Truth and the Quest for Definition

Keywords: Truth, Correspondence, Intentional Subject, Critical Realism, Cognitional Analysis


The controversies in contemporary truth discourses can be traced directly or indirectly to the Fregean choice of “thought” as the truth bearer, Ramsey’s redundancy thesis, Tarskian semantic conception, and Davidson’s defence of the indefinability of truth. The common feature of these four positions is an inadequate treatment of the “what is” question. Because of the neglect of this kind of question, the consequence is that truth has been reduced to a thin concept (that is a reduction of truth to logical, semantic or linguistic analysis of the truth predicate, or analysis of intentional signs at the expense of intentional acts) and subsequent quest for the deflation of truth. I argue that such an approach to the philosophical investigation of truth is at best inadequate and at worst bound to fail. Hence, I propose that an adequate exploration of truth must first address the “what is” question, rather than just assuming it. Further, I argue that to realise this, it is vital to take into consideration the wider context in which the truth question arises, that is, the human quest for knowledge and self-transcendence; and it is the conception of truth as critical correspondence that is capable of sufficiently answering the question.

Author Biography

Patrick O Aleke, St. Joseph's Theological Institute, and University of KwaZulu Natal.

Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, St Joseph's Theological Institute (RF) NPC, Cedara, KZN

BPhil: Pontifical Urban University Rome (2003)

BTh: Catholic University of Eastern Africa (2008)

Licentiate in Philosophy (Master of Philosophy): Pontificia University Gregoriana, Rome (2015)

PhD in Philosophy: UKZN