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Relativistic Theory: Implications for Knowledge, Authentic Existence, and Social Order

By Nicholas U. Asogwa

Summary

Abstract.
Over the years, there has been a running battle between the universalists and the relativists as to which stand is correct vis-à-vis the philosophical notions of knowledge and morality. Whereas for the universalists morality is universal, eternal, and unchanging, the relativists hold that man is the measure of all things and accordingly, that morality is relative to each individual and/or culture. The universalists contend that our idea of judgment and belief must have standards that they must meet independently of anyone’s propensity to accept it. The relativists built their philosophy on the foundation that there exists extreme variation in customs, manners, religions vis-à-vis different human societies, just as moral beliefs and attitudes of individuals are basically learnt from their own cultural environments. It is on the basis of the alleged absence of all-time and all-place valid standards of truth or morality that the universalists launched a devastating attack on the relativists, arguing that there would be neither moral progress nor any basis for scientifico-technological knowledge if everybody or culture is right about his or its belief or claim to knowledge. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to critically examine the philosophical concept of relativism within the context of knowledge, truth and morality. Through a thorough and critical analysis, the paper demonstrates the latent implications relativism portends for knowledge, the quest for authentic existence as well as social order. On the whole, the paper took a position that notwithstanding the obvious shortcomings of relativism, it has some rich and positive ingredients that could be exploited in our attempt to explore the nature of knowledge and truth, the search for authentic personal existence as well as social order.
Relativistic Theory: Implications for Knowledge, Authentic Existence, and Social Order
 
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