“Contradiction” reminds me of textual hermeneutics.
There is, of course, the message the author intended, like in Moby Dick where we learn about the tragic nature of revenge.
But, as Derrida pointed out (“There is nothing beyond the text”), there may also be unconscious themes that the author didn’t consciously intend, but she accidentally put in the text nonetheless. Moreover, there may be a “trace” of something in the author’s text that may contradict (“contra dicere in Latin,” “speak against”) the author’s project, such as the way Aristotle may have detected the hint of something in Plato’s texts that threatened to overthrow Platonism. Or, how an author’s moral message may be tainted by hints of bigotry.
And texts can be inherently ambiguous. So there can be a plurality of interpretations of the same text, while some interpretations “speak against” others, with no real ground for deciding between them: eg., Jesus as apocalyptic prophet, or charismatic healer, or Cynic philosopher, or Jewish Messiah, or prophet of social change, or mythical celestial being, or zealot. Each faction of interpreters point out that their model explains the available evidence, and that their model can effectively explain away any supposedly recalcitrant evidence.
Hermeneutics are humbling processes that remind us of human frailty. And that’s a good thing. Untold tragedy has happened in human history because people have acquainted “truth” with “certainty.” Certainty, as Nietzsche showed, is a psychological state, not a guarantee of truth. Everyone has had different points of view about things they once were “certain” about, such as Dr. Bart Ehrman’s fundamentalist youth changing into a liberal perspective of the academy.
As Heidegger said, truth is more primordially seen as “aletheia,” which is not just “correctness,” but more originally (with the alpha privative, “a-letheia”) “unconcealed,” or “revealed,” or “exemplary,” like when we speak of someone going out of their way to help us that they are demonstrating what it means to be a “true” friend.
Before there can be truth as “correctness” (the agreement of a proposition with a state of affairs), there must be “a-letheia,” “un-hiddenness.” For instance, before 1+1=2 is “true” for a child, it must be “revealed” with manipulatives that when you group one thing with another thing, you get two things.
And, as Heidegger said, there is a “giving” to truth (“Es gibt Sein,” in German). Anyone who has stayed up all night trying with futility to solve a problem, when suddenly the answer “comes to them,” knows this (Eureka! I’ve found it - in Greek). The phenomenological experience of truth is more than just sheer effort, because there must be a revealing and a finding of what is given. Even today people in the Arts still speak of their ‘Muse,’ and if the muse isn’t inspiring you, it’s a wasted night of writers block.
For Plato, the journey of Truth is one where you follow your guiding perspective to the point where it reaches an “aporia,” a block in the path, and so you need to revise your guiding perspective. One of the clearest examples of this in modern times Is the long journey of a fundamentalist to overturning their worldview and becoming secular.
What do others think belongs to the essence of Truth?