Topics Worth Investigating

  1. William James in his essay on the pragmatic theory of truth writes about the Idealists' conception of truth:

    But the great assumption of the intellectualists is that truth means essentially an inert static relation. When you've got your true idea of anything, there's an end of the matter. You're in possession; you know; you have fulfilled your thinking destiny. You are where you ought to be mentally; you have obeyed your categorical imperative; and nothing more need follow on that climax of your rational destiny.

    Discuss how much James' observation of the Idealist's notion of truth applies to Joachim's statement of the coherence theory of truth.

  2. On the one hand, William James' states the relationship between "truth" and "good" in his essay on pragmatism:

    Let me now say only this, that truth is one species of good, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good, and co-ordinate with it. The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief and good, too, for definite, assignable reasons.

    On the other hand Joachim assumes the relationship in this passage:

    …the truth requires for its apprehension and utterance the same consistency of thought and purpose, which must also be expressed in the action of the morally good man. The consistent, in short, need be neither true nor good; but the good and the true must be consistent.

    Explicate the difference between James' and Joachim's use of the relationship between the concepts of "truth" and "good."

  3. Bertrand Russell writes in his essay on the correspondence theory of truth that the coherence theory fails "…because there is no proof that there can be only one coherent system." And, in his essay on the pragmatic theory of truth, William James alludes to his apparent agreement with the coherence theory in this respect:

    I said just now that what is better for us to believe is true unless the belief incidentally clashes with some other vital benefit. Now in real life what vital benefits is any particular belief of ours most liable to clash with? What indeed except the vital benefits yielded by other beliefs when these prove incompatible with the first ones? In other words, the greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths. Truths have once for all this desperate instinct of self-preservation and of desire to extinguish whatever contradicts them.

    Can you clarify the difference between truth and consistency of truths? Does truth lead a kind of "double-life"?

  4. Does Joachim's criticism of the consistency of formal logic and his subsequent explanation of coherence avoid Russell's second criticism of the coherence theory? Russell writes:

    The other objection to this definition of truth is that it assumes the meaning of "coherence" known, whereas, in fact, "coherence" presupposes the truth of the laws of logic. Two propositions are coherent when both may be true, and are incoherent when one at least must be false. Now in order to know whether two propositions can both be true, we must know such truths as the law of contradiction. For example, the two propositions, "this tree is a beech" and "this tree is not a beech," are not coherent, because of the law of contradiction. But if the law of contradiction itself were subjected to the test of coherence, we should find that, if we choose to suppose it false, nothing will any longer be incoherent with anything else. Thus the laws of logic supply the skeleton or framework within which the test of coherence applies, and they themselves cannot be established by this test.

    Can Joachim clearly explain coherence without the rules of inference of formal logic? Can you explicate Joachim's notion of "coherence"?