27 February 2007

A First Glimpse of 'Truth'

He had the virtue of 'ready wit'. And don't we, to that extent, admire him as good?

'What is truth?' said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Pilate was in advance of his time. For 'truth' itself is an abstract noun, a camel, that is, of a logical construction, which cannot get past the eye even of a grammarian. We approach it cap and categories in hand: we ask ourselves whether Truth is a substance (the Truth, the Body of Knowledge), or a quality (something like the colour red, inhering in truths), or a relation ('correspondence'). But philosophers should take something more nearly their own size to strain at. What needs discussing rather is the use, or certain uses, of the word 'true'. In vino, possibly, 'veritas', but in a sober symposium 'verum'.
That's the very clever first paragraph of J.L. Austin's essay, "Truth". I've only read it for the first time today. (Shocking, I know.)

It was something I just had to share, and all that I could post until later ...