A Conception of Symbolic Truth

by Michael H. Mitias (Author)
©2022 Monographs 142 Pages


One of the most difficult problems challenging the human mind is knowledge of the world in its human, natural, and supra-natural dimensions: what is the nature of this multidimensional reality? How do we know and verify the truth of our knowledge claims of this reality? A contemporary Polish philosopher, Malgorzata Czarnocka, has advanced one of the most comprehensive and insightful studies of the cognitive act and the conditions under which it takes place. The proposition explicated in this book is that Czarnocka’s analysis of perception functions as a model of explanation in our attempt to know the nature of the being that underlies the universe. This analysis becomes the basis of the author’s discussion of symbolic truth as a model of explanation and its other applications.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Analysis of A Path Toward a Conception of Symbolic Truth
  • Introduction
  • Analysis of the Conception of Symbolic Truth
  • Structure and Dynamics of Perception
  • Phases of Perception
  • The Relation Between Correspondence and Symbolism
  • Conception of Symbolic Truth
  • Symbolic Realism
  • Evaluation
  • Empirical Knowledge is not the Paradigm of Knowledge
  • 3 Conception of Symbolic Truth: A Model of Explanation
  • Introduction
  • Question of the Transcendent as an Object of Knowledge
  • Czarnocka’s Conception of Symbolic Truth as a Model of Explanation
  • Essential Elements of Czarnocka’s Conception of Symbolic Truth
  • Conception of Symbolic Truth as a Model of Explanation
  • The Transcendent as a Cognitive Object
  • Concluding Remark
  • 4 Aesthetic Object as the Object of Artistic Creation
  • Object of Cognition in Artistic Creation
  • Potentiality as an Object of Reflection
  • Value Concept as the Cognitive Object of Artistic Reflection
  • Structure of the Cognitive Act in Art
  • 5 Aesthetic Object as the Object of Aesthetic Perception
  • Introductory Remark
  • Concept of Significant Form
  • Aesthetic Object as an Object of Cognition
  • Aesthetic Object as a Cognitive Object
  • Aesthetic Sense
  • Aesthetic Attitude
  • References and Suggested Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Index

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1 Introduction

Whether in the sphere of science, philosophy, or practical life, the primary objective of a theory, or conception, is to explain the nature of a human or natural phenomenon that seems mysterious, problematic, or difficult to understand. For example, what is the source of the scheme of nature? Has this scheme come into being accidentally or purposefully by a supreme being? What is the nature of life, consciousness or mind, and matter? Do people actually desire the good, the true, and the beautiful? Are human beings under obligation to be good, to respect the truth, or to appreciate the beautiful? For example, we are told by our parents and teachers that we should love our fellow human beings—why? Are we under obligation to love them? What is evil? Why should we die, especially after struggling to discover the meaning of our lives? Are human beings really social or rational by nature? What is sociality or rationality? Some people believe in the existence of an ultimate being, and many others believe in the existence of a personal ultimate being they call God, Allah, or Brahman; they believe that this being is the creator of the universe and the author of their destiny. What is the basis of this belief? Unlike most animals in nature, human beings have a mind that performs the activity of thinking, feeling, and willing; they do not directly perceive or conceive this mind; yet, they know that they think and act based on what they think. What is the nature of this mind? Who performs the activity of thinking? These and a multitude of related and equally difficult questions, some of which have puzzled philosophers, scientists, and ordinary people during the past and the present, reveal the extent of our ignorance of natural and human phenomena. The purpose of the theories of the philosopher, the scientist, or any kind of inquirer into the nature of these phenomena is to understand them and learn how to appropriate them for human use.

Usually, the philosopher or scientist expresses her understanding of the different aspects of reality in the form of theories. A theory is composed of a fundamental cognitive intuition. This intuition is formulated or communicated in one or a number of propositions, each one of which is a basic concept or idea that articulates essential features of the phenomenon in ←9 | 10→need of explanation. These propositions are assertions. An assertion is a statement declaring that something is the case; it also denotes the meaning of the concept or idea. For example, the proposition, “The earth is flat,” asserts the existence of a fact. Namely, flatness is an essential feature of the earth. Accordingly, when I think or apprehend the meaning of the proposition, the content of this apprehension is the idea of the flatness of the earth.

Theories are not advanced spontaneously, whimsically, or arbitrarily but as a result of a reflective, critical, and comprehensive analysis of a phenomenon and articulating its essential features into one or a number of propositions. These propositions undergo a rigorous process of elucidation and explanation, and their truth, validity, or cogency is supported by logical argument and empirical evidence. The point of this analysis and reasoning is to promote our understanding of the mysterious, puzzling, or problematic aspect of the phenomenon we desire to understand.

Some of the phenomena the philosopher seeks to understand or the questions she tries to answer arise from the attempt of human beings to understand the essential features of human nature, the nature of human values, the meaning of human existence, and the conditions under which they can lead a decent, fulfilled, or happy life. However, how can they achieve this understanding? I think it is reasonable to say that the means of achieving it is knowledge. The basis of this knowledge is twofold: knowledge of the scheme of nature and knowledge of the mind that seeks to know this scheme. Knowledge is the light that illuminates our way in designing and pursuing our life projects; it empowers us to understand any aspect of human and natural reality. However, the question that glares us in the face is: Whose knowledge? What kind of knowledge functions as this light? Regardless of who seeks it, I may be told, the knowledge sought should be true or valid or reliable. Fine! The question we should, then, consider is: How can we arrive at true, valid, or reliable knowledge in the different spheres of human experience—art, science, technology, religion, philosophy, and practical life?

The instrument by which we attain any kind of knowledge is the human mind. A critic may tender this response with a cynical smile, and she may wonder whether the mind that knows nature, human nature, and the values that underlie every meaningful pursuit knows or can know itself. Can it know any aspect or element of the world adequately or truly if it cannot ←10 | 11→know itself adequately or truly? It is possible that we do not, and may not, possess adequate knowledge of the human mind, but it is reasonable to say that we can arrive at agreeably adequate or reliable knowledge of the nature of the world and the values that are essential to genuine human living. I do not need to know the essence of human nature to know how to live well, create the wheel, or even how to create electricity or the computer. We frequently know the cause of an object or its basic features from knowing its effects or from knowing the nature of what it does. Do we not know much about the sun from knowing the nature of the light it irradiates? Do we not know much about the murderer from studying the nature of the crimes she has committed? Do we not know much about human nature and what it can do from a comprehensive analysis of what it has produced in the extant course of human history? Do we not know the soul of the philosopher or the artist from studying her work? Nevertheless, knowledge of the essence of the nature of the different phenomena is an important, inherent passion of the human mind.

One of the most difficult problems that challenge the human mind is the knowledge of the world in its natural, human, and supra-human dimensions: What is the stuff of this multidimensional reality? What are the dynamics of its process? How do we arrive at valid knowledge of this reality? This question focuses on the structure of the act and the conditions under which it knows a certain object or a dimension of the human or natural world. Again, how can the mind, which does not seem to exist as a physical reality, cognize or comprehend the essence of physical reality? Furthermore, how can we establish the truth, validity, or reliability of a proposition or knowledge claim of nature, human nature, human values, or human artifacts if we do not know the method or conditions under which the mind cognizes its object? The history of the development of human knowledge is intertwined with the history of the development of the method by which the mind cognizes physical and non-physical objects in the different areas of human experience.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (April)
perception cognitive object cognitive subject correspondence symbolic representation symbolic truth
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 142 pp.

Biographical notes

Michael H. Mitias (Author)

Michael H. Mitias is a retired professor of philosophy, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.A. His area of research is Theory of Values. He has written numerous philosophical articles, edited many books, and published several books in the area of human values.


Title: A Conception of Symbolic Truth
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144 pages