Coherence and Theories of Truth

This post is terminological clarification. I hope to clarify what appears to be totally dismissing coherence as an important feature of a philosophical world view.

I not talking about what are sometimes called “coherence theories of truth.” Coherence theories of truth propose that a true sentence is one which “fits in” with a large body of other sentences which are accepted as correct. Coherence theories are not realist theories of truth. So, I, as a realist, am not concerned with coherence theories of truth.

I have proposed that ordinary human thought about reality is essentially incoherent. But this incoherence is not an obstacle to getting the truth as is inconsistency. If we tolerate self-contradiction we cannot really think what is true if we think at all. Incoherence only leaves some alleged questions unanswerable. At worst, incoherence is a barrier to getting the whole truth. For instance, we can think of no way of systematically connecting how we talk – think – of thinking and how we talk about the physical. This incoherence is typically, if not always, exposed by philosophic questioning requiring an answer to a question which assumes the law of excluded middle? For instance, we ask ourselves “Is an image inside the skull or is not?” Or: “Is motion being at a succession of places or is it not?”

However, we can apply “coherent” to things in addition to thought and word. I have said nothing against thinking of reality as an immense complex unity with everything somehow connected with everything else.

The type of coherence I am explicitly setting aside is a requirement for realist theory of truth conditions. This requirement is that there be a search for one set of basic elements and one set of basic rules for their combination to provide truth conditions for all claims. Ultimately, the same kind of elements and structures should make true claims about the physical, biological, psychological, social and supernatural, if such there be.

There is no hope of doing so. Standard philosophical problems show that we have no way of talking about such a basic uniformity in reality. And, of most importance, such a requirement is a requirement for a theory of truth conditions. As, I have brought out, there can be no theory of truth conditions. See Theory of truth All that a realist theory of truth can specify is “A true sentence says of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not.”

To link with earlier posts, I can say that here I am explicitly dismissing the Parmenidean Postulate that the order and connection of thought is the order and connection of reality. See Parmenidean postulate However, we can still hold with Parmenides that being is one.