7 Approaches To Finding The Truth

finding the truth

This blog summarizes seven different approaches to justifying the truth.
The question of what is true resides at the very core of philosophy, especially the Greek tradition that was so powerfully shaped by the trio of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Perhaps more than anyone else, Socrates was responsible for founding the modern approach to philosophy.

Indeed, I would argue he essentially launched what we can call “formal epistemology”. This is the systematic way of addressing the questions of “How do we know?” and “In what sense are one’s claim to knowledge really justifiable?” We can appreciate the difficulty in finding truly justifiable knowledge when we consider that Socrates was considered the wisest man in the land in large part because he realized he “knew nothing”.

The Only True Wisdom.
7 Approaches To Finding The Truth

Since Socrates’ time, there have been many different approaches to developing knowledge systems that are justified by more than one’s subjective impressions and wishes. Here are seven different approaches that attempt to ground the justification of truth.

Seven Approaches to Finding Truth:

1. The Foundational Approach.

This attempts to ground knowledge in deductive certainty. The most obvious systems that work from foundational truth claims are those in logic and mathematics. Consider, for example, that 1 + 1 = 2 is true by definition and mathematical proofs are derived from deductive logic. Perhaps the most famous foundationalist approach in philosophy was advanced by Rene Descartes, who argued for a substance dualist view of matter and mind that was in part grounded to the foundationalist truth claim, “I think; therefore I am”.  

Read Socrates’ Triple Filter Test: Truth, Goodness and Usefulness

2. The Coherence Approach.

This approach emphasizes the way concepts link up with one another and proceed to offer a clearly understandable view of the world and how one knows about it in a way that is comprehensive and ordered. A good example of coherence is when one achieves a sense of insight so that one’s perspective shifts and a number of pieces fall into place. Metatheories like the Unified Theory of Knowledge are often justified based on the coherence that they are able to achieve.

Read Arya Satyas: The Four Noble Truths of Dharma

3. The Correspondence Approach.

A famous quip regarding the emergence of modern empirical natural science from the rest of philosophy is that the scientists “got up out of their armchairs” and actually looked through microscopes and telescopes to see what was there. That is, they developed an empirical focus on data collection, and developed methods that tested or corresponded models that generated hypotheses that could then be examined to see if the data lined up with the predict the expected state of affairs.  

Read The Path You Choose Reveals Your : Quiz

4. The Phenomenological Approach.

When we think of data, where does it reside? Does it reside in the world or do empirical sense impressions reside inside the perceptions of the observers? This is a powerful consideration. It was Immanuel Kant who embraced a phenomenological approach that divided the world into that which we can experience and the thing-in-itself. Other philosophers like Husserl developed a full philosophy based on phenomenology.  

If you look for truth . . .you may find comfort
7 Approaches To Finding The Truth
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Gregg Henriques, Ph.D

Dr. Gregg Henriques is a Professor of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University in the Combined-Integrated Doctoral Program in Clinical and School Psychology. He received Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Vermont and did his post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Dr. Aaron T. Beck. His primary area of scholarly interest is in developing a “unified metapsychology framework” for both the science and practice of psychology. Toward that end, he has authored the book, A New Unified Theory of Psychology and developed a popular blog on Psychology Today, Theory of Knowledge, where he has authored over 350 essays on psychology, philosophy, politics, and mental health. He is the founder of the Theory of Knowledge Society, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and has won numerous awards for teaching, scholarship, and service, and published dozens of articles in leading academic journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, American Psychologist, and Review of General Psychology. A licensed clinical psychologist, he has expertise in theoretical psychology, unified approaches to psychotherapy, psychological well-being, personality functioning, depression, and suicidal behavior. See his home page at gregghenriques.com.View Author posts