The World is a Text

The “correspondence theory of truth” is something like that a sentence is true if and only if it corresponds to the features of reality that it purports to describe. In other words, if you utter a sentence like “it is raining outside,” and it really is raining outside, then your sentence is true. Aristotle put it this way in his Metaphysics:

To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.

So on the other side then, if it really is raining outside and you were to say “it is not raining outside,” then your sentence would be false, according to this theory.

Intuitive, right? The problem is that sentences are strings of symbols that are read or heard and their meanings interpreted, while reality is apprehended in some other way. In our case I can relate to rain drops by putting my body beneath them and getting wet by them. How can a state of affairs that includes things like rain drops correspond in any way to a string of symbols to which someone assigned a meaning?

The only way there can be a correspondence between a sentence and a state of affairs is if, like the sentence, the state of affairs is also meaningful. And the only way a state of affairs can be meaningful is if it is imbued with meaning the same way that a sentence is.

I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

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Filed under Faith, Mind

2 Responses to The World is a Text

  1. This is the best thing I have ever read.

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