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I hope this is the right place to ask a question like this. I'm a student, I haven't studied philosophy and I'm not familiar with all of the famous philosophers, so this question probably already have been thought of thousands of times. However, I can't really phrase it in a way so that Google would find any resources on this exact matter.

My problem is this. Truth can be thought of and defined in quite many ways, however the general definition goes something in the lines of "the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality". The definition in this question doesn't really matter, as long as you think the definition is true. Now, if the definition of Truth is true, doesn't that introduce a kind of circular logic? How could we know, apart from intuitively, that a definition of Truth is true?

And if what I have said above somehow makes sense, does this mean that no definition of Truth is more "true" than others (apart from intuitively true)?

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  • It is very hard... See Truth withlinks to other related entries, as well as Axiomatic Theories of Truth – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Sep 12 '20 at 9:18
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    A definition of anything can not be true or false, it can only be useful or not. To make it useful one needs to specify how "accord with reality" is to be established, but that does not involve circularity. – Conifold Sep 12 '20 at 9:35
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Thank you for the the links. – Casimir Rönnlöf Sep 12 '20 at 9:53
  • The definition you mention is typically referred to as an empirical definition aka a scientific definition only. The issue with even that definition is that science depends on our famous five senses which can be wrong sometimes. There are different kinds of truth in general. There are two main classifications: truths that are permanent (once true it is always true such as all triangles have three sides, all bachelors are unmarried males, etc); then you have contingent truths (which are the kinds of claims humans have been known to observe true in some instances and false in others; it changes) – Logikal Sep 12 '20 at 12:58
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See this Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry about Tarski's Theory of Truth. Also this Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry. I hope you find them helpful.

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  • While this is a helpful pointer, an answer on SE is expected provide some self-contained elaboration rather than just a link to an external resource. You could turn this into a comment on the question instead, or extend your post with a summary on what Tarski's Theory of Truth is about. – lemontree Sep 13 '20 at 18:47
  • It was my intention to add a comment, but I did not have enough reputation to do it. – user926356 Sep 13 '20 at 19:14
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The word "truth" could be defined at will, but are you looking for an explanation of the disquotational scheme? So to say, if "S is P" is true iff S is P, then are we saying that "S is P" corresponds to S being P (when S is P), or perhaps "S is P" coheres with other truth iff S is P (this seems peculiar)?

Now, "theory of truth X is true," could be circular to think about, but this is one of those inescapable circles; justifying these theories will not mean eliminating circular X's.

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All logical truths share one vital set of elements, they are tautalogical, symbolic, null and meaningless.

Opposed to this is metaphysical truth, where metaphysical means, that which is real or actual. Whether this type of truth, as J D has mentioned elsewhere, is part of an endless controversy and can only be resolved by one individual's belief in its existence. But actually that is quite acceptable.

As for philosophies which speak knowlegeably about truth, of the handful who come to mind; Aristotle, Plato and Spinoza, Spinoza's version of what constitutes the definition of truth may be the most compelling but is certainly the least understood. To define truth, he maintained, is the same as understanding it. For him that means accumulating adequate ideas. ( adequate here means; to (be) equal. He uses the word 'idea' in a unique way which bears no resemblance to today's common usage. There are two types of 'idea'. One is an object, person or thing which exists as a realtime existent. The other 'idea' is the objects correlate which exists in the human mind. When they achieve 'adequacy' they can be understood to be equal, not in some ephemeral way, but as real.

Spinoza's grasp of this authentic understanding of truth remains little understood or appreciated up until now. But there are those who have worked to overcome this oversight. If you can accept a challenge, leave preconceptions behind, about the 'elusive' nature of truth or, of the current fad of denying its existence altogether, then locate a copy of "Spinoza: New Perspectives", Edited by Robert W Shahan and J. I. Biro, (Univ of Oklahoma Press, 1968). On page 57 you will find an essay by S. Paul Kashap, a Spinoza scholar and highly respected Academic philosopher at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The essay ie titled "Spinoza's use of 'Idea'." Pay close attention when he speaks of genetic defintions and 'thought objects.

Like most of Spinoza's system this piece is extremely difficult to understand particularly since it contradicts the widely accepted version of the elusive nature of truth which pervades academic philosophy today. Aude, Semper, Sapere

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