“Truth” as Conceived by Those Who Are Not Professional Philosophers
Arne Ness (Naess) (1912-2009) did his undergraduate studies at the University of Sorbonne and graduate studies at the University of Vienna, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Oslo. In 1938 he received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oslo, and from 1939 until 1970 he was professor of philosophy there. He founded the journal Inquiry and wrote influential papers on empiricism, skepticism, and ecology. In this text, Naess shows with careful questioning of people who are not professional philosophers that there is no single common notion of truth, and indeed the variety of views that philosophers hold on truth are held by more or less equal proportions of those he interviews.
“Non-philosophers have no theory of truth, no general opinion on the notion of truth, neither explicit nor implicit, which distinguishes them—as a group—from philosophers.” p. 159
“The misconception that non-philosophers adhere—explicitly or implicitly—to a definite type of opinion on the notion of truth is primarily due to an ignorance of the extreme diversity of opinion found among non-philosophers as soon as they are invited to speak about the notion of truth. Secondarily, the misconception is due to belief in intuitively obtained information as to the "essence" of the philosophic attitude towards things in general. The attitude of non-philosophers towards the notion of truth has been deduced from alleged knowledge of their character and ideology. A deduction of this kind is meaningless and impossible, even if such knowledge should be available.” p. 160