Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

Karsten Harries, Yale University: "The Theory of Double Truth Revisited"

Fri, November 2, 2012 | David L. Miller Conference Room, WAG 316

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Three years ago I had a conversation with Professor Drew McDermott of Yale’s computer science department. Professor McDermott told of how he had recently returned to the thought of Martin Heidegger, which he had encountered in college quite some time ago, but to which for many years had given little thought.  But now he had come to see that what Heidegger had to say did do justice to our first person awareness of being in the world.  In that sense much of what he had to say could be called true.  From the third person perspective of the scientist, however, it had to be judged false.

McDermott’s remarks brought to mind that theory of double truth condemned by the theologians at the university of Paris in 1277.  Aristotelian science then also seemed to leave no room for certain key beliefs, especially for the kind of freedom demanded by Christianity. Given Aristotle’s understanding of nature, such claims had to be judged false?  Could Aristotelian science and Christian theology, while they contradicted each other, both lay claim to truth?  Must such a theory of double truth not be rejected by every right thinking person?  Similarly we must ask today, how can moral absolutism be true and false at the same time, except by relativizing the truth in question?  Does the very essence of truth not rule out the theory of double truth?  — But what is truth?

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