A Critique Of Wiredu’s Concept Of Truth

Project and Seminar Material for Philosophy

Project and Seminar Material for Philosophy


Abstract


Wiredu’s recent significant contribution to epistemology reviews the relationship between knowledge, truth and existence.

In this theory Kwasi Wiredu attempts to refute the supposition that truth is a relation the supposition that truth is a relation between statements about the world and the world itself. He argues against objectivist claims to knowledge i.e, that knowledge is of a thing as it is in itself and that appearance is different from opinion.

Wiredu argues against the attempts to distinguish between truth of opinion and truth of knowledge and the position by which Wiredu institutes his thesis is a claim that “Truth is an opinion”. He calls this a special case of general proposition that has to be apprehended.

In this essay, my main contention is that Kwasi Wiredu is identifying truth with opinion, fails to give a true account of human reality because his thesis discards completely the distinction that should be obtained between truth and opinion, thereby making falsehood impossible, and truth subjective.


Table Of Contents


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract

Chapter One

  • 1.0 Theories of Truth
  • 1.1 The nature and traditional theories of truth
  • 1.2 The semantic theory of truth
  • 1.3 The correspondence theory of truth
  • 1.4 The coherence theory of truth
  • 1.5 The pragmatic theory of truth
  • End Notes

Chapter Two

  • 2.0 Correspondence Theory of Truth
  • 2.1 Wiredu’s critiques of the correspondence theory of truth
  • 2.2 General thesis
  • 2.3 Truth as opinion
  • End Notes

Chapter Three

  • 3.0 Truth as Opinion
  • 3.1 Objections and counter objections to truth as opinion
  • 3.2 P.O Bodunrin
  • 3.3 Abdul Ghaniyi Bello
  • 3.4 Wiredu’s replies to critics
  • End Notes

Chapter Four:

  • 4.0 Evaluation and Conclusion
  • 4.1 An evaluation of Wiredu’s thesis.
  • 4.2 Conclusion.
  • End Notes
  • Bibliography.

Chapter One


1.0 Theories Of Truth

My essay centers especially on the epistemological conviction of Kwasi Wiredu with regards problem of truth. My intention in this essay is to critically evaluate all the strands of Wiredu’s argument in support of his thesis that there is nothing called truth that is different from opinion. I contend that in arguing that truth is nothing but mere opinion, Wiredu fails in denying truth of its objective characters. I also submit that Wiredu fail in making truth subjective. This is inspite of his avowed attempts at clarifying the senses in which he uses such concepts as “Truth” and ‘opinion’.

Consequently, this essay has been divided into four chapters in order that I will be better placed to understand the background to Wiredu’s position and also his main thesis.

In chapter one, I shall discuss generally the notion of truth in traditional western epistemology. In this chapter, I shall try to briefly analyze the basic proposition of the main objectivistic theories of truth, that is the semantic and the correspondence theories of truth and also examine the two non objectivistic theories of truth namely, the coherence and the pragmatic theories of truth. And as we shall discover Wiredu’s position is neither wholly pragmatic nor wholly coherent. He simply affirms both theories to some extent. As we shall see in this chapter that Wiredu believe that truth is coherence, also following Deweyian pragmatic principles Wiredu asserts that truth is “Warranted assertibility “.

In chapter two, I shall discuss in detail Wiredu’s thesis on trut h to the effect that to be true is simply to be opined. Prior to this would be consideration of his formal critique of the correspondence theory of truth, which is the most forceful representation of all objectivistic theories of truth. I shall discuss also his general thesis, which states that “To be is to be known”.

In the third chapter, I shall begin by presenting the critique that have been levelled against Wiredu’s position by three contemporary African philosophers, Joseph Omoregbe, P.O Bodunrin, and Abdu Ghaniyi Bello, I shall then consider Wiredu’s replies to some of the critics.

In evaluating this essay, I will, in chapter four, point out and critically analyze the flaws which I believe in Wiredu’s system, and then proceed to show my own conviction s on how truth is to be conceived and treated.


1.1 The Nature And Traditional Theories Of Truth

The word “Truth” has its equivalence on the Greek word “Alenthia” and the Latin word “Veritas”, meaning in general some kind of agreement between thought and its objects, between knowledge and that which is known.

In its most simple form truth means the accordance of conformity between what is asserted and what is. According to Aristotle Truth is primary in judgment. A true judgment is true when it attributes a predicate to or denies it of a subject according to what reality it demands.1

A true account of the nature of truth can be given in terms of the condition under which a statement is said to be true or false. However, the same cannot be done for persons: truth in this case is a derivative sense of truth. Moreover, truth and false hood are not proper candidates for sentences as such, in other words, until a statement is used to state that something is or not the case it is not a candidate for truth. Thus, it is to statements that truth and falsity are attributable, and invariably to beliefs of which these statements may be the expression2.

Given that a statement is true. The following questions, at least, can be raised: what do we mean we say that a statement is true? Are we attributing a property? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for its truth, that is, it is true if and only if what? These questions are the ones that may be raised concerning any statement whatever, are all possible candidates for what is meant by the general question “What is truth”?

Truth can be rightly viewed as a consequential property of statement. That is to say that it might be a property that statements in virtue of the fact that other posses in virtue of the fact that other things are true of them3. In that’s case, the philosophy of truth should decide what these other things are, that are necessary concerning a statement if it is to be true.

All this has some sort of bearing with the correspondence theory of truth.

However, apart from this theory other various theories have been advocated. The absolute idealist put forward a coherence theory of truth in which the only absolute truth is “The whole” and anything less than the whole can only aspire to degrees of truth. Here knowledge is confirmed by validation procedures4.

Williams James argued for a “pragmatic theory of truth” according to which the problem of truth is one of the welfare economic, for a true assertion is one proves the best in the long.

Tarski attempted to avoid the problems of self – references by claiming that truth can only be defined in a meta language, there by bringing into being the “Semantic theory of truth”.

F.P Ramsey thought that he had dissolved the problem truth by pointing out that ‘P’ and ‘P’ is true means the same thing and therefore, that is true” is redundant; hence the redundancy theory of truth for now”, the main objectivistic theory of truth, mainly the semantic and correspondence theories shall be discussed in detail.


1.2 The Semantic Theory Of Truth

This theory is re presented in the vigorous works of Alfred Tarski on the problem of truth. Going by this theory, a syntactical system ‘L’ becomes a semantical system when the rules are given in its meta language ‘M’ which determines the necessary and sufficient truth condition for every sentence of the system.

These rules, often embodied in a recursive definition, lead to a definition of truth. And a condition of adequacy for such a definition is expressed by means of what Tarski calls the “Material Criterion”. The schema gives this criterion: X is true if and only if P cover P stand, for any sentences of the given language and X for the name of that sentences.5

Also, Tarski is quick to point out that the definition of truth must not only be materially adequate but also formally correct, that is, it must not lead to contradiction.

Using Tarski’s own example, if P is taken to stand for show is white, then the equivalence schema “T’ while d is true. “The sentence show is white is true if and only if snow is white”. 6

In Tarski’s View, however the schema is not taken as providing a complete definition of truth. Tarski conceives of it as a given necessary condition of a truth7

Viewed in this perspective, one is inclined to that Tarski semantic theory of truth is another version of the correspondence of truth. It gives truth as objective character, pointing out that truth is an objective standard against which any sentence or statement is judge to be or not to be the case. Hence, the many criticisms that have been leveled on Tarski’s theory centre “correspondence with fact”. Ideals, common to all objectivistic theories of truth, yet as proper observes Tarski’s theories has “Rehabilitated the correspondence theory of absolute or objective”. 8

Similarly, though Tarski tried no cover all his theory with the clock of a meta – language, thereby arguing that truth cannot be adequ0ately defined in natural language, it is true as Donald Davidson observers that Tarski theory applies to English.

Generally then, then, the semantic theory have come to be regarded as ‘Objectivistics’ and taken to be a version of the correspondence theory of truth.


1.3 The Correspondence Theory Of Truth

Wiredu attempts to establish his thesis that truth is opinion comes by way of story rejection of the objectivistic theory of truth. According to this theory in make sense to say that a man’s opinion may change but it is meaningless nonsense to say that the truth it self may. Once a preposition is true, it is true in itself and forever. Truth in other words is timeless, eternal9 Wiredu see the objectivistic theory of truth as “An intellectualized submission of the primitive passions of the soul”. As he puts it:

“I must confess that the objectivist conception of truth of ten strives are as a intellectual submission of some what more primitive passions of the human soul10.

The term “ Correspondence” circulates among modern writers and this is largely through the influence of Bertrend Russell some forming of correspondence between belief and fact11. This is as against the absolute idealist, who holds that truth consist in coherence. The correspondence theory is an objectivist theory in that is holds that truth of a statement is independent our opinion and “Consist in a relation, according to behaviour, which holds between statements’12. For a better understanding of our subject a brief historical survey would be necessary to better. Show how different people have understood the theory at different times.

The origin of the word “Correspondence “used to denote the relating between though and reality in which the truth of though consists appears to be medical. Aquinas used the word in this sense when be asserted that ‘Truth is the adequation of things and the intellect”. 13

Other scholastics sometimes said that a preposition is true when, and only when the thing is as signified. This is the nerve of the correspondence theory of truth.14

The main recommendation of this theory, according to him, lies in the fact that it does take of aid does not conflict with many millions of the most obvious fact of truth. One such obvious fact, for instance, is that the belief by my friend that I have gone away on holidays certainly will be true, if and only if, I actually have gone away. Hence, the necessary and sufficient condition for a belief to be true is imply this: “That is should correspond to fact”.15 This is truth in the secondary sense . Moore is quick to point out that it is propositions rather than acts of belief which are true of false in the primary sense.16 take often say that belief are truth of false, but this is only because the word “Belief” is often used not for an act of believing but for what is believed.

There is also a Russialian Version of the correspondence theory of truth. Starting with the notion of belief Russell argues that the truth or falsity of a belief always depend upon something which lies outsides the believe itself. And this leads us to adopt the view that “truth consists in some form of correspondence between belief and fact”. 17

The problem, however inherent in this theory is that if truth consists in a correspondence of thought with something outside thought then thought can never know when truth is attained.

This apparent difficulty led to concerted efforts among some philosophers to attempt and find some definition of truth, which shall not, consists in relation to something wholly outside belief. The most important attempt at a definition of this sort if the theory that truth consists in ‘coherence’. But Russell makes it a critique of this theory and settles down to defend the correspondence theory.

According to Ressell, there is a great difficulty in the view of coherence. There is no reason to suppose that only one coherent body of belief is possible. Hence, we are driven back to correspondence with fact as constituting the nature of truth.

Russell opines that we have to seek a theory of truth which allows truth to have an opposite, namely, false hood, makes a property of beliefs but s a property wholly dependent upon the relation of the beliefs to outside things.

In every act of belief, there is a mind, which believes, and then is forms concerning which is believes. Whenever a relation holds between two or more for ms, the mind unites the terms into a complex whole. Now, a belief in Russell view is true when it corresponds to a certain associated complex, and false when it does not. The condition of the truth or a belief in something not involving beliefs or, in generals, any mind at all but only the objects of the belief.

A mind, which believes, believes truly involving the mind. Buts only its objects this correspondence ensures truth and wits absence entails false hood.


1.4 The Coherence Theory Of Truth

Wiredu believes that truth is coherence.18 According to Wiredu, “a statement is true if it coheres with our system of beliefs”.19 In other words, the truth of a statement depends on the degree of it’s harmoniously with a given and accepted system of beliefs. He wonder then that Wiredu is continuously echoing the coherence theorist insistence that statements are compared with other statements and not with experience the world or an independent realm of reality”. Consequently Kwasi Wiredu’s regards any attempt at such a comparison as “mysterious, metaphysical and so meaningless”.20

The coherence theory of truth, which is characteristics of the great rationalist system building metaphysicians like Leibniz, spinoza, Hegal and Bradlly, further holds that a statement usually called a judgement is considered true or false to the extent that it coheres or fails to cohere with a system of other statement that it is a member of a system whose elements are related to each other by ties of logical implication as the elements in a system of pure mathematics are related. For instance, in mathematics, the truth of falsity of a theorem in Geometry will be dependent on its consistency with the anxious of the particular system in use.21

They argue that this view of truth, more than anything should not be viewed as making truth relative to the individual perception. Rather, it continuously emphasized that truth must be constructed relative to the systems in which the Item of knowledge is perceived.22

Many proponents of this theory of coherence hold that each member of a system implies every other member. Hence, to test whether a statement is true is to test it for coherence with a system of other statements.

According to the logical positivist who supports this theory, the system with which ALL TRUE statement must cohere of the contemporary culture. The metaphysical supporters of coherence on the other hand, insist that a statement cannot be properly called true unless it falls into the one comprehensive account of the universe which , it self forms a coherent system.

In the exact and reputable science of pure mathematics and related science, the logical text for truth, according to the coherent epistemology, is a statement cohering with some other propositions, and ultimately with the anxious of its own system. In this text which is not merely practical one, for a proposition to cohere with other proposition is for it’s to be logically deducible from them. And this coherence is what calling a proposition true means. For instance, the metaphysical supporter of this theory argue that we would not even understand, much less known the truth or falsity of a statement about something blue, if blue were divorced in our thought from all the colours in the spectrum to which it is related by likeness and difference, all the shades within its own range and all the definition it possess in virtue of being thought of as quality rather than as substances or a relation.23

Further not only would we know the truth of such a statement, but it also cannot be properly said to have its meaning of t4ruth value independently of its relation to other statement.

Still within the framework of the coherence theory of the truth, we have the notion of the doctrine of degree of truth”. The doctrine states that if the truth of any d given statement is bound up with and can only be seen with the truth of all the statement of the system, and this is bound up with the whole system, then individual statement as such, are only partly false and only the whole system is wholly true. Hence, Braddly asserts: truth must exhibit the mark of expansion and all inconclusiveness.24

Although no conclusive evaluation of this theory is intended, I shall now proceed and attempt to final out the amount of compatibility that obtains between this theory of truth and that of Wiredu and then proceed to point out the basic theory.

Given the fact that we are not involving in any sort of extensive evaluation here, it will now begin to appear that thought Wiredu may not be rightly conceived as an absolute coherent , his theory to a great extent is sympathetic to most of the tenets inherent in the coherence epistemology. The problem I shall involve myself is now would be to point out the basic flows which inhere in this theory.

The fatal defect of the coherence theory of truth according to Reuben Abel, is that “There is no way to locate a coherent system d of proposition to reality”25 Astrology constitute s a coherent system, so the delusions of the psychotic, so does geometry, yet we do not take them to be true. Moreover, the growth of science often shatters existing coherent system.

Newton’s geo centricism, kepler’s helio centricism, Darwinian evolution, Eintainmean relatively, all over threw established systems.

Hence, the vary idea of a completely coherent system begins to appear absurd and need d a radical modification. thus, although we take coherence as a requirement for truth, it does not suffice as a definition for truth. This is because of the simple reason according to Bertrand Russell, that there appears to be competing reason to believe that only one coherent body of belief is possible.26 as Ayer succinctly puts it: there may be any number of systems of statements, each of which is internally consistent, but any two of which are incompatible with one another”.27


1.5 The Pragmatics Theory Of Truth

In pragmatic epistemology, truth is regarded not as absolute but relative. It is never in a perfect state. Immutable or eternal. Rather, it can change from one generation to another. According to Wiredu…” Truth there is necessarily bind to point of view, on better truth is view from some point and there are as many truth as there are points of view”.28

According to pragmatists, prominent among whom are scanders pierce, Williams James and John Dewey, man should concern himself with the things or events that can be perceived by the senses and not with the abstract and the speculation.

Hence the criterion of truth must be traceable to experience. According to Williams James:

Truth in our idea and beliefs means that ideas (which themselves are but party of our experience) become true is so far as they helped us to get into satisfactorily relation with other parts of our experience…Any idea that will carry us prosperously from one part of our experience linking things satisfactorily, working securely simpling saving labor: true for just so much, true in so far truth instrumentally.29

This quota from James Terminate in a term which embodied the instrument essence of pragmatism and which brings some philosophers to assign the designation, instrumentalism to the general pagmatic philosophy. According to James, the function of thought is not to copy or image reality but to form idea in order to satisfy the individual interest. Thus on pragmatic principles, if the hypothesis, for instance, of God satisfactorily in the widest sense of the world, it is true. However, it is in dewey that we should be most interested, for Wiredu feels the strong affinity with his theory of truth.

For Dewey, ideas become true when their ”draft upon existence’ is honor by the verifying facts they promise. The notion that truth some how exists antecedent to and separate from inquiry in meaningless in Dewey’s thought for him truth is notable. “Truth happens to be an idea” when it becomes verified or a warranted assertion.

Dewey considers truth from the point of view of verification and places it out the end of all enquiries. Hence, following Dewey, Wiredu’s tense formulation of the Deweyian posistion is that’s truth is warranted assertibility.30

Precisely this portion emphasizes that truth is what rational inquiry warrants us to assert. Instead of being a prior postulate, truth is here viewed an end product din practice. In “Dewey words”.

That which guides truly is true…

“the hypothesis that works is the true one and truth is an abstract applied to the collection of cases, actual, foreseen, and desired, that receive confirmation in their consequences”.31

Consequences fore the pragmatists, then go into the very essence of meaning and truth.

In this “Essay in experimental logic”, Dewey suggests, that the term pragmatic only mean the rule of all thinking all reflective consideration to “Consequences:” for final meaning and text.

In brief formulation the pragmatist approach to truth can be stated thus: A thought is true, not because it agrees with some experimental reality as most traditionalists hold, but because it works all right. That is, it has valid consequences it is applied to some specific situations. It is false not because it misrepresents reality, bust because when it is used it fails to work out right. Truth, then consist in the usefulness of an idea in practice. And a preposition is verified or falsified by proving usable or non-usable in action.

By way of general critique of pragmatism it is true, as Bernard Russell and Arthur Lukejor, among others, point out that the notion of truth as what work is unclear since the concept of “Workability” is ambiguous. A brief cans work in two different senses at the same time. Also in stating that the only common characteristics of all our true beliefs are that they “pay”. Williams seems to suggest that the consequences of entertaining such belief are better than those of rejecting them.

But also Russell point out, it is enormously difficult to know a priori the consequences of holding any belief. How are we to determine, for instance weather the effects of believing in Islamic religion are on the whole good or bad?

Also common to all pragmatic is the view that nothing should be considered true, except that which is experienceable and empirically verifiable. However, it is also true that to say, for instance that S is P becomes true does not mean that S is P become verified. It can only mean that S become P.


Chapter Four


4.1 An Evaluation Of Wiredu’s Thesis

I have tried, in this essay, to explore kwasi Wiredu’s view on the problem of the nature of truth. For Wiredu, to be true is to be opined, and opinion is the same thing as belief. He argues for a general thesis, which posits that for anything Wiredu holds that the existence of an object consists T. It’s being known, for use cannot affirm the existence of an object unknown. He distinguishes between the existence of an object, and the object itself consequently, he argues that an object may exist unknown. Which in conclusion means that, possibly to be is possibly to be know”1.

In chapter one, I attempted to answer the question, what is truth? And then proceeded to analyze critically the main objectivistic and non-objectivistic theories of truth. As I tried to show, Wiredu is anti objectivistic in his approach, and he is partially a coherent theorist and partially a pragmatist in his view on truth.

In the second chapter, my aim was largely on Wiredu’s notion of truth. I began by pointing out the flows, which he found inherent in all objectivist epistemology. Most forcefully represented by the correspondence theory of truth. I also discussed his general thesis that, for physical objects, to be is to be apprehended. We then considered the special care of this general principle namely, truth as opinion.

In chapter three, I aimed at showing the criticisms that have been leveled against wire position; by some contemporary African philosopher one basic point which runs through the thoughts of them is that truth cannot be mere opinion. For opinion, we know, do charge while truth is inmmutable, eternal and objective. Granted that we are always only conscious of opinions, they argue that if does not follow from this that truth would become unknowable, which is Wiredu’s position. Rather, they opine that se can only say that we have not known the truth so that it becomes a different issue entire by whether we shall or shall not know truth, in the future. Therefore, they conclude that truth is not opinion because truth is greater than opinion.

Presently, I will proceed and try to present my own antethesis to some of the points contained in Wiredu’s thesis. In the process however, certain points already raised in the critiques above may be repeated, but then, I think it offers us a case for intellectual affinity.

For any given ‘X’, Wiredu argues, the existence of ‘X’ consists in its being known. Hence, ‘X’ consists in its being known. Hence, to be is to be apprehended. Wiredu argues against the objectivistic theory, which fails to equator truth to opinion, to the conclusion that truth is opinion. In truth;, his concern is with the strictly cognitive concept of veridicality. Also, be does not use ‘opinion’ to suggests uncertainty for instance, contrasting on established fact with mere opinion. By opinion, Wiredu means a firm thought, a considered opinion. This opinion is not the product of will but reason. He conceives of opinion as intrinsically bound to the concept of ‘point’ of view’. In point of view. Wiredu teaches that any truth is always an opinion from some points of view. Our knowledge, he argues, is determined by existing background of accepted knowledge, the degree of development of experimental and logical techniques the nature of evidence available to the most determined research e.t.c.

These suggestions, in my mind, offer the entire background to the ultimate fallacy upon which it rests. My intention is to show that Wiredu’s fundamental assumptions is to be is to apprehended, truth and opinion and in the phrase ‘point of view; are not wholly correct, and proceed on the strength of this to prove that his entire system which rest on them therefore, crumbles.

According to Wiredu, for anything what sincere, its existence consists in its being apprehended. The problem I find in this position is that, I find it difficult to understand to distinction that Wiredu make between the existences of an object’ on the one hand, and the object itself on the other. I agree with him that we can only convincingly assert the existence of an object that we have experienced. But it could not follow from this that the object ceases to exist when we do not apprehend it. I argue that there is no distinction between an objects and its existence hence, Wiredu’s position on the former, that is, that object itself does not consist I n being known applied mutants mutandis to the latter, which is only on affirmation of the former that is, that the existence of an object does not consist in the object being apprehended. Dr Omorogbe, was therefore right in interpreting Wiredu as propounding wholly, the position that Berkeley had argued before him, that for anything at all to be is to be known and there is no independent existence of material objects outside the mind that perceives them.

I argued for the independent existence of physical objects. I believe that the book, for instance, possesses a certain quality which allows for its continues existence even when nothing is perceiving it. In the knowing situation, we are merely involved in discovering objects and other items of knowledge and these exist prior to our knowledge of them.
This accounts for why there are many objects of knowledge in the world today, that we have not known or heard of, but which does not then cease to exist on account of our limited human knowledge. Omoregbe, I think, was right in asserting.2 to be, therefore, cannot be apprehended.

Wiredu also argues a special case of his general principle, which states that truth, is nothing but opinion. J according to him, truth would appear to be unknowable since we are always only conscious of opinions, but this is absurd. Therefore, truth must not be anything categorically different from opinion, is truth. I would argue , as against Wiredu, that any theory of knowledge , to be consistent with human experience, must distinguish between truth and false wood or error. For as polar h concepts, each derives sits meaning only in the context of the other. From experience we discover that d people sometimes hold incompatible opinions even on the same subject. The implication being that some beliefs must be erroneous. But since the erroneous beliefs it becomes very difficult m to distinguish the true beliefs /from the false ones.

Human knowledge has the quality of truth endeavor and these enter into our knowledge when knowledge if express in judgment, that is, when we affirm or deny something of something else. If what we affirm is as we affirm it’s to be, we have truth, otherwise we get error. Battle was then right in defining truth as “…………. The conformity between mind and thing3.

It is a fact of experience that truth and error are universally distinguished as opposite, opinion, on the other hand is state of mind in which the truth or falsity of a judgment is decided with fear of the possibility of error. This situation, for Wiredu, informs all human situations of knowledge, and this led him to the conclusion that truth must not be distinct from opinion.

Wiredu, like Descartes, would want us to empty our minds and cast doubt on all our former knowledge claims. But he does not, like Descartes proceed to find what it is that will become certain in the long run. This position puts Wiredu in the situation of an absolute skeptic. In making no provision for truth as something different from mere individual beliefs, Wiredu seems to posit that because we were wrong in some of our past claims then, we can never make claims that are true. But this position fails because , we do infact know certain things ‘To be so really and truly , from experience, I know that when I throw a piece of stone into the air, that it must fall down wards as a result of the natural law of gravity, and I am confident that this will continue to be the situation given similar occurrence in the future. Also, when I am pinched with a sharp object I feel pain. Under normal circumstances, for instance, when I am not under the influence of any drugs.

As Gustave Weighed puts it: “when the real has been grasped despotically, the subject has no doubts. He will never doubt that he feels pain, through he can be made to doubt that there is physical source of such pain”.4
There are things of which it appears simply impossible to doubt. The way Wiredu uses the word opinion in his discourse tends to place it in a category distinct from that of opinion as it is universally conceived. As a member of a universal family, Wiredu, I think cannot rightly alter the meaning of words as they appear in common usage. Unless his is on attempt at language creativity, in which case he should direct his attention to people who will understand the language he speaks. it is true that words as they are presently constituted are the product of human d beings, but they are what have come to be standardly accepted hence, no matter how considered and ‘From ‘ Wiredu’s opinion may appear, opinion is always opinion and cannot be anything apart from opinion. Opinion is subjective in a sense that suggests that whereas individuals can posses their individual opinions, no one can posses the truth. Opinion can and do change butt truth is eternally immutable. Previously held as truth is false instead, they we discover that we were not previously in the truth but mere opinion, and, though we can opine some thoughts emotionally sometimes, opinion, nevertheless, is also rightly the product of reason and will for the simple reason that is made by 1a free rational being, man . I therefore, disagree with Wiredu’s position that truth is simply opinion its theory, rather than some of the problem of truth raises further problems because of some unacceptable assumption, inherent in it.

If truth is opinion, it means that truth is subjective ands follows from how each person views reality, and as Oruka argues, everybody would become free to hold any view of reality he pleases.

Wiredu argues that truth logically presupposes a point of view, and there are as many truths as there are point of view. All judgements are based on how things appear to individuals in their specific subjective states. There is nothing as an established fact’ apart from opinion and opinion is synominous to point of view.

Wiredu considers all our judgment of situations as stand point bound. As a result, truth is relative to the point of view of individuals. I believe that this position is not also correct as I shall show if there are as many truth as there are points of view. Then two mutually contradictory proposition on one thing for instance, two mutually contradictory judgments about the same tree such as: “The tree is tall “ and ‘the tree is not tall ‘ are both true at the same time as long as they are not rendered from the same point of view, where the second judgment is that of Mr. B. who happens to be viewing the tree from a very far distance, and the first judgment, that of Mr. A. who is just at the foot of the tree. this view, like that of Wiredu, apart from being logically incorrect, is contrary to human experience from experimental verification, we will discover that the tree, as it is in itself is either tall or not tall depending on how its height relates to the accepted canons of measurement.

The truth of a thing does not depend on the point of view of perception of any possible perceiver. But on the internal qualities of the object that is being considered. As Bodunrin puts it: “what makes a given statement true is in some sense of mind – independent, it does not depend on the person that makes the statement or opinion, the thought is rather something outside the general context of the statements.5 This position holds true for all correspondence theorists. But Wiredu may still argue that if this is the nature of truth as categorically different from opinion, then it cannot be known.

Presently, I intended to show the meaning of the concept, ‘Categorically different as seen by Wiredu and on the basis of that proceed to show that its relation does not hold between truth and opinion and therefore, that the conclusion that truth is unknowable does not follow. According to Wiredu : two things are said to be categorically different from each other if something when said of one of them is either true or false becomes, when said of the other neither true nor false but inappropriate or even meaningless.6 I want to argue that this relation does not hold between truth and opinion. We know from experience that some opinions which we hold as representing the truth to turn out to be false. From this, it does not follow that our opinions do not meet the truth standard. Infact, some of our opinion on certain things have refused to be anything to the contrary, the implication being that our opinions can sometimes represents the truth, if this is the kind of relation that holds between truth and opinion, it would then begin to appear that truth and opinion are not categorically distinct. Consequently, Wiredu conclusion that truth would appear unknowable fails. The contexts of opinion are human judgments and views on situations, and they have truth as their point of reference. That some of them turn out to be erroneous point to the fact that truth and error of false hood are be distinguished, and the basis for this distinction lies in the notion of opinion.
My argument has been that Weiredu’s position does not justify the facts of our human experience such is, the fact that individuals can and do meaningfully disagree over certain things. Wiredu‘s whole position is based on the proposition that all our views on things are standpoint bound.

However, as Gene Blocker argues: “When we discover that we are stand point bound, we do not discover that truth is whatever is within our standpoint , we discover that truth forever eludes our limited human standpoint”.7 this forms my view of truth, namely, truth as an objective reality and a standard against which all our opinions, judgment, and actions are adjudge correct or incorrect true of false that our opinions can sometimes be erroneous points out the fact that truth is not only to be distinguished from opinion and error of false hood, but also it shows that truth derives its very d meaning by means of this distinction.

I believe in the tradition, which holds that the problem of truth rests on the conformity of the object of our knowledge of it. Bertrand Russell was right in describing truth and false hood as the properties of beliefs and statement.8 But the truth of false hood of a belief as I have tried to argue, always depends on something which lies outside the belief itself, the “something” being the object for which our belief is about . This forms the basis for all objectivistic theories of truth, most forcefully, represented by the correspondence theory of truth which is the most common among philosophers and to which I adhere that truth is an objective reality and consists in some form of correspondence between belief and fact.


4.2 Conclusion

In this essay I have found some answers to the historic questions of what is truth as was shown,Wiredu believes that for anything to exist at all, its existence consists in it being apprehended, and proceeds to argue a special case of this principle by simply identifying truth as opinion and opinion as truth. This position, as we saw, proves unacceptable to some philosophers, especially within the framework of African philosophy. A true account of the nature of truth.

The task of philosophical analysis should not be reform, human experience has radically altered the meanings of the word. As philosophers, we have to interpret reality as it affects us using the basic standard accepted by conceptual framework. Wiredu claims that there can be cases where common speech is apt to be philosophically misleading”,9 does not hold though the meaning of some of our forms can be fraught with difficulties, Blocker has however, rightly pointed out that no matter how philosophers reform the meanings of words their old meanings would always, normally intrude themselves latter into our discussion, leading us into a contradiction. I believe that this is what is consequently, the case of Wiredu, the use of his concepts “Truth”, opinion, and point of view”.

When he says, for example: “Recognition that truth necessarily involves a point of view should lead one to reflect that the truth which one happens to expose is not ineluctable and final.10 We learn from this that things which we claim to know as true, do sometimes turn out to be false. And this, experience has thought us. But then it is also, true as Blockler observers, that we are not to explain this by distinguishing different but contradictory truths, they are somehow more personally satisfying than the other, but by distinguishing between what we thought was true, that is, our belief of opinion, and what is in fact true, namely, truth itself , for truth is one and immutable and so cannot contradict itself.

The point in all this analysis is that in criticizing Wiredu’s position, the task of the critics would be to show that Wiredu fundamental assumptions in the concepts that form the basis of all his discourses, concepts such as ‘truth’ , opinion, and point of view’, and the way he consequently used them in propounding his thesis are contrary to common usage, that is, to be commonly accepted standard. It is on the basis of this that one can proceed to show that his entire system, which is dependent on them, crumbles.

Let me conclude this essay on a note of apparent intellectual honesty that, my views on the problem of the nature of truth may not be conclusive, so that the problem continues to revolve around the philosophical circle and it still lies open to further interested inquirer.


A Critique Of Wiredu’s Concept Of Truth


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A Critique Of Wiredu’s Concept Of Truth


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