Chapter One Logic and Truth: What Is Truth?

"The first and last thing required of genius is the love of truth."

—Goethe

1.1 The Science of Reasoning

1.1.1 The Laws of Thought

1.1.2 Arguments

1.1.3 Major Fallacies

1.2 Is Anything True?

1.2.1 Is It True That There Is No Truth?

1.2.2 What Is Truth

Glossary Terms

Argument Law of noncontradiction
Coherence theory of truth Logic
Correspondence theory of truth Objectivism (about truth)
Deduction Pragmatic theory of truth
Fallacy Relativism (about truth)
Induction Syllogism
Law of excluded middle Truth
Law of identity

At one point in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice attends a tea party where she meets some strange characters: the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse. During the tea party the following conversation takes place:

"You should say what you mean," [said the March Hare to Alice].

"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least—at least I mean what I say—that's the same thing you know."

"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"

"You might just as well say," added the March Hare, "that 'I like what I get' is the same thing as 'I get what I like'!"

"You might just as well say," added the Dormouse, which seemed to be talking in its sleep, "that 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same thing as 'I sleep when I breathe'!"

"It is the same thing with you," said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped.

Carroll has given us here a humorous, though poignant, example of the importance of logic and the pursuit of truth. Indeed, this story illustrates the connection between truth and logic. If the philosopher is to pursue truth and discover the true worldview (as we discussed in the introduction), then logic is an essential tool. In this chapter, we will explain the basic principles of logic—the science of sound reasoning. Then we will examine the nature of truth itself, a question of special importance in our culture today.