Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Everything Is Relative...or Is It?

Every winter, places around the world encounter some interesting weather.  Some face cooler temperatures for a few days, while others face temperatures of -30°C/-20°F that last for weeks.  In both cases, people complain about how frigid it is, while others say that it isn’t that cold.  Then, when the temperature warms up significantly, you get the same thing: some say that it’s warm out, and others say that it’s still a little chilly.  What gives?!

The same concept can be applied to affluence.  I’m sure that you all have witnessed people who have nothing but the clothes on their backs (if that) and feel rich, while there are billionaires who complain that they don’t have enough money to live comfortably.  In all cases, one might say that it all depends on one’s point of view or perspective taken.

This brings us to the concept of relativism.  It suggests that points of view do not have absolute truths since things have relative/subjective value based on differences in perception of and importance attributed by the individual concerned.  However, one argument against this concept points out that relativism actually contradicts itself: If the statement “everything is relative” is viewed as a relative statement, it doesn’t rule out absolutes, and if it’s considered an absolute statement, it indicates that not all things are relative.

Further exploration of the concept leads to all sorts of “isms,” including: moral relativism, cultural relativism, anthropological/methodological relativism, philosophical relativism, descriptive relativism, normative relativism, and I could go on and on.  However, just looking at these concepts gives me a splitting headache!

So, if you’re like me and you can’t stand where this discussion is going, just do what I do: Blame it on fast foods.

- B. J. T. Pepin

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