When James says ‘truth is something that happens to a fact’ it means it doesn’t happen until someone says a fact is true at some place and some time. Otherwise and until that happens then the fact is just a part of the silent unspoken and unrecognized experience of reality and is not yet true.
You don’t seem to understand this. Let me quote you [I was having a discussion on Academia.com with H.G. Callaway]: “When and where people thought the Earth flat, it was in spite of that, and in the same times and places, not flat at all. If I say, for instance, the ancient Greeks developed no scientific recognition of biological evolution, then that one example shows that though true, the theory of evolution was not recognized. But are we to suppose that we are now in the lucky position of having recognized all the truths --so that none remain to be discovered? The concept of truth properly aligns with conceptions of an objective world which exists and has its effects whether we recognize it or not.”
At the time of the ancient Greeks, according to James, biological evolution was not ‘true’. In that, no person knew this truth yet. Or when people such as the ancient Hebrews and Greeks thought it was a fact that the Earth was flat – that is what they believed. It was true for them at that time. It didn’t matter yet that the reality of the spherical nature of the Earth was something that was a fact – it hadn’t been recognized and thus as a human concept was not yet true. The ‘objective world’ can be experienced in all its non-verbal and non-symbolic nature as a percept, but we make concepts from this Territory and until we do that concept doesn’t exist. Until a person makes a specific map of the Territory that map doesn’t exist. It is only awaiting as a potential to be made by some person.
I and James don’t agree with the statement that you can separate verification from the truth. Truth is found and made only in the process of verification. There is at any point in time always a way to verify aspects of the Territory – and truth and facts that are stated as being true only come to exist when someone makes that statement. There is always a way to try and make a claim, hypothesis, theory, map, etc as true. The attempt can always be made, however, the technology might not be up to the task. At the time of the ancient Greeks measuring the speed of a photon was possible – in theory, but they didn’t have the means or the conceptual map to attempt it and thus it was not yet a true fact.
My statement concerning Newton was to point out James' pragmatic notion of how concepts can be made useful. Yes, Newtonian concepts are still treated as useful maps of the Territory even today. Newton’s underlying concept/map of gravity is no longer treated as a true map – but his concepts/maps are still pragmatically useful and thus according to James they hold some form of truth by that fact of their usefulness.
‘Truth happens…’ it always does and if the process of verification is not tried then that fact remains unproven and unverified. That is why I said an ‘unrecognized truth’ is an oxymoron for James. If it is not recognized by a person somewhere then that concept can not be claimed to be true. It only gets the label true when a person does recognize it through some process of verification.