Is there a truth?
One could approach the question or, consequently, the problem raised in many ways. One example would be: it is a word. Every word would have its meaning and its justification. It is thought up by man, as a rule with the intention of abstracting something observed by him, of putting it into a word, which subsequently, in the re-abstraction – the “concretisation” – triggers a similar association, if possible of course the identical one, in the person taking note of this word. When man first encountered the phenomenon of a truth, especially the opposite of it, he was forced, so to speak, to think up a term for it. In this respect: the term exists, consequently also a meaning of the same. Since the word exists, there is also a content. There is “truth”. That’s it.
However, one could also approach the question in another way: this text is written in German. There is a German word for something that might be understood in a similar way elsewhere. But it is also possible that a translation into another language could result in a tiny change in the understanding? Here the question would already be clear: with other terms this may play a minor role. With truth, one would have every reason to be petty. But only if there were one truth.
If there were a truth: what medium would be used to convey it? It exists, ok, everyone agrees, there is this one truth. Now the only question is how to record it? You could write it down. Only a) one would already be using a language that not everyone understands and which, when translated into other languages, could lead to certain losses of itself, b) however, any intended or even necessary intonation would be omitted. “You have to put the intonation here, of course, and not there, otherwise it won’t be right anymore.” If one were to try to capture it with a video recording, then even here losses of authenticity would not only be possible, conceivable, but actually rather assured. Especially since a camera recording – as a physicist or technician could understand, confirm or make clear – could always only record parts of the “truth” anyway due to the sequence of images, those that correspond to the (highest) possible speed of the process.
It would be the same with a sound recording. Even image AND sound together cannot cope with this problem. There is something on it, but is it all that would be relevant or of interest? Of course, this also applies to a written recording.
Now one could look at the adjectives one could add to “truth” and not only that, one even does it often enough. One would like to know the truth. The pure truth and nothing but the truth. As an example. If, however, it were a matter of the truth already contained in the concept and established beforehand, then this addition would not only be absolutely superfluous, but in principle would even be supplying the admission that it does not exist at all.
An example in dialogue: “Is what you said true?” “Yes, it is true.” “But is it also the pure truth, is it the complete truth, have you added nothing and left nothing out?” “No, that’s not what I was asked about. I was asked if I told the truth. I have. There was no question of complete truth or pure truth.”
At this point it should already become clear that although one associates adjectives mentioned or even whole facts – nothing added, nothing omitted – with truth, at the same time one is already recognisably softening the concept without being aware of it. It is only really true when the additions are also observed? Then it can have had nothing to do with truth for a long time.
From mathematics, we know the effort to find a truth and to make it provable. But at least every mathematician knows that here, too, a large number of conventions are needed before this can be achieved. And one basic requirement is needed anyway: the axioms. Axioms are the smallest, unprovable statements without which one cannot even begin to do mathematics – the science of “true” and “false”. In life, too, there are both these axioms and a multitude of conventions.
With the abundance of possible misunderstandings that can be triggered just by seemingly sensibly stringing words together, one should wonder much more about why we can actually communicate at all? Truth – as a concept, but perhaps filled with meaning, of which there is some illusion – is not the exception here either. It is a makeshift, awkward word that aligns itself with the imperfection of man himself: it is imperfect.