The Sock Diary

Musings of a part-time Sweaty Sock.

Friday, April 22, 2005

What is relativism?

BBC NEWS | Magazine | What is relativism?. Interesting article. The comments at the bottom are worth reading. Mr Mark La Vardera, UK, makes the point for his opposition I feel.

I believe the old motto "All things in moderation, including moderation". The answer is not pure relativism, but neither is it staunch unbending absolutism. Walk the middle path, using the tools from the toolsets of both where appropriate, and hey presto, real life, sans bigotry with any luck.

I think relativism is a luxury we in the "developed" world have the time and education to think about. Imagine being a farmer who never went to school, subsisting only on what your poorly irrigated fields may or may not supply you with, hard manual labour every day. You wouldn't have a lot of time to develop a personal moral philosophy, and a priest telling you absolutely that you will get your reward in heaven for the hell you're going through on earth must be easy to accept, or at least, not argue with because you haven't the energy. Asking deep questions about meta-physical things used to be an elite sport when most people in the world were uneducated labourers, before the industrial revolution. Huge technological change has massively reduced the need for demanding physical labour, and what work remains no longer takes all our time (for most people), so we have more time to think about... stuff, rather than how to feed the kids tomorrow.

I don't think the Church can afford to ignore it (which they're not doing, just seeing any change is like geological movements). However, they will be able to delay any changes indefinately if the world has the predicted levels of water-shortages and global climate change in the next thirty or so years, as everyone will be back in suurvival mode, and in need of a quick, simple, absolute assurance.

Hope that made some sense.


  • At 7:07 pm, Anonymous otter one said…

    But to rail against the 'dictatorship of relativism' when all you're proposing as an alternative is the dictatorship of doctrine is hardly going to win friends and inluence people, is it? I think they need to treat people with a lot more respect than they're maybe used to doing - especially as they've ignored their really strong developing churches with the papal appointment of the Panzer Kardinal. Sounds to me like he's preaching to the (well-educated, white, Western) choir, and allowing the rest of the world to write him, and the Catholic church, off as past-it, irrelevant, and worse, actively dangerous: preaching that condoms offer no protection against HIV and that homosexuality is 'intrinsically evil'. See how long many of the vibrant and lively churches in Africa and Latin America are going to listen to what an aging Western-European arch-conservative says - i see schisms off the starboard bow, cap'n.

  • At 11:35 pm, Blogger PartTimeSock said…

    "...all you're proposing..." being "...all the Catholic Church is proposing" I believe.

    "See how long many of the vibrant and lively churches in Africa and Latin America are going to listen to what an aging Western-European arch-conservative says...."

    But the Catholic Church has been doing that for hundreds of years. Replace Western-European with hegemony of whatever time you choose. Why should it change now? How is it different to any "benevolent" dictatorship, where the borders are open, such as Lichtenstein, Saudi Arabia, Monaco, the Isle of Mann ;)? Why do people stay in a club when the rulers/council/govt don't necessarily do what's right for the members? Inertia, lack of capability, no alternatives, fight from within? Who knows?

    I know I can't be arsed to work out how to leave Britain. I like it for the most the part, just hate all the politicians and all the authority figures. Is there anywhere else would be better? If I found somewhere idyllic, with no phones, no authoritarianism, share and share alike, etc - paradise... except I would know I'd have bailed out. I'd have stopped caring about anything, just so long as me and my little world are OK, I'll ignore everything else and hope someone else does something about it. Head, ostrich, sand. Plus there'd only be about seven of us there and we'd have a punch up day three about who's turn it is to do the dishes.


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