All truth is relative

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David O'Leary (mcdermidk@montclair.edu) thinks it's not real knowledge that All truth is relative.

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The statement alone disproves itself. If all truth were to be relative than this statement would not be true in certain instances. If it is not true in certain instances because of its relative nature then it is not knowledge. Real knowledge needs to be true in all instances. Therefore if one claims to know that "all truth is relative" they are mistaken in this one particular statement at the very least, because they are attempting to make an objective statement.

Furthermore, there are basic truths that can be proven through logic,rational argument, and sufficient justification. These truths are constant and irrefutable. Gravity effects all on Earth who attempt to move their bodies. Human bodies need water to survive. Balls have no sides. These examples refute the above claim that "all truth is relative."

If all truth were relative my world would be chaotic. I might be cutting myself on the sharp edge of a basketball one day and travel past classmates walking on the ceiling the next. These are extreme examples, yet serve a purpose. Universal and earthly truths keep our mind's centered and humanity striving towards the same destinations of knowledge.

There are many who believe this statement, "all truth is relative" to be true. There are a myriad of reasons and approaches that cause them to believe so. One reason many adults are paralyzed by cognitive dissonance. Psychologically, if their opinions and/or beliefs are called into doubt they experience a mental turbulence that they may not be willing to endure. Often times it is easier to say truth is relative. Coping phrases such as, "Each person is different." "Whatever he wants to believe is fine." "Potato... Potatoe it's all the same." may be used. If a person's knowledge is tested or scrutinized that might be extremely difficult for an adult to handle. When one has reached the "age of maturity" in our society they often put their head in the sand and cling to their relative truths.

Key terms & concepts:

false Notion, opinion, widely held belief, classical philosophy, relativism, Knowledge-skepticism



Kirk's comments from the feedback page:
OK, good job getting your argument on its knowledge-status expressed clearly.
  • Really interesting examples of objective truths - I'm sure A/D/Rs will focus on those!
  • OK, fairly good discussion of why some believe this claim as real knowledge. But notice that what you're saying is that they are really fooling themselves - they know it's not really knowledge. (Those reasons to believe it aren't justifications that it's knowledge - they're just reasons it's better to believe it than not.)
  • I'd think it made more sense to put that last para first: it sets up the rest, no?


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