William Jamess Conception of Truth


How much do I want to read more? 6/10

B. Russel is concerned about what the "truth" means, it's all what philosophy is about, according to him.
And he state some reserve in regards to W. James's definition of the truth through his pragmatism point of view.


He says: 'Ideas (which themselves are but parts of our experience) become true just in so far as they 11clpus to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our cxpcricncc'
'A truth is anything which it pays to believe.'

Let us take anothcr illustration. Many of the men of the French Revolutian were disciples of Rousseau, and their belief in his doctrines had far-reaching effects,which make Europe at this day a different place from what it would have been without that bclief. If, on the wl-rolc,the effects of tll~irbelief havc bccn good, we shall havc to say that their belief was truc; if bad, that it was falsc. But how arc we to strike the balance? It is almost inipossible to disentangle what the cflccts havc bccn; and cvcn if wc coulcl :iscertain them, our judgment as to whether they have been good or bad would depend upon our political opinions. It is surely far easier to discover by direct investigation that the Contrnt social is a myth than to decide whether belief in it has done harm or good on the whole.

Take, say, the belief that other people exist. According to the pragmatists. to say 'it is true that other people exist' means 'it is useful to believe that other people exist'. But if so, then these two phrases are merely different words for the same proposition; therefore when I believe the one I believe the other.
This shows that the word 'true' represents for us a different idea from that represented by the phrase 'useful to believe', and that, therefore, the pragmatic definition of truth ignores, without destroying, the meaning commonly given to the word 'true', which meaning, in my opinion, is of fundamental importance, and can only be ignored at the cost of hopeless inadequacy.