Philosophy 1305F/G - Lecture 2.docx

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Philo1305 January 16, 2012
Lecture 2
Topic: Arguments Against Relativism
3 Arguments Opposing Relativism
“All truth is relative.”
o The statement itself is absolute. This makes something relative by way of
absolutism. This is a contradiction.
Double Ignorance Single Ignorance
*It is Socrates’ ultimate goal to bring his students to a state of single ignorance. If Socrates
makes you realize that you cannot define justice, can you still be a judge? No!
o When you are in double ignorance, you have false opinion but do not know so.
o When you are in single ignorance you have no opinion; you know that you don’t
know. It is a kind of knowledge: “I am aware of my state.” Socrates was self-
proclaimed self-ignorant. In the state of single ignorance, one is often (more)
actively pursuing intelligence.
There is activity in terms of intellectual pursuit (double is less than
single), and there is activity in terms of practical pursuit (double is more
than single).
o Thus, no one would be able to make the shift from double ignorance to single
ignorance if there was no such thing as absolutism.
Alan Bloom (1987) The Closing of the American Mind: “Relativism is for the sake of
universal tolerance.”
o We are all against war, slavery, racism, chauvinism, persecutions, etc.; we all
want peace.
o Relativists maintain that the causes of all of these things stem from the fact that
people think they are right. Because they think they are right, there is tension.
We should get rid of absolutism, and in so doing, no one will think they’re right,
and everyone will be universally tolerant. As a result we will all live in peace and
harmony. Thus they see relativism as the means to the end (the end being
Universal Tolerance).
o He states that students have been schooled to think that the only thing that exists
in relativism. Schools are ordered to promote relativism everything is equally
true and must be accepted to be so; everything is valuably truthless!
You could also argue that students are taught not to question, and thus,
are absolutist because they believe that there is no truth.
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