I suffer the anthropological malady diagnosed by Le vi- Strauss inTristes tropiques: I find it much more difficult to suspend value judgments about the society in which I normally reside than I do abroad. It takes physical and cultural distance to gain moral detachment and political noncommitment. Relativism implies a solid measure of indifference.Pierre L van den Berghe: 'From the Popocatepetl to the Limpopo', collected in Bennett Berger (ed) Authors of their Own Lives (1990).
Socialism is good when it comes to wages, but it tells me nothing when it comes to other questions in life that are more private and painful, for which I must seek answers elsewhere. Relativism is not indifference; on the contrary, passionate indifference is necessary in order for you not to hear the voices that oppose your absolute decrees. . . Relativism is neither a method of fighting, nor a method of creating, for both of these are uncompromising and at times even ruthless; rather, it is a method of cognition. If one must fight or create, it is necessary that this be preceded by the broadest possible knowledge ... One of the worst muddles of this age is its confusing of the ideas behind combative and cognitive activity. Cognition is not fighting, but once someone knows a lot, he will have much to fight for, so much that he will be called a relativist because of it.karel Čapek: "On Relativism" (1925)
It is possible that the distinction between moral relativism and moral absolutism has sometimes been blurred because an excessively consistent practice of either leads to the same practical result ruthlessness in political life.Richard Hofstadter, in The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. (1955), Introduction, p. 16
George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as " evil ." Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism. What the president should have done, in the unlikely event that he wanted the support of America's peace-mongers, was to describe a confrontation with Saddam as the "lesser evil." This is a term the Left can appreciate. Indeed, "lesser evil" is part of the essential tactical rhetoric of today's Left, and has been deployed to excuse or overlook the sins of liberal Democrats, from President Clinton 's bombing of Sudan to Madeleine Albright's veto of an international rescue for Rwanda when she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Among those longing for nuance, moral relativism the willingness to use the term evil, when combined with a willingness to make accommodations with it is the smart thing: so much more sophisticated than "cowboy" language.Christopher Hitchens, as quoted in Christopher Hitchens and His Critics : Terror, Iraq, and the Left (2008) edited by Thomas Cushman and Simon Cottee
Relativism is not indifference; on the contrary, passionate indifference is necessary in order for you not to hear the voices that oppose your absolute decrees … Relativism is neither a method of fighting, nor a method of creating, for both of these are uncompromising and at times even ruthless; rather, it is a method of cognition.Karel Čapek "On Relativism" (1925)
Well I'm afraid it simply does, um, [the Catholic Church] does condemn [homosexuality], yes, it calls it a -the official word is disorder, but it was refined by the current Pontiff, Ratzinger, who called it a 'moral evil'. But on the other hand we must remember, as the point that was made is that the church is very loose on moral evils because, although they try to accuse people like me who believe in the empiricism and the enlightenment of somehow what they call moral relativism, as if it's some appalling sin where what it actually means is thought, um, they um, they for example thought that slavery was perfectly fine... absolutely okay, and then they didn't, and what is the point of the Catholic Church if it says 'oh well we couldn't know better because nobody else did'? (To the affirmative team) Then what are you for?!Stephen Fry: Answering a question during the Intelligence² debate: "The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world", November 7th 2009
[I]n a society, in a culture, which all too often make relativism its creed - relativism has become a sort of dogma - in such a society the light of truth is missing; indeed, it is considered dangerous and "authoritarian" to speak of truth, and the end result is doubt about the goodness of life - is it good to be a person? is it good to be alive? - and in the validity of the relationships and commitments in which it consists. Today, more than in the past, the education and formation of the person are influenced by the messages and general climate spread by the great means of communication and which are inspired by a mindset and culture marked by relativism, consumerism and a false and destructive exaltation, or rather, profanation, of the body and of sexuality.In a Speech of Benedict XVI at the Inauguration of the Convention of the Diocese of Rome, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran (11 June 2007)
Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. ... Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards.In a Homily of His Eminence Cardinal Joseph RATZINGER, Dean of the College of Cardinals, during a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica before the conclave of cardinals (18 April 2005)
In argument about moral problems, relativism is the first refuge of the scoundrel.roger scruton: "Some More -isms" (p. 32)
The function of the lawyer is to preserve a sceptical relativism in a society hell-bent for absolutes. The worse the society, the more law there will be. In Hell there will be nothing but law and due process will be meticulously observed.Grant Gilmore, The Ages of American Law (1977), p. 110
Absolute relativism, which is neither more nor less than skepticism, in the most modern sense of the term, is the supreme triumph of the reasoning reason.Miguel de Unamuno, in The Tragic Sense of Life (1913) as translated by J. E. Crawford Flitch (1921)
Can an idea a notion as abstract as Relativism produce by itself the effects alleged? cause all the harm, destroy all the lives and reputations? I am as far as anyone can be from denying the power of ideas in history, but the suggestion that a philosophy (as Relativism is often called) has perverted millions and debased daily life is on the face of it absurd. No idea working alone has ever demoralized society, and there have been plenty of ideas simpler and more exciting than Relativism.jacques barzun: "The Bugbear of Relativism," p. 89
By now many intellectuals regard theoretical or 'objective' knowledge as the only knowledge worth considering. Popper himself encourages the belief by his slander of relativism. Now this conceit would have substance if scientists and philosophers looking for universal and objective morality had succeeded in finding the former and persuaded, rather than forced, dissenting cultures to adopt the latter. This is not the case.paul karl feyerabend: pg 168 (Farewell to Reason (1987))
I hate relativism . I hate relativism more than I hate anything else, excepting, maybe, fiberglass powerboats... surely, surely , no one but a relativist would drive a fiberglass powerboat.jerry fodor: Précis of The Modularity of Mind, 1985.
One of Nietzsche’s most important legacies to us … is his claim that it is desirable and possible to dismantle the Platonic apparatus of Forms, Absolute Truth, the Idea of the Good, etc. and its historical derivatives, such as Kant’s transcendental philosophy, and that this can be done without fear of falling into “relativism.”raymond geuss: p. 8 (Outside Ethics (2005))
Today there seems to be only one absolute thing: relativism.joseph goebbels: Für die Zeitgenossen gibt es anscheinend nur ein Absolutes: die Relativität.
Postmodernists parade their relativism as a superior kind of humility the modest acceptance that we cannot claim to have the truth. In fact, the postmodern denial of truth is the worst kind of arrogance. In denying that the natural world exists independently of our beliefs about it, postmodernists are implicitly rejecting any limit on human ambitions. By making human beliefs the final arbiter of reality, they are in effect claiming that nothing exists unless it appears in human consciousness.john n. gray: The Deception: Postmodernism (p. 54-55)
It is possible that the distinction between moral relativism and moral absolutism has sometimes been blurred because an excessively consistent practice of either leads to the same practical result ruthlessness in political life.Richard Hofstadter: Introduction (p. 16)
I understand that you have an economic system in America known as Capitalism. Through this economic system you have been able to do wonders. You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has ever known. All of this is marvelous, but Americans, there is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil . It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism . I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity. The misuse of Capitalism can also lead to tragic exploitation. This has so often happened in your nation. They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. If you are to be a truly Christian nation you must solve this problem. You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe " enough and to spare " for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth.king, martin luther, jr.: “Paul's Letter to American Christians", Sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956.King makes two biblical allusions to Luke 15:17 and 1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all evil".
If the progressing rationality of advanced industrial society tends to liquidate, as an “irrational rest,” the disturbing elements of Time and Memory, it also tends to liquidate the disturbing rationality contained in this irrational rest. Recognition and relation to the past as present counteracts the functionalization of thought by and in the established reality. It militates against the closing of the universe of discourse and behavior it renders possible the development of concepts which destabilize and transcend the closed universe by comprehending it as historical universe. Confronted with the given society as object of its reflection, critical thought becomes historical consciousness as such, it is essentially judgment. Far from necessitating an indifferent relativism, it searches in the real history of man for the criteria of truth and falsehood, progress and regression. The mediation of the past with the present discovers the factors which made the facts, which determined the war of life, which established the masters and the servants; it projects the limits and the alternatives. When this critical consciousness speaks, it speaks “le langage de la connaissance” (Roland Barthes) which breaks open a closed universe of discourse and its petrified structure. The key terms of this language are not hypnotic nouns which evoke endlessly the same frozen predicates. They rather allow of an open development; they even unfold their content in contradictory predicates. The Communist Manifesto provides a classical example. Here the two key terms, Bourgeoisie and Proletariat, each “govern” contrary predicates. The “bourgeoisie” is the subject of technical progress, liberation, conquest of nature, creation of social wealth, and of the perversion and destruction of these achievements. Similarly, the "proletariat” carries the attributes of total oppression and of the total defeat of oppression. Such dialectical relation of opposites in and by the proposition is rendered possible by the recognition of the subject as an historical agent whose identity constitutes itself in and against its historical practice, in and against its social reality. The discourse develops and states the conflict between the thing and its function, and this conflict finds linguistic expression in sentences which join contradictory predicates in a logical unit conceptual counterpart of the objective reality. In contrast to all Orwellian language, the contradiction is demonstrated, made explicit, explained, and denounced.herbert marcuse: p. 99-100 (One-Dimensional Man (1964))
Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and those who claim to be the bearers of objective immortal truth ... then there is nothing more relativistic than Fascist attitudes and activity... From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.benito mussolini: Diuturna [The Lasting] (1921) as quoted in Rational Man : A Modern Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics (1962) by H. B. Veatch
It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.rick santorum: "Fishers of Men", Catholic Online, 12 July 2002
Liberal relativism has its roots in the natural right tradition of tolerance or in the notion that everyone has a natural right to the pursuit of happiness as he understands happiness; but in itself it is a seminary of intolerance.leo strauss: p. 6 (Natural Right and History (1953))
In its original literal sense, "moral relativism " is simply moral complexity. That is, anyone who agrees that stealing a loaf of bread to feed one's children is not the moral equivalent of, say, shoplifting a dress for the fun of it, is a relativist of sorts. But in recent years, conservatives bent on reinstating an essentially religious vocabulary of absolute good and evil as the only legitimate framework for discussing social values have redefined "relative" as "arbitrary." That conflation has been reinforced by social theorists and advocates of identity politics who argue that there is no universal morality, only the value systems of particular cultures and power structures.ellen willis: "Our Mobsters, Ourselves", The Nation (2 April 2001)
The function of the lawyer is to preserve a sceptical relativism in a society hell-bent for absolutes. The worse the society, the more law there will be. In Hell there will be nothing but law and due process will be meticulously observed.Grant Gilmore, The Ages of American Law (1977), p. 110.