Pragmatism is often accused of denying the existence of "truth" (small t--it does, in fact, deny the existence of Truth), but in Art as Experience John Dewey offers an account of truth through the following analysis of Keats's famous lines--"'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'"--from Ode on a Grecian Urn:
Much of the dispute [about the meaning of these lines] is carried on in igonorance of the particular tradition in which Keats wrote and which gave the term "truth" it meaning. In this tradition, "truth" never signifies correctness of intellectual statements about things, or truth as its meaning is now influenced by science. It denotes the wisdom by which men live, especially "the lore of good and evil." And in Keats' mind it is particularly connected with the question of justifying good and trusting to it in spite of the evil and destruction that abound. "Philosophy" is the attempt to anwer this question rationally. Keats' belief that even philosophers cannot deal with the question without depending on imaginative intuitions receives an independent and positive statement in his identification of "beauty" with "truth"--the particular truth that solves for man the baffling problem of destruction and death--which weighed so heavily on Keats--in the very realm where life strives to assert supremacy. Man lives in a world of surmise, of mystery, of uncertainties. "Reasoning" must fail man--this is of course a doctrine long taught by those who have held to the necessity of a divine revelation. Keats did not accept this supplement and substitute for reason. The insight of imagination must suffice. "This is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know." The critical words are "on earth"--that is amid a scene in which "irritable reaching after fact and reason" confuses and distorts instead of bringing us to the light. It was in moments of most intense esthetic perception that Keats found his utmost solace and his deepest convictions. This is the fact recorded at the close of his Ode. Ultimately there are but two philosophies. One of them accepts life and experience in all its uncertainty, mystery, doubt, and half-knowledge and turns that experience upon itself to deepen and intensify its own qualities--to imagination and art. This the philosophy of Shakespeare and Keats.
Aside from illustrating Dewey's skill as a literary critic--skills he did not practice nearly enough--this passage shows Dewey casting his lot with artistic "truth" as opposed to the conventionally philosphical version. "The very realm where life strives to assert supremacy" is of course the realm of art, and its acts of asserting "supremacy"--of affirming and extending the reach of experience itself--constitute the most meaningful "truth" we can discover.
As Dewey points out, "intense esthetic perception" was for Keats not just "utmost solace" but also his "deepest conviction." Experience of art, which is a very material phenomenon, not a substitute for "divine revelation" was/is entirely sufficient as a manifestation of "truth," and such truth is also truth about "life" insofar as both require we accept "uncertainty, mystery, doubt, and half-knowledge." But "intense" experience is more than just passive acceptance. For the artist, it involves turning this experience "upon itself to deepen and intensify its own qualities," to create the poem or the work of art that is the extension of experience. For the reader or the viewer "art as experience" involves what Dewey calls elsewhere in the book an "act of reconstruction" whereby the "perceiver" undertakes "an ordering of the elements of the whole that is in form, although not in details, the same as the process of organization the creator of the work consciously experienced."