I’ve been reading a lot of William James these days — eight books of his so far this year, the most recent of which, The Meaning of Truth, I just finished this morning.
Approximately four hours after finishing The Meaning of Truth, I was getting a bite to eat at a supermarket deli when a teenage boy came and sat down at the table next to mine. He was wearing a gray hoodie with this sentence written on it in big red and blue letters: “TRUTH IS WHAT STANDS THE TEST OF EXPERIENCE” — a statement, that is, of the meaning of truth, and a pretty “pragmatic” one, at that, Jamesian in its emphasis on experience and in its characterization of truth as something that happens to an idea. (I didn’t think it was likely to be an actual James quote, the focus on “testing” being uncharacteristic of him, but I googled it just to be sure. It turns out to be from Albert Einstein.)
I need scarcely mention that I have no memory of ever previously having encountered a truth-defining article of clothing of this sort, making its appearance at this time a pretty impressive coincidence.
A further synchronicity: James makes a distinction between “facts” and “truth” — the former refers to realities; the latter, to a property of our beliefs in relation to those realities. In The Meaning of Truth, he repeatedly takes his critics to task for conflating these two things.
Just three weeks before I read The Meaning of Truth, my father also tried, in a comment to this post, to make a distinction between “facts” and “truth” (though not the same distinction that James makes), and I insisted in my reply that there was no such distinction.