Truth as Disclosedness

10 Jun 2023

Heidegger’s treatise Being and Time claims that the question of Being has been forgotten by our society and it needs to be reawakened. The book later goes on an excursion about Truth. Why does talking about Being necessarily mean talking about Truth? Well, the first sentence of Wikipedia's entry says “Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality”. Notice that the word “being” is contained in Wikipedia’s sentence. Since the question of Being has been forgotten, the ontological foundations of Wikipedia’s definition of Truth, which is the same as the traditional definition of Truth, must be forgotten as well. The founders of Western Philosophy and hence our culture did not define Truth as a correspondence with reality. They defined Truth as Disclosedness but this definition got corrupted into a derivative “Truth as Correspondence”.

To demonstrate how the Primordial conception of Truth is Disclosedness, Heidegger studies a phenomenon where someone is turned away from a wall that has a painting who’s frame is askew. The person rightly asserts that the painting on the wall is crooked and then turns around and sees that it is indeed crooked. Now, this phenomena can be interpreted in two different ways, the primordial way and a way that’s derivative of the primordial way. The derivative interpretation has been what the West has defined Truth to be for over 2,000 years. This derivative way is to claim that the person's assertion was true because it corresponded with reality in that they claimed the picture was crooked and it was so.

When this phenomenon is interpreted primordially, we see that before the person’s assertion became true via correspondence, there was an elaborate ontological framework that made it possible for them to assert whether the painting was askew or not. This ontological framework is the Being that’s been forgotten. What does it mean for a painting to be askew on a wall?. This question has to have an implicit answer before anyone can get to asserting that a painting is askew.

A paradigmatic example in Being and Time says that “Before Newton's laws were discovered, they were not 'true' “. With no context, this statement is very controversial. But it’s only controversial because by default we all go along with “Truth as correspondence”. If we switch to “Truth as Disclosedness” this statement makes sense.

To bring it close to my home, let's assert that “A qubit is a two-level quantum system”. Before quantum information theory was disclosed in the late 20th century, this statement would have made no sense whatsoever. It’s only through the founders of quantum information theory that our assertion is true. Yes, atoms existed before Schumacher and Wooters, but the concept of using an atomic system to encode and manipulate “quantum information” would have been bizarre to Heisenberg, Schrödinger and all the other Quantum 1.0 people who weren’t playing around with desktop computers and more importantly, did their greatest work before Claude Shannon did his best work. Because of Deutsch and Feynman atoms reveal themselves to us as vehicles for storing and manipulating information, not as storage for energy, mechanical systems or as “what everything is made out of” that previous generations of quantum people believed in. This is the Truth of Quantum 2.0.


  1. Heidegger, Martin. “Dasein, Disclosedness, and Truth.” Being and Time, Blackwell, Oxford, 1967, pp. 256–259.
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