In his reduction/magnification of names to events, Caputo emphasises the conditioned nature of language and in so doing exposes that there are contingent reasons why certain names are chosen over others (288), and that no name can function universally for humanity (289). Caputo rejects, therefore, the first concept of truth as correlation. For him, ‘a truth that is not a matter of establishing an adequatio’ (286). Without denying the reality of the world – ‘The “world” is what really exists, whereas the kingdom calls for something else’ (37) – the truth of God is not found in theological realism nor theological anti-realism, which both demand a correspondence theory of truth wherein language corresponds to reality (whether reality is real or an illusion). Rather, the truth of the name of God is found in a hyper-realism, of which is cannot be said that it “is,” but that it is “to-come,” thereby disallowing a theory of truth which demands an adequatio between language and what “is.” The truth of the name of God is not (yet) ‘in being, in re’ (16).
The truth of God is found, therefore, ‘not in a proposition but in a confession’ (286). It is a matter of prayer, not epistemology (6). In this second understanding of truth, which can be referred to as a circumfession, Caputo uses phrases such as ‘a hard truth’ (6), ‘honestly facing the truth’ (6), ‘the cold truth’ (20), ‘if the truth be told’ (288), ‘in all truthfulness’ (287), and ‘to be honest to God’ (287). Here truth has the flavour of honesty – hard and humbling, it is the event of a confession, a cut, a wound, a confession that makes us weep and bleed. It involves the recognition of our condition vis-à-vis language, and therefore truth involves the rejection of truth as an adequatio. Instead, ‘Truth means truthfully to confess the poverty of our philosophy, the weakness of our theology, and the humility of our condition’ (286). Truth is a confession, which itself is a concession (293), an admittance of our situation – rather than truth being something that is sought after it is something which cannot be escaped (284).
‘To confess the truth means to own up to our own limits, to face the music about what we know and do not know… the truth demands an honest concession that we cannot contain the event harbored by the name of God’ (287).
This concept of truth as the event of ‘endless confession and circumfession and confusion’ (115) moves us away from truth as an adequatio on the plane of being, name, and realism/anti-realism, towards truth as ‘a deed, something to do, to translate into the flesh of existence’ (16). Here Caputo repeatedly employs the Augustinian understanding of “making” or “doing the truth,” facere veritatem, so that ‘a “truth claim” is less an exact claim we make than a exacting claim that is made upon us’ to make truth true (286), to actualise the promise, the call, the hyper-real.
Truth ‘wants to become true, to make itself true, to make itself come true, to be transformed into truth, so that its truth is a species of truth facere veritatem’ (118). The truth is less about descriptive content than about a promise calling to be fulfilled, so that the truth of the name of God is the truth of the event, ‘facere veritatem, doing and making truth happen’ (268).
In this sense, truth as facere veritatem is a hyper-truth beyond the truth of correspondence, a not-yet-true truth, a truth of future-correspondence-peut-être, of correspondence-à-venir, hyper-correspondence.
When Caputo talks about justice preceding truth (253), he refers to a translation of the name of God into an event and the event into a deed, which is a ‘translation into [the] justice which precedes truth [as correspondence with reality], or a translation into truth in the Augustinian sense of facere veritatem’ (272). This is suggestive of two of the concepts of truth which I have observed in Caputo’s work: truth as correspondence now, which in terms of theological truth is rejected as undecidable, and truth as facere veritatem, correspondence-to-come. As Caputo himself writes,
‘The truth of the event releases us from the order of names and transports us to another level, where truth does not mean learning a name but making truth come true, making it happen, facere veritatem, letting the event happen, sans voir, sans savoir, sans avoir, praying and weeping before an unknown god.
Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you to eat?
Is that you, Lord?
The truth of the event is not a name but a deed’ (299)
The first notion of truth identified, and rejected, in Caputo’s work is truth as a full and adequate correspondence between language and reality. Truth is not about correlation, because this theory of truth operates on the plane of being, of names and of the right names, the right correlations. Instead, truth is about the honest but hard recognition of our limitations on the plane of being. This existential truth is the second notion identifiable within The Weakness of God, on the plane of being, but facing the hard truth of our inadequacy. The third notion, facere veritatem, is the prayers and tears for truth to be made true, for the messianic to-come to be made a kingdom without kingdom, here and now, where ‘the truth of the event is not a name but a deed’ (299).
These second two movements which Caputo makes with regards to truth, after a rejection of the first position, mirrors the movements he makes within an experience of the impossible:
‘Having, or rather venturing, an experience [of the impossible] involves a double operation: first we understand full well that it is impossible to go, that we are blocked from moving ahead, that we cannot take another step, that we have reached the limit: then we go. We venture out and take the risk, perilous as it may be. First, immobilization, then movement. The movement is mobilized by the immobilization… The immobilization belongs to the more cognitive domain: we know that this can’t be done; we have been instructed by the understanding about the limits of what is possible. But then we go. Thus the movement is carried out by a shift to the sphere of praxis and the pragmatic order… to a certain non-cognitive leap which overcomes the hesitations of the understanding that is what Augustine calls doing the truth, facere veritatem’ (Caputo 2003:126)
So in relation to truth, Caputo makes two interrelated moves. First, we know we cannot know truth, cannot name it, contain it in language, cannot stop the endless translation and deferral. Then, we go – we act, we pray, we weep for the truth to become true; we translate the event’s truth – not it’s semantic content but what it promises (6) – into a deed; we respond to the call to being to go beyond itself, to be otherwise.