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The Self-Defeating Nature Of Relativistic Skepticism


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#1 Ron

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 07:53 AM

Skeptics (relativistic atheists, agnostics, liberal theologian etc...) want us to believe that we need to suspend judgment concerning TRUTH. These skeptics further attempt to claim dilemmas, validity of arguments, variance of opinion, and the relativity of thought (etcetera...), will lead us to the conclusion that truth (in general) is unknowable; that the "wise man: will simply withhold belief (as we are told by these skeptics). As commendable as this view may sound in many cases, it cannot be consistently applied to the majority of truth claims. Complete skepticism itself is self-defeating. The very declaration that "all truth is unknowable"is itself presented as a truth confirmation.

But, the truth statement purporting that no "truth statements can be made" undercuts itself (i.e. is "Self Defeating"). If this is not a truth statement OR if this is not a universal truth statement, then it is not even in the philosophical arena.

Stated succinctly: this claim of the skeptic/atheist and agnostic (etc...) that "truth is unknowable" is either:
1) a universal truth claim,

2) a particular truth claim, or...

3) neither a "universal" nor a "particular" truth claim.

First - If it is a universal truth claim, then it defeats itself (is self-stultifying); for it is claiming that no true statements (including that truth claim itself) can be made.

Second - If it is offered only as a particular truth claim, namely, that some (many, most, etc...) truths cannot be known, then it is self-consistent. However, in this case it does not eliminate the possibility that someone can know or establish the truth of some other world view. And if the question of the truth of these views is important or momentous to another person, then it would be a kind of defeatism, if not a cruelty, to dissuade him/her from attempting to discover what seemed so significant to his/her life and thought. Therefore it is "particularly" self-defeating.

Finally - If the skeptic claims he is making no truth claim at all, with his recommendation to suspend judgment about "all truth claims", then he must explain how a statement about whether truth is knowable can avoid being (itself) a truth statement/claim. In other words, when the skeptic states emphatically that the "Truth cannot be known!" he is begging the question(s): "Is that true?" And Then how do you know that?

So, why does the so-called skeptic not see the fallaciousness of their own world-view? Why could not the skeptic be "skeptical about all skeptical statements" without himself being a skeptic? Or, how can the skeptics claim sanctuary in alleged meta-truth statements about what is knowable in the realm of truth?

The problem with skepticism is this: Skepticism as defined is "the philosophy that holds that true knowledge is not possible". But Philosophy defined is "The branch of knowledge or academic study devoted to the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom". So when we dig a little deeper, we find that the very claim that the premise of skepticism ("all truth is unknowable") is not a truth claim would automatically disqualify it philosophically; for philosophy is concerned with TRUTH and REALITY. To allow meta-truth or non-truth statements to dictate whether or not one can know truth is as un-philosophical as one can get. So if the skeptic maintains that his claim is a truth statement, then itself is SELF-DEFEATING (if universal) or UNSUCCESSFUL (if limited). Otherwise it is not a truth claim; in which case it is not even philosophical, that is, it has nothing to do with TRUTH and REALITY.

The claim of the skeptic (relativistic atheists, agnostics, liberal theologian) that skepticism is merely a non-truth proposal about the question of truth, which one finds most fruitful and usable for whatever theoretical or practical reasons will fail in its self-defeatism!

First, the assertion of the skeptic does not eliminate contrary positions. Someone (a solipsist for example)may ALSO conclude that dogmatism is right for the same reasons, claim victory, and win the debate.

Second, the assertion of the skeptic implies a consistency or pragmatic test for the truth of skepticism and opens it to all the criticisms of these positions, and the fallacies they contain.

Furthermore, especially the pragmatic test for the skeptical proposal is double-edged and it boomerangs. Skepticism may not work for most in the long run, and total skepticism fails totally. As Hume himself confessed, one of the most persistent arguments against skepticism is that even the skeptic cannot live it completely and consistently. Hence, skepticism cannot be established pragmatically.


And even if the allegedly non-truth proposal of skepticism were not defeated pragmatically, it is still self-defeating. No statement about all truth can disavow all truth implications, and the skeptical proposal is a statement about all truth.

Even working presuppositions about truth must be cognitive and meaningful. And whatever is meaningful must be subject to truth or falsity via the law of noncontradiction, for apart from noncontradiction we cannot even know what the statement means. But if the skeptical proposal is subject to the truth test of noncontradiction, it cannot avoid being offered as a truth statement. In short, to disclaim the possibility of knowing any truth is indeed a truth claim of the highest and most serious kind.

Truth cannot be denied unless some truth is being affirmed.



#2 Ron

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 07:01 PM

Another interesting note: There were relativists in the day of Socrates. And he had to debate with them as well. These relativists were known as Sophists, and the Sophists believed (as all relativists do) that all truth was subjective and relative.

Protagoras, one of the most famous Sophists (and a philosophical opponent of Socrates) argued that one opinion is just as true as another opinion. The following is a summary of the argument that Socrates used to refute the position of Protagoras.

I. One opinion is just as true as another opinion. (Socrates assumes the truth of Protagoras's position.)

2. Protagoras's critics have the following opinion: "Protagoras's opinion is false and that of his critics is true."

3. Since Protagoras believes premise 1, he believes that the opinion of his critics in premise 2 is true.


4. Hence, Protagoras also believes it is true that: "Protagoras's opinion is false and that of his critics is true."

5. Since individual opinion determines what is true and everyone (both Protagoras and his critics) believe the statement "Protagoras's opinion is false," it follows that

6. Protagoras's opinion is false.


Socrates used the "Reductio ad absurdum" form of argument. This form that begins with an assumption that the opponent's position is true and then proceeds to show that that position logically implies an absurd conclusion, a conclusion that contradicts itself, or a conclusion that contradicts other conclusions held by the opponent, or a conclusion that is obviously false.

Basically, Socrates showed that the worldview of Protagoras was self-stultifying. smile.gif



#3 rico

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 09:09 AM

For Friedrich Nietzsche "At the very bottom of Nietzsche's philosophy lies the conviction that the universe is in a constant state of change, and his hatred and disparagement of almost any position can be traced back to that position's temptation to look at the universe as fixed in one place." (SparkNotes on Beyond Good and Evil; overall analysis and themes: http://www.sparknote...section1.rhtml)

Trying to give an example --
For Atheists; FOR EXAMPLE: 1+1 is 2; How do you 'know' that to be true?....

Answers in Genesis had a saying: Real truth is knowable. How would you prove that?

#4 Ron

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 10:46 AM

Just some more points to think about:


Why is relativism self-defeating:

Most all relativists believe that relativism is TRUE for everyone, not just for them alone. But this is contrary to their worldview, if they are TRULY relativists! Why; because relative truth is true for that one person (or group of persons i.e. the "Relativists") but not necessarily for everyone (or all other groups of persons). Therefore, if a relativist thinks relativism is true for everyone, then he really believes it is an absolute truth. Of course, this being the case, he is no longer a relativist, since he believes in at least one absolute truth.


Now, if we are real critical thinkers, we must then come to the conclusion that "Relativism" is rife with contradictions. For example:

If relativism were true, then the world would be full of contradictory conditions. If I say, "There is money in my wallet", and you say, "There is no money in my wallet" and we are both right, then there must be money in my wallet and no money in my wallet at the same time and in the same sense. But this is impossible (See: Law of Non-Contradiction).

If relativism were actual (i.e. something extended into reality), that would mean that no one has ever been wrong about anything. Let me reiterate; If truth is relative, then no one is ever wrong; EVEN WHEN THEY ARE!!! As long as something is true to me, then I am right even when I am wrong. One major caveat to this line of thinking is that I can never learn anything, because learning is moving from a false belief to a true one; that is, from an absolutely false belief to an absolutely true one.



#5 rico

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 11:27 AM

A prime reality vs multiverse
History happened the way it happened even if we weren't there... His Story(his story) is God's Story... There are also people who try to make a point for an eternal multiverse... if you've seen Justice League Crisis on Two Earths or the Sliders TV series... some of them have the idea that 'nothing' really matters. Carl Sagan had the idea of us being "star stuff"...
[if interrupting you can delete]

#6 AFJ

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 06:14 AM

Just some more points to think about:


Why is relativism self-defeating:

Most all relativists believe that relativism is TRUE for everyone, not just for them alone. But this is contrary to their worldview, if they are TRULY relativists! Why; because relative truth is true for that one person (or group of persons i.e. the "Relativists") but not necessarily for everyone (or all other groups of persons). Therefore, if a relativist thinks relativism is true for everyone, then he really believes it is an absolute truth. Of course, this being the case, he is no longer a relativist, since he believes in at least one absolute truth.


Now, if we are real critical thinkers, we must then come to the conclusion that "Relativism" is rife with contradictions. For example:

If relativism were true, then the world would be full of contradictory conditions. If I say, "There is money in my wallet", and you say, "There is no money in my wallet" and we are both right, then there must be money in my wallet and no money in my wallet at the same time and in the same sense. But this is impossible (See: Law of Non-Contradiction).

If relativism were actual (i.e. something extended into reality), that would mean that no one has ever been wrong about anything. Let me reiterate; If truth is relative, then no one is ever wrong; EVEN WHEN THEY ARE!!! As long as something is true to me, then I am right even when I am wrong. One major caveat to this line of thinking is that I can never learn anything, because learning is moving from a false belief to a true one; that is, from an absolutely false belief to an absolutely true one.

Interesting Ron. And very true. Then how can relative truth be truth?? It is based on one's PERCEPTION, and therefore subjective. That's why science can measure precisely to the femtasecond, but the scientists (when it comes to natural history) perception of the data has to be based on what they see as truth--without having seen the past. Therefore if they see a soft-tissue jellyfish preserved in rock, and it's similar like a modern species, no matter if it's found in the side of a mountain, they'll percieve it according to their education. This will be believed as 'certified' by science, but subject to modification. However, if I see a miracle with no known scientific explanation, it is said there is a natural and logical explanation. Again, according to their perception, and not truly relativistic I'm gathering right?

Except they'll say my 'belief is true for me.' How can someone believe that?? My belief is based on fact, or it is pure fantasy. If I've continually petitioned the Lord over a course of 6 months, according to Jesus promise in Mark 4 that multiple warts be taken from my hand (which have been there for many years), and they completely dissappear with no trace or scar, then how is the truth 'true for me' alone?????!!!!


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#7 Ron

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:16 AM

Just some more points to think about:


Why is relativism self-defeating:

Most all relativists believe that relativism is TRUE for everyone, not just for them alone. But this is contrary to their worldview, if they are TRULY relativists! Why; because relative truth is true for that one person (or group of persons i.e. the "Relativists") but not necessarily for everyone (or all other groups of persons). Therefore, if a relativist thinks relativism is true for everyone, then he really believes it is an absolute truth. Of course, this being the case, he is no longer a relativist, since he believes in at least one absolute truth.


Now, if we are real critical thinkers, we must then come to the conclusion that "Relativism" is rife with contradictions. For example:

If relativism were true, then the world would be full of contradictory conditions. If I say, "There is money in my wallet", and you say, "There is no money in my wallet" and we are both right, then there must be money in my wallet and no money in my wallet at the same time and in the same sense. But this is impossible (See: Law of Non-Contradiction).

If relativism were actual (i.e. something extended into reality), that would mean that no one has ever been wrong about anything. Let me reiterate; If truth is relative, then no one is ever wrong; EVEN WHEN THEY ARE!!! As long as something is true to me, then I am right even when I am wrong. One major caveat to this line of thinking is that I can never learn anything, because learning is moving from a false belief to a true one; that is, from an absolutely false belief to an absolutely true one.

Interesting Ron. And very true. Then how can relative truth be truth?? It is based on one's PERCEPTION, and therefore subjective. That's why science can measure precisely to the femtasecond, but the scientists (when it comes to natural history) perception of the data has to be based on what they see as truth--without having seen the past. Therefore if they see a soft-tissue jellyfish preserved in rock, and it's similar like a modern species, no matter if it's found in the side of a mountain, they'll percieve it according to their education. This will be believed as 'certified' by science, but subject to modification. However, if I see a miracle with no known scientific explanation, it is said there is a natural and logical explanation. Again, according to their perception, and not truly relativistic I'm gathering right?

Except they'll say my 'belief is true for me.' How can someone believe that?? My belief is based on fact, or it is pure fantasy. If I've continually petitioned the Lord over a course of 6 months, according to Jesus promise in Mark 4 that multiple warts be taken from my hand (which have been there for many years), and they completely dissappear with no trace or scar, then how is the truth 'true for me' alone?????!!!!

 

The one way that "relative truth” can be “actual truth”, is when truth and the two (or more people) are separated… For example: If you and I are conversing via cell phones, and you are standing on a beach in Costa Rica, and I am standing on Mt Shasta at the ski bowl, in the month of April, it is most likely that Mt Shasta will have a goodly snow pack on it, and the beach in Costa Rica is of temperate climate.

Therefore I can say “Brrr, it sure is cold out; and you say, what are you talking about, it’s nice and warm”. The truth is both “Relative” (i.e. relative to where we each are), and “Absolute”!

 

But the fact remains; the relativistic nature of the relativist, in NO manner, means the relative that I just explained!   :)






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