Relativism Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
This is not the "relativism of truth" presented by journalistic takes on postmodernism. Rather, the ironist's cage is a state of irony by way of powerlessness and inactivity: In a world where terrorism makes cultural relativism harder and harder to defend against its critics, marauding international corporations follow fair-trade practices, increasing right-wing demagoguery and violence can't be answered in kind, and the first black U.S. president turns out to lean right of center, the intelligentsia can see no clear path of action. Irony dominates as a "mockery of the promise and fitness of things, " to return to the OED definition of irony. This thinking is appropriate to Wes Anderson, whose central characters are so deeply locked in ironist cages that his films become two-hour documents of them rattling their ironist bars. Without the irony dilemma Roth describes, we would find it hard to explain figures like Max Fischer, Steve Zissou, Royal Tenenbaum, Mr. Fox, and Peter Whitman. I'm not speaking here of specific political beliefs. The characters in question aren't liberals; they may in fact, along with Anderson himself, have no particular political or philosophical interests. But they are certainly involved in a frustrated and digressive kind of irony that suggests a certain political situation. Though intensely self-absorbed and central to their films, Anderson's protagonists are neither heroes nor antiheroes. These characters are not lovable eccentrics. They are not flawed protagonists either, but are driven at least as much by their unsavory characteristics as by any moral sense. They aren't flawed figures who try to do the right thing; they don't necessarily learn from their mistakes; and we aren't asked to like them in spite of their obvious faults. Though they usually aren't interested in making good, they do set themselves some kind of mission-Anderson's films are mostly quest movies in an age that no longer believes in quests, and this gives them both an old-fashioned flavor and an air of disillusionment and futility.

Arved Mark Ashby
[Professor Greene's] reaction to GAMAY, as published in the Yale Daily News, fairly took one's breath away. He fondled the word "fascist" as though he had come up with a Dead Sea Scroll vouchsafing the key word to the understanding of God and Man at Yale. In a few sentences he used the term thrice. "Mr. Buckley has done Yale a great service" (how I would tire of this pedestrian rhetorical device), "and he may well do the cause of liberal education in America an even greater service, by stating the fascist alternative to liberalism. This fascist thesis... This... pure fascism... What more could Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin ask for... ?" (They asked for, and got, a great deal more.) What survives, from such stuff as this, is ne-plus-ultra relativism, idiot nihlism. "What is required, " Professor Greene spoke, "is more, not less tolerance-not the tolerance of indifference, but the tolerance of honest respect for divergent convictions and the determination of all that such divergent opinions be heard without administrative censorship. I try my best in the classroom to expound and defend my faith, when it is relevant, as honestly and persuasively as I can. But I can do so only because many of my colleagues are expounding and defending their contrasting faiths, or skepticisms, as openly and honestly as I am mine." A professor of philosophy! Question: What is the 1) ethical, 2) philosophical, or 3) epistemological argument for requiring continued tolerance of ideas whose discrediting it is the purpose of education to effect? What ethical code (in the Bible? in Plato? Kant? Hume?) requires "honest respect" for any divergent conviction?

William F. Buckley Jr.
Kant is sometimes considered to be an advocate of reason. Kant was in favor of science, it is argued. He emphasized the importance of rational consistency in ethics. He posited regulative principles of reason to guide our thinking, even our thinking about religion. And he resisted the ravings of Johann Hamann and the relativism of Johann Herder. Thus, the argument runs, Kant should be placed in the pantheon of Enlightenment greats. That is a mistake. The fundamental question of reason is its relationship to reality. Is reason capable of knowing reality - or is it not? Is our rational faculty a cognitive function, taking its material form reality, understanding the significance of that material, and using that understanding to guide our actions in reality - or is it not? This is the question that divides philosophers into pro- and anti-reason camps, this is the question that divides the rational gnostics and the skeptics, and this was Kant's question in his Critique of Pure Reason. Kant was crystal clear about his answer. Reality - real, noumenal reality - is forever closed off to reason, and reason is limited to awareness and understanding of its own subjective products... Kant was the decisive break with the Enlightenment and the first major step toward postmodernism. Contrary to the Enlightenment account of reason, Kant held that the mind is not a response mechanism but a constitute mechanism. He held that the mind - and not reality - sets the terms for knowledge. And he held that reality conforms to reason, not vice versa. In the history of philosphy, Kant marks a fundamental shift from objectivity as the standard to subjectivity as the standard. What a minute, a defender of Kant may reply. Kant was hardly opposed to reason. After all, he favored rational consistency and he believed in universal principles. So what is anti-reason about it? The answer is that more fundamental to reason than consistency and universality is a connection to reality. Any thinker who concludes that in principle reason cannot know reality is not fundamentally an advocate of reason... Suppose a thinker argued the following: 'I am an advocate of freedom for women. Options and the power to choose among them are crucial to our human dignity. And I am wholeheartedly an advocate of women's human dignity. But we must understand that a scope of a women's choice is confined to the kitchen. Beyond the kitchen's door she must not attempt to exercise choice. Within the kitchen, however, she has a whole feast of choices[... ]'. No one would mistake such a thinker for an advocate of women's freedom. Anyone would point out that there is a whole world beyond the kitchen and that freedom is essentially about exercising choice about defining and creating one's place in the world as a whole. The key point about Kant, to draw the analogy crudely, is that he prohibits knowledge of anything outside our skulls. The gives reasons lots to do withing the skull, and he does advocate a well-organized and tidy mind, but this hardly makes him a champion of reason... Kant did not take all of the steps down to postmodernism, but he did take the decisive one. Of the five major features of Enlightenment reason - objectivity, competence, autonomy, universality, and being an individual faculty - Kant rejected objectivity.

Stephen R.C. Hicks
?Earn cash when you save a quote by clicking
EARNED Load...
LEVEL : Load...