The Practical Approach To Truth Philosophy Essay
The process of acquiring truth is more than just truth through absolute nature. As humans being practical thinking creatures that are diverse and full of mistakes, we must believe in pragmatism. Pragmatism holds that truth is relative, subjective and is always changing according to new discoveries and that we make true what is useful and beneficial to us as a society. In what follows, I will argue in favour of William James, that truth is best attained through the pragmatic philosophy.
For one to understand the pragmatic approach, you should distinguish what pragmatism is. It is derived from the word pragmatic, meaning it’s concerned with actual occurrences that are practical (Velasquez 403). Therefore, a pragmatist believes a proposition if its association with its experimental results and its practical outcomes coincide. Pragmatism holds that truth changes as new discoveries are encountered (Velasquez 403). For example: at one time in the society, it was thought that the world was flat. It was said to be accurate so everyone believed it, only after discoverers saw that the Earth was essentially round, did the truth amend.
The world as we know is full of ideas and these ideas can either be useful or harmful to us. For example: If you are stranded on an island and are trying to survive, you come across a path and follow it thinking logically there may be human life at the end, thus you will eat and live. The true idea of the persons being at the end of the path is beneficial, concluding that pragmatic beliefs of true ideas are derived on the importance of the objects to us. On the other hand, the idea may not be significant therefore the idea is of no importance. Another type of truth is based on correspondence and common sense. For example: when you look at a clock, you know it’s a clock not because of what it consists of, things such as wheels and gears but because you have past experience of clocks, and have seen it before(Velasquez 402). The correspondence theory of truth closely relates to pragmatism, as we use our senses to relate facts to propositions.
Absolute truth, something that will never change, for example: two plus two is equal to four, is where all temporary truths aim to be but in pragmatism, we hold true what is true and justifiable today for tomorrow it may be proven false just as the idea of the world being flat was.
An objection brought up against pragmatism is a criticism of the view of rationalism. A rationalist would argue that the truth is not made. Believing in the pragmatic theory of truth I would refute this objection with an analogy. It is unsound to say a person has a lot of money because she is wealthy, when in fact it is the other way around. One is wealthy because she has a lot of money. Likely we say a person can lift a lot of weight because he is strong, but truly he is strong because he can lift a lot of weight. From the previous example of the clock, the rationalist would argue that the clock on the wall was true long before any mind even formed the proposition. We can apply the analogy of wealth and strength to say that the object on the wall is a clock. This statement is true because it is a clock. Consequently, it is not considered a clock because of the trueness of the statement. The truth of the statement actually occurs only when it is verified. “The rich woman may not always be handling money and a tough man may not always be lifting weights”. A proposition is true because it works in reality; it is not the case that it works in reality since it is true.
When people say truth is absolute, we must consider that for some truth such as scientific truth claims, they may not be true tomorrow if proven false, so for truths we know today we use awareness of our world as we experience it (phenomena) but as time and technology move forward, our awareness expands, and we may find some current propositions which are right today, false tomorrow just how the idea of the world being flat was proven wrong (Velasquez 404). The theory of pragmatism allows us to see what is better for us and what is important now.
Ultimately, this theory allows people to think of truth as a changeable entity. If we held all previous truths to be absolute (never changing), we would never progress as a moving, learning society. Thus evidently, truth is acquired through practical outcomes, that we condemn beneficial to us as a society.
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