Tuesday, June 21, 2016

'That may be true for you, but it's not true for me!'

According to the relativist, people who speak simply of what’s ‘true’ are naïve. ‘Whose truth?’ asks the relativist. ‘No claim is ever true, period. What’s true is always true for someone. It’s true relative to a particular person or culture. There’s no such thing as the absolute truth on any issue.
            This sort of relativism is certainly popular. For example, many claim that we ought never to condemn cultures with different moral points of view to our own. Differing moral perspectives are all equally valid. Similarly, some claim that while astrology and Feng Shui might be ‘false’ from a Western, scientific viewpoint, they are ‘true’ when viewed from alternative, New Age perspectives. What’s ‘true’ ultimately comes down to ones point of view.

Continues here at CFI blogs.


Paul P. Mealing said...

This book was my introduction to you. I read it in 2003 (I think it was) while I was recovering from a prostate operation. And I remember this specific issue.

Almost 20 years ago, when I was studying philosophy (as a mature-age student) I did a subject called 'Power and Knowledge' (stretching my memory, so may be wrong about the title) and it specifically dealt with the premise that all knowledge is relative to culture. I remember once sitting in the home of the lecturer, along with another student, arguing that science and mathematics are 'special' forms of knowledge in that they reveal objective truths.

He made the point that scientific knowledge is in a constant state of renewal or change (not his exact words), to which the other student commented that the logical conclusion to that was that the entire history of science could be false. To my surprise, the lecturer agreed with her.

In a written exam (though the topic was chosen beforehand), I challenged an essay the lecturer had authored regarding how Einstein's General Theory of Relativity had trumped Newton's theory of gravity. I can't remember the details, but I quoted Einstein's own words, effectively proving him wrong. To the lecturer's credit, he gave me a high distinction for my paper.

Regards, Paul.

= MJA said...

'Man is the measure of all things', and in there lies the flaw in us all.
Understanding the flaw of measure leads to the single absolute.
Be One,

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Paul.