in Origins of the Great Philosophical Errors
Truth is an abstract noun, not corresponding to any tangible object. The Greeks used the word aletheia, formed by the privative alpha, and lethes, i.e., forgetfulness, meaning that of what is not forgotten, not hidden, what is revealed. The term can be employed in different ways through its derivatives. One can speak of a “true friend” in opposition to a false friend, or “true gold” in opposition to a false gold. To speak of “true words” is to say of words containing no lies. To speak of “true knowledge” is to refer to a knowledge that is not false, that is opposed to falsehood.
From the outset, we notice that the concept of truth implies two extreme terms and a conformity between them. Generically, truth means a conformity between two extremes. Specifically, it implies that one of such terms is the intellect. Therefore, we can refer to a conformity between what the intellect affirms and the thing, that is, the object referred by the affirmation. Therefore the ancient affirmation that truth, in the logical sense, is no more than an adequation between the thing and the intellect, or, in the latin formula, adecquatio rei et intellectus.
To deny such concept is to deny the intentionality our mind confer onto the term. Can one have a different concept of truth? Absolutely not, since a concept otherwise would not express the intentionality of such term. One can, however, say in a broader sense that truth is a conformity between two extremes in which none of them is the intellect, as when one say “true water”, “true night”, “true pain”. But logical truth – a basic philosophical concept – must be considered in the strict, mentioned sense. Obviously, this is a moot point of countless controversies. Thinkers have written pages after pages against the idea of truth – whilst regarding their own words as “true” – indicating inumerous inconveniences, as we shall analyse. But before we do so, it is important to precise a set of definitions that shall be useful later on in order to analyse the reasons presented by those who fight against it and believe that, “truly”, there is no truth.
For instance, a truth is deemed ontological or real when there is a conformity between the thing and the intellect and is considered logical when such conformity is between the intellect and the thing (intellectus cum re). Therefore, a) “the anterior is prior to the posterior” is an ontological truth and b) “this place is a house” is a logical truth. Conformity (or adequation, correspondence) means that of what is in accordance, in formal accord with something else. Adequate comes from ad aequalis, meaning what is somehow equal to something else.
To materially consider an object is to consider it in accordance to all its notes and properties, i.e., in accordance to its comprehension. A formal regard, in its turn, is to consider the object by one or more notes and properties. Now, we cannot know everything about something and thus, when speaking of logical truth, we mean a correspondence between what we say and the thing itself: what we know can thus be true. A logical truth would be perfect if there is a conformity between all notes. Therefore, there are more and less perfect logical truths. The smaller truth is not less true since truth refer not to the quantity of what is known, but to the quality of it. What we know about an object need not be total to be true; it can be partial. When modern philosophers say that knowledge is false since we cannot know everything, they are saying that we cannot affirm a soldier as a human being for the simple fact that we don’t know everything about him or even that the knowledge we have of such philosopher is not true since we don’t know everything about him (his weight, age, filiation, stature, etc). It is quite astonishing, but there are philosophers who affirm the falsehood of knowledge insofar as it is partial. Now, falsehood is the opposite of truth and to affirm something as false is to affirm the absence of truth. A more perfect truth is not truer than a less perfect truth, nor a more false truth is falser than a less perfect one. Such statement would be wrong if in between truth and falsehood it was possible to insert a third term. But they are excludent extremes.
The required agreement between the intellect with the object is an intentional one. An identification is not necessary and would be indeed impossible. Therefore, a best definition of logical truth is of an intentional agreement or adequation of intellect with the object. And we can prove it. This definition is not groundbreaking, but in reality subscribed by all concrete and positive philosophers of all times. It also has the characteristics of a good definition, i.e., clear, succinct, reciprocal, and contains no negation.
Firstly, we shall analyse the contrary positions. Kant affirms that truth is the agreement or correspondence of cognition with itself, i.e., the conformity of all cognitions with the laws of cognition and between themselves. All relativists hold such opinion as well. Now, such definition is flawed since is not reciprocal, for it does not allow the inverse: truth is not the conformity of cognition with itself since otherwise it would suffice such conformity to something be true, and any false cognition could be said true just by having conformity with itself. The conformity with the laws of cognition is the definition of rectitude, not of truth. A cognition can proceed straightly and be false nevertheless.
Empiricists say that it is only true what can be verified by experimentation or through the senses. Such opinion, however, restricts the scope of truth.
Pragmatists say that truth is only what is useful, fertile to knowledge and which favors life. Such concept only apprehends a note of truth. Moreover, there are useful errors, not true therefore. Some modern votaries of Axiology (such as Rickert and Wildelband) affirm truth as a value. But there was never so many confusions and controversies about the concept of value as in between modern axiologists. They cannot offer a clear definition of value and, therefore, cannot provide a proper definition of truth. They have converted value into one the more obscure themes in philosophy and are not able to solve any problem but, instead,they have increased the confusion and multiplied a pretentious and pedantic philosophical language that merely conceal their vacuity and nonsense.
An objection to a positive position on truth affirms that an intentional conformity between intellect and thing is impossible since for that to happen it would be necessary the reference to all perfections within the thing. To our previous argument that it is not a total but a partial adequacy, they affirm that a partial adequacy is a contradictio in adjectis, since the idea of adequacy is of a total – and not a partial – one, for a partial adequacy is an inadequacy. The answer to that is simple: that would be so if we were postulating a merely quantitative adequacy. They reject the qualitative adequacy for not admitting any kind of adequacy since the intellect is a mental entity and the thing is an extra-mental one. However, that is not an entitative conformity (in a physical sense), but an intentional one. Those who affirm that the mental object is immaterial while the known object is material and that prevents any adequacy forget that such conformity is an analogy between mental and extra-mental objects, not a perfect adequacy. Some argue with denials, about the impossibility of an adequacy between a negative concept and a thing. Still, a negative concept refers not to a thing but to an absence; it affirms a denial of presence of a positivity within the thing, without denying the thing itself.
Moreover, any other contrary argument would consist in a ignoratio elenchi, since it contends adequacy by considering it in a different meaning. No concrete philosopher ever affirmed the noetic scheme as a same-nature copy of the known object. An adequacy between two things imposes not that such things must have the same nature, as a portrait is physically adequate to the portrayed although having diverse nature. Difficulty to comprehend such uncomplicated matter has been the cause for many errors. Inumerous and notorious philosophers have made such affirmations, heavily influencing unprepared minds. Adjudicate partial knowledge as false is a most serious error of disastrous consequences. An apprehension – grasp of a message – is a passive act and does not affirm or deny the message, i.e., it establishes no judgement, but a mere representation. Judgement is a different operation in which the mind affirms or denies an attribute to a subject: it chooses, therefore it acts.
We shall henceforth distinguish some important aspects of logical truth. Scholastics called inchoative an imperfect logical truth, in which the cognition can be verified as in conformity with its object although such conformity is unknown. A known conformity – perfect logical truth – can happen in two manners: a) when the truth of the cognition itself is known (which the scholastics called in actu signato); or b) when, besides such knowledge, we know that it is in conformity with the thing itself (or in actu exercito). Therefore, there are perfective levels of logical truth, where the simple conformity of cognition with object is a inchoative logical truth that can ascend higher perfective levels as in actu signato and in actu exercito. A logical truth “perfects” itself when it is consistent in a cognoscitive act in which the message correspond with the object in the same manner as represented.
Now, one cannot confuse a thing’s image (phantasma) with the noetic-eidetic forms, i.e., the eide our spirit (nous) constructs. Such forms are also apprehended from the object, although reduced to noetic representation, i.e., distinct from image. As one can comprehend and represent ultraviolet without a corresponding image. Our representation of ultraviolet contains no image (phantasma) for not being an entity of sensible experience, but entity reached through knowledge. When the logical statement represents the object with adequate notes of what it is in reality, such judgement is a perfect logical truth. Within human mind, the noetic-eidetic scheme is not an image of what is within the thing, but a mere formal expression intentionally referring to it. And, once the thing’s content is adequately represented in the spirit, the spirit, by establishing a judgement with such representations, also establishes a perfect formal (or logical) truth.
Only a great deal of ingenuity could require that, in the human mind, eidetic-noetically, schemes should correspond phantasmatic copies of things. However, some have affirmed such and have intended to reduce mental schemes to mere schematic sketches memorized of images (phantoms). Amongst them, many “conspicuous” philosophers of whose works and ideas are object of devoted studies in universities and courses and who actually receive more praise and fondle than concrete and positive philosophers. There is, clearly, a hidden agenda in all of this. The purpose is to confuse, not to clarify; it is not to solve problems, but enfold mankind in an issue of apparent insolubility so the despair takes over, making us easy prey of those who want to destroy our Christian world in order to replace it by a tribal spirit with “an eye for an eye” as fundamental right of society.
Back to noetic-eidetic schemes, no doubt that many of them are united to memorized sketches of sensible experience. However, one cannot deny the human ability to gradually refine the noetic-eidetic schemes from noetic influence towards an eidetic purity, as we have demonstrated in our previous works. Falsehood occurs in judgement, not in simple apprehension, since the unconformity is an inadequate intellectual affirmation about the object. A judgement can be formally true and materially false, once material proof is something else. For instance, “God exists” is a logically true judgement for it is due to God to exist, since a nonexistent God is not God. However, the material truth does not follow such formal truth, but it requires another proof in order to fortify the judgement conformity with reality. To say that God really exists independently from human mind demands other proofs that provide material reasons of existence.
A logical judgment can therefore be logically and materially truth when, aside from formal truth, a material truth is also pertinent. If both formal and material truths are demonstrated, and having also ontological reason, we reach what is called concrete truth, the connexio of all those truths. When we lack cognition of something, we ignore it. Ignorance is the absence of cognition, which can be either negative, as in pure and simple nescience, or privative, the absence of due cognition. Many people confuse falsehood with ignorance. However, the distinction is simple: in falsehood, there is unconformity, a discrepancy between cognizable and cognitum, whilst in ignorance, there is lack or absence of knowledge. When the mind remains indecisive faced with a contradictory opposition, one is in doubt. There is opinion when the mind establishes a judgment but fears the error for the contradictory judgment can be true. There is certainty when the mind no longer fear the assent given to the judgment. There is suspicion when the mind remains between doubt and opinion.
Now, certainty can be achieved through two methods: subjectively, by faith, i.e., firm adhesion of the mind to a judgment without fear of error; or, objectively, by rigorous demonstration that proves the validity and correctness of a judgment removing any fear of error. The first certainty belongs to Religion; the second, to Philosophy. Philosophy must be proved and the philosophical proof is demonstration, as experiment is the scientific proof. However, there is a certain “philosophy” of opinion, founded on merely assertive and opinative judgment. Those who enunciate their point of views at the whim of personal inspirations are the aesthetes, who do philosophical aesthetics. Proper philosophy, however, does not submit to Aesthetics, but instead follow its own course and own genuine method: demonstration, as apodictic as possible, i.e., founded on necessary judgments.
The lack of such rigour and a weak mastery of Logic and Dialectics have favored the increase of notorious cod philosophers increasing the number of errors, nurturing humanity with opinions, suspicions, points of view, gratuitous statements, poorly drawn doctrines and theories, so much so that the absorption of such ideas become impossible. Humanity sickens from such errors. And, even worse, such errors influence human actions and destinies, creating some terrible and threatening perspectives of social life of even human annihilation.
Thence, our era necessitates – more than ever – of a revision of Philosophy, through pointing out errors and their origins – etiology – for therein lies the key for such work of selection that must be done by future generations through the great flow of errors insufflated into human thought. It is necessary to select and, to this end, separate.
Such separation, however, demands a criterium, and that can only be of apodicticity. Whatever is not endue on apodicticity must be quarantined. A thorough examination by a return to the fundamental points of the philosophize must be done so much so that the harvest shall be beneficial and profitable. The first step, however, is to denounce the fundamental errors. It is uncomplicated to realize the origins of such errors and we shall analyse their foundations and their apparent strong arguments. We shall analyse each aspect in order to demonstrate the fundamental weakness of such theses that oppose a concrete and positive philosophy.