Saturday, December 27, 2008

Systemic Truth / Rorty

Since I’m sufficiently a nerd, upon Matt’s insistence I went right out and picked up a copy of Rorty’s “Contingency Irony and Solidarity”. Right off, pg. 5, was the following – which is what I’ve been trying to get at with my notion of systemic truth: (I don't want to comment on this just yet, I merely throw it out there as it gives me a certain feeling of satisfaction - for now anyway.)

We need to make a distinction between the claim that the world is out there and the claim that truth is out there. To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states. To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

Truth cannot be out there – cannot exist independently of the human mind – because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of the world can be true of false. The world on it’s own – unaided by the describing activities of human beings – cannot.

The suggestion that truth, as well as the world, is out there is a legacy of an age in which the world was seen as the creation of a being who had a language of his own.
(So in effect we anthropomorphized objective creation)

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