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On the Neurobiology of Truth


The concept of truth arises from puzzling over distinctions between the real and the apparent, while the origin of these distinctions lies in the neurobiology of mammalian cerebral lateralization, that is, in the evolution of brains that can address the world both indicatively and subjunctively; brains that represent the world both categorically and hypothetically. After some 2,500 years of thinking about it, the Western philosophical tradition has come up with three major theories of truth: correspondence, coherence, and pragmatist. Traditional philosophy has nevertheless failed to arbitrate much among these views; certainly no clear winner has emerged. I argue, however, that contemporary neuroscience provides adequate theoretical grounds for a unified theory of truth. More specifically, I contend that the correspondence, the coherence, and the pragmatic utility of symbols are each biological features of our neurophysiological information processing systems—that is to say, our brains. On my view, the traditional trifurcation of philosophical accounts of the predicate, “is true”, stems from a trifurcation of focus on the information latent in sensory, motor, and somatosensory cortices of the human brain.

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  1. Hacking (1999), 21.

  2. See White (1970), 3.

  3. Wittgenstein (2009), §67.

  4. See Tarski (1994).

  5. Aristotle (1984), 1597.

  6. Moore (1953), 247.

  7. See Kneale and Kneale (1962), 138–158.

  8. Quine (1963), 43.

  9. See Descartes (2008).

  10. Dewey (1920), 155–160.

  11. See Wittgenstein (2009), §23, §97, and §114.

  12. Dennett (1996), 88.

  13. Damasio (1999), 174.

  14. Calvin (1999), 92.

  15. Llinás (2002), 8.

  16. See Hume (2007).

  17. See Schopenhauer (2010).

  18. This view of the nervous system was pioneered and extensively developed by Hannah and Antonio Damasio in the late 1990s; see Damasio, A. (1999).

  19. Llinás (2002), 94.

  20. Spinoza (1985), 457.


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Correspondence to Ron Bombardi.

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Bombardi, R. On the Neurobiology of Truth. Biosemiotics 6, 537–546 (2013).

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  • Truth
  • Correspondence theory
  • Coherence theory
  • Pragmatism
  • Neurobiology
  • Evolution
  • Mind
  • Information theory
  • Semantics
  • Semiotics