Truth Terms

Truth has a long and complex history. In India, truth is linked with Sanskrit satya which is also the root of Sat Saturn Saturday satis Satisfy. Doubts about truth are probably as old as the concept itself. The tradition of the Ordeal in pursuit of justice was partly beleived to be a practical test of truth. Philsophical doubts have led to schools such as Scepticism and various theories of truth. Concepts of truth are linked with definitions of knowledge and information. For instance in the German speaking world where the concept of Wissen is integrally linked with the notion of exakte Wissenschaften, knowledge and science are equated and there are theories of Objective Knowledge (Popper). In the United States, where knowledge and information tend to be equated there is a fashion to promote a consensus theory of truth and notions that truth is merely subjective. Some now speak of truthiness and associate it with Wikiality. We would suggest that aside from philsophical debates, there are also practical dimensions of truth that deserve more attnetion. In the Sanskrit tradition, truth is linked iwth the original, the source as distinct from copies, imitations, reflections, imitations etc. So truth is about our ability to link any claim back to its orginal sources. In terms of the Internet this means that a statement about an object, say the Mona Lisa may be of interest in itself. But a statement that is a claim which is supported by a reliable image of the original is truer than a statement without such a link to the painting in the Louvre. This notion of truth was well developed by the quest of Renaissance humansits to return to the sources (ad fontes). These sources became the basis of footnotes and endnotes in books. In an Internet connected world we can go beyond the connection to footnotes and references. We can link our claims back to the original objects and materials. This will hardly stop debates or the rise of new interpretations. It will mean, however, that someday we shall be able to sue the connectness back to the source as one more paramater for taking calims seriously.