How to Defend Relativism… NOT!

It started by one of my housemates (actually a usual suspect, the subject of this post) making a claim like “French people are lazy”. Of course not exactly this, but very similar. Now, I do not usually argue with him anymore, since his positions are completely absurd (such as this), but when he started talking about who we should let in the house based on this notion, I could not contain myself.

Now, this housemate (Let’s call him A) has a PhD in Anthropology, but could not be more illogical. Sadly of course even in academia one may find such absurdities go a long way. In any case, I immediately challenged him. “How do you know this is true?”, to which he responded “Because in this very house I have lived with five French people that were very lazy.”

Well, since I like statistics, and I like logic as well as fairness, I told him “This is discrimination, because you make your judgement based upon very small amount of data. Maybe not all French people are lazy”. In response, instead of responding to my point, he simply said the same thing again, and again, in different ways. To which I simply pointed out he is repeating himself. Then he said his usual nonsense “Everyone has his own logic”, to which I replied “This is absolute nonsense”.

This is when the second housemate (A girl, call her T) came in. Now, personality wise she is a very nice girl, in this case, she gave a frightening image of what may intellectually arise from unsound logical arguments. She said “Of course everybody has her own logic,” and seeing that I was going to respond she added “and I am not going to argue that with you because we obviously have no common ground”.

Ironically she is right, and her defence is in fact logically valid (she does not accept logic as the basis for arguments after all). However, immediately this will cause tremendous problems for her. She has studied Sociology (why am I not surprised?), and currently is writing an assignment paper. Consider this question “Does this assignment have anything to do with reality of the world (facts, history, science, population demographics, etc.)?”, if yes, and if this paper has anything to add to any factual matters in the world, then there “must” be a ground for it. If tomorrow she present any argument about any factual matter, there must be a ground so that reality of that claim is represented and understood by conscious intelligent beings.

This ground, this foundation, is logic. And by default cannot be dependant subjectively on individuals. If such was the case, she would not have been able to utter a word to anyone about any matter concerning reality. But what do you know, she does. And well, I cannot say that I will care to argue about any matter with her any more. Sadly, she does not listen, and though I may care about her lack of knowledge, I am not responsible for her refusal to listen.

I do not know which is worse, religious zealots or relativists. Fundamentalists may be damaging, but at least their damage is obvious. Relativists pretend to search for truth where there is none, and ignore reality. A defeated, but yet treacherous and damaging intellectual position that can only help nonsense, bigotry and stupidity to thrive.

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2 thoughts on “How to Defend Relativism… NOT!

  1. You’re not wrong. I’m doing a social science PhD at the moment and this kind of thinking is… trying, to say the least. But many sociologists would say that their work just isn’t saying anything about objective reality.

    • Hi Jonny,

      I had some vague idea about this from the research method classes, but frankly what annoyed me was the fact that the girl said quite the reverse. She said something in the lines of “What you say has nothing to do with reality. That’s not how the world works.”

      What can one do? Maybe just shrug and hope she at least listens to someone else.

      P.S: I do follow your blog by the way, with enthusiasm.

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