New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




"ARTISTIC TRUTH"                                    53
so, but only to find a scheme into which, whatever they are, they will fit, if they exist/' °4
if, however, one understands the need of volitional definitions, important semantic progress will have been made; for in that case any of several definitions of "truth" may be meaningful and feasible. The critical linguistic tasks will be to discover the definitions intended, if not stated, and to decide whether these conform to the general criteria of good definitions listed on page 15. Let us now undertake these tasks with regard to four differing modes of truth.
(J5) "Truth" as Scientific Fact
According to the "scientific" notion of truth, truth can be arrived at only by scientific methods, and the term "truth" should therefore be restricted to matters of factual validity. Within this general scientific position, differences of opinion exist concerning the sorts of facts which may be considered true. Should "truth" be applied only to syntactical propositions? Should it be considered as "verifiability"? Or as "warranted assertibility"? Or as some more normative notion, like that of Bertrand Russell, which includes "principles of inference which are neither demonstrative nor derivable from experience"? 95 These and other distinctionsdistinctions, for instance, between scientific and historical truth, or be-
94.  "The Function of Criticism/' Selected Essays (New York, 1932), p. 22. Let us observe from the following quotation how horrified John Locke would be at the procedure of Mr. Eliot: "Mixed modes, especially those belonging to morality, being most of them such combinations of ideas as the mind puts together of its own choice, and whereof there are not always standing patterns to be found existing, the signification of their names cannot be made known, as those of simple ideas, by any showing: but, in recompense thereof, may be perfectly and exactly defined. . . . For since the precise signification of the names of mixed modes ... is to be known, they being not of nature's, but man's making, it is a great negligence and perverseness to discourse of moral things with uncertainty and obscurity" (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, II, 156).
95.  An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, p. 383.