Is truth just a logical property?

Vivian asked:

Is truth just a logical property?

Answer by Jürgen Lawrenz

No, it’s a lost property. Across the millennia of human occupation of this planet, a number of people stood up and claimed to know what truth is, and graciously (very often at sword’s point) passed it on to others. But as human nature is changeable, societies change and the belief in truth changes over time. However it is also possible for people in different, but contemporary societies, to entertain disparate conceptions. Quite often they disagree so violently, that the sword is unsheathed again and employed in settlement of the issue.

So you can see that it’s not a logical property, but the property of the person with the stronger arm, quicker sword or, in some cases, the most persuasive promises.

All the same, one variant of truth, namely half of the question ‘true or false?’ can at times qualify for the title of logical property. This is when something is definitely known to be the case, such as the wetness of water, or that 2 apples are more than 1 apple, or the mortality of mortals. Here logic settles the case, and the sword’s point will not change it even when a victim is coerced into a pretended ‘no’ when he or she knows full that ‘yes’ is the correct answer.

We humans have a deeply emotional craving for truth, but it is truly said that ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’. And so we blunder through, day after day, putting up with watered down truths (which logically speaking are falsehoods). Only computers are absolutely truthful, because they have no emotions. Which is why their proper name is ‘logical inference devices’, as they do nothing but compile huge chains of 1 (true) and 0 (false). Of course this depends on programmers writing logical algorithms first.

All told, then, I suppose the short answer to your question is ‘yes’. Truth with a small ‘t’ is only a logical property.

But for Truth with a capital ‘T’, you had better check with the Lost Property Office at the Railways. That’s where things are collected which absent-minded travellers tend to leave in the carriage when their minds are fully preoccupied with the really serious business of the day. If you’re lucky on that day, you might find a book or leaflet there with the word ‘Truth’ emblazoned on it. But this is evidently not a logical property, though it might also remind us that logical properties are not necessary adjuncts to everything we strive for in life.


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