Re: Where we lost America

From: Alex F. Bokov (
Date: Fri Nov 02 2001 - 12:34:36 MST


On Fri, 2 Nov 2001, Mike Lorrey wrote:

> Ah, the funniest statement I've seen all day. First she declares that
> she is not a dogmatist, despite dogmatically clinging to silly beliefs
> like that bin Laden and al Qaeda don't really want to kill us despite
> their declarations that they do. Then she claims to not be a relativist,
> despite repeated and unceasing declarations that we need to understand
> those societies better, that they are a religion of peace, despite
> muslims holding a near-monopoly on terrorism around the world, and that
> we need to change our foreign policies to match what other countries and
> societies want, that our society consumes too much, doesn't consider
> other cultures enough, etc etc etc....

Those might be views that a relativist would hold, but not inherently
linked to relativism. Cultural relativism is the belief that no way of
life, language, body of folk traditions, religion, cuisine, choice of
fashion, etc. is inherently superior to any other. This, tempered by
common sense (e.g. let's draw the line at cannibalism and slavery) is
eminently compatible with Western democractic, libertarian culture.

The opposite of relativism would be extreme chauvinism including the
"America love it or leave it" variety as well as the "Death to
infidels" variety.

Unsurprisingly relativism is highly vulnerable to missense mutations
like the one I'll call absolute relativism.

Absolute relativism is the belief that not only is everybody free to
believe what they want, not only that you are *potentially* as
mistaken as everybody else, but that everybody else is *actually* as
right as you are. Where a normal relativist says "I believe 'A' but I
could be swayed toward 'B' if somebody can prove to me that 'B' is
more consistant with my other memes than 'A'" an absolute relativist
says "'A' and 'B' (and all other memes everywhere) have exactly the
same truth value". This creates all kinds of interesting dilemmas,
like mutually exclusive statements being equally right, or relativism
itself being on an equal footing with absolutism.

If absolute relativists (and their less sophisticated flag-burning
cousins the leftilists) had paid more attention in philosophy class,
they would realize that this is a solved problem. The answer is
existentialism. If existentialism proves too convoluted (which it well
may, since hardly anybody except me will ever give you a straight
answer as to what the hell it even IS) I refer the world to the
streamlined and enhanced Existentialism

However, I don't believe that Samantha is an absolute relativist,
because if she was, it would be impossible for her to disagree with
you or anybody else. I also don't believe her assertion that she is
not a relativist at all, since some degree of relativism is pretty
much a prerequisite for being a rational, modern individual.

- --
* I believe that the majority of the world's Muslims are good, *
* honorable people. If you are a Muslim and want to reassure me and *
* others that you are part of this good, honorable majority, all *
* you need to say are nine simple words: "I OPPOSE the Wahhabi cult *
* and its Jihad." *

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