Relativism?


#1

While I know that relativism does not coincide with any sort of belief in an omniscient and omnibenevolent God, I was wondering how do you guys address the problem when confronted by relativist arguments. Are there any arguments you found particularly damning to relativism, or does the discussion end up in a draw most of the time?

Any website or book reccomendations would be welcome.


#2

Something’s essences cannot be two things at once. For example, a fetus cannot be a person and not a person simultaneously. A fetus is either a person (true) or not a person (false). Whether or not someone believes a fetus is a person does the change the fact that a fetus is a person.

Maybe this link will help: newadvent.org/cathen/12731d.htm
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#3

Dr. Peter Kreeft gave a lecture refuting relativism. You can find it and download it for free here. You might want to also check out his book on this topic as well.

His site has many wonderful lectures and writings, you should take some time to explore it.


#4

Thanks for the site!

Yeah, I have been directed to Peter Kreeft’s website a few times. I am reluctant, however, to really put my faith in one or two websites. The reason I ask questions on this board is primarily to get a variety of opinions. I am not a huge fan of Kreeft, though I have nothing against his theology or his opinions.

That, and I normally get educated arguments in a timely manner on this site, which I thank you all for.

God Bless,

Ian


#5

I’ll second the Kreeft audio refutation. Great strategies!

God Bless,
RyanL


#6

[quote=Ianjo99]Thanks for the site!

Yeah, I have been directed to Peter Kreeft’s website a few times. I am reluctant, however, to really put my faith in one or two websites. The reason I ask questions on this board is primarily to get a variety of opinions. I am not a huge fan of Kreeft, though I have nothing against his theology or his opinions.

That, and I normally get educated arguments in a timely manner on this site, which I thank you all for.

God Bless,

Ian
[/quote]

Yeah, these forums are great for getting educated arguments in a timely manner. I was actually directed to Dr. Kreeft through here on another question. I rather enjoyed his arguments refuting relativism, and in audio format it was rather convenient.

This got me to wondering if CA Live had the topic of relativism, I think I’ll check that. If it does I’ll post the link.


#7

Hi!!

This book is great.
amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0801058066/qid=1126497657/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-4370833-1388856?v=glance&s=books

I would love to help with some arguments; could you post some sample points to refute? or do you just mean: broad relativism?

Thanks.


#8

Well, as far as actual arguments, I would say that I need help against relativism in morality, that there can be no objective morality because of different times, ideas of morality, etc…

I listened to some of Kreeft’s speech, and it has really helped me with answers. Some printed answers are always welcome of course :slight_smile:


#9

There’s a fun exercise to exorcise relativism.

If someone says that there is more than one truth and that his truth is different from your truth but that’s okay. Simply ask if that statement is ABSOLUTELY true. A yes would negate the statement. A no would make no sense at all.

in XT.


#10

CS Lewis wrote in, I believe Mere Christianity, that there had to be a God because of the inherent sense of right and wrong in all people that cuts across all cultures and time.

For example, there has never been a scoiety that has held up cowardice as a virtue. There has never been a statue built to honor a nation’s greatest liar. Instead it is always courage and honesty that are held up as virtues.

The only way to explain this inherent sense of right and wrong is to acknowledge a source. A source (they may not be willing to acknowledge that it is God) who has set in place an absolute truth.

CS Lewis explains it much better than I but I hope that helps.


#11

There are some simple examples you could use. Relativism holds the idea that what’s good for you may not be good for me, and it’s not my job to judge you or tell you if I think something’s bad for you. What happens when someone breaks into your home? They’re just doing what they want to do and we have no right to infringe on what they want. Ridiculous, right?? But that argument is inserted into life arguments by pro-choicers all the time, for example.

I know you said you don’t like Peter Kreeft, but he gives a terrific example where he was teaching a class that didn’t believe what he was saying about relativism. So he told them that all the men in the class would be receiving A’s but not matter how hard the women tried they wouldn’t receive higher than a B. Of course the women immediately began protesting and saying “that’s not fair.” Once they began using the “it’s not fair” argument he got them to see that they were indeed appealing to a higher law and a natural oder.


#12

Thanks for all the comments, they have really helped me in understanding the concept and ways to accurately defend absolutism. It turns out many ‘relativists’ are not very relative at all.

I got into a discussion with one of my relativist friends over affirmative action, and asked him if he thought racism was bad. He agreed, and I said in the spirit of open-mindedness, he should try and see their point of view. He declined, saying that racism is always bad. I told him thats not very relative, more absolute. He had no response.

I think many people see relativism as escaping having to stand for anything or risking offending anyone.

You know what? I am sick and tired of people saying that we shouldn’t say/believe certain things because it offends them. I am not saying that we should go around preaching homophobia or racism, but when we believe that something is wrong (i.e. the act of homosexuality) I don’t think we should have to tip-toe around the bushes with it. Either we stand up for it, or we are just as good as those who deny it.

Indifference sickens me

Sorry if that’s a little angry, I am quite tense and a bit tired, so please forgive me!


#13

[quote=Aureole]Dr. Peter Kreeft gave a lecture refuting relativism. You can find it and download it for free here. You might want to also check out his book on this topic as well.

His site has many wonderful lectures and writings, you should take some time to explore it.
[/quote]

I love that site. I have all the lectures down loaded to my MP3 player. Kreeft was the one who got me hooked on C.S. Lewis.

Also the lecture on Lord of the Rings is great.
Beebs


#14

[quote=AquinasXVI]There’s a fun exercise to exorcise relativism.

If someone says that there is more than one truth and that his truth is different from your truth but that’s okay. Simply ask if that statement is ABSOLUTELY true. A yes would negate the statement. A no would make no sense at all.

in XT.
[/quote]

Relativism cannot ever get beyond this point. I have found that, while I am attending a liberal/secular college, not a single philosophy professor is a believer in the idea of moral relativism. It is simply an untenable position and no intelligent person who seriously considers its consequences will ever hold such an opinion.


#15

[quote=Aureole]Dr. Peter Kreeft gave a lecture refuting relativism. You can find it and download it for free here. You might want to also check out his book on this topic as well.

His site has many wonderful lectures and writings, you should take some time to explore it.
[/quote]

Cool, thanks for the link to his lecture. I downloaded it and listened on my commute home yesterday. Terrible sound quality, but great arguments.

Pete


#16

[quote=Beebs]I love that site. I have all the lectures down loaded to my MP3 player. Kreeft was the one who got me hooked on C.S. Lewis.

Also the lecture on Lord of the Rings is great.
Beebs
[/quote]

If I ever feel like I need a brief rest I’ll sit down to one of Dr. Kreeft’s lectures. I hope to eventually read some of his books as I haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet.

[quote=Pete2]Cool, thanks for the link to his lecture. I downloaded it and listened on my commute home yesterday. Terrible sound quality, but great arguments.

Pete
[/quote]

My pleasure. Dr. Kreeft has some really great arguments against relativism and his other lectures are fantastic!


#17

I am no expert at refuting relativism but in an unrefined way, I have always answered the question of:

“It doesn’t matter what a person believes in as long as they, (I) am happy”

by argueing that:

I believe the universe was created by God.

You believe the universe was greated by the “big bang”.

Both of us cannot be satisfied as mutually exclusive from what we both believe, the universe was only created ONE WAY and that ONE WAY is an ABSOLUTE TRUTH and exists as an ABSOLUTE TRUTH regardless of whether you or I believe it.

By logic, this arguement refutes Relativism and supports the existence of Absolute Truth as undenialble fact.

Am I on the right track???

Luke


#18

[quote=Ianjo99]…

I got into a discussion with one of my relativist friends over affirmative action, and asked him if he thought racism was bad. He agreed, and I said in the spirit of open-mindedness, he should try and see their point of view. He declined, saying that racism is always bad. I told him thats not very relative, more absolute. He had no response.


[/quote]

BRAVO!!! :thumbsup:

Perfect job!!


#19

Another way of refuting relativism is by disputing the philosophy of Phenominology - that all knowlege is subjective outside of self. (this philosophy which is previlent today is responsible for the saying: :“What is true for me is not neccessarily true for you”.

By definition, Phenominology disputes FACT, and ABSOLUTE TRUTH, everything is relative to the individual.

The following experiment illustrates that our subjective preception, from which phenominology and relativism are based are potentially biased against REALITY, FACT, ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

  1. Obtain 3 equal size bowls of water each filled with the same quantity of water. The first bowl contains hot water, the second, tepid and the third, cold water.

  2. Place the left hand in the hot water and the right hand in the cold water for 1 minute.

  3. After 1 minute, place both hands in the tepid water.

The result should be that the left hand senses that the water is cold and the right hand senses that the same water is hot. However, reality is that the water is tepid.

The mind has interpreted this experience incorrectly. The same can also be for optical illusions.

Therefore, we cannot interpret what we see, hear, feel, smell etc as being true based only on our own relative experience if we are not to be deceived. We must test everything according to absolute truth.

Luke


#20

Phenomenology is not evil in and of itself. In fact, JPII uses phenomenology in the Theology of the Body. There is a legitimacy in the subjective experience of the individual…otherwise you and me will not be both human. How our lives impact the world and God is part of this phenom.

The abuse of phenomenology is the problem. When the subjective experience is taken as the definitive source of truth we end up with relativism.

The Pope granted with wisdom pulled out what was good and true in phenomenology and set it free so to speak so we can further understand the human experience in the backdrop of reality. It is quite amazing how phenomenology used right beautifuly unites with the realistic philosophy of St. Thomas. Both make a fuller picture of our existence. It is speculated that if St. Thomas did not die early, he may have gotten around the subjective experience and explained it.

in XT.


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