The Obviousness of the Correspondence Concept of Truth


Veritas as adaequatio rei ad intellectum does not imply the later transcendental conception of Kant — possible only on the basis of the subjectivity of man‟s essence — that “objects conform to our knowledge.” Rather, it implies the Christian theological belief that, with respect to what it is and whether it is, a matter, as created (ens creatum), is only insofar as it corresponds to the idea preconceived in the intellectus divinus, i. e., in the mind of God, and thus measures up to the idea (is correct) and in this sense is “true.” The intellectus humanus too is an ens creatum. As a capacity bestowed upon man by God, it must satisfy its idea. But the understanding measures up to the idea only by accomplishing in its propositions the correspondence of what is thought to the matter, which in its turn must be in conformity with the idea. If all beings are “created,” the possibility of the truth of human knowledge is grounded in the fact that matter and proposition measure up to the idea in the same way and therefore are fitted to each other on the basis of the unity of the divine plan of creation.

Veritas as adaequatio rei (creandae) ad intellectum (divinum) guarantees veritas as adaequatio intellectus (humani) ad rem (creatam). Throughout, veritas essentially implies convenientia, the coming of beings themselves, as created, into agreement with the Creator, an “accord” with regard to the way they are determined in the order of creation. But this order, detached from the notion of creation, can also be represented in a general and indefinite way as a world-order. The theologically conceived order of creation is replaced by the capacity of all objects to be planned by means of a worldly reason which supplies the law for itself and thus also claims that its procedure is immediately intelligible (what is considered “logical”). That the essence of propositional truth consists in the correctness of statements needs no further special proof.

Even where an effort is made — with a conspicuous lack of success — to explain how correctness is to occur, it is already presupposed as being the essence of truth. Likewise, material truth always signifies the consonance of something at hand with the “rational” concept of its essence.

If we take the tracing back of propositional truth to material truth to be what it shows itself to be, namely a theological explanation, and if we then keep the philosophical definition completely pure of all admixture of theology and limit the concept of truth to propositional truth, then we encounter an old — though not the oldest — tradition of thinking, according to which truth is the accordance (homoiosis) of a statement (logos) with a matter (pragma). What about statements here remains still worthy of question — granted that we know what is meant by accordance of a statement with the matter? Then again, do we know that?

We speak of accordance in various senses. We say, for example, considering two five-mark coins lying on the table: they are in accordance with one another. They come into accord in the oneness of their outward appearance. Hence they have the latter in common, and thus they are in this regard alike. Furthermore, we speak of accordance whenever, for example, we state regarding one of the five-mark coins: this coin is round. Here the statement is in accordance with the thing. Now the relation obtains, not between thing and thing, but rather between a statement and a thing. But wherein are the thing and the statement supposed to be in accordance, considering that the relata are manifestly different in their outward appearance? The coin is made of metal. The statement is not material at all. The coin is round. The statement has nothing at all spatial about it. With the coin something can be purchased. The statement about it is never a means of payment.” – Martin Heidegger, The Concept of Truth

Although in the example of the coins and the earlier example of “true”, i.e. “genuine” gold Heidegger circles around the provenance of the philosophical concept, which made it appear common sense and obvious even when first written, not merely from long habit since, he doesn’t state its provenance as such.

In determining whether payment is “in accord” the “genuineness” of the coin could not simply be taken for granted, as it is with fiat currencies. The coin had to be tested to determine its actual purity, since different issuing states would take a different “seignurage” for issuance, which fee was the difference between the stated value and the actual amount of gold in the coin. The touchstone, discovered in Lydia, allowed traders to do precisely that, to measure the measures of exchange against one another. Hence correspondence, in terms of accordance of the statement “these coins equal the value of the goods” with the matter, pragma, was in itself a particularly pragmatic matter. Although the apparent obviousness of both the philosophical and the common sense concepts of truth remained, in what sense it was obvious dropped out.

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