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Publication Details

Practice as a Criterion of Truth

(Original title: Problém praxe ako kritéria pravdy)
Filozofia, 21 (1966), 2, 141-151.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
In his study the author presents an analysis of the problem of practice as a criterion of truth, utilized in science and philosophically processed by marxism. Several writers state that opinions, confirmed by practice are absolute, eternal truths, in complete agreement with reality. The history of science, however, shows that many truths, considered in their time as absolute, turned out into errors, thus proving that they were not absolute indeed, but only relative, verified only for their epoch and that they did not agree with reality) but only with subjectively loaded experience. Hence, practice is not a criterion of absolute, and therefore, of eternal truth. Plactice confirms truth for the present only, and cannot assure their persistence for the future. A deeper analysis, however, shows that practice is but a technical activity and as such does not constitute a gnoseological category. Experience alone, gained by practice, is such a category and hence it alone may be a criterion of truth. Naturally, practice, as the sensory contact between subject and object, is inevitable here. Experience, however, includes also the subject as its co-producer, that is, the subject participates in the decision-making as to whether his opinion is true. That opinion is true which is in agreement with experimental phenomena. The subject takes part both in the creation of the experience and in the process of rationally agreeing with it. But if we become aware of the truth only through our agreeing with experience, it means that we know of the truth only when we possess it. Consequently, truth carries its criterion within itself. Therefore, we do not possess a criterion which would tell us that a statement agrees with reality, for we have no extra-subjective criterion. We may only assume that we are approaching reality and this on the basis of constantly greater practical successes of our truths. We cannot prove it, for then we should know the reality towards which we are approaching. It is, therefore, only a rational assumption.
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