The anti-humanism of Relativism

It is easy to trust in relativism. It is, after all, an egalitarian point of view, which argues all ideas are equally valid. That is what most people think it means. But look at it a different way. It makes the claim that all ideas are equally worthless. Relativism, which denies its own worth, takes itself too far. It is a nihilistic doctrine which inevitably negates all philosophy, all thinking, all ideas.

Whilst rationalism has its weaknesses it must also be commended for its achievements: we all benefit from modern medicines, finer entertainment and better communication. Even religion, despite its history of violence and war, has its benign moments. Relativism does not. It is eternally malignant, but camouflages itself in the guise of the sensible.

It is attractive to the lazy mind, for any thought, even the vacuous one, is valid. But judgement and discernment are inescapable parts of being human. I don’t mean moral judgements. I don’t mean judging how my neighbour lives and I don’t mean discernment in the sense of comparing things to some kind of truth and universal absolutes. Although it is these things which relativism plays on in order to make itself attractive.

I mean the kind of judgement all thinking things can make. I mean distinguishing between what is a difference in perception and what might be a difference in reality. All perceptions differ; that does not mean there is no single reality. Relativism ultimately denies that reality, and at the same time all those things which make us human; plurality, creativity, the ability to have ideas, art, philosophy, literature: the list goes on.

Too many people embrace relativism. That is because it is easy to do so. Because it is attractive and has the ability to seduce the thinking mind. But think on. Not all is as it seems. Do not give the pretender the keys to the throne room.

2 thoughts on “The anti-humanism of Relativism

  1. I think there are very few absolute truths in this world but plenty of falsehoods. Reason and insight together are the best means we have available to discern them. If there is a single reality, it is elusive, but that should not prevent us from seeking it. However, I believe it is a constant search, and people who are still seeking are closer to it than those who think they have found it. I enjoy your posts. Thanks.

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