TRUST…, THE SERVANT OF TRUTH? – GEORGIOS MARKATOS
(Lecturer at CityUnity Nicosia College)
Seeking for truth was Odysseus Ithaki, and will be the quest of humanity. Many however obstacles make it difficult to be reached, especially when personal interests and power of states are involved. People carry the two very basic elements of their identity: their own ontologism and in the same time their continues epistemological background built. The combination of both reflects the researchers approach to seek truth. Can these two elements coexist especially when political mindsets are involved?
Key Words: Epistemology, Ontology, Inductive & Deductive methodology, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Modern Research.
Truth cannot be found and knowledge will never be totally reached. Pythagoras once said that: “people can not own philosophy but only flirt with it”.
A person sees it through his own prism according to his ontological stand and epistemological assumptions. From the very beginning however, philosophy has claimed to be rigorous scientific the also called “natural philosophers” (Hunt,2005:129) and many times, by promoting parallel a science that fulfills the expectations of the higher needs and allows a life that from ethical-religious point of view it regulates clear rules of cause (Husserl, 2000:15). Philosophy however could never meet the fact that it is strictly scientific although it had tried at all times to do so, especially right after the medieval period during the renaissance. It is a fact that the first writers after the medieval period claimed theology not as the literature of wisdom but as a scientific branch (Kenny, 1994: 118). As Husserl supports, philosophy instead of trying to surrender itself with simple ness to the urge of philosophize, it had tried unsuccessfully, to form itself as rigorous science. It could not succeed anyhow, due to the many variables that constitute philosophy, something also strongly arised by Kant’s confession: “Nobody can learn philosophy only to philosophize”
supporting Husserl’s view.
The philosophers can be able to perceive truth and analyze knowledge similarly to each other, because they have similar but never the same epistemological backgrounds. Their ontology however, differs, and that is the indubitable privilege of humans. Besides, these two elements: the epistemological background of the philosopher that tries to outbrave his /her philosophical thinking and his ontological stand creates the so “multifaceted” and endless philosophy.
Based though on their similar epistemological backgrounds, cultural and social locale and their similarities in their approaches in seeking the truth, philosophers and researchers have created rules that portray their image of what truth means to them and how to attain it, subsequently devising similar methodologies “strategies”
Inductivists – Deductivists, – the two approaches will be discussed later- that will help accomplish their research. What truth could be for one person could be the approximation of truth for another. Tarski’s objective truth for example opposes the subjective truth of the correspondence or the coherence theory. He maintains that the latter confuses truth with logic and adds that even the evidence theory mistakes truth with the “known to be”. Tarski’s thoughts are that an objective truth could be objective even when nobody believes in it, but takes it for granted (not very different to what philosophy is all about, seeking for the truth and taking for granted laws that have not been rejected yet) , or it could be wrong and nevertheless everybody accepts it. The latter, however, contains a lot of contradictions, so that many philosophers who combine philosophy with “belief” would reject it. That of course, was only one example of how truth could be seen or described by a philosopher who talks out of self-interest and for the sake of knowledge. Imagine the complexes and barriers truth faces when political and economical interests (reality for some people) are involved. Cyprus for example is an island of no more than a million inhabitants, still divided, waiting for a political-diplomatic resolution to its problem. Three guarantor countries, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece see the truth of what took place in 1974 differently. The assignment’s objective is to analyze one parameter of truth. That seen as a social – political phenomenon and the role could play – if it does- to peoples lives. What is truth for the Greek Cypriots could be the approximation of the truth to the Turkish Cypriots, and vice versa. The pursuit of truth does not require only the scientific knowledge that will decide a person’s epistemological position. It needs an ontological liberalization from narrow egotistic certainties such as nationalism, self-interest, selfishness etc. Williams( 2004: 1) notes that “accounts which have been offered as telling the truth about the past turned out to be biased, ideological or self-serving”. Concluding the assignment’s purpose is to help the writer to “know thyself” during this philosophical trip, where he will understand and enhance his epistemological level and carve out his ontological awareness, or in other words Heidegger’s ‘Erfahrung’
2. BEING INDUCTIVE or BEING DEDUCTIVE
It is truth that humanity lives an era of patterns. Rules and regulations are involved and the interfered people’s daily life and straight-jacketed procedures compose what it’s called routine. Unfortunately philosophy and research could not escape either. The introduction of inductive and deductive methodology as a study for the researchers to follow, or the distinction of the epistemological natures, could someone support that cleared the filed of the researches and made easier the life of the people who study for and about research. Some others though could argue that it had also narrowed the possibility of the intellectuals to search for “thyself”
for life. Philosophers did not study the two approaches as which to follow in order to seek for the truth and quest knowledge. They just did it. Neither philosophers had to read books and journals to know thyself first and then research, following either a positivism’s or post-modernism’s epistemology or any other. Actually they never tried to find out about Socrates Know Thyself
. Why? Perhaps because philosophy, (philosophy can take the meaning of many other words such as knowledge in this case, or, truth, science etc)
, was not so mature yet or perhaps because philosophers realized that the Know Thyself
is as vague and remote as philosophy. Of course there are remarkable differences between the philosophy-research of those times and this of the present days. Perhaps specialists should make a distinction between, ancient philosophy, which basically the scientists and intellectuals of that period continuously searched for answers, and the modern research which seeks for specific answers in specific areas. In other words, as difficult it is in a satiate market such as this one nowadays to find pure entrepreneurs, it’s almost the same difficult to find pure philosophers. Lets see however epigrammatically the meaning of inductive and deductive methodology. “The aim, as far as I can see, is the same in all sciences. Put simplicity and curiosity, the aim is to make known something previously unknown to human beings. It is to advance human’s knowledge, to make it more certain or better fitting… The aim is…discovery”
, (Elias, 1996:20).
and the inductive
are the two scientific methods, which are referred to by the generic name of the scientific method
. The first that gets the researchers attention is the fact that they both as scientific methods
have a difficult name to distinguish, given that in a linguistically context they can represent just one concept with two statements: reasoning in one and direction on the other, from general to specific, or vice versa. Logically, the problem is derived from the conceptual difficulty of clearly separating one scientific method from the other; obviously, the chosen terms do not help retain these two concepts of scientific method
in the memory. Although the deductive method
is more appropriate of the formal sciences and the inductive of the empirical sciences, nothing prevents the indiscriminate application of a scientific method, or any other method, to a particular theory. Perhaps as many researchers believe, the fundamental difference between the deductive method and the inductive method
is that the first aims to indicate, through pure logic, the conclusion in its entirety based on a few premises so that the veracity of the conclusions is guaranteed, that is, if the applied logic isn’t invalidated. It is about the axiomatic model proposed by Aristotle
as the ideal scientific method
. On the contrary, the inductive method
creates laws based on the observation of the facts, by generalising the observed behaviour; actually, what is achieved is a type of generalisation without obtaining a demonstration of the aforementioned laws or set of conclusions through logic. Such conclusions could be false and, at the same time, the partial application of logic carried out could maintain its validity. For that reason, the inductive method needs an additional condition
in which case its application would be considered valid provided that there is no case
that does not fulfil the proposed model.
The term deduction is important to an understanding of theory construction and, as Gilbert (1993) proposed, it offers a useful clarification of the terms in the business research context (Cited in Riley, 2000). Deduction is a study in which a conceptual and theoretical structure is developed and then tested by empirical observation; thus particular instances are deduced from general inferences. It is referred to as moving from the general to the particular. (Hussey et al., 1997). The stages of the deduction research begin with theory and the procedure of a hypothesis, the expression of the hypothesis in operational terms, which propose a relationship between variables, data collection, and the testing of the hypothesis to deduce explanations from particular phenomena and modify the theory in the light of the findings. (Saunders et. al., 2003) ‘In the deductive method, the testing and confirmation of hypotheses effectively constitutes a contribution to theory and possibly to the evolution of that theory’. (M. Riley, 2000). As it is stated variables, data collection and testing are fundamental components of the research and more specifically in the research design. If somebody has tried to use a metaphor inductive methodology is more like what an entrepreneur does or more like to what scientists: in the deductive methodology the researcher decides the concept he/she will investigate. He will set the rules and he will clarify the subject’s title and also set clear instructions of should be observed and what should be avoided. The empirical findings of the research, during the deductive methodology, must be tested out so to confirm their compatibility. In inductive methodology the process is almost the opposite. The conception of the new product (using the business language), the new hypothesis in research terminology, and takes place via the process of observation without taking for granted a logical statement as a starting point (as a theory). The researcher first observes and then generates members of understandings by creating the hypothesis. What comes first the Inductive or the Deductive or which one is better than the other will not be discussed here. What is certain though is the fact that both needed for the “construction” of humanity’s epistemology.
3. THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
The best way of approaching philosophy is to ask a few philosophical questions: How was the world crated? Is there any meaning behind what happens? Is there life after death? Etc. A lot of aged enigmas have now been explained by science. Philosophy, basically has been through two major epidemics: the ancient period and the post-medieval one. Both periods are characterized by the quality of intellectuals and scientists who participated in the creation of those days philosophical atmosphere. They had tried, in their own ways to imprint their own thoughts of what truth was and how knowledge should be gained. What were common about the two periods were the facts that: philosophy breed and matured fast, unfortunately under a very hostile and unstable environment, which as a fugitive, had tried to escape from the social and political establishment of the states. Philosophy grew up alike as if someone will try to resemble with a human beings psychology: Firstly, appeared to have a more epistemological Cosmo centric character, in an attempt to seek for answers involving the nature and the physical world humans live in. Then, -as the readers will recover further on- philosophy became more anthropocentric, relating humans to their social environment and their pursuit after truth and authentic knowledge. Maybe it would be unsafe for someone to claim that inductive approach gave its position to deductive methodology but seems to conceal lots of truth.
4. THE ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Let’s nevertheless, go over some bits and pieces of information as to what Philosophy was about for the ancient Greeks, and its relationship to the ancients’ daily life. Philosophy historically was born in Asia Minor; the Greek islands bordering Asia Minor and southern Italy or Sicily; the area also called by the Greeks “Megali Ellada”. Philosophy began – something which Anaximander opposes by claiming that it started from the Arab world- when Greeks had “decided” to explain and map out the unknown phenomena of that period. As Hamlyn (1987:12) notes Philosophy, an almost male-dominated discipline, had nothing to do with religious and churches “Ieratia”1,
a belief that is also supported by Yianoulakis (2006:22), who in his turn notes that, those who were teaching Philosophy were being barred from the priesthood. Philosophy had also nothing to do with the political status quo and was not supported by the official states (government of the state)2.
None of the Philosophers was Athenean3
or not has lived his entire life in Athens, the only city that accepted Philosophy with tolerance and hospitality. Most of them lived in Minor Asia, Ionia and Sicily. The Philosophers never attempt to associate the ancient Greek civilization with Philosophy either. On the other hand, they believed in eccentric things and lived their lives in an isolated manner and ending up either dying when very poor, or murdered by their accusers. For the ancient Greeks truth had nothing to do with what people mean today. Truth then was the Non-latent: “Min Lanthanon”
the “Min Tetrimenon
”. In order now to establish the difference between the Right and Wrong, since they could not base it on any solid fundamental traditions or for the cause of any adaptations they had to base their methodology on arguments (Bourlakis, 1987: 22). Truth has its routes in democracy and it’s meaning is probably paroxysmal. Truth is what cannot be hidden, the obvious. Truth co-exists and doesn’t come to overlap knowledge. For the ancient Greek philosophers truth cannot twilight. In the same time they believed that everything that is claimed to be truth is only so, under the laws humans created to be truth “kata sinthikin”
. As long as these laws seem logical and are acceptable retained (a rather pragmatism attitude) then truth is followed and supported. The spread of ancient philosophy had lasted for a period of two hundred years, from 600 B.C. until 400 B.C.
The first philosopher was Thales from Miletus (in Asia Minor). The fact that he had spent all his time in his birthplace without being exiled was not a coincidence. Firstly, because at that period the local “Ieratia” did not have much power and Thales was thereby, free to express his ideas and thoughts. Secondly because of the fact that in his lectures he always spoke about nature and that everything is Godlike and that all things are full of gods – therefore he did not deviate from the local religious belief. Aristotle’s said that for Thales the “first principle” was water and that everything owes its existence to that. Philosophy though was not something that could be achieved unless the person had all the time needed to study and contemplate. Following Maslow’s hierarchy, in order for a philosopher to be able to philosophize, he should at least have the financial luxury to do so. In other words, in order to be able to reach his “self actualization”
, and “feed”
his curiosity by spending time in science and the pursuit of truth, this required the precondition that he had already fulfilled the rest of his “human” needs: shelter, food, clothes. And that was the third reason that helped Thales and all the other philosophers, in their deep pursuit for truth and knowledge. As he was a good meteorologist, he predicted favorable weather conditions for the growth of olive trees. He then bought all the olive mills for the production of oil and achieved a monopoly on the market. After all he spent all the money he had gained, for the quest of knowledge. But he was not alone. Most of the philosophers acted similarly, spending their fortune to travel and seek the truth.
After Thales followed Anaximenes, who claimed that air encloses everything. He thought that the source of all things must be ‘air’ or ‘vapor’. He was of course familiar with Thales theory of water but he supported that water was condensed air. Anaximander, Thales’s successor, who first invoked what he called “Aperon”
– the infinite- underlining at the same time the four traditional elements – earth, water, fire and air. It was the commencement of true science and knowledge leaving behind the boundaries of dogmatic truth and knowledge which, until that period imprisoned thinkers into a belief that everything was created by the Gods and that their existence was too complicated to be studied. His belief was that the world was only one of myriad of worlds that evolve and dissolve in something he called boundless.
Philosophy had continued at Miletus but this time with Pythagoras, the first traveler as Yianoulakis supports. Traveling in those years was held either to exchange products or to investigate –spy- different “worlds” and societies. Pythagoras did that very thoroughly, spending his entire fortune. He was a very eccentric person who believed a lot in friendship and claimed that you can see someone’s personality via his/her friends. Many modern historians believed that he was a contradictory person who left Samos (his birth place) because it was under dictatorship, but years after he went on to create his own personal dictatorship in his school, with him being the “Big Brother”. It was a very strict school with lots of rules and formalities. Pythagoras was a strong supporter of the idea of the existence of one God -and it was probably the beginning of monotheism- and that the world and math are coupled. Christians later on, would call Pythagoras one of the first prophets. After Pythagoras, followed Xenofanis, the first philosopher who stated the existence of one God and that He is ‘like humans’, a statement similar to what Jesus said centuries after. From about 500 B.C. there was a group of philosophers in the Greek colony of Elea in Southern Italy. These Eleatics quest of truth was revolved around the question: How could one substance suddenly change into something else?
. The epidemic of philosophy continued with Parmenides, Heraklitus or the “Skoteinos”4
and Empedocles. Apart from the first the other two believed that ‘everything flows’, “Ta panda rei”
and that humanity is a cruel and unrepentant beast that treats nature cruelly and selfishly. The most important of those philosophers and a big contemporary of Heraclitus was Parmenides. He thought that everything that exists had always existed. This idea was not an alien to the Greeks. Nothing can come out of nothing and nothing that exists can become anything. That was taken for granted by the Greeks who believed that the world was everlasting. Anaxagoras, another philosopher of that period 500- 428 B.C. supported a lot the philosophy of the previous especially, Emedocles thinking that something of everything gives us everything. He could not accept for example the fact that one particular substance –water- might be transformed to everything, nor that earth fire water and air to blood and bones. He held the opinion that nature is build up of an infinite number of minute particles invisible to the eye! Last of the also called natural philosophers was Democritus (460-370). Following Empedocles thinking, Democritus assumed that everything was built up of tiny invisible blocks, each of which was eternal and immutable. He called these smallest units ‘atoms’, (un-cuttable).
Leaving the era were the first philosophers were looking for answers in nature, philosophy and trhe quest of truth has been transformed as in being more closely related to humanity, and quest for more anthropocentric answers instead. Probably because they realized that the pursuit of knowledge has only one receiver: the human being. The ancient philosophers tried to use “logic”
in order to explain things that in those days seemed supernatural. It was Klimis Anaximander, the ancient philosopher who first supported the thesis that philosophy has started from Persia and from the Arab world and that what the Hellenes (Greeks) did was, to rationalize and write about it. Truth, unfortunately though that even had continued only until the time was forcibly stopped due to the Roman and later the Ottoman empires, were Greece could not maintain any philosophical or scientific development. The innovation of the Hellenes until that that time was that for the first time, phenomena like: “winter comes before summer, put it under the umbrella of a set of laws”. These were laws that not only the mortals but also their Gods had to follow and be ruled by. Later on they tried to find solutions to explain these laws and also to categorize them via a series of sets of experiments. It was the beginning of philosophy but also the beginning of the “sophists”
(wise men) and their “sophisties”
Humanity owns much to these experiments since it was the break out, from the Dark Age and the unknown phenomena, which until that time were, taken dogmatically, to the period of investigation and pursuit for answers.
It was at that period that Socrates had made his appearance. Socrates was of the very few philosophers who lived and taught in Athens throughout the whole period of his life. He was a philosopher but not a scientist and the reason for claiming that is the fact that his education was very limited due to his lazy character. Socrates was not highly educated and was rather lazy in learning. What was so special about Socrates though, was the fact that when the pre-Socratics concerned themselves with questions about the natural world, Socrates for the first time applied the same rationality to human behavior and social institutions. When the previous scientists were more cosmocentric, seeking for answers about nature and the world’s biology, Socrates was much more anthropocentric and on the lookout for answers linked to humans, and how these would have helped them, -a very pragmatic stand really- an idea agreed on also by Magee (1976, pp64). Socrates’ major belief was the Know Thyself –“Gnothis Afton”
– in which, as he was claiming, only by gaining that knowledge could a person be able to approximate to the truth. Perhaps for Socrates truth was a very subjective business. He created, from an epistemological point of view, a rather skeptical approach – nevertheless a very gifted one- of asking continuous questions during his conversation. In this way he led someone into realizing how little he knew about the subject or how wrong the truth he believed he knew was. Many readers would argue concerning the relation between skepticism and Socrates. The word can be used if we follow Williams’ (2004:5) proposal, which claims that a “skeptic” is not necessarily a person who doesn’t believe in truth and the quest for knowledge. He is always questioning the truth, but doesn’t deny it. Those who deny it are simply called “deniers”.
Antonny Kenny (1994: 30) noted that during the pursuit of knowledge many so called philosophers tried to pervert the truth on behalf of their employers. That led to combat between Plato, Socrates and other Sophists against those fraudulent philosophers, the “Pseudo-Philosophers”
as they were called. As Socrates said many times “It is better to know nothing rather knowing something wrong”.
And he continued by saying that: “people will be hurt more through finding out that they know the wrong truth rather than through knowing that they do not know the truth”
.(Kenny, 1994) Of course that caused the frustration of his followers who nevertheless liked his honesty and realized that they should be careful regarding what they know and what they have learnt.
Continuing the philosophical outbreak a well known figure was the sophist Plato who believed that: “None of the gods love wisdom or desire to become wise, for they are wise already — nor if someone else is wise, do they love wisdom. Neither do the ignorant love wisdom or desire to become wise; for this is the grievous thing about ignorance, that those who are neither good nor beautiful nor sensible think they are good enough, and do not desire that which they do not think they are lacking.”
(Plato, Symposium 203E-204A). Plato traveled a lot and in between his traveling wrote the dialogues. He was not good at all at writing essays and that was the main reason he expressed himself via dialogues and poetry. Many researchers including Yianoulakis believed that Plato was a genuine philosopher like Socrates but Aristotle a genuine scientist. Plato disliked Democracy because he found it hypocritical, and he was a great supporter of feminism. In ethical terms he showed himself as puritan but his social behavior was very libertine. He was in many cases very rationalist –epistemological framework that will be discussed later- and in other cases very mystic. He was both against tyranny and a strong supporter of totalitarianism, apart from the fact that he taught and supported discipline as being more important than the freedom of thought. He associated knowledge with “logos”
, with the understanding of the reason why (Hamlyn, 1987:48). He believed that true beliefs could be turned into knowledge; a primitive rationalism approach epistemologically (which was improved later on). Aristotle –Plato’s student- who as a straight-laced Professor, taught epistemology and science, had noticed all these contradictions. He was one of the first philosophers who had tried to code the “right thinking”, in other words the irrefutable procedures of syllogistic thinking. The Aristotelian syllogisms had prototypes of structure arguments that always gave the right results as long as they had started with the right conjectures. For example: “if Socrates is human and humans are mortals then Socrates is mortal”. He created the Lyceum5
–a word that exists until today- and he was the first philosopher who established the Open University. Aristotle was a genuine teacher who believed that only the educated people are alive, and that the most important thing he gained from philosophy was that he learned to do things because he liked them and because he had to follow the laws. What he probably meant by that was that he could understand the laws and rules and the reasons they were written, unlike un-educated people who could not analyze them due to their lack of academic and scientific background, and only followed them because they were told it is a good thing to do so. Aristotle is perhaps the originator of formal logic and nowadays could be claimed to be epistemologically a logical positivist. For him science was an investigation of the shapes that nature takes, which is an incongruity between science and superstition.
Another contrast between them was the fact that Aristotle’s conception of the soul was that: “soul is a form of a living body equipped with organs”, when Plato and the Pythagoreans offered no explanation on that area. He connected logic with the soul supporting that soul is divided into two “parts” the “Alogon”
and he probably meant the human as living organism, and the “Logon”.
Soul functions either in a “Fytikon”
way or based on the knowledge of the organism, “To kyrios Logon Echon”
or a combination of both “Epithimitikon”.
The latter combines the organism’s nature and knowledge, and therefore the belief “Logos”
are according to Aristotle more ethical when the second is more intellectual (Limbourlis, 2002:182). Thinking epistemologically, Aristotle could be named the leader of logical positivism. The Aristotelian conception of logic was the dominant form of logic up until the advances in mathematical logic in the 19th century. Kant himself thought that Aristotle had achieved everything possible in terms of logic6
. Aristotle divided science into three main categories: the practical science which concerned human acts, the qualitatitive, which concerned the production of useful things and the theoritical, which concerned the pursuit of authentic knowledge. The latter type of science also divided into three categories: the mathematical which concerned things that have no special existence and do not change, physics which concerned things that change, and the theological which considers things that have special existence and do not change (Limbourlis, 2002:193). In closing the ancient “epidemic” of philosophy, it is important to remember Epicurus. He was the first who supported that philosophy is a form of science, a stand that continued to survive until Kant’s period.
5. THE MEDIEVAL… EPISTEMOLOGY
Ancient Greek philosophy went on to surrender its position to medieval philosophy. This is the period during which philosophers do not seek only for scientific or social answers, but also seek to understand the philosophy of good and evil. It was also the beginning of epistemology as the one of the core areas of philosophy, a position firstly supported by the ancient philosopher Epicurus as already discussed. Many researchers believed that During the Middle Ages, in which philosophy was treated as a form of science, it faced a period of “repression”. Until the 13th
century, philosophy leaned towards Plato’s. Aristotle, until that period, seemed to be a “second significance” philosopher. Everything discussed or pursued – in terms of knowledge- it was circumscribed, according to the church’s values. Augustine, one of the medieval philosophers, with a very Platonic explanation perspective saw the world as being very hierarchically ordered. For him God takes now the position of Plato’s “Agathon”, or the good. Angels on top of humans and the bad Angels below them. The period of quest for the knowledge that answers ontological questions passed, and left this period to a “conflict” between God and Evil and the explanation of these. Augustine supported that there is no measurement between Good and Evil. Both are incommensurate, and there doesn’t even exist a scale by which they could be measured. Evil according to Augustine is not the absence of Good but it’s constriction. The difference is in the way people think. He tried to drop many hints regarding freedom of thought and speech and also to stimulate people to continue to seek for the truth or knowledge or freedom, but always very carefully so that he wouldn’t disturb the theological concern of that period. Voithios (another philosopher of the medieval period) had also to point out the fact that the free will and must be compatible to the past knowledge of God. Unfortunately between 500 AC until 800AC philosophy countenanced a huge spiritual lethargy that continued until the Carolingian renaissance. It is after the 12th
century that the monastery schools started moving around both literally (from one place to another) and metaphorically via exchanging views and theories. Also during that period the first Cathedral schools opened as well as the first Universities (Italy- 1150 and France 1200)
. The constitution of these Universities helped the translation of many ancient treatises especially those written by Aristotle and therefore the first discussions concerning churches dogmatisms such as the trinity always in apprehension to face the consequences. Unluckily he philosophers of that period were not well prepared to understand many theories, which led to the creation of a cluster of theories and consequently failed to support them against churches dogmatism. Akinatis on the other hand succeed to introduce Aristotle to the Christian thinkers.
That was the beginning of the meta-medieval period and the beginning of the pen minded and constructive thinking. One of the most important philosophical examples of that period was the philosopher and rationalist Descartes. He studied astronomy and metaphysics and he tried via these to communicate important messages regarding philosophy. After a very poor philosophical period, Descartes attempted to stimulate the interest of many thinkers and intellectuals of that period into the search for truth and knowledge. He tried to create a circle of people in where he had sent his philosophical doubts – later called “Meditations”
regarding truth and knowledge, seeking for answers. In his Six Meditations –each one of which is an important book with the thoughts and positions of the intellectuals and thinkers of those years, for different subjects that engrossed their curiosity that period, and even until today-, Descartes had tried to get answers after positioning himself, always vigilant not to go against the epistemological status quo of that period (the rational and dogmatic status of certain truths that the Catholic church had enforced). Descartes’ work was unique and dangerous at that period because of the fear of being executed as heretic. He “forced” people not only to think, since humans always did, do and will do so, but also to express themselves concerning several issues. Descartes’ “Cogito Ergo Sum”
, -I think therefore I am-, was his major belief, which however went on to become the reason for serious arguments and deceptive thinking between many intellectuals until this day. Is the fact that somebody can sit on a chair because he thinks the chair exists? So if he doesn’t think of the chair’s existence will he fall? Descartes closest friend was Mersenne and his meditation continued via him. Another thing that should be mentioned here is the quantity and quality of the answers he gained in order to build up his meditations. The first Meditations –which were very well written and analytical –were from the Catholic Theologian Caterus (Latin name from Johan de Kater). The second, but not very nicely written, -rather superficial and short-,
where ascertained by different Theologians, mostly however from his friend Mersenne. In the third as Vantarakis notes (2003:14) Mersenne was inconsistent since he gave Descartes’ Meditations to Thomas Hobbes. Descartes did not seek answers from a protestant as Hobbes was and that was shown from the fact that he disagreed completely with him on all points. The fourth meditations came from the French philosopher and theologian Antoine Arnault, the fifth from the French philosopher Pierre Gassendi and finally the last one (sixth) again from various philosophers and inscribed by Mersenne. Descartes presented for the first time in a classical piece of research the difference between the noetic and the material realms, as well as the problems occurred from the interaction between these two. A problem that presents clearly the fact that noesis (understanding) doesn’t leave enough space to the free will. Descartes seemed also to support a lot the idea of Dualism, which was the idea that, as he believed, a part of the human understanding works outside human nature and doesn’t follow the natural laws. That could more or less be explained, either because he was a strongly religious person, or just “cautious”. Proving the first, Descartes believed that God should be accepted as people accept the certainty of a geometrical equation like for example that a triangle has three angles equal to two right angles. That however was an example that made no sense to many other intellectuals, including Pierre Gassendi who strongly opposite his view. Locke was a generation younger than Descartes, and had a completely opposite epistemological stand from that of Descartes. Locke’s empiricism, believed in the knowledge gained via the human senses and insisted that Descartes inborn meanings were not enough without the empirical data. The empiricist movement which had started after the Novum Organum
written by Francis Bacon (1561-1705), and was formulated later on in Locke’s apothegm, noted that: “There is no understanding in anything that hasn’t been firstly bodied by senses”. Opposite to his vie and direction as Berkley whose philosophy argued Lock’s. He, in his turn has pushed philosophy a bit further, supporting the fact that Lock ought to investigate the term “tangible effects” he was given. The Meta-medieval period follows Spinoza. Spinoza believed in monism (singularism)
and he had related morality (this could have been another name for philosophy)
to Ephklides geometry. For many Spinoza the key of Spinoza’s monism translated as his disbelief to God and therefore one of the not so many atheists, but for others including he posterior philosopher Kirkegor as a strong fun of God (Kenny, 1997:207). If someone had tried to picture the three philosophical eras: ancient, medieval and modern he should have realized that philosophy has been dramatically transformed. During the first era, philosophy inelegantly had tried to give explanations for things never been discussed or investigated before. Those meanings had found either the people not yet prepared (too deep) or had been covered up by the scientific discoveries of the time. In the second period, dogmatism forced answers without leaving any space of investigation, but leaving behind questions, which was the time to be answered, and most importantly, facts to be verified. That led to the Meta -Spinoza period and the modern Philosophical era where the researches not only sought for answers but also, to elegantly verified those answers. It is commonly accepted that philosophy encaenia a new blueprint which conventionally is called modern philosophy. Strictly speaking modern philosophy owns its new “face” to Descartes, whose denial of an authentic foundation of knowledge and the prologue of the critique methodology as the only way of reassurance of any form of knowledgeable claim. The detail in the examination of a theory is very clear in Hume’s research. Hume (1711-1776) was one of the first philosophers who supported that there are clear strategies for the researchers to follow putting himself with the group of inductivists, the research process that, years later Popper strongly criticized. His ideas however despite his methodology, concerning the types of memory and fantasy (the real, the one someone remembers according to his empiricism and objectivism)
resulted in many future discussions.
Leaving the historical voyage of philosophy behind, it is important to do a comprehensive account of the term epistemology. The major reason is that the two terms Epistemology and Philosophy have not only co-existed during the Medieval period, but until now the first term portrays in a great sense to an extent the researcher’s philosophical stand. The term “epistemology” shows up for the first time in 1854 opposing the term “ontology”. When ontology (literally, the study of being)
is the “network of philosophical issues centering on the question of what kinds of things really exist and what kinds of things are only myths or illusions” (Kirham 1992:74). As Dr. Toppen notes, “Ontological study concerns itself with the nature of the subject, while epistemology is the question of how we know what we think we know about that subject”. The first was more than enough during the ancient period, since not many things where known. The latter on the other hand was when study and research actually matured enough. It was not enough to know about something but also if it is true and verifiable. Epistemology is concerned with the nature, sources and limits of knowledge and has been primarily concerned with propositional knowledge, that is, knowledge that such-and-such is true, rather than other forms of knowledge, for example, knowledge how to such-and-such. There is a vast array of views about propositional knowledge, but one virtually universal presupposition is that knowledge is true belief, but not mere true belief, (Routledge Encyclopedia).
It is this point in the history of philosophy that epistemology attracts the biggest piece of the pie and becomes a study for research as a meaning and also an argument of how to approach epistemology in order to get closer to truth. Here however rises a new question: could the four theories of truth that follows, coexist or are completely different approaches? If yes which one is the best to use? As McCloskey (1995: 1319) supports: “we do not need to choose between them. Contrary to many writers including Maki, correspondence and coherence theory do not have to be “mutually consistent,” any more than pepper and salt have to be mutually consistent. People use both theories in scientific argument daily. In particular, I do, and you do, and Maki does. Maki uses correspondence to extract true statements about my writings; and the notions he is able t extract will depend on coherence with what he already believes—for example, about epistemology. I use correspondence for measuring the rate of industrialization in Britain; and I use coherence to rule out Harberger triangles as a full explanation…”
Thus, the question what are these theories and how can these help the quest for truth brings the modern philosophers (researchers) to book for answers.
6. THE MODERN… RESEARCH
The philosophers as Ian Hacking (1983:1) notes have already confirmed Nietzsche’s aphorism, for their historical lack of thoughts. They have transformed science into a mummy and when they removed the cloth from the body and they observed the left over of a historical modus operandi they identify a rationality crisis. Twenty years before Gaston Bachelard (1980, pp25) has already declined the picture of science that philosophers has been build so far. So he turned to the scientists where he realized that their acts come from the same sources: the translations that they borrow from the philosophers when they leave their labs. The philosopher’s “mummy” serves the social practices whether these are shown as paradigms or as deterrence. Kouzelis (1993:12) supports: “Not only the philosophy but also the sciences and specifically the social sciences must clear the load of this colored picture epistemology has…”
Epistemology –the field of controversy between the scientists and the philosophers- is an area of many positions, propositions and approximations. The way people understand epistemology is not clear since new questions arise even if they –philosophers and scientists- agree on one systematic natural approach of the sciences:
What kind of approach will they give to epistemology; philosophical, scientific or a mixture?
What is the terminus of this approach; the investigation of the evolution of sciences or the investigation of the evolution of the sciences in relation to the environment they exist?
What is the relationship of the approach taken with the history, psychology and theory of communication?
Finally is epistemology the work of the scientists or is it the work of people outside science (philosophers, historians, sociologists)?
The target of the modern philosophers to entrenchment the absolute truth had as a result to create the different strategies and as said before, since humanity lives in the era of putting things into frameworks and patterns, it is not risky to say that; it was the begging of putting the theory of truth into costumes. Similarly to the Anglo-Saxons, the French called epistemology the philosophy of the science, leading consequently as Kouzelis supports (1997:16) to a “Constitutive Coincidence”: Epistemology= philosophy of sciences = positivist philosophy. The latter comes as a result of the coincidence of epistemology and philosophy. The rapid and continuous growth of sciences created – according to the Anglo-Saxons- the need of delimitation of the scientific knowledge. It was the beginning of the three “epistemological” schools: the first one which was that of the Anglo-Saxons who set the foundation of the beginning of thematology –creation of positivism-. Opposing that was the French and the German schools, with the first to highlight the possibility of falsification and the latter the critique of rationalism. According to Kouzelis (1997:18), the three languages of epistemology were bridged for the first time –since the three epistemological theses, had no relationship or communication until then- in Vienna in the well known “Vienna Circle”
. Perhaps it was the beginning of the schism between those philosophers who adapted deductive methodology and those who followed the inductive approach, what is certainly though is the fact that it was the beginning of labeling and forming into blocks the different theories (another name for philosophy)
of truth. The most dominant are the: Correspondence theory, the Coherence theory, the Pragmatic theory and the Consensus theory. Every type of strategy and any form of point of view have its own index mark. It has in other words its philosophical supporter.
The first theory (Correspondence theory), which was strongly supported by Popper, prop up the philosophy that a theory is truth only if tested by empirical application and shown to be true but yet not verified. If not then the researcher must start his quest for a new theory. Found in Wikipedia Encyclopedia correspondence theory states that: “something (for example, a proposition or statement or sentence) is rendered true by the existence of a fact with corresponding elements and a similar structure. The theory maintains that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined only by how it relates to the world, and whether it accurately describes (i.e., corresponds with) that world. The theory presupposes an objective world and is therefore antagonistic to theories that problematise objectivity such as external world skepticism or metaphysical subjectivism”
The statement “The opera Aida had its first performance in Cairo” is true just in case the opera Aida had its first performance in Cairo, and false otherwise. “Snow is white” is true just in case snow is white.
Is the correspondence theory itself true? If so, what does it correspond to? (
Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy)
Here the undoubted “Sir” of epistemology, Karl Popper, incarnated the debate between the two schools, the German and the Anglo-Saxon, bringing at the same time the victory in the field of the Anglo-Saxons as the major critique of rationalism. Many philosophers gathered in this Vienna School since 1922, and the dogma of logical positivism had been developed and thoroughly discussed. Rudolf Carnap (Popper’s greatest competitor), was the proponent of that position. Logical positivism supported that knowledge could be characterized as logical theories as long as it has been linked with the observation sentences which are correlated from the sensuous entrances (experiences). Popper’s defense of science and rationality is better timed now than ever. In a period where rationalism and the true pursuit for knowledge suffers from people’s disbelief and where relativism claims that it is impossible to establish the primacy of science due to the lack of the standards in rationality. The structure that Popper provided in which a code is rational if it is not logically contradictory and if it changes or is abandoned if proved to be false (falsification theory) provided the standards of rationality needed. In his theory Popper critiques the rationalists, saying that instead of trying to prove the truth behind a theory they should attempt to prove its faults. If proved then the theory must change, if not the theory remains strong, for and as long as it does so it is considered as ratified and as truth knowledge. The negative aspects of Poppers theory as Psillos (2001 :5) supports, was the fact that that Popper had tried to eliminate the problem of induction. According to Dr. Psillos, science without induction can not exist and therefore Poppers viewpoint that induction is a myth could not stand. What also Dr. Psillos supports is the fact that when a theory is considered to be ratified, has no logic to be considered as having any future influences something that Popper should have been able seen that. As Psillos also notes, in the case of two ratified positions which one should be considered as the staring point? (That was the problem found that bothered Popper in his bibliography; the Practical Problem of Induction). The Falsification and the Ratification are both totalitarian procedures supporting strongly the “modus tollens” which claims that at least one part of the cluster is false. Consequently Poppers empathy (identification) of epistemology with falsificationalism fails since it cannot provide a safe criterion of epistemology because of the fact that it is rare to find scientific bits and pieces falsifiable (Psillos, 2001:7). Going back to Tarski’s theory for a while, he has found a solution to the correspondence theory “fixing” a bit the philosophical vocabulary. Alfred Tarski’s theory of truth has two components. First, he defines a true staments as a statement that corresponds to reality. This is only a definition of “true statement” and not of “truth” in general and second the second component to Tarski’s theory is the idea that truth can only be defined relative to another language. Most languages include the word “true”, but that leads to paradoxes like “I am lying” which is both true and false at the same time.
This opposition however by Dr. Psillos reminds in great respect the third theory, the Pragmatic theory. According to the pragmatists beliefs are considered to be true if and only if they are useful and can be practically applied to the real world, in other words if it can effectively and efficiently allow people to interact in the cosmos. A theory that has been supported a lot by Lakatos also claimed that: Popper’s distinction between the logic of falsifiability and its applied methodology does not in the end do full justice to the fact that all high-level theories grow and live despite the existence of anomalies (i.e. events/phenomena which are incompatible with the theories). The existence of such anomalies is not usually taken by the working scientist as an indication that the theory in question is false; on the contrary, s/he will usually, and necessarily, assume that the auxiliary hypotheses which are associated with the theory can be modified to incorporate, and explain, existing anomalies.
My belief that inanimate objects do not spontaneously get up and move about is true because it makes my world more predictable and thus easier to live in. It “works.”
Sometimes unreasonable beliefs “work”. A tribe might believe that human sacrifice brings their crops back each year. The crops do come back after the human sacrifice, but not because of the human sacrifice. (Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy)
The second most leading theory and the major opponent of the correspondence theory is the coherence theory. According to the coherence theory of truth, a statement is true if it is logically consistent with other beliefs that are held to be true. A belief is false if it is inconsistent with (contradicts) other beliefs that are held to be true. We should doubt claims that are currently inconsistent with the rest of our beliefs. Willard Quine is a famous contemporary philosopher who advocates the coherence theory, but its great supporter was actually Paul Feyerabend. His critique on “logos” (language) into two ideas the one of Language and the second as objectivity made many of the recent philosophers to reevaluate their epistemological positions, (Bourlakis, 1987:18).
we don’t believe in solipsism primarily because it contradicts so many of our other beliefs or the truth of a statement about black holes cannot verified (because we can’t travel into a black hole and not even close to one) and therefore it only depends on whether it is coherent with the other “truths” of Cosmology
a belief can be consistent with all our other beliefs and yet have no independent supporting evidence. For example, many metaphysical beliefs are consistent with all imaginable states of affairs (e.g., “the universe came into existence five minutes ago complete with historical records and memories”). (
Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy)
The last but not least theory of truth is the consensus theory vigorous demonstrated by Kuhn who noted: “Normal science “means research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice”. These achievements can be called paradigms. People whose research is based on shared paradigms are committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice”.
In other words truth is the mutual agreement between people believes.
7. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, WHAT LAY BENEATH THE TRUTH?
“People continuously claim over and over that, philosophy does not really makes any progress that still people deal with the same philosophical problems which nuisance the Greeks. Those who say that though, do not understand why it has to be this way. The reason is, because language has stayed behind the same and stays on to delude people, while it put them to ask the same questions” Wittgenstein (Civilization and Principles)
. During this philosophical trip many meanings and theories has been discussed, others comprehensively and others briefly. The innovation of the modern philosophy is not to regurgitate theories regarding truth as Wittgenstein supports. If that was the case then nobody should discuss about modern philosophy. The meta-language Popper (1960) suggests is divided into semantically and syntactically. This helps the researchers to understand the different forms it can play and also the length that the language can be manipulated. Ideally yes, it has been transformed, matured, simplified or even for many straight jacketed. Whether the researcher uses one strategy or the other to quest truth or whether he/she sees truth rationally or pragmatically or even as a continually critique, they all agree that truth is difficult to get. The reasons many: The principal reason is language, also the different epistemological positions of the philosophers, their ontological being and yes self-interests. As again Popper supports (1960) the people who do not accept Tarski’s objective truth are the ones, who’s firstly the combination of a simple idea that faces a complicated solution discourages them and secondly dogmatism engrains them that this is the only correct truth. This however requires lot of discussion. Small countries or civilizations without strong history have to maintain the dogmatism many times in the form of a “Dream”. Truth is inapproachable but there are areas where even the most post modernists will have to accept truth as a staring point of any critique they intend to do and that could be science. “Therefore truth is not an entity that researchers do (or can) study…it is to postulate as an entity fallaciously”
(Levin, 1991:57). But if this is the case and truth not only is unreachable but also is seen with cautiousness w
hat happens in the case where the self-interests the ontological patriotism and the epistemological ego are added? How can truth be quest and what theories or strategies can be brought up in order to achieve at least a common agreement? Political philosophy is the study of how people can and ought to live together. Amongst the problems considered by the political philosophy are the questions of the nature and the claims of justice, the claims of liberty and property etc. Anthony Quinton (Kenny, 1997:375) supports the phrases such as “political philosophy or political theory” or even “political thought” has the same meaning and could be used for the same purposes. What should not be misinterpreted are the terms “political philosophy” and “political science”. The latter is only a study of the mechanical and political estates of the country. On the other hand political philosophy is the parade of general and systematical theories that constitute a constant consolidate tradition. What will be discussed in this situation is the tradition of the Greek Cypriots and the tradition of the Turkish Cypriots. This tradition is affected by a set of components, like for instance the human nature, the comments regarding the political facts, the society, and the country’s case on the subject of its right to protect its people political rights. It was based on these components that in 1974 Turkish troops marched into Cyprus. Probably it was for the sake of this tradition the only island in the world that it is still divided and under military occupation.
The question however that needs to be discussed is, for how long will Cyprus be divided and what lay beneath the truth that it makes it so difficult not only to quest, but even to begin with the quest of truth. Shouldn’t until that point has been found a starting point? Again here the basic problem is language. The political language as used by the politicians does not seek for the truth at all. As Pinter (2006: 10) supports their interest is the hunger to maintain in power even if that is translated to keep the people in complete darkness. This darkness could be achieved either by hiding the facts, or by persistently feeding a hate and nationalism. In the lack of this two a mutual agreement of what is true and what not could be achieved. Nevertheless in the case of Cyprus problem, who will eventually agree to take on his backs the political cost? The two truths, between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots – which could definitely be more than two- many claim that are manipulated supported not only from the epistemological background of the opposite parts but also their ontological ‘Sein’
as Heidegger describes (Xiropaides,1995:10) – the positions, in other words the two sides take in the matter. But here arises a new question: can the notions of truth and truthfulness of the matter, be intellectually stabilized, in such a way that what the two sides’ understanding is in regards of a “common” truth, and their chances of meeting it, so as to be able to cover both their needs but also the other side’s parts need for truthfulness? Or is Truth another diplomatic phrase that serves peoples interests? Williams (2004:3) supports that this is the problem of the present-day philosophy and that there are many different motives for telling the truth. These motives must be characterized by a notion of trust and sincerity (Williams, 2004:87) or maybe Tarski’s objective truth where all parts will be in agreement of the same truth could solve the problem. Trust as supported by Hunt (2005:135; Morgan & Hunt, 1994; Pearce, 2001) is based on the mutual agreement based on reliability and integrity on a matter; in this case truth (the facts of 1974). At this point lets put a few things clear to bear in mind. Trust should not be confused as a pure paradigm of truth. That could be a fatal misinterpretation. What must been seen though is as an important precondition that even the most fanatic postmodernists should accept. In the lack of trust as many researchers including myself the hunt of truth can’t begin. The ontology of human nature is to seek for answers. The Greek word “Anthropos” (Man) which derives from the ancient Greek words ‘Ano’ and ‘Throsko’ (I look up) literally means what humanity really does, seek for answers and not as paradoxically been used from the ecclesiastics look up to God. It’s an un-deniable phenomenon/need where dogmatism and fanaticism must be eliminated. Truth and knowledge for both the Greeks and Turks will bring development and prosperity. Trust –a feeling that because of many variables: religion, territorial expansion, resources possession, leaders personal interests (the virus of power) – never seemed to be a sharing feeling for the two countries, could be their compass.
“There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands”
1 Nowadays Churches.
2 Ancient Greece was divided into city-states, each of which was an individual country.
3 Citizen of Athens
4 The Dark Person. Here it takes the meaning of somebody whose sayings and thoughts are difficult to follow.
5 Lyceum until today is lower than University. At that time it was because the Athenians disliked Aristotle, his methods and eccentricities.
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