7
ONTOLOGY AND EPISTEMOLOGY

Today, more than ever, the search for truth seems to be folly. A number of movements have come together which would seem to justify the view that there is no absolute truth and that truth is radically multiple.

In the philosophy of religion, a growing tide of supporters of anti-realism see truth as internal to the language game being played or the story being told. Religious truths, it is held, are not discovered; they are made. Religious truths are essentially truths internal to a fictitious story.

In mainstream analytic philosophy we see a general acceptance of the view that the search for any metaphysical underpinning for truth is folly. Since the work of Wittgenstein, the search for firm foundations for knowledge or for any metaphysical underpinning has been almost entirely abandoned.

In ethics and aesthetics, what is right and wrong, what is beautiful and ugly, is widely accepted as depending on culture and tradition and having no reality independent of such settings. As Hamlet put it, 'There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.'

Post-modernism rejects any single truth and sees it as being entirely dependent on the viewpoint from which truth is seen.

This section will consider the divide in the road after Immanuel Kant, but before doing so it is necessary to be clear on the nature of the debate about ontology and epistemology.

-65-

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What Is Truth?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page III
  • New College Lectures and Publications V
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Dedication and Acknowledgments xi
  • Part One - What is Truth? 1
  • 1 - The Implications of a Denial of Truth--Or the Claim to Have It 3
  • 2 - Realism and Anti-Realism 12
  • 3 - Foundations Without Indubitability 29
  • 4 - Anti-Realism in Religion and Morality 38
  • 5 - Constructivism in Psychology 49
  • Part Two - There is No Truth Out There 63
  • 7 - Ontology and Epistemology 65
  • 8 - Hegel and Marx 74
  • 9 - Nietzsche and Ivan Karamazov 79
  • 10 - The Denial of a Real World 89
  • 11 - Post-Modernism 95
  • 12 - Post-Modernism and Self-Identity 105
  • 13 - Interim Conclusion 117
  • Part Three - The Centre Can Hold 121
  • 14 - The Path to Truth 123
  • 15 - The Kotzker 126
  • 16 - Soren Kierkegaard and Subjectivity 132
  • 17 - Wittgenstein and Perspicuity 141
  • 18 - The Sufis 151
  • 19 - Vaclav Havel and Living the Truth 156
  • 20 - Fear and Freedom 164
  • 21 - Bringing the Threads Together 182
  • Notes 190
  • Index 201
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