“reality testing”  is something the organism does continually –how else can we act confidently in our environments?  Unfortunately, between the workings of our sensory apparatus (detecting only biologically relevant information) and our brains (processing received information in a fragmentary manner at best), and how easily we are misled in perceptions (by, e.g., PAREIDOLIA), there are always gaps.

CORRESPONDENCE  (When the facts and the proposition are identical –Bertrand Russell in The Problems of Philosophy).  


  • how well does an external “reality” match its internal “representation” ?? (“Knowledge is the conformity of the object and the intellect”  –Averroes (1126-1198) in Destructio Destructionum).   that is,  
  • is REALTY, REAL?   read about the dysfunction, DEREALISATION: http://traumadissociation.com/depersonalization   
    • “… derealization raises profound philosophical questions. Sages ancient and modern have suggested that everyday reality, in which we go about the business of living, is an illusion. Plato likened our perceptions of things to shadows cast on the wall of a cave. The eighth-century Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara asserted that ultimate reality is an eternal, undifferentiated field of consciousness. The Buddhist doctrine of anatta says our individual selves are illusory.” (read John Horgan’s column in Sci. Amer., Sept. 2022).


COHERENCE (“the quality or state of logical or orderly relationship of parts;” leading to a “united” or “orderly” whole. ) 

Coherence is based on “narrative integration”  — it provides order.  We need order.  In fact, our very being (and its constitutional mandate to maintain stability through homeostasis) may be a rare local artifact, emerged by chance in chaos, an otherwise global disorder).   Pathology is a disproportion of ordinarily ordered relationships, but so is beauty! Although it is often recognizable only by its association with order, its reference to it.  Indeed, if a new “truth” is not coherent in the context of our “prior truths” it may be found thereby invalid (Wm James: “The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths.”).  We walk the boundary between order and disorder, exploit that ephemeral, protean, thin, ecotone.

  • does the internal “representation “fit” with all preceding and collateral representations?   can we trust our FILLING-IN? read A&O notes and then see Wikipedia’s notes on “filling in
  • .

https://neilgreenberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/pp-1592962414-3466.jpgThere is an important sense in which we are “prepared” to behave a certain way or believe a certain thing:  it coheres, a new belief is found to be so consilient or consonant with what we have already learned that it supports or strengthens or fully realizes that constellation of ideas.

“What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires—desires of which he himself is often unconscious.

 If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.  The origin of myths is explained in this way.”

(Bertrand Russell, from his “Roads to Freedom”) 

BOTH COHERENCE and CORRESPONDENCE are needed to provide the mind with a sense of reality, but they can be variably represented:. For example, coherence can provide an illusion of correspondence by reasoning when no corroboration for empirical evidence can be found–we infer the existence of a phenomenon or we take corroboration where we can find it or from other more firmly established reasonably connected phenomena.  (see “God of the Gaps” and “Saving Appearances.”) … and then there are disorders, often dysfunctional (mass delusions, folie à deux)  And see “Filling-In” (A&O excerpt)

  • might there be a predominance of CORRESPONDENCE or COHERENCE in different personalities?  Sir Francis Bacon’s view of ants and spider
  • CORRESPONDENCE and COHERENCE are related to more-or-less familiar or unique experiences: A GRADUAL ACCUMULATION  of experience –repeated familiar perceptions or experiences — can establish more confident CORRESPONDENCES — but a relatively unique perception or experience may necessitate a reconfiguration of how these phenomena relate to each other, their COHERENCE.    A “mass of apperceptions” makes  few cognitive demands and assimilates additional experiences easily depending on their similarity … less familiar experiences must be accommodated, a process that is more demanding and may even evoke consciousness to help effect the conciliation.  In the view of  Johann Friedric Hebert (d. 1841) the boundary from non-conscious to conscious awareness can be crossed when sufficient non-conscious “pressure” is exerted.



In fact (it seems to me) BOTH functions are RECIPROCALLY related to our experiences of the world and converge (by consilience?) on “TRUTH. ”  BOTH processes occur in respectively specialized areas of central nervous system to give us CONFIDENCE in our BELIEFS and in our ACTIONS that are based on those beliefs.

Correspondence and Coherence ordinarily operate in lockstep — correspondence is primarily associated with the senses and coherence with understanding : And as Kant said, “The senses cannot think. The understanding cannot see.”  (in the Critique of Pure Reason, cited by Wechsler 1978:2)


IN OTHER WORDS, A belief is “true” if it possesses both CORRESPONDENCE with reality and COHERENCE with other beliefs.  These elements of belief are also highly specialized functions of cognition with specific representations in the human brain.



 CONFIDENCE is what we seek — confidence in the veracity of our beliefs — are we sufficiently confident in the truth of a belief to bet our lives?? (“I just had my brakes fixed”) to bet out immortal souls??  —

  • reality and truth: What can we believe?
  • sources of error, influences on confidence in a belief
  • BIAS, congenital and acquired, receptive and expressive  … as Schopenhauer put it, “The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.” Counsels and Maxims, as translated by T. Bailey Saunders (also on Wikisource: Counsels and Maxims)  Vol. 2, Ch. 1, § 17  (quoted)  –from A&O notes on “TRUTH: How Do We Know” (broken link)
  • The most surprising of biases often accompany and reinforce each other and are so pervsive (in our cultural bubble) that we are unaware:  read about the WEIRD bias.
  • and our weirdness informs our assumptions about ART and (e.g., Western and Eastern culture)
  • Even perceptions at a physiological level of organizations are ruled by our assumptions and biases
    • In this way, our perceptions may be are ruled by belief (“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.” John 20:29 NIV)


When a scientist has a belief based on observations, its consistency with related beliefs based on other observations is an indication of the confidence we may have in its possible “truth.”  Joachim states that “Truth in its essential nature is that systematic coherence which is the character of a significant whole.”  Of this whole, the fact of correspondence is “at most a symptom of truth” (HH Joachim 1906/1939 quoted by Agnes Arbor in The Mind and the Eye, Cambridge University Press 1954 p.70).

The muddling of the aspects of “truths” (correspondence and coherence) is a principal cause for uncertainty about knowledge:  BOTH correspondences and coherence are needed (as Roger Bacon observed) “That the mind may remain at rest.”   Indeed, there appears to be a reciprocal relationship between the truths of correspondence and coherence: 




Truth and Intelligence, validity, and reliability. 

These “forms” of truth are, in fact, viewed as the dual function of intelligence by Sternberg People’s beliefs have some measure of validity (external correspondences) and reliability (internal coherence).  A more intelligent, adaptive person has achieved more external correspondence and internal coherence in his or her knowledge based and belief structures.  People think unintelligently to the extent to which they make errors in achieving external correspondence or internal coherence.” (p.1031) Rbt J. Sternberg 1997.  “The Concept of intelligence and its role in lifelong learning and success.” Amer Psychol., 52(10):1030-1037.






If a man shall begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.”   (Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, Bk 1).


“. . . every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished” (Wordsworth)            

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The tension between reasonable–possible–alternatives creates COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, one of the most familiar sources of  STRESS)

The real or perceived dissonance between process of reality-testing (corroboration and coherence) and between the evidence of one’s senses with previously formed concepts are perticularly troubling.