What Is Integrity, What Does It Mean?June 28, 2021
The concept of truth is at the center of philosophy. Because philosophy has traditionally been an effort to reveal the most general truths about reality. It reveals that the correctness of a thought consists of its agreement with reality. This is called conformity or congruence theory. According to this theory, a proposition can be true if it agrees with what it expresses and if what is stated is a fact.
Veritas est adaequatio rei el intellectus: This was the classical answer in its scholastic formulation. But as the basis of the definition of truth, what does this reconciliation of thought and reality really mean? It is certainly not that thought itself is identical with the reality it describes. Perhaps this congruence is determined by the thought being an analogy of something real, a reflection of reality. But even this interpretation of the “congruence of thought with reality” appeared to some philosophers as an absurd notion.
They said, “How can thought be analogous to something quite different from itself? How can thought that has no dimension other than time be analogous to something spatial? How can thought be like a cube or Niagara Falls?” they ask. Moreover, even considering time-duration itself, a thought need not be similar to the reality to which it relates to be true. A thought about a phenomenon that happens in a short period of time does not need to be a short-lived thought in order for it to be true. So a thought may not look like reality, but it can still be a true thought.
Defenders of the classical definition of truth respond to such criticism by pointing out that the operation corresponding to the act of thought is one thing and its content another. They emphasize that it is not the thinking process itself that has to resemble reality, but the content of the thought if the thought has to be a true thought. But even this does not satisfy those who criticize the classical definition of truth. Critics of the classical definition of truth point out that the concept of similarity is by no means an open concept. Similarity consists of a partial identity of essential features; In order to qualify two separate objects as similar objects, how many of their properties must they have in common?
This is by no means explicitly specified. The definition of truth, then, that describes thoughts as true thoughts whose content resembles something real, would be unpunctual and inaccurate, since it would not determine the extent to which the similarity between the content of the thought and reality must be for the thought to be true. For critics of the classical definition of truth, the question is why this agreement occurs in the final analysis, since this agreement between thought and reality does not equal either the identity of the two or the similarity between the two. When those who oppose the classical definition of truth cannot find a satisfactory answer to this question, they conclude that this definition of truth lacks any real content.
But there is another line of thought that has led some thinkers to reject the classical definition of truth. Some philosophers reject the classical definition of truth and seek instead another definition of truth, believing that it is impossible to determine in any way whether our thoughts agree with reality. If truth consists in the agreement of thought with reality, we cannot know whether it is true or false with respect to anything. The conception of truth as the agreement of thought with reality, since it is an unattainable ideal, must therefore be abandoned and replaced by another conception of truth which will enable us to determine whether our thoughts and arguments are true.
The view that we cannot exactly determine whether thought agrees with reality is based on the arguments of ancient skeptics. These arguments can be summarized as follows: If a person wants to know whether a certain thought or assertion agrees with reality, he will need to know for this purpose not only the thought itself, but also the reality. But how can he do this? He will resort to experiment, he will reason in one way or another, in short, he will make use of certain methods or measures. But where is the certainty that the knowledge we gain through these criteria makes an undistorted reality known to us? Therefore, we need to carefully examine our criteria.
This review, however, is carried out using the same or possibly different criteria. The validity of this review will, in one way or another, depend on the validity of the criteria used during the review; this is once again doubtful and needs further investigation, and it goes on indefinitely. In short, we will never have a justified knowledge of reality, and therefore we will never even know whether our thoughts agree with reality.