Wednesday, June 05, 2013
In NDPR, William Blattner reviews Denis McManus's Heidegger and the Measure of Truth.
Traditional approaches that ignore the primacy of practice in McManus's sense don't so much offer false theories of truth as treat truth as an abstraction. Think of the famous Aristotelian slogan, embraced by Heidegger, that "Being is said in many ways." Truth is said in many ways as well. This doesn't mean that there is more than one definition of truth, nor different kinds of truth. Rather, the practices for assessing truth vary from proposition to proposition and object-domain to object-domain, as in the example of measuring height. Traditional philosophy seized upon the univocity of the predicate "is true" and treated truth as if it made sense independently of any practical implementation. In Heideggerian language, the tradition treated truth as a free-floating theoretical construct. Thus, when philosophers have tried to offer accounts of truth, say, by positing a relation between a non-real content and a real state of affairs in the world, they haven't actually explained anything. Rather, they have taken a view "from sideways on," in that they first abstract the phenomenon of truth from the practical context in which it arises, and then propose a constructive theory to explain how non-real contents can be re-connected to the world to which they refer.
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