The basic idea of postmodern relativism, is that reality is subjective, that there are no absolutes...that there is no "absolute truth", and that reality differs from person to person. The phrase "what's true for you might not be true for me" typifies a postmodern point of view.
Another way to understand relativistic postmodernism is to say that no truth can be extended beyond an individual's experiences. Postmodernists will necessarily have trouble with my definition, since they like to suggest that words only have the meanings we give them...and, in defining postmodernism, we try to give it a meaning for all to share. That's the contradictory essence of postmodernism: we can't even discuss what it is without the conversation devolving into an uncomfortable silence.
Relativistic postmodernists will use self-contradicting, self-defeating ideals and statements all the time, to support their world-view.
It is basically the logical fallacy of the Stolen Concept: The "Stolen Concept" is when one or more concepts on which an argument logically depends are denied in the argument.
(i) There are absolutely no absolutely true statements.
(ii) It is impossible for people to communicate with one another.
(iii) I do not exist.
(iv) Physics has proven science is incapable of telling us anything true.
Proof: In putting forth his argument the author both accepts and denies the same proposition, (though usually not explicitly) thus accepts contradictory positions. This is essentially the same as Aristotle's "reaffirmation through denial"
So, what is is a self-defeating statement?
A self-defeating statement (or self-refuting) statement is one that fails to meet its own standard. In other words, it is a statement that cannot live up to its own criteria.
Below is a listing of self-defeating statements and answers to them.
1. There is no such thing as truth.
But, If there is no such thing as truth, then this statement itself cannot be true. Therefore, truth exists. You cannot deny truth without affirming it. You might respond, "Is that true?" or "How can it be true that there is no truth?"
2. You can't know truth.
If you can't know truth then you would never know that "you can't know truth." This person is claiming to know the truth that we can't know truth. You might respond, "Then how do you know that?"
3. No one has the truth.
This person is claiming to have the truth that no one has the truth. If no one has the truth then the statement "no one has the truth" is false! You might respond, "Then how do you know that is true?"
4. All truth is relative.
Sometimes also stated as "Everything is relative." If all truth is relative then this statement itself would be relative and not objectively true. In other words, the person is claiming that it is objectively true that all truth is relative. You might respond, "Is that a relative truth?"
5. It's true for you but not for me.
This statement is self-refuting because it claims that truth is relative to the individual and yet at the same time implies it is objectively true that something can be "true for you but not for me." You might respond, "Is that just true for you, or is it true for everybody?"
6. There are no absolutes.
This statement is an absolute statement about reality that claims there are no absolutes. You might respond, "Are you absolutely sure about that?"
7. No one can know any truth about religion.
This person is claiming to know the truth about religion and it is this: you can't know truth about religion. You might respond, "Then how did you come to know that truth about religion?"
8. You can't know anything for sure.
If you can't know anything for sure then you would never know it! This person is claiming to know with certainty that you can't know anything for sure. You might respond, "Then how do you know that for sure?"
9. You should doubt everything.
If you should doubt everything then you should doubt the truth of the statement "you should doubt everything." You might respond, "Should I doubt that?" And remember: always doubt your doubts!
10. Only science can give us truth.
If only science can give us truth we could never know that "only science can give us truth" because this is not something science can tell you! That is because this statement is philosophical in nature rather than scientific. You might respond, "What science experiment taught you that?" or "What is your scientific evidence that only science can give us truth?"
11. You can only know truth through experience.
If you can only know truth through experience you would never know the truth of the statement "you can only know truth through experience" because this is not something that can be known through experience. You might respond, "Can you know that truth through experience?" or "What experience taught you that?"
12. All truth depends on your perspective.
If all truth depends on your perspective then even the truth "all truth depends on your perspective" depends on your perspective. This is another objective statement which claims relativism is true. You might respond, "Does that truth depend on your perspective?"
13. You shouldn't judge.
The person who says this is making a judgment, namely, that it is wrong to judge! You might respond, "If it is wrong to judge, then why are you judging?"
14. You shouldn't force your morality on people.
This person is forcing their moral point of view that it is wrong to force a moral point of view. You might respond, "Then please don't force your morality that it is wrong to force morality."
15. You should live and let live.
The person who tells you to "live and let live" isn't allowing you to live how you want! They are prescribing behavior for you rather than taking their own advice. You might respond, "If that's your philosophy, why are you telling me how to live?"
16. God doesn't take sides.
If God doesn't take sides then He does in fact take the side that doesn't take sides. You might respond, "Does God take that side?"
17. You shouldn't try to convert people.
This person is trying to convert you to their position that it is wrong to convert people! You might respond, "If it is wrong to convert, why are you trying to convert me?"
18. That's just your view.
This statement is self-refuting if it treats an objective statement as if it were subjective. The hidden assumption is that all views are relative and a matter of personal choice. If that is the case, this statement is itself relative and a matter of personal choice. You might respond, "Well that's just your view that this is just my view."
19. You should be tolerant of all views.
Most statements regarding tolerance are self-refuting if by "tolerance" the person means "accepting all views as equally true and valid." If that is the case, the person who says "You should be tolerant of all views" isn't being tolerant of your view! You might respond, "Then why don't you tolerate my view?"(ii)
20. It is arrogant to claim to have the truth.
This person is claiming to have the truth that "it is arrogant to claim to have the truth." Therefore, by his own standard, he is the arrogant one! You might respond, "My that is awfully arrogant of you!"
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