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Professor Pratt On Truth
by [?]

He repeats the ‘as’-formula, as if it were something that I, along with other pragmatists, had denied, [Footnote: Op. cit., pp. 77- 80.] whereas I have only asked those who insist so on its importance to do something more than merely utter it–to explicate it, for example, and tell us what its so great importance consists in. I myself agree most cordially that for an idea to be true the object must be ‘as’ the idea declares it, but I explicate the ‘as’-ness as meaning the idea’s verifiability.

Now since Dr. Pratt denies none of these verifying ‘workings’ for which I have pleaded, but only insists on their inability to serve as the fundamentum of the truth-relation, it seems that there is really nothing in the line of FACT about which we differ, and that the issue between us is solely as to how far the notion of workableness or verifiability is an essential part of the notion of ‘trueness’–‘trueness’ being Dr. Pratt’s present name for the character of as-ness in the true idea. I maintain that there is no meaning left in this notion of as-ness or trueness if no reference to the possibility of concrete working on the part of the idea is made.

Take an example where there can be no possible working. Suppose I have an idea to which I give utterance by the vocable ‘skrkl,’ claiming at the same time that it is true. Who now can say that it is FALSE, for why may there not be somewhere in the unplumbed depths of the cosmos some object with which ‘skrkl’ can agree and have trueness in Dr. Pratt’s sense? On the other hand who can say that it is TRUE, for who can lay his hand on that object and show that it and nothing else is what I MEAN by my word? But yet again, who can gainsay any one who shall call my word utterly IRRELATIVE to other reality, and treat it as a bare fact in my mind, devoid of any cognitive function whatever. One of these three alternatives must surely be predicated of it. For it not to be irrelevant (or not-cognitive in nature), an object of some kind must be provided which it may refer to. Supposing that object provided, whether ‘skrkl’ is true or false of it, depends, according to Professor Pratt, on no intermediating condition whatever. The trueness or the falsity is even now immediately, absolutely, and positively there.

I, on the other hand, demand a cosmic environment of some kind to establish which of them is there rather than utter irrelevancy. [Footnote: Dr. Pratt, singularly enough, disposes of this primal postulate of all pragmatic epistemology, by saying that the pragmatist ‘unconsciously surrenders his whole case by smuggling in the idea of a conditioning environment which determines whether or not the experience can work, and which cannot itself be identified with the experience or any part of it’ (pp. 167-168). The ‘experience’ means here of course the idea, or belief; and the expression ‘smuggling in’ is to the last degree diverting. If any epistemologist could dispense with a conditioning environment, it would seem to be the antipragmatist, with his immediate saltatory trueness, independent of work done. The mediating pathway which the environment supplies is the very essence of the pragmatist’s explanation.] I then say, first, that unless some sort of a natural path exists between the ‘skrkl’ and THAT object, distinguishable among the innumerable pathways that run among all the realities of the universe, linking them promiscuously with one another, there is nothing there to constitute even the POSSIBILITY OF ITS REFERRING to that object rather than to any other.

I say furthermore that unless it have some TENDENCY TO FOLLOW UP THAT PATH, there is nothing to constitute its INTENTION to refer to the object in question.

Finally, I say that unless the path be strown with possibilities of frustration or encouragement, and offer some sort of terminal satisfaction or contradiction, there is nothing to constitute its agreement or disagreement with that object, or to constitute the as- ness (or ‘not-as-ness’) in which the trueness (or falseness) is said to consist.