still debating in philosophy

In one of Friedrich’s posts he says…

If a relativist asserts a value judgment and then claims that this value judgment is “true,” that person is saying that it is true for others as well as himself or herself. But you have been arguing that there are no transpersonal or transcultural truths. Thus, you are caught in the very act of affirming what you have been denying.

This is dependant entirely upon the notion that truth is a commonly agreed upon idea, that a thing cannot be true unless we democratically raise our hands to say that we’ve exercised our brain enough to discern its truth. I am assuming that this is supposed to be different than if we likewise in community of discussion held our hands up in democratic agreement about a belief (God exists!) to be true based on what we percieve to be adequately working brain systems (such as the creationists arguments).

Pray tell, how one is different than the other? Note that the damning bit of “you are caught in the very act….” is applicable to myself only because of a label. One construes that a relativist cannot accept any universality, but this entirely misses my point. There may very well be some universal absolute out there. I am open to it. Yet the evidence of the great ability and tendency for the human mind to be misguided (even philosophers) in their biases and opinions is an aspect of the human character that closes the gap between the universal agreement on rules of reason and logic, and the universal agreement on the notion of dancing elephants on the moon.

Again, labels are a problem. Perhaps I am stuck in the middle here. I see nothing in human behavior to assert that we’ve delivered ourselves “from the animals” with pure logic and reason. I’ve recently read some wonderfully intelligent, reasonable, and thought prokoking defenses for slavery in the 1780s. I’m sure they believed their logic to be sound as well. Just because a philosopher today might say “ah, but that was yesterday and we’ve evolved, we’ve developed our theories, our journal titles are multi-syllabic” does nothing at all to sway me in thinking they’ve evolved.

It seems to me that in the cultural arguments given so far the side arguing seem to think a thing either IS or IS NOT, that a thing is TRUE or is NOT TRUE. This might do well on a logic diagram of ands, ors, nands and other gates on it, but it fails in human behavior. Any attempt to call a culture strictly either good or bad to me is misplaced and bound to be wrong. As much as some would hate to say it, the human heart does not move according to the philosopher’s rules of ethics. “We hold these truths to be self evident….” might have been good at the time… but can such a speech be made today? What if you transported Jefferson and a dozen of his friends back a couple hundred years. Would they have been so evident then?

I do not disagree that a person can try to the best of his ability to discern what justice and virtue might mean. Though I do disagree that he can ever be objective about it. I do not disagree that said person can discuss these ideas with another person to see what they can live with together (you do the dishes on wednesday night dear). I do not disagree that Friedrich’s point has some substantialness to it, that for these two people their discussed beliefs create a truth for them. However, because the two discussed it over the breakfast table does not take away the subjective element to it. It might create what is deemed to be more objective environment, but it does not diminish the problem of subjectivity.

I am not arguing that for the Germans, Nazis were good for them. I am within my own subjective beliefs and one of them is that America is good (with some deeply disturbing problems we’ve got to address) and that North Korea is bad. But as I discuss this with other workers around the break room, or with other Marines (I’m entering the reserves for the Marines as soon as the paperwork clears), and we all talk about how bad things are, I make these judgments with the full knowledge that they are subjective judgments and that cultural opinion is a collection of said personal subjective opinions.

Now I ask ask a question. To those who’s hair flies into a fit when they read this, I ask a simple question.

Is psychology a hard science?

If your answer was no, explain why.

Cheers… I’m late for work (which is a bad thing… grin)


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