Truthfulness – Beneficial Relation, Is Everything Useful True?June 28, 2021
A squirrel clings to the trunk of a large tree. On the other side of the tree is a predator nestled in its trunk.
Whenever the hunter moves to his left, the squirrel clinging to the tree with its claws also moves to its left and moves around the tree. The hunter tries to find the squirrel, but the squirrel always manages to stay out of sight of the hunter. The same situation continues for hours, the hunter cannot see the squirrel even for a moment. In this case, is it correct to say that the hunter revolves around the squirrel? Think about it. Has the hunter really revolved around his prey?
Your answer is “why do you want to know?” it is possible. The American philosopher William James gave the answer to a group of friends who were discussing the same example, through his pragmatist philosophy.
What he said was that if by turning around you mean that the man is first north of the squirrel, then east, then south, and then west, which is one of the meanings of the verb “turn around”, then it is true that the hunter revolves around the squirrel. In this sense, the hunter really revolves around the squirrel. But if you mean that the hunter is first in front of the squirrel, then to the right, then behind, and finally to the left, then “turn around” has another meaning and the answer to the question is “no”. The belly of the squirrel is always turned towards the hunter, in this sense the hunter does not revolve around the squirrel. Between them, the tree seems to be dancing round and round, their faces constantly facing each other, without seeing each other. What is pointed out by this example is to show that pragmatism is concerned with practical consequences, with the “cash value” of thought. If the answer brings nothing, then it really doesn’t matter what you decide. It all depends on why you want to know and how it actually makes a difference. There is no truth in this approach other than the special human interest in the question and how exactly we use the verb “turn around” in different contexts. If there is no practical difference, there is no truth to the matter. Truth is not something that is somehow “out there” waiting for us to find it. For James, truth was simply what worked, had a beneficial effect on our lives.
In the 19th century, when the United States was beginning to form as an independent nation, New England philosophers such as Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson brought a considerable American perspective towards European romantic views.
But those who came up with truly original ideas were the philosophers who lived about a century after the Declaration of Independence.
The first of these, Charles Sander Pierce, developed a theory of knowledge that he called “pragmatism”. These ideas, which did not attract much attention at the time, were later developed and taken seriously by William James.
Truth and usefulness At the heart of Peirce’s pragmatism is the theory that we acquire knowledge by doing, not simply by observing, and that we rely on that knowledge only as long as it is useful to us—in the sense that it can adequately explain things. When it can no longer perform this function, or when better explanations make it redundant, we replace it. By looking at history, for example, we can see how ideas have continually changed the world, from thinking the earth is flat to being round, from assuming the center of the universe to realizing that it is just a planet in a vast universe. Even if the old assumptions weren’t true and the universe itself hadn’t changed, they worked perfectly in their own time when they were able to provide adequate explanations. This shows how knowledge differs from facts as an explanatory tool.
Peirce studied the nature of knowledge in this way, but it was James who applied this logic to the concept of truth. For James, the accuracy of an idea depends on how useful it is, that is, whether it does what is asked of him. If an idea – such as the laws of science – does not contradict known facts, and if it works in the sense of making predictions that are accurate enough for our purposes, there is no reason not to accept it as true, just as Peirce thought of knowledge as a useful tool independent of facts. This interpretation of the truth not only separates it from the truth, but also leads James to make the following prediction: “The correctness of an idea is not an inert innate feature. It becomes true, events make it true. Its accuracy is actually an event, a process. ” When we act accordingly, we see that every idea is confirmed by the action we make.
Putting the idea into practice is the process by which it becomes true. James also consider that belief in an idea is an important factor in choosing to act on it, and in this way belief is part of the process that makes an idea true. If I have to make a difficult decision, my belief in a particular idea will lead to a particular course of action and contribute to its success.