Bardo de Saldo wrote:There's a couple two three philosophical doctrines called relativism. They all boil down to this: Truth is relative. Hardly dangerous, except for Moral Absolutists on a mission. As if Truth was so important. Last time they took a count of liars, no doctrine appeared to be under-represented.
I would agree with you, but I would phrase this in a different way. Truth is not relative, truth is absolute. The problem is that sometimes it is quite difficult to see what is true. Some truths are simple but others are not simple at all. Sometimes people are in honest disagreement about what is true... and there is nothing wrong with that.
There are some truths which we will never know. We must have enough courage to seek the truth but enough humility to know that often we will not find it.
Bardo de Saldo wrote:Really, if you hold something to be True, does it matter whether that truth is absolute or relative?
Yes, it matters. But I think you and I are basically in agreement. The real problem is not any purported "relativists," it's moral absolutists.
chad wrote:if 'relativism' means that things are relative, then i guess if you assume that things are 'knowable things', then all knowable things are relative to knowledge, as aristotle says in the categories.
"Relativism" is a word misused by so-called "conservatives" in the U.S. If you don't tow the conservative party line, then you get accused of denying the whole idea of right and wrong. As if you were opposed to ethics as such.
The most obvious flaw in this argument is that the conservatives themselves are just as "relative" in their ethical behavior as anyone else. They are constantly making exceptions to their own supposed moral standards.
There are very few actual "relativists" out there. Pretty much 99% of the people walking the Earth have some kind of belief about what is true and what is false, and everybody except an out-an-out psychopath has some kind of ethical values. It doesn't come from the head, it comes from the gut. IMHO that's part of the hardware of human beings.
The idea that "nothing is true" is just a philosophical game. It's an interesting debate, an intellectual exercise, nothing more. When push comes to shove, people know the value of truth. All
With relativism, you would not be able to use reason to convince someone of your position. You would be limited to not convincing them or using force to make that person accept it.
History if full of bloodbaths, perpetrated by people who do
think they know what's right and wrong. The issue isn't relativism, the issue is humility and basic ethical standards. The abandonment of reason is normally perpetrated by absolutists, who think they already have all the answers and no longer allow themelves to be swayed by any rational arguments. Who needs reason, if you are already the proud possessor of absolute truth?
Anyone who tries to reason with an absolutist will be accused of defying truth itself... accused of being a relativist. For an absolutist, there is no distinction between "disagreeing about what is true" and "denying truth itself."