correctly observes, his theories have “rehabilitated the correspondence theory of absolute or objective”.
8. Similarly, though Tarski attempted to cover all of his theory with the blanket of a meta-language, saying that truth cannot be adequately expressed in natural language, it is true that Tarski theory applies to English, as Donald Davidson observes.
In general, semantic theory has come to be characterised as ‘Objectivistics,' and is thought to be a kind of the correspondence theory of truth.
1.3. CORRESPONDENCE THEORY OF THE TRUTH
Wiredu attempts to illustrate his argument that truth is opinion by rejecting the objectivistic theory of truth with a tale. According to this view, it makes sense to claim that a man's opinion can change, but it is lunacy to say that the truth can change.
Once a preposition is true, it remains true indefinitely. In other words, truth is timeless and eternal9. According to Wiredu, the objectivistic notion of truth is “an intellectualised submission of the primitive passions of the soul.” He puts it like way:
“I must admit that the objectivist view of truth of ten strives is an intellectual concession to some of the more primal impulses of the human soul10.
The term “correspondence” is widely used among modern writers, owing partly to the impact of Bertrand Russell on the formation of correspondence between belief and fact
11. This is in contrast to the absolute idealist, who believes that truth is defined by coherence.
The correspondence theory is an objectivist theory in the sense that it argues that the truth of a statement is independent of our judgement and “consists in a relationship, according to behaviour, which holds between statements”.
12. A quick historical overview would be helpful to properly comprehend our subject. Demonstrate how different people interpreted the theory at different eras.
13. The origin of the term “Correspondence,” which is used to indicate the relationship between thought and reality in which the truth of thought appears to be medical, appears to be medical. When Aquinas stated, “Truth is the adequation of things and the intellect,” he used the term in this way.
Other scholastics have stated that a preposition is true when and only when the object denoted is as it is. This is the key point in the correspondence theory of truth.
14. The key recommendation of this idea, according to him, is that it does not contradict many millions of the most obvious fact of truth. One such evident reality is that my friend's notion that I have gone away on vacation will undoubtedly be correct if and only if I have gone away.
As a result, the following is implied as a necessary and sufficient condition for a belief to be true: “That is should correspond to fact.”
15. This is truth in the secondary sense. Moore is quick to point out that propositions, not acts of belief, are what are true or untrue in the main sense.
16 .We commonly state that beliefs are true or false, but this is only because the word “belief” is often used to refer to what is believed rather than what is believed.
The correspondence theory of truth also has a Russialian version. Russell begins with the concept of belief, arguing that the truth or falsity of a belief is always dependent on something outside of the belief itself. As a result, we believe that “truth consists in some form of correspondence between belief and fact.”
17. The problem with this idea, however, is that if truth is a correspondence of thinking with something outside thought, thought can never know when truth is realised.
This apparent issue led to a concerted effort among certain philosophers to attempt and identify some definition of truth that does not include in connection to anything entirely outside of belief.
The theory that truth consists in ‘coherence' is the most important effort at a definition of this type. However, Russell uses it to criticise this theory before settling down to defend the correspondence theory.
According to Ressell, there is a significant problem with coherence. There is no reason to believe that there can only be one cohesive body of belief. As a result, we are compelled to return to correspondence with fact as being the nature of truth.
Russell believes that we must seek a theory of truth that permits truth to have an opposite, namely, falsehood. Falsehood is a quality of ideas, but it is entirely dependent on the relationship of the beliefs to outside things.
In every act of belief, there is a mind that believes, and then there are forms that believe. When a relationship exists between two or more for ms, the mind joins the words to form a complicated whole.
In Russell's view, a belief is true when it corresponds to a certain related complex, and false when it does not. The state of truth or belief in something that does not involve beliefs or, in general, any mind at all, but merely the objects of the belief.
A mind that believes actually believes involving the mind. However, only the connection of its objectives ensures truth, and the absence of wit implies falsehood.
1.4. COHERENCE THEORY OF THE TRUTH
According to Wiredu, “a statement is true if it coheres with our system of beliefs.”19 In other words, the truth of a statement depends on the degree to which it is harmonised with a given and accepted system of ideas.
He then wonders why Wiredu keeps repeating the coherence theorist's argument that claims are compared with other assertions rather than with experience, the world, or an independent realm of reality.” As a result, Kwasi Wiredu sees such a comparison as “mysterious, metaphysical, and so meaningless.”
20. The coherence theory of truth, which is a characteristic of the great rationalist system building metaphysicians such as Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegal, and Bradlly, further holds that a statement is considered true or false to the extent that it coheres or fails to cohere with a system whose elements are related to each other by ties of logical implication as the elements in a system of pure mathematics.
In mathematics, for example, the truth or falsity of a theorem in Geometry will be determined by its consistency with the principles of the particular system in use.
21. They believe that this notion of reality, above all, should not be interpreted as making truth relative to individual perception. Rather, it emphasised repeatedly that truth must be constructed in relation to the systems in which the Item of knowledge is perceived.
Many proponents of this coherence theory believe that every component of a system implies every other member. As a result, determining if a statement is true is equivalent to determining its coherence with a system of other assertions.
22. According to the logical positivist who supports this idea, the current culture's framework with which ALL TRUE statements must cohere. On the other hand, proponents of coherence argue that a statement cannot be declared true unless it fits into a single comprehensive account of the cosmos, which in turn constitutes a cohesive system.
According to coherent epistemology, the logical text for truth in the accurate and credible science of pure mathematics and related science is a statement cohering with some other assertions, and finally with the rules of its own system.
In this book, which is not only practical, for a statement to cohere with another, it must be logically deducible from them. This coherence is what it means to call a proposition true. For example, proponents of this theory argue that if blue were divorced in our minds from all the colours in the spectrum to which it is related by likeness and difference, all the shades within its own range.
And all the definition it possesses by virtue of being thought of as quality rather than as substances or a relation, we would not even understand, let alone know the truth or falsity of a statement about something blue.
23. Furthermore, we would not only know the truth of such a statement, but it also cannot be properly said to have its meaning of truth value independent of its relationship to other statements.
We still retain the doctrine of degree of truth inside the context of the coherence theory of truth.” According to the doctrine, if the truth of any given statement is bound up with and can only be seen with the truth of all the statements of the system, and this is bound up with the whole system,
then individual statements are only partially false, and only the whole system is wholly true. As a result, Braddly contends that truth must bear the mark of expansion and all inconclusiveness.
24. Although no definitive evaluation of this theory is intended, I will now proceed and seek to finalise the amount of compatibility that exists between this truth theory and that of Wiredu before pointing out the core theory.
Given that we are not engaging in any sort of extensive evaluation here, it will now appear that, while Wiredu may not be rightly conceived as an absolute coherent, his theory is sympathetic to most of the tenets inherent in coherence epistemology. The challenge I'll be addressing now is identifying the fundamental flows that exist in this theory.
According to Reuben Abel, the fatal flaw of the coherence theory of truth is that “there is no way to locate a coherent system d of proposition to reality”
25. Astrology, delusions of the sick, and mathematics all constitute coherent systems, yet we do not accept them as true. Furthermore, scientific progress frequently shatters previous coherent systems.
newton's geocentrism, Kepler's heliocentrism, Darwinian evolution, and Eintainmean relativity all tossed traditional systems out the window.
As a result, the various concept of a totally coherent system begins to appear ludicrous and requires substantial change. As a result, while we accept coherence as a prerequisite for truth, it does not suffice as a definition of truth.
According to Bertrand Russell, this is because there appears to be competing reasons to believe that only one coherent body of belief is possible.
26. As Ayer puts it succinctly: “there may be any number of systems of statements, each of which is internally consistent, but any two of which are incompatible with one another.”
1.5. PRAGMATICS THEORY OF THE TRUTH
27. Truth is considered as relational rather than absolute in pragmatic epistemology. It is never in pristine condition. Either immutable or eternal. Rather, it can shift from generation to generation. According to Wiredu, “truth is inevitably bound to point of view, on better truth is view from some point, and there are as many truths as there are points of view.”
28. According to pragmatists such as Scudders Pierce, Williams James, and John Dewey, man should be concerned with things or occurrences that can be observed by the senses rather than the abstract and speculative.
As a result, the truth criteria must be traceable to experience. Williams James asserts:
Truth in our ideas and beliefs means that ideas (which are but a part of our experience) become true insofar as they assist us in getting into satisfactorily relation with other parts of our experience…
Any idea that will carry us prosperously from one part of our experience linking things satisfactorily, working securely simpling saving labour: true for just so much, true in so far truth instrumentally.
29. This quote from James Terminate in a term that encompassed the instrument nature of pragmatism, prompting some philosophers to attribute the classification, instrumentalism, to broad pagmatic philosophy. According to James, the function of mind is to generate ideas in order to meet individual interests rather than to reproduce or picture reality.
Thus, on pragmatic criteria, if the hypothesis of God, for example, satisfactorily in the broadest meaning of the world, it is true. However, we should be primarily interested in Dewey because Wiredu has a strong affinity with his notion of truth.
For Dewey, ideas become true when the verifying facts they promise honour their “draught upon existence.” The idea that truth exists before to and apart from inquiry is worthless in Dewey's mind because truth is significant to him. “Truth happens to be an idea” when it is validated or a warranted assertion.
Dewey regards truth from the standpoint of verification and sets it at the end of all investigations. As a result, Wiredu's tense articulation of Dewey's positon is that truth is warranted assertibility.
30. This section emphasises that truth is what logical inquiry allows us to affirm. Truth is considered as an end product of practise rather than a prior premise. In “Dewey words”
That which guides is true…
“The true hypothesis is the one that works, and truth is an abstract applied to the collection of cases, actual, anticipated, and desired, that receive confirmation in their consequences.”
31. The pragmatists' consequences thus reach into the fundamental heart of meaning and truth.
Dewey proposes in this “Essay in Experimental Logic” that the term pragmatic only refers to the rule of all reflective attention to “Consequences:” for final meaning and text.
In a nutshell, the pragmatist approach to truth is as follows: A notion is true not because it agrees with some experimental reality, as most traditionalists believe, but because it works fine. That is, it has legitimate repercussions when applied to certain contexts.
It is wrong not because it misrepresents reality, but because it does not perform properly when employed. The utility of a notion in practise, then, is truth. A preposition is proved or falsified by demonstrating its usability or non-usability in action.
It is true, as Bernard Russell and Arthur Lukejor, among others, point out, that the notion of truth as what works is problematic because the definition of “Workability” is uncertain. Brief cans function in two ways at the same time.
Also, the only thing that all of our real beliefs have in common is that they “pay”. Williams appears to imply that the consequences of considering such beliefs are preferable to those of rejecting them.
However, as Russell points out, it is extremely impossible to predict the consequences of any belief. How can we tell whether the effects of believing in the Islamic religion are generally positive or negative?
The concept that nothing should be regarded true except what is experienceable and empirically verifiable is also shared by all pragmatics. However, it is also true that stating that S is P becomes true does not imply that S is P is verified. It can only signify that S has turned into P.