STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
As a part of epistemic issues, raising and discussing what the concept of truth is or can be is both fundamental and indispensable. This question has been posed by many philosophers and other intellectuals. Thus, there are several schools of thought that have developed the criterion of establishing and conceiving truth. This activity, however, is not an easy task. Wiredu expresses this difficulty by stating: “The question of the nature of truth is, in fact, a particularly tricky but fundamental topic in epistemology (or the theory of knowledge), the branch of philosophy which considers such notions as perception, truth, belief, opinion, observation, memory, knowledge, illusion, verification.”1
We can thus observe that the topic of truth, though difficult, is an integral part of the theory of knowledge (or epistemology). It believed that when we claim to have knowledge of something, our claim is tantamount to knowing what the truth of that thing is, i.e., what is the case about that thing in Wiredu’s terms. But still the difficulty lies in determining what the concern about truth and its criterion are all about.
In this regard, Will in his work Pragmatism and Realism attempts to present the concerns of Ernest Nagel and Richard B. Brandt (eds.) in the work Meaning and Knowledge as well as that of G. Pitcher (ed.), in the work Truth about truth. Consequently, he describes that in their onthology in the theory of knowledge, Nagel and Brandt open the discussion of the topic of truth with the observation: “Although the pursuit of knowledge is often used to be a “search for truth,” those engaged in it are rarely concerned with the nature of the alleged object of their search. Certainly few investigators … have devoted much thought to defining what truth is.”2
Similarly, Pitcher begins the introduction of his Collection of Contemporary Articles on Truth with the observation that “… although the concept of truth, the meaning of the term “truth” is a concern of philosophers, “the great philosophers of history (i.e., the great historical figures) said surprisingly little about this concept: they were far more interested in truths than in truth.”3
Wiredu tries to make explicit how Kant long ago expressed himself on the question ‘what is truth?’, and the difficulty pertinent to determining a general criterion of truth as: “The nominal (or verbal) definition of truth, that is, the agreement of knowledge with its object, is assumed as granted; the question asked is as to what is the general and sure criterion of the truth of any and every knowledge … Kant’s own answer as to ‘what the criterion is that…, a general criterion of truth must be such as would be valid in each and every instance of knowledge, however their objects may vary. It is obvious, however, that such a criterion (being general) cannot take account of the varying content of knowledge (relation to its specific object). But since truth concerns just this very content, it is quite impossible, indeed, absurd, to ask for a general test of the truth of such content. A sufficient and at the same general criterion of truth cannot possibly be given.”4
Wiredu herein tries to elucidate the problem inherent in a discussion of the philosophical theory of truth, and that of a sufficient and at the same time general criterion of truth by using Kant’s expression given in the above passage. Whether this position was retained by Kant throughout his philosophical career or not, I am not sure. However, Wiredu strongly emphasizes the passage put forward, in the above quotation, by Kant to be extremely useful in showing clearly what a philosophical theory of truth is not and cannot be. On this point, Wiredu expresses in his own terms: “…In offering a theory of truth a philosopher is not seeking to teach fresh language learners how to use the word ‘true’ in the English language (or the corresponding word in any given language). Nor could he possibly be proposing a ‘sufficient and at the same time general criterion of truth.’ On the absurdity of such a programme Kant has most likely said the last word”.5
Be that as it may, generally speaking, the activity of determining what the notion of truth is all about, including its criterion, is very problematic. Hence, though several scholars or philosophers as well as schools of thought have pointed out their own views as to what these issues can be, there has been no unanimity among the views and methods held by them. Therefore, the great philosophers of history have had very diverse and often divergent views about truth. As we can see in Wiredu’s exposition, for this theory, truth lies in its harmonious fit with the received system of knowledge. Therefore, I think that there is a certain difference between the two theories of truth.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this long essay is to give a critique of Kwasi Wiredu’s conception of truth which states that truth is nothing over and beyond opinion. It also give critique of Kwasi Wiredu’s view of truth as both personal and objective
The thesis of this essay states that Kwasi Wiredu is identifying truth with opinion and failed to give a true account of human reality because his thesis discards completely the distinct that should be obtained between truth and opinion, thereby making falsehood impossible and truth subjective.
The method to be adopted in this essay will be conceptual clarification, analytical and historical.
Scope and Limitation
The essay will limits its scope to Kwasi Wiredu concept of truth. With a view to criticize its concept and to see various argument made for and against it and to evaluate it.
Sources of Material
In writing this project, materials will be searched for and made available from the University of Ibadan, university of Lagos, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Public Libraries and also from internet and journals.