John 18:38

Portrait of Christ by Georges Roualt.

Portrait of Christ by Georges Roualt.

I am trying to make sense of the concept of truth. I’m honestly confused by the correspondence theory, because I’m not sure how the “correspondence” relationship is supposed to work. How is a thought or a sentence supposed to “map onto” a situation? It seems to me that when we call a statement “true,” it allows those who understand it to make correct predictions (or retrodictions) about how some state of affairs obtains between concrete or abstract entities. Alternatively, a true statement specifies some actual, practical effects accessible to experience.

I think this is pragmatism, but am not sure. I would be okay with being a pragmatist, of a certain sort. Rorty is too much an antirealist, but I admire the epistemologies of Pierce, Santayana, and Quine. Still, I want to give the correspondence theory its due, especially since I am biased towards the pragmatists—if nothing else, they start philosophizing from a laudable set of starting assumptions, i.e. that the thinker is first and foremost a doer, a finite, fallible being with faculties and desires shaped by evolution, and by what is learned in the daily struggle to cope with a semihospitable environment. They offer compelling descriptions of how truth, belief, and knowledge function in our practical affairs; but I am not sure the value of their phenomenology of truth is enough to vouch for their theory of truth. I am not quite sure what could vouch for a theory of truth.