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Truth and Context - Essay Example

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Margaret Attwood in her novel The Handmaid's Tale repeatedly uses the expression "context is all" which is a key phrase in the novel. (Attwood 1996). The immediate response to the phrase is a question - does it mean that there is no such thing as truth. We usually neglect an investigation into the concept of truth and context…
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Download file to see previous pages When context is all there is no validity for truth. The credibility of the concept of truth is in the acceptance of something that the popular belief teaches as existing. If everything in the world is subject to context, it would mean that there is no thing that may be termed "truth". The concept is philosophically weak, in spite of the long efforts to define and comprehend what "truth" really means. As Bacon in his 'Of Truth' tells, 'What is truth Said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer." (Essays of Francis Bacon).
The understanding of truth in relation to context is, therefore, essential especially in the modern world, where "lack of trust mirrors the absence of truth in public life." (Lee 1997). It is of great significance to comprehend what context and truth mean and their relation to one another. There are many definitions for the term "context" and according to the Dictionary of Terms, context "includes the political, social, historical, psychological, institutional, and aesthetic factors that shape the way we understand the performance event." (Dictionary of Terms. 2006). Another definition reads "The circumstances relevant to something under consideration." (CERN Engineering Data Management Service. 2001). There are many such varying definitions all of which means truth in a given circumstances. Context does not give truth in the wider sense of the word. Is it true that context determines and narrows down the scope of truth
The various construal of the term truth, an opened ended word, gives the notion that if "context is all" truth is almost impossible. Chris Richards finds that the definition of truth is various and he is interested in the definitions "conformity with fact or reality" and "an obvious or accepted fact". As he points out, the former definition, as in the Correspondence theory, "ties truth with relationship between thoughts and words in one part, and things and objects in the other." (Richards 2007). He also makes clear, as the Constructive Theory teaches that truth is created by social progress. The latter definition seems to be more correct as it gives the notion that truth is understood in the context. We understand the concept truth when there is a mass recognition of the fact. Sociological interpretation of the concept also confirms the Consensus Theory that truth is a matter of conformity. Truth when deemed false is not regarded as true. In the modern life also truth, many a time, goes unrecognised when people around us do not understand the fact in context. Truth, most of the times, is made by the public acceptance, leaving the concept to the discretion of people. Truth is context-bound and relative in nature. Let us not forget that "a bare assertion is not necessarily the naked truth." (Prentice 2007). Therefore, a contextualized view of truth is not completely acceptable. Having said that, one cannot ignore the possibility of this narrow understanding of truth, especially in a modern materialistic world.
People understand truth in many possible ways. The popular understanding of truth is relative and only relative truth exists in this modern world. Here, we find not truth but truths. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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