We explain what the truth is and its different meanings according to recognized philosophers. In addition, the theories that exist about the truth.
What is the truth?
The concept of truth is one of the great philosophical problems that still give much to talk about , the main weapon of religions , and a key piece in any political discourse . But what do we really understand?
The word truth derives from the Latin veritas, and it is understood as an existing agreement between what is said / thought / believed with what “is.” It is simply the truth, what can not be doubted. As we see, this definition does not seem to lead to major problems for everyday life (dogs have four legs, it is a truth that no one can deny or discuss), but encounters certain limitations when analyzed in a deeper way .
These problems are further accentuated in religious matters, since all religion is a carrier of truth , especially those that are transcendent for man . The meaning of life, where we come from and where we are going, are answers that every religion grants and are labeled under the term of truth.
The truth in philosophy
The concept of truth was and is undoubtedly one of the great problems of which philosophy deals . From Aristotle and Plato, through Descartes and arriving at Heidegger, everyone has at some time taken up his work on the truth. For Plato, the world in which we live is nothing more than an imperfect reflection of a supersensitive world of “ideas,” where truth is an ideal to be achieved with beauty and good . For this, our soul (which does not belong to this world, but to that of ideas) should only “remember” what it was at another time in its existence.
Undoubtedly one of the turning points occurs with the thought of René Descartes. This French philosopher breaks with Western tradition , introducing what is known as hyperbolic doubt (doubt of the senses, of whether we are awake or not, or if we are deceived by an “evil genius”). As we see, use doubt as a method to reach the truth.
After a series of reflections, he arrives at what we know as the argument of the code, “cogito ergo sum” , which means “I think, then I exist . ” A very common mistake is to think that the phrase says “I think, then I exist,” which is not the case. The only unquestionable truth for Descartes is that we exist, regardless of whether we dream or not, whether we are deceived or not, since all this requires as a base someone who dreams or is deceived.
Relativism, on the other hand, postulates that there are no absolute truths but that these will depend on the socio-historical-cultural context in which they are circumscribed. This faces a positivist tradition according to which the truths are found in the world, it is only up to man (through science ) to discover them.
Theories about the truth
We can distinguish then three great theories about the truth:
- Correspondence theory : It is the most widespread, which states that there must be precisely a correspondence between the facts of the understanding and the real.
- Consistency theory : It is limited to thelogical structure of truth.
- Consensus theories : Understand the truth as social constructions.