The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Deflationism

Of course, one can also claim that truth simply does not exist, and that is why it is so difficult to define.

In 1927 the British philosopher Frank Ramsey inaugurated "deflationary" thinking about truth by claiming that the word "true" is simply redundant: "It is true that the snow is white" does not say anything  more than "The snow is white". By adding "It is true that" we are not adding anything: we are merely making it sound nicer.

 Quine's "disquotationalism" follows from this claim: to ascribe truth to a statement merely means to remove the quotation marks.

For example, the statement "Snow is white" is true if and only if it is a fact that snow is white. Now remove the inessential words and what you have is: "Snow is white" is true if and only if snow is white. The truth predicate "is true" simply removes the quotation marks.

"Truth is disquotation". Quine concedes that the truth predicate (the expression "is true") has at least one useful function: it allows us to generalize, like when I state "everything I told you is true". By using the truth predicate, I can simplify what would otherwise be an infinite list of statements. But this is the only usefulness of the truth predicate: there is no need for a theory of truth, there is no nature of truth. The truth predicate is merely a linguistic expedient to generalize statements.

The problem remains, of course, that ordinary humans can easily grasp the concept of "true", whether Quine believes it to be a mere "disquotation" or not. There is something that we call "truth" in our minds.

Donald Davidson argues that truth is a primitive concept that cannot be defined via any other concept. In fact, no other concept would exist without the concept of truth.

 


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