Posted by Jack Stephens on June 28, 2007
Relativism is thrown out when someone wants to derail a discussion. It’s the philosophical equivalent of trolling, if you ask me! Relativism is supposedly about giving equal weight to all points of view, cultural contexts, systems of social organizing, etc. Which, to many, sounds fine and dandy. But in reality, what this does is quite similar to totalization, because it ignores relations of power. One can’t claim to have a view from nowhere, and one can’t claim to have a view from everywhere, either. We are all of us steeped in our own contexts; we cannot simply escape them or set them aside, not ever – and we can’t simply adopt another viewpoint or context just like that. Just as we can’t claim to inhabit a neutral position, we also can’t claim to inhabit every position equally. It’s an epistemological limitation.