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Philosophers throughout the twentieth century made studies on a variety of topics.

Many of these topics were related to science, math, and reason. However, the study of truth
was a subject examined by several philosophers during the twentieth century.
Bertrand Russell, was a British philosopher, mathematician, logician, politician, and
social critic. Among his many achievements, he won the Nobel Prize in 1950 for literature. In
his book Problems of Philosophy, Russell addressed the subject of truth and falsehood.
Russell studies led to him three main points regarding truth. Firstly, that the human
understanding of truth must be able to acknowledge truths opposite; falsehood. Secondly
Russell felt that belief was an essential link to truth and falsehood. In other words, beliefs had
to exist for truth and falsehood to exist. Russells third theory which contradicted his second
theory said that truth was completely reliant on human beliefs to exterior elements. This last
point is one that philosophers have speculated and studied in depth because it gives the
impression that there is an unattainable dimension that exists in the world, and that this
unattainable dimension applies to the theory of truth.
Russell goes into more depth about this third theory by explaining the two main
complications with his third definition of truth. The first is that there is no way for humans to
believe that there is only one logical set of beliefs. The second issue with this definition is that it
suggests that coherence is known. This is opposite of Russells idea regarding fact. He
believed that when looking at a fact, coherence assumed the laws of logic. Russell proceeds to
explain the meaning of fact in great detail using propositional statements to prove his point.
In the conclusion of his chapter, Russell restates his theories and main objective. He
says, Minds do not create truth or falsehood. They create beliefs, but when once the beliefs are
created, the mind cannot make them true or false, except in the special case where they
concern future things which are within the power of the person believing. What makes a belief
true is a fact, and this fact does not in any way involve the mind of the person who has the

During the twentieth century, famous philosophers were from all over world. This made
their studies even more interesting because their philosophies were influenced by their political,
economical, and domestic surroundings. A famous french philosopher by the name of Michel
Foucault studied truth among many other subjects. Foucault addressed truth from a political
standpoint. He felt that truth was of the world and that it originated solely from different forms of
Foucault believed that each society formed its own belief system and definition for truth.
In other words, each society determines: what they will accept as truth and rules which they will
use to determine truth and falsehood. According to Foucault, the influence of media, education,
and political ideas were constantly changing the way each society viewed truth. His philosophy
on truth led him to state the idea that an absolute truth did not exist that it was impossible for
it to be identified and understood. Instead, the definition of truth was a battle between truth and
falsehood and the effect power had on both.
Within his philosophy of truth, Foucault came up with five descriptions for truth that could
be applied to the present day western society. First, that truth was based on scientific
discussion. Secondly, that truth was subjective to economics and political issues. Thirdly that
the dispersal and absorption of societal elements affected peoples definition of truth. Fourthly
the influence of economic and political control over the circulation of truth and lastly that truth is
a large political argument and social battle. In summary, Foucault stated that Truth is to be
understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution,
circulation and operation of statements and that it is linked in a circular relation with systems of
power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend
it. A 'regime' of truth (Gaventa).
Yet another famous french philosopher was Albert Camus. He was a journalist and
wrote about political issues as well as essays and novels. In 1957, he won the Nobel Prize for
literature. Camus approached the definition of truth from scientific perspective. In his essay

Myth of Sisyphus, Camus stated that it was impossible to define and know truth. Camus felt
that truth must have proof of some kind. However, he also stated that truth could not be proven
because the knowledge of truth was ambiguous. Thus his conclusion was that because
knowledge and truth were unknown, it was impossible to prove anything true (H2g2).
Within his essay, Camus stated his definition of life by saying that humans are rational
beings living in an irrational world. Camus meant that as humans we are always looking for an
answer and reason as to why things are the way they are. But the irrational world that humans
live in does not allow them to answer those questions. The issue of fact is also addressed in
his essay. Camus felt that one could believe in a fact, but regardless if the fact was true or not,
that alone could not prove the fact itself to be true.
The last philosopher that will be examined in this paper is a German man by the name
of Hans Gadamer. In his book Truth and Method Gadamer gives his detailed definition for
truth. Gadamer states that truth cannot be explained using the scientific method. Instead he
states that the study hermeneutics leads to the definition of truth and the reasons that make
truth possible. Gadamer stated that once the truth of written or spoken language is discovered,
then and only then will its meaning be revealed.
Gadamer had two main philosophies regarding truth. In his first philosophy, Gadamer
philosophy stated that truth may be an aesthetic, linguistic, or scientific concept. In his book
Gadamer said that truth is related to art. He said that art is drawn either from an experience the
artist had or it is drawn to show an experience. In his second philosophy, Gadamer said that for
humans to understand written and spoken language, they must assume its meaning. He then
proved this point regarding anticipation using history as an example. In conjunction with this
point, Gadamer believed that the human understanding of written and spoken language was
subject to change due to the historical circumstances that were surrounding an individual.
According to Gadamer, his conclusion is that truth is solely based on human interpretation of

language both spoken and written. He felt that the study of hermeneutics was the leading
factor that led humans to understand the world.
After analyzing these four philosophers, it can be said that each of their views on truth
were different. Bertrand Russells definition of truth was from a factual based standpoint which
Michel Foucault used politics, power, and knowledge to state his definition of truth. Albert
Camus used science and proof to state his definition of truth while Hans Gadamer defined truth
from a linguistic and historical view. Each of these philosophers had valid points to prove
throughout their definitions of truth.
While all of the twentieth century philosophers including the four discussed in this paper
had their own definition of truth that was derived from historical events, other philosophers, and
personal experience/knowledge, the true definition of truth can be found in the Bible alone.

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Change Powercubenet IDS at Sussex University Foucault Power Is Everywhere
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"H2g2 - Albert Camus and Truth." H2g2 - Albert Camus and Truth. Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy, 20 Oct. 2003. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Ridder, Shawn. "Michel Foucault: Truth and Power." Michel Foucault: Truth and Power. N.p.,
1999. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Russell, Bertrand. "Truth and Falsehood." The Problems of Philosophy. New York: H. Holt,
1912. N. pag. The Problems of Philosophy. 2 May 2009. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.
Scott, Alex. "HG Gadamer's Truth and Method." HG Gadamer's Truth and Method. N.p., 2003.
Web. 06 Apr. 2015.