There's a fair bit of confusion, I think, over Heidegger's notion of truth. Admittedly it is a place where even those who favorably study Heidegger don't agree on all points. But out there among people who have at best studied Heidegger casually there are often some odd notions. People know that Heidegger critiques the popular view of truth as correspondence. Some know that Heidegger considers truth as unveiling. But I think some are confused over whether Heidegger rejects our common sense notion of correspondence entirely. Probably a great place to start to understand this is in the famous passage in Being and Time where he considers agreement. That is, the relationship between intellect and the things known in correspondence.
We are now asking about the foundations of this relation." What else is implicitly posited in this relational totality - adqequatio intellectus et rei? What ontological characteristics belong to what is posited itself? What does the term "agreement" mean generally? (SZ 215)
I think one always ought keep in mind that Heidegger still considers himself to be doing phenomenology of a sort and not the kind of theorizing that one tends to find in the analytic tradition. I think one can best read Heidegger and especially Being and Time in terms of a variation upon Kant's transcendental categories. Whereas Kant, drawing on Aristotle's categories, sought to inquire into what categories allow us to have knowledge, Heidegger transforms Kant's categories into hermeneutic conditions. That is, what ontologically enables us to have a correspondence between our thoughts and things known.
I agree, with interpreters like Carman, that Heidegger accepts our commonsense notion of correspondence. He just rejects as empty or at best unhelpful the theory of truth that is called correspondence. And of course, commonsense and folk theories are useful only up to a point.
To understand what Heidegger is doing, one ought consider Husserl's discussion of truth in terms of intentionality. (Husserl is amazingly important when considering Heidegger, since in large part Heidegger and many we categorize under that strain of philosophy are reacting against Husserl) The short explanation in terms of Husserl is that we have intentional acts and fulfilling acts. When the intentional act is fulfilled, such as in a perception then they have converged and we have correspondence.
Without getting into the reasons Heideggers or others criticize Husserl, we can understand truth is being towards entities. This is very close to what Husserl's intentional acts did. The difference is that we no longer have correspondence as a correspondence between entities (with thought considered psychologically or in some more Cartesian sense). Rather Heidegger's notion of Dasein as not being a kind of entity becomes important. The difference between what we know and what is known is thus the ontological difference as understood by Heidegger.
Without getting too complex then, what Heidegger is arguing is that truth ought not be seen as the correspondence of intellect and things. (Although he doesn't dispute correspondence and agreement) Rather truth is the place where this correspondence can happen. This is why we end in the ontological difference. (And I'll not get into that too much now -- follow the above link)
Let's consider this in more practical terms. When I make an assertion there must first be a world disclosed to us that makes the act of asserting possible. I can't make an assertion about the computer before me without there first being a whole slew of understandings about what a computer is, the room in which I find myself, and so forth. It is the whole set of understandings that make assertion possible. To consider truth a mere property of propositions or sentences is to fundamentally mistake what truth is and where the question of truth is located.
It's important to understand that in Being and Time Heidegger is primarily critiquing Descartes and indirectly where he thinks Cartesian assumptions still hold sway. (Such as in Husserl) Suddenly our search for truth is not certainty (as I think the analysis of correspondence often assumes in certain ways). Rather truth is about entities showing themselves as the entities they are. That is, I see the computer in front of me as a computer. It is that notion of "as" that is so important to understand Heidegger.
Thus the analysis of truth is really an analysis of "as." Or how things can be seen as things. This isn't to dispute that we can talk about propositions being true or false.
I should note that the typical attack on Heidegger with regards to truth is to either argue that he has merely changed the topic and kept the words or that he confuses the conditions for truth with truth. The response to those charges is a tad more complex.
You touch on several ways that Heidegger addresses the notion of truth, and I think it is important to emphasize that Heidegger is not out to make the case that one of them is the "true" truth. Heidegger categorizes those different notions on three levels.
1) Disclosure, as such.
2) What is disclosed, as something.
3) Predicates about things, so they may correspond and be in agreement. Logic, reason and science operate at this level.
Heidegger does not say that the 3rd level correspondence is intrinsically wrong, but he does say is that much thinking at that level ignores the other two levels--that science, for example, has forgotten that it depends on things appearing as things, and on disclosure itself.
He also notes that despite there being "truth" at the third level, it is also possible for things to be wrong. Disclosure is always disclosure, and things either are disclosed as something or not, so that at levels 1 and 2 truth is self-evident, but at level 3 a proposition may be incorrect (un-true) without it being immediately obvious.
That's sort of what I was trying to get at. That unlike what many people think, Heidegger wasn't really opposed to correspondence as such - so long as it wasn't taken as a metaphysical theory of truth. I'll hopefully have a post tonight about the similar moves by the pragmatists.
Wow. I just found out this page is the #1 hit for searches of Heidegger and Truth on MSN. I'm not sure that's right somehow. But there you have it.
I should add, as an interesting aside coming back to this post after a month, that the three aspects of truth that Enowning lists fit roughly Peirce's categories of firstness, secondness, and thirdness.
have you taken a look at rorty's work on heidegger? sort of a post-peircean take on h's concept of truth
I'm not a big fan of Rorty. I even have a hard time calling him a pragmatist given how different he is from Dewey or Peirce. I also tend to think he really misreads both Heidegger and Derrida. In particular I remember that oft quoted essay that claimed Heidegger reifies language. Which to me seems to fundamentally miss what Heidegger was getting at.
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. Rene Descartes
The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt. Rene Descartes
What is absolutely true is always correct, everywhere, all the time, under any condition. An entity's ability to discern these things is irrelevant to that state of truth." - Steven Robiner
'Tis strange,-but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold! ….Lord Byron 1823
To have no doubt about things thought to be true does not make them so. This would apply even to what God thinks (if he/it exists). Many people accept things that they think are true without making any effort to prove otherwise. Yet the truth exists, not owned by me, by you, or by God (if he/it exists). People on this planet live in a mind frame of acceptance; everyone accepts the world as presented to them. They live in the small bubble of their perceived reality (some bubbles are smaller than others) never doubting, never questioning. They receive without question all that the scientists, physicists, astronomers, philosophers, religious leaders etc tell and have told them. The world is highly complex, space vehicles, jet planes, motor cars, computers, video machines etc. The majority accept and use them without knowing or caring how they work. They also accept all the passed down explanations and understandings of everything from evolution to homeopathy, from what is right to what is wrong. The search for absolute truths does not bother or concern them. Most would say that there is no such thing as absolute truths. They would rather live with the accepted beliefs than question, to search and find out for themselves. They are as people in a dream but the dream illusion is perfect in its deception. They will never open their eyes beginning to see and understand.
Astronomers can only account for 4% of the universe. They theorise that the missing part is made up of 22% dark matter and 74% dark energy. The universe is behaving in a way that contradicts the understood laws of physics and no one knows why.
The estimated age of the earth is 4.5 billion (4,500,000,000) years. Life is thought to have started 3.5 billion (3,500,000,000) years ago. The fossil record appears to start suddenly about 600 million years ago. All the worlds mammals are thought to have evolved from a small shrew/mouse type creature that lived 65 million years ago at the time the dinosaurs became extinct. The first of the Homo species (H. habilis) lived from about 2.4 to 1.5 million years ago. Homo sapiens have lived from 250,000 years ago to the present. The time lines are not logical. For 63 million years there must have been enormous changes and diversification but for the past 2.5 million nothing. Consider a few mammals from the total list. The whale, rhino, giraffe, buffalo, bear, lion, elephant, upright man (there are over 5,000 species). They are thought to have all evolved from a small shrew/mouse like creature that survived the event(s) that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That is so silly that you wonder how any one could consider it as a real possibility. Where are the fissile remains to show the extraordinary rapid changes that should have taken place?
Supposedly, all the many different kind of mammals that live now evolved from a single source (a small mouse like mammal) over a period of 63 million years. Then evolution suddenly stopped.
Look round you, open your eyes. The total number of living species runs into millions. Think of the enormous complexity and symmetry of every living thing. Think of the many different types of butterflies with there intricate wing markings. Think of the thousand types of exotic fish in tropical waters. Marvel at the complexity of the eye and the enormously complex structure of the human body. Think of the multitude of insects and beetles. See the many species of birds with their intricate feather markings. Darwin gave us the theory/idea that it all came about by small accidental changes over a long period of time, which he called Natural Selection, the process by which evolution occurs. Putting aside for one moment the question of how life started; not even over an infinite time would we arrive accidentally at the enormous complexity and symmetry of life that we have on earth. The only thing that will come from chaos is chaos.
The human brain contains more than 100 billion (100,000,000,000) neurons. My personal PC has 149 GB of storage. 149 Gigabytes is 149,000,000,000. That means my PC has more storage capacity than my brain. Nobody understands how the brain stores and retrieves memory, makes us dream and enables us to become thinking aware emotional beings. It is a complete mystery. Martin Rees (cosmologist) said, “What is remarkable is that atoms have assembled into entities which are somehow able to ponder their origins”. What he should have said is “From all the material that came into existence very soon after the theoretical Big Bang it is impossible for life to start”. “Unintelligent atoms will always be that no matter what combinations they are joined in”. So, how are we thinking, living , human animals if we are made of cells, molecules, elements which in turn are made from individual unthinking atoms?
Why do people believe in evolution and accept it when it is obviously nonsense. Is it because it is a convenient answer to the religious alternative of an all loving and wise creator/fabricator (God) which they cannot accept. It is obvious that if there is an entity called God he/it is evil, malicious and a grand deceiver. If evolution is obvious nonsense (which it is), and there is not a loving wise creator what is the truth? And what is the meaning of life?
A book was published in 2007 called ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’. It is about a Church of Scotland minister who claims to have met the Devil (Satan) in an underground cave. The end of his life saw Mack discredited as a lunatic and castigated by his kirk. It is acceptable to many people to believe in a loving, caring God but not an evil entity called Satan. Yet the reality is obvious. There is no sign at all of a loving, caring, all-powerful God but every sign that if there is an unseen controlling entity it/he makes the biblical Satan look like a Sunday school teacher by comparison. During the past 120 years, over 200 million people have been killed by the deliberate acts of violence of other people. This excludes people that have died from causes such as famine, disease, flood, earthquakes etc. When we add the deaths pain and suffering from these it is clear to see (but who does) that this place where we all live is very ugly and evil.
It is more than a 50% certainty that your death will not be pleasant. The percentage chance of you dieing peacefully in a bed surrounded by loved ones is not good. The reality is fear of dying, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, painful infirmity, and all the indignities that come with old age. What intelligent person would want to bring another into this world with the near certainty of that happening? However, with all the evidence clear to see and evaluate nobody comes to the correct conclusion.
What is the absolute (complete, perfect, pure, independent) truth? Is it unimaginably complex that no human can understand or so simple that a reasonably intelligent child could? Is there an evil, vicious and malicious entity (Satan)? And is the all knowing, all understanding, perfect in love God only a fairy tale for naïve religious people to believe in? The answer to the absolute truth of these questions is there for you to see, evaluate and come to the correct conclusion based on logic and facts.
The question is if one can doubt the way Descartes thought one could. I think most think one can't. This ends up being the issue of foundationalism versus anti-foundationalism. Foundationalists think there are elements (typically sense-data of some kind) that are absolutely knowable and completely undoubtable. I simply don't think this the case.
If foundationalism is false, especially in the form you cast it, then life becomes quite a bit more difficult.