The understanding of truth is an intriguing concept that has been the subject of many explanations and theories over the years. Many attempt to define its meaning and how to distinguish truth from other concepts. Truth can thus be considered a shifting, provisional, subjective and temporary concept. Its meaning varies depending on context and a variety of other factors. The attempt at understanding the concept fully remains elusive and incomplete. This analysis focuses on an effort to analyze truth; this occurs through the exploration of various types of truth. An understanding of the concept will help in knowing the role of science in discovering truth.
Types of truth
Truth is a concept explored by theologians, scientists, philosophers, and scholars. In order to understand it, various perspectives must be explored. According to Kim (1), there are three major theories providing an understanding of truth as a concept. They include the coherence, correspondence and pragmatic theories.
In reference to the coherence theory, a proposition or statement is the truth if it maintains consistency with other things considered true; the proposition should not contradict other truths. For instance, it is a general truth that newborn babies cannot speak. Thus, if a person claimed to have heard a baby talk, his/her view would be considered false. It is because the view contradicts a known truth, thus, probing people to seek a more logical explanation. The example shows that a proposition is only true if it fits in the already established system of truths. Little importance is put on whether the proposition may or may not reflect actual reality.
Subsequently, the correspondence theory of truth has a differing view. It considers a proposition or the statement true if it reflects or corresponds to reality. The view requires a verification of the proposition before it is considered the truth. For instance, if someone claims that there has been a plane crash, the statement will only be true once the crash or news of the crash is seen or verified through the media sources. The perspective calls for the verification of a statement through evidence. It sets truth aside from imagination and unexplainable concepts.
Last but not least, there is the pragmatic theory of truth; it refers to the practicality and usefulness of what may be truth. The view states that a proposition is true only if it is significant; it gives no importance to whether or not the truth reflects reality. For instance, a student may believe that being top in class is the only way of achieving success in life. He/she thus views academic excellence as a practical way of achieving his/her desires. A belief is true to the student and servesas a useful motivation in ensuring academic success. However, someone else may have a different view. Another student, gifted in sports, may view achieving a sports scholarship and becoming a professional sportsman as a way of achieving success in life. The belief is true and useful in the second student’s life as well; this is despite the fact that they differ from one another.
Role of science in discovering truth
Apart from the theoretical views discussed above, science also has a major role in the discovery and understanding of truth. Science is a rational process focused on separating facts from doubts (Bourdieu, 21). Through the use of science’s methodical approaches, truth can be distinguished from other things not considered truth. It occurs through the search for answers to mankind’s questions by testing, observations and logical interpretations. The use of science in discovering truth is progressive; however, it has both advantages and shortcomings.
It is beneficial due to its validity; despite the fact that it does not provide an understanding of truth, it provides correct results in regard to available evidence. It provides explanations of the truth based on data that can be verified and confirmed. The experiments and observations can be done by others to achieve similar results. The ability to base truth on measurable and verifiable sources makes it reliable in several ways. It is crucial to note that, over time, scientific discovery of truth has overcome some of its challenges. It focuses improved skills on the understanding of truths about the physical universe it also provides explanations on why human perceptions may be biased and inaccurate, therefore, must undergo practical verification.
It also has challenges; the scientific method may limit the understanding of truth that cannot be verified using tests and observations. It limits understanding to practical proofs. The use of science is a human process that is subject to errors. Thus, the scientific view of truth may be influenced by factors such as; bias, misapprehension, personal prejudice and practical errors. The extent of scientific knowledge is not adequate; it provides contingent rather than absolute knowledge. It makes it subject to assessment, evaluation and modification according to McLelland (1).
Truth remains a concept inadequately explored through various studies and theories. Efforts by theologians, scientists, philosophers and other scholars have borne significant results in the understanding of truth. The studies and theories led to the development of various perspective in the analysis of truth. There are three significant truth theories; these include coherence, correspondence and pragmatic theories (Kim, 1). The three theories present a comprehensive evaluation of truth in regard to various perspectives. Though they provide an understanding, the scientific perspective must also be considered. Science depicts efforts of discovering and explaining truths through; tests, observations and logical interpretations. Truth remains a widely researched and complex concept.
Bourdieu, Pierre. ‘The specificity of the scientific field and the social conditions of the progress of reason.’Sociology of Science, Vol. 14. No. 6. Pages 19-47. Web. Available from: < www.soc.ucsb.edu/ct/pages/JWM/Syllabi/Bourdieu/SpecificitySField.pdf> [Accessed April 17, 2014]
Kim, Oliver. ‘Three Different Types of Truth.’ (2008): Web. Available from: < www.toktalk.net/2008/11/09/three-different-types-of-truth/> [Accessed April 17, 2014]
McLelland, Christine, V. The Nature of Science and the Scientific Method. The Geological Society of America. Web. Available from: < http://www.geosociety.org/educate/NatureScience.pdf> [Accessed April 17, 2014]