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The Problem With Relativism

 
 
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Feb, 2012 09:43 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Would that debate into what is meaningful be meta-ontological? Is it then relativism is the cloak that makes all subjective pursuits into what we might apprehend as meaningful to only be "mimicking" an objective noumena as one might experience it subjectively? Cos one may argue that what one finds meanigful is no more or less meaningful than that of it's relativistic counterpart. Is this what you mean when you say relativism falls apart on its very own premiss?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Feb, 2012 12:03 am
@Procrustes,
What I meant is that relativism is not a threat to Truth as the ground of all Being at its very best it only makes it more elusive...aside that I also meant to show the contradiction of "relativising" relativism itself which is what ultimately those who so vividly profess it should be doing by now...
If no true state is admitted onto what we call Reality relativism must itself as a form of knowledge be relative to something by which as a process it does not exclude an absolute form of knowing...and the proof in the way I see it is Being itself, the all of Existence in its multiple forms and manifestations...That which is is true, is in its own being a true form of ultimate knowledge, if not for mind and conscience of itself as an absolute, the reason of minds and consciences on their relative and finite experiences within the world...Subjectivity must itself be grounded in Objectivity!
...in tangible and plain layman´s terms, its not the case that knowledge is outside reality nor the case that reality it is n´t real...what knowledge addresses in the experience is always true if knowledge at all...whether its incomplete, it depends so much on the extension of what is, as much onto the extension of what is meant to be asked...knowledge as we perceive it necessarily addresses limited and sized forms of relation, be it the limit of what things can "potentiate", be it the limit of what the intellect is inquiring about...that does n´t make it any less true. Agreement even if only to some extent is the most practical demonstration of the objective grounds of subjective experiences...
bluemist phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Feb, 2012 09:53 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:
If no true state is admitted onto what we call Reality relativism must itself as a form of knowledge be relative to something by which as a process it does not exclude an absolute form of knowing...and the proof in the way I see it is Being itself, the all of Existence in its multiple forms and manifestations...That which is is true, is in its own being a true form of ultimate knowledge, if not for mind and conscience of itself as an absolute, the reason of minds and consciences on their relative and finite experiences within the world...Subjectivity must itself be grounded in Objectivity!

Relativism says that there is more than one reality. The one you call reality is only one possibility, no matter how certain we may be that it is absolute and the only one.

Relativism is not circular, but is a short spiral, which is exhausted in a couple of turns. So an object which is X in an absolute framework(!) is object X if Y in the framework Y. Knowledge is necessarily only possible in a specified framework.

There are many possible frameworks, but the number is countable, not infinite. This is one of the points where Aristotle's argument fails. The other is that his argument is circular. He assumes an absolute framework and based on that goes on to 'refute' relativism thus 'prove' an absolute framework.

However, no such refutation is logically possible! Absolutism is embedded in relativism as a special case, like Euclidean space is in curved space.
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Feb, 2012 09:59 am
@bluemist phil,
Can you explain to me how relativism is not infinite in possibilities of realities? I guess what I'm drawing it down to is the concept of infinity and if it is really infinite.
bluemist phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Feb, 2012 04:48 pm
@Procrustes,
Procrustes wrote:

Can you explain to me how relativism is not infinite in possibilities of realities? I guess what I'm drawing it down to is the concept of infinity and if it is really infinite.


I can try, though this probably deserves its own topic. Infinite regress has been a very important argument in epistemology. Plato insisted that justified true belief (JTB) for the visible world may be as close as we can come, but that it is only true and justified opinion yet not quite knowledge. Modern philosophy says that it is. One feature for Plato is that justification itself needs to be justified, and based on that, the knower himself must know that he knows.

Aristotle saw the possibility of regress in this logic, and resolved it by arguing that not all justification is of the same type.

The same argument goes for relativism. X, the object, is not of the same type as the frame of reference, Y. And the frame of reference, Y is of a different type from its frame of reference, Z.

For example, living things depend on the environment. Environment depends on the physical laws. Physical laws depend on matching observables to logic. Logic depends on it's possibilities. And that's the end. Kind of like fundamental categories are reached. To Plato, these were the Forms given by God.
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Feb, 2012 04:38 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

Relativism allows differing viewpoints to be considered equally correct on the basis that each is valid within its own cultural, religious, or political framework. For example, creationism is valid within a particular religious framework and therefore no less plausible than a scientific explanation of the natural world.

To me, relativism seems to take away the justification for judging one claim superior to another claim. In the absence of being able to make such judgments, how can knowledge advance?


I am coming to this debate late, and I'd like to apologize if my statements do not exactly follow the flow of the previous conversation. I like the generally friendly flow so far, tho'.

In my understanding, "relativism" doesn't represent the idea of each perspective's equal validity, so much as a view to the relative limit to each perspective. The facts conveyed by each perspective may be true or untrue, but they are arranged as coherently as possible within the limits available. Sometimes those limits are value-based, and sometimes they depend upon the knowledge (scientific or historical) accessible to observer.

To its credit, relativism (i feel disinclined to capitalize it, because i think it is a more common trend in thought than it is given credit for [this comes off as super-pretentious, i know]) tends to evaluate historical phenomena on the balance of two measures: its credibility (of whatever source, although it is generally tradition-based) and its success (which is usually judged by its outcome's ability to outlive the tradition-based authority.)

However, relativism is not a excuse for blind prejudice, or the accepting of the same: on the contrary -- relativism represents an imperative (or a disincentive) to accept the restrictions of past examples, tempered by a capacity for self-criticism for wild speculation in the hope of benefit.

0 Replies
 
demonhunter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Feb, 2012 10:34 am
That is actually a really good point.
Are we to say that knowledge doesn't advance (but perhaps only changes relation [aka perspective]) or that relativism doesn't relate to knowledge?
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Feb, 2012 03:01 am
@demonhunter,
Well, i'm just juggling ideas here...but why assume that knowledge advances, consistent with a linear metaphor. What if knowledge grows, like a tree: some branches grow and sprout, until the trunk reaches further skyward and higher branches shade the lower. Then a branch (or discipline [of knowledge], in this metaphor) either grows broader and further away from the trunk to fulfill its function and reach sunlight or becomes a useless appendage and withers. Some "demonstrate-able" knowledge thrives, some once-creditable knowledge falls away. (What "skyward" is meant to represent in this metaphor is beyond me, but hopefully the metaphor, itself, profits from the vagueness.)

To me, it doesn't seem to be a matter of relativism not relating to knowledge, but a question of how disparate known fact relate to each other, and the relationship between those facts and non-demonstrable beliefs. A narrative or an image need not be true to be coherent, and the human mind seems to want coherence more than it needs truth.

Also, relativism does not seem to only regard "knowledge" as worthy of note. Not only does it take cultural/historical peculiarities into account, but also places a value on a certain level of ignorance (which itself can only be evaluated from a particular vantage point.) Ignorance, which might only be granted a zero sum value within other forms of argument, actually assumes a value (although perhaps a negative one) within relativism...In fact, if i were inclined to make a callback to previous points in this thread, relativism's relationship with infinity might be in connection with the idea of ignorance. Compared with areas of certainty, ignorance must seem infinite. Ignorance might seem both limit and resource, marking the horizon of "infinite possibility". This is perhaps both this particular intellectual position's weakness and its strength.
Krumple
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Feb, 2012 03:34 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

Relativism allows differing viewpoints to be considered equally correct on the basis that each is valid within its own cultural, religious, or political framework. For example, creationism is valid within a particular religious framework and therefore no less plausible than a scientific explanation of the natural world.

To me, relativism seems to take away the justification for judging one claim superior to another claim. In the absence of being able to make such judgments, how can knowledge advance?


Not sure why no one has pointed out the actual problem with this theory.

You can't have two truths that are in direct conflict with each other, it doesn't make any sense. There has to be an underline truth that reveals the other to be false or wrong. Therefore relativism does not work. It is an attempt to play nice with everyone else and avoid the inevitable conflicts that people will have when they realize what they believe is wrong. Since no one likes to be wrong and some beliefs make people feel warm and fuzzy they refuse to acknowledge reality when it is right in front of them. This is where that concept arises.

It really is a new age concept, because most ways of thinking generally exclude other ways. There has to be a fundamental underlining truth that reveals either both or one of the concepts wrong. You can't have conflicting truths.

Let me use an example to explain the common error people are making.

When you talk about the concept of relativism in relation to an object moving or stationary to another object that is only revealing a true statement about one aspect of the object. In other words you can not say that the object is both moving and not moving relative to that same object. It makes no sense.

The boat is both moving and not moving relative to the shore is nonsensical. However; you can change the perspective and say relative to the shore the boat is either moving or not moving. It can NOT be both.

This is where people take relativism and try to misconstrue it with things like astrology and say, well according to you it might be false but according to me it's true. "We have relative realities with astrology and both are true." No that is wrong, it can only be one way. Either astrology is right or it is wrong, it can't be both. Although an aspect of astrology could be right it doesn't make the whole thing right as well.

Relativism is a concept stolen as an attempt to allow everyone to have their cake and eat it without someone having the ability to prove them wrong. In other words people refuse to accept reality for what it really is.
demonhunter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Feb, 2012 11:07 am
@Razzleg,
Very nice analogy. I have actually been examining the idea that perhaps analogous logic is, above all other forms of reasoning, the way we must understand. What this says about relativism, if anything, I am not sure. However, I will not argue with the tree of knowledge or any of its inferences. ; )
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Feb, 2012 12:18 am
@demonhunter,
pffft...well, thank you. A metaphor is successful insofar as it serves, and "the tree" will work until it is stretched too far Razz i have to admit that i am something of a relativist (although, i don't think that anyone is just a relativist), as i interpret it (which is obviously the version that i am espousing), but that term, like most words, is vague...thus all of the "mights" and" mays" in my posts. I'm just proposing a potentially fruitful program for relativism, not a definition...
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Feb, 2012 12:47 am
@Krumple,
Relativism, as a philosophical movement, is a bottom-up strain of inquiry v. a top-down epistemological method...much more a pragmatic form of skepticism than a cosmo-/onto-logy. It seems to me to be less an attempt to make all perspectives copacetic than an appeal to individuals to confirm certainty before making irrevocably negative decisions...

Relativism in physics is about the constancy of motion, and the relationship between divergent positions. While both the philosophical and the scientific notions of relativism relate to the idea of perspective, their implications are different.

As to the new-age-yness of relativism...I cannot deny that many proponents of relativism fall within this category, but relativism has many classical antecedents. Montaigne might have been a "relativist" were he alive today, since he was both a good skeptic and a good Catholic; yet he is also the father of what many of us would consider modern common sense. Relativism may be abused to make nonsensical points, like most other philosophical disciplines, but it may also be used to reinforce traditional positions as well as introduce new insights.

And to make one last point (that might undermine any that i might have scored above): Truth may, and must by definition, inhabit multiple categories, but there is no proof that all categories are coherent with one another. Greek tragedy was a product of the idea that truths might conflict, dramatically and historically, and that particular form of play-acting-out of man's co-existence might yield some insight into his real one. What if coherence (Kant's law of non-contradiction) is a product of a person's preferences, habits, or needs; rather than an aspect of truth's. I.e. the mind may demands non-contradiction, but not "reality"?
0 Replies
 
NoSuchThing
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 May, 2012 07:10 pm
@wandeljw,
Because you seem to forget that the judge who is doing the judging is part of the differing viewpoints you mentioned. One therefore must always ask "who is doing the judging?"

That's relativism for you.
0 Replies
 
 

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