Relativism and the Path Forward

Moral relativism. My personal nemesis. What is it? Generally speaking, relativism means that the truth of a belief is relative to the culture of a group of people (cultural relativism) or just to an individual alone (individual relativism). I think it was Shakespeare (I could be wrong) who said something like “Nothing is true or false, except that thinking makes it so.” And that is something I wholeheartedly disagree with.

The strongest case for relativism is usually associated with religion and the sacredness of something. For example, a relativist might argue that the 25th of December (Christmas) is sacred to Christians while cows are sacred to Hindus. I’m kind of of the mind that neither one is truly sacred; at the very least, I do not think anyone should be put to death for violating either tenet. Call me silly. Additionally, I don’t think celebrating Christmas should be grouped together with the practice of human sacrifice. Call me silly. That all said, relativists do have a point.

It is a strange phenomenon of war that, often, in a conflict between two parties, both parties usually regard the other as the aggressor. It is this phenomenon that has led to an embrace of relativism (in this case cultural relativism) in our modern society. In other words, there is a vast causal web that forms our cosmos. Our position in this web determines how we react to causal influences (you know, cause and effect); so, at that level our position is kind of relativistic (as in relativism, not relativity). The challenge is to get beyond our own relativistic limitations and seek to understand others from their own point-of-view. And the same should be said for these others. That is, both sides should flip-flop from point-of-view to point-of-view to gain knowledge (not truth; truth is a separate animal; knowledge is relative, truth is not). It is a process I will call, in fancy-shmancy language, reverse relativism or relativistic flip-flopping.

The problem with the Left is that they get hung up on their opponent’s point-of-view. They seem to apply relativism to one side and one side of the debate only. They say that the Right should look at their enemy’s point-of-view (at the present time, Isis’). And they stop there. They don’t seem to realize that if we are going to flip-flop into Isis’ point-of-view, Isis should flip-flop into ours. They don’t seem to realize that “talking” is a two-way street. They think we can have peace with an enemy just by being willing to talk to them. Yes, talking is the way forward (a.k.a. reverse relativism) but only if both sides are willing to talk. One side being willing to talk doesn’t get you anywhere when the other side is crucifying people with whom they disagree.

So, is there a way forward? I, in my vast cosmic wisdom (:)), would hesitantly suggest reverse relativism to the sane parties on the planet in their international correspondence. As for the terrorists like Isis … I just don’t know. In other words, diplomacy is preferable to war; but, we all knew that anyway.

I kind of meandered a bit, but I hope this was a useful post.


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