Nevertheless, I do not think that the Correspondence theory is to be so easily dismissed. The view of the relation of thought and reality outlined in the previous chapters is, in spite of obvious affinities, divergent from the doctrine of Absolute Idealism in respects which affect profoundly the problem of Truth. We shall find, I think, that the readjustment to which we are compelled affords at least a qualified vindication of the Correspondence view of the meaning, though certainly not of the criterion, of Truth. Let us see how this is so.
The essence of the matter is as follows. I should agree with the contention of Idealism that the demand of the intellect for satisfaction is not to be met short of the Whole, and that in the Whole the distinction of thought and Reality ceases to be. And there is no particular objection to entitling this perfected attainment 'Ideal Truth.' But, in opposition to Idealism, we found it necessary, in Chapter I (The Epistemological Approach To The Supra-Rational Absolute. Section I. Introductory)., to say that this Whole in which the intellect would find its final satisfaction is 'supra-rational.' It is in principle inaccessible to the finite intellect.
'Ideal Truth,' then, is supra-rational, in principle inaccessible to the finite intellect. It follows that the Truth which we have called 'Ideal' Truth cannot be said to be in any proper sense continuous with that Truth which has significance for the processes of finite thinking. For this reason it cannot be legitimate to point to the character of 'Ideal Truth' (which suffers nothing outside of itself), and to say that this is what is 'really,' or 'in the end,' meant when people talk about Truth. We could say this only if our finite efforts after Truth developed progressively towards 'Ideal Truth' - which they do not. In the absence of this continuity we have to agree, I think, that Ideal Truth is not merely a 'higher' Truth than that which the finite mind in practice means by Truth (although it assuredly is this) but also, in an understandable sense, a 'different' Truth. The consequences of this admission, as concerns the status of 'Correspondence,' are most important. We may still justly join issue with those who say that 'Correspondence' is the last word about Truth, pointing out to them that the final satisfaction of the intellect, 'Ideal Truth,' must be envisaged as an experience in which thought and reality are no longer disunited. But we must at once go on to admit that Ideal Truth is not continuous with what Truth concretely means for the intellect, and that its nature cannot therefore be rightfully taken as merely expressing 'better' (i.e. in a more developed form) the meaning which Truth has at the level of operative thinking. Hence we shall be led to assign to the Correspondence view at least a qualified validity. If it is indeed the case that the intellect, in pursuing Truth along the sole path that is open to it, is debarred in principle from attaining that Ideal Truth in which 'Correspondence' loses its meaning, then we do have to recognise in 'Correspondence' a meaning which is ultimate for positive, concrete thinking.
It is necessary that we should be quite clear about the precise character of this concession which, as I understand it, must be made to the Correspondence notion; and I may venture briefly to re-state what is central.
If the Ideal Truth which, in common with Absolute Idealism, I hold to be one with Reality itself (and therefore to exclude 'Correspondence' from its meaning) is rightly to be regarded as a strict development of our search after Truth in ordinary experience, then it is necessary to say that 'correspondence with reality' represents a view of the nature of Truth which attaches to an inferior level of thought's development, and must be superseded by the Coherence Notion. This is the state of the case as it appears to Absolute Idealism, for which 'Ideal Truth' is a coherent system continuous with the systems of our finite knowledge. If, on the other hand, 'Ideal Truth' does not possess this continuity, if the intellect's search after Truth proceeds along lines which do not, and cannot, lead to 'Ideal Truth' (the view maintained in these pages), then the case is radically altered. There is no longer any point in holding that the nature found in 'Ideal Truth' is the 'proper' nature of the Truth sought in ordinary experience. In one sense of course it is, hut not in any sense which would compel us to abandon 'Correspondence' as what Truth must concretely mean for intellect. For in holding that this 'Ideal Truth' is supra-rational, we are thereby admitting that what we may call 'Phenomenal Truth' cannot with positive significance be transcended by the intellect. We are admitting that for finite beings the level at which thinking seems to be over against a world to be thought about - the level of the Correspondence view - is an ultimate level for positive concrete thinking.
Within certain limits, then, the Correspondence view of the meaning of Truth is for us legitimised. Correspondence is not the ultimate meaning of Truth. For we are able, by a critical analysis of the intellect's demands, to see that what would finally satisfy the intellect, and be therefore Truth in its fullest sense, is a whole which cannot suffer the diremption which a Correspondence theory demands. On the other hand, since this Ideal Truth (or, as we may also call it from a slightly different viewpoint, 'Noumenal' Truth) is not a continuous development of the intellectual process, we may justly say that what Truth means as a conception with positive significance for intellectual operations is unaffected by the transcendental deduction of Ideal Truth. Truth from the point of view of significant positive thinking will retain a meaning reconcilable with common usage of the word, such as the correspondence of the thought which we think with the reality about which we think. As long as there exists the dualism between knowing mind and a reality to be known, it is at least extremely hard not to mean by Truth 'correspondence.' As Mr Joachim1 puts it: 'Within such a sphere, "truth" inevitably implies two factors; and so long as the duality is maintained, some form of the correspondence notion is the only possible theory of truth.' And I have been consistently urging, of course, that the transcendence of the duality in 'Ideal Truth' is a condition to which the finite intellect is inherently incapable of even approximating.