Throughout the course of philosophical history, there have been core questions of existence which never seem to go away and never seem to be resolved with general universal acceptance. Here are some examples:
Is there a personal God or not?
Is there an afterlife?
What is in here and what is out there? (That is, what is external reality? Is our perception and interpretation of external reality, in the end, all subjective?)
Is truth relative or absolute? That is, can we know anything for certain, or is all knowledge relative?
Let’s deal with the last question.
Many very educated and knowledgeable people believe such statements as these:
“We don’t know anything for sure, so your ideas about reality are as good as anyone’s.”
“All truth is relative, so your opinions — and mine — are as good as anyone’s. Thus there is no absolute truth. In the end, we don’t really know anything about anything.”
(This last belief has the implication that all search for knowledge and all philosophical arguments about what is real are futile. In the end, an uneducated person’s ideas on a chosen topic are just as valid and true as a Nobel Prize winner’s.
Here is my take on this last question:
Ok, let’s agree that all truth is relative. But relative to what? An idea is only relative to other ideas. Then, even if we accept the belief that we can’t achieve absolute truth, we can achieve relative truth. That is, we can arrive at statements that are truer than other statements. They are relatively true!
Thus, we say “it is raining outside.”This may not be absolutely true, but if you went outside and felt rain and you get wet, you could conclude that this statement was truer than any other reasonable statement concerning the rain. It was relatively true.
In a similar way, if you state that “democracy is the best form of government” this is true, relative to all other forms of government that have been historically tried or that can realistically be implemented in the near future. The statement is true, even if only relatively true.
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