Truth: A Primer

Truth: A Primer

Truth: A Primer

Truth: A Primer

Synopsis

The concept of truth lies at the heart of philosophy; whether one approaches it from epistemology or metaphysics, from the philosophy of language or the philosophy of science or religion, one must come to terms with the nature of truth. In this brisk introduction, Frederick Schmitt covers all the most important historical and contemporary theories of truth. Along the way he also sheds considerable light on such closely related issues as realism and idealism, absolutism and relativism, and the nature of contemporary pragmatism. At a time when it is fashionable for scholars outside of philosophy to deny the possibility of truth, Schmitt's lucid, technically accurate survey offers the easiest way to understand what is really at stake in such denials. Truth: A Primer is a quick but accurate and philosophically sophisticated overview that will prove invaluable to philosophers and their students in a wide range of courses, in particular epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of language.

Excerpt

This primer is a brisk introduction to philosophical thinking about truth. It covers the chief historically important theories of truth: the correspondence theory, pragmatism, coherentism, and deflationism. It also reviews some closely related topics: realism and idealism, absolutism and relativism, and the implications of the nature of knowledge for truth. My primary interest in the book is to convey the gist of classical issues, arguments, and theories of truth. In the course of the book, I tie the issues and theories together as facets of an underlying concern--whether truth involves a relation to human thinkers. It is a concern of the first importance, in league with other concerns about the relativity of the world to human thought. I attempt to bring out how these concerns are manifested in classical theories of truth.

For each theory, I have gone immediately to the heart of the matter and treated only the most central points. I have aimed to present the issues and views in an intuitive way, focusing on philosophical rather than historical or interpretive points. I have not, however, avoided the deepest philosophical questions. This occasionally makes for rough going, but I prefer exposure to the real thing to the protectionism that is currently the fashion in introductory texts.

In treating the issues in an intuitive way, and in presenting the historically important theories as competing theories of the same thing, truth, I have had to disentangle the theories from the philosophical systems in which they were originally embedded. I have also had to drop the dialectical settings that distinguish these approaches to truth. I am aware that such a treatment may mislead and even deprive a theory of its point, but I believe that, for introductory purposes, the clarity and . . .

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