- The permanently tempting doctrine that in some areas at least, truth itself is relative to the standpoint of the judging subject (‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’). The first classical statement is the doctrine of the Sophist Protagoras that ‘man is the measure of all things’. Relativism may be a global doctrine about all knowledge, or a local doctrine about some area (aesthetics, ethics, or judgements of secondary qualities, for example). The aspects of the subjects supposed to determine what truth is ‘for them’ may include historical, cultural, social, linguistic, or psychological background, or brute sensory constitution. Relativism is one attempt to take these contingencies into account in formulating the relationship between the believer and the truth believed. It may be regarded as an attempt to avoid the scepticism that almost inevitably follows when an absolute conception of truth is combined with recognizing our differently rooted, variable, contingent ways of making judgements. Relativism is frequently rejected on the grounds that it is essential to the idea of belief or judgement that there are standards that it must meet, independently of anyone's propensity to accept it. Inability to make sense of such standards eventually paralyses all thought. Sophisticated relativists such as James (who described pragmatism as a form of relativism) reply that assessments of truth and falsity may be made in a disciplined way within a framework, even if the framework is itself contingent, and that the ‘circum-pressure of experience’ is all we need and can have as a ‘guarantee against licentious thinking’ (The Meaning of Truth, 1909). The central problem of relativism is one of giving it a coherent formulation, making the doctrine more than the platitude that differently situated people may judge differently, and less than the falsehood that contradictory views may each be true. Much postmodernist thought may be regarded as a somewhat abandoned celebration of relativism. See also perspectivism.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.
Look at other dictionaries:
Relativism — • A doctrine which denies, universally or in regard to some restricted sphere of being, the existence of absolute values Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Relativism Relativism … Catholic encyclopedia
relativism — RELATIVÍSM s.n. Doctrină care postulează relativitatea cunoştinţelor omeneşti, în sensul că nimic nu este absolut adevărat decât prin raportare la individ. ♦ Relativitate. – Din fr. relativisme. Trimis de RACAI, 22.11.2003. Sursa: DEX 98 … … Dicționar Român
relativism — 1865, in philosophy, from RELATIVE (Cf. relative) + ISM (Cf. ism). Cf. RELATIVIST (Cf. relativist) … Etymology dictionary
relativism — ► NOUN ▪ the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute. DERIVATIVES relativist noun … English terms dictionary
relativism — [rel′ə tiviz΄əm] n. Philos. any theory of ethics or knowledge based on the idea that all values or judgments are relative, differing according to circumstances, persons, cultures, etc. relativist n. relativistic adj … English World dictionary
Relativism — Compare moral relativism, aesthetic relativism, social constructionism, cultural relativism, and cognitive relativism. Relativism is the idea that some elements or aspects of experience or culture are relative to, i.e., dependent on, other… … Wikipedia
relativism — The word relativism is used loosely to describe intellectual positions which reject absolute or universal standards or criteria. Thus, epistemological relativism is the view that there are no universal criteria of knowledge or truth. What counts… … Dictionary of sociology
Relativism — the view that the meaning and value of human beliefs and behaviors have no absolute reference. Relativists claim that humans understand and evaluate beliefs and behaviors only in terms of, for example, their historical and cultural context.… … Mini philosophy glossary
relativism — [[t]re̱lətɪvɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT Relativism is the belief that the truth is not always the same but varies according to circumstances. Traditionalists may howl, but in today s world, cultural relativism rules... Bennett launched a crusade for… … English dictionary
relativism — /rel euh teuh viz euhm/, n. Philos. any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments. [1860 65; RELATIVE + ISM] * * * Any view that maintains that the truth or falsity of statements of a… … Universalium