Relativism

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

In the last letter of mine, I talked about relativism. I gave it an overall negative connotation, but relativism needn’t be negative. Depending on certain perspectives, relativism can even turn out to be a medicine against prejudice. I hope now to shed more light on my ideas.20161031_112138

Consider the picture of the Tower Bridge I took in London some months ago. Despite my skills in handling cameras are those of a three years old dealing with a bazooka, I wanted to capture an interesting angle of the architecture, like most mainstream tourists pretend to do. The result is as meagre as expected, but luckily cameras are less dangerous than bazookas.

You might be asking: what on earth has this to do with “relativism”? Well, at first I didn’t notice it, because the tower was stealing the scene. But have a look down, at the couple who casually got photographed. They are women, non-white, without any man to accompany them. Look at their clothes. Nothing uncommon, would you say? Right! It is “normal”, something which was unthinkable – to say the least – less than a century ago and still is nowadays in some parts of this planet. This unsophisticated “normality” was acquired thanks to feminist fights and the strong belief in non-negotiable principles.

London is a very good example to talk about the two sides of relativism. On the one hand, a melting pot of cultures and subcultures in never ending evolution, where the mantra of diversity jeopardises any attempt of unitary definition. On the other hand, a city forged by great philosophical intuitions, and by battles for what is right, currently culminating in the election of a Muslim mayor. This is no blind praise for a city having one of the darkest histories ever and being the symbol of capitalism and savage globalisation. In this context, it just offers a good example.

There is cultural relativism, consisting in the value of dynamic cultures, and there is relativism of opinions on moral, scientific and other theoretical principles. The former is healthy, the latter is not. You may object that I put it too easily, that universal theoretical principles are chimeras, if we are to face the variety of mankind. You would have a point, but I still think that the possibility of intercultural understanding must be based on common grounds, however constrained by our human limits. As far as I can see, relativism on those grounds makes diversity unintelligible, therefore spreading ignorance, legitimating hate speech and building walls.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha

Intentions

Dear Princess ‘Ishka,

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so they say, and perhaps, intending to writing you won’t be an exception. But here I am, still trying to convince myself that this is a good idea to keep in touch, after more than two years of separation.

My aim is to start an intellectual adventure. I would like to express thoughts and feelings, to talk about our lives and the world in an unpretentious philosophical fashion. I won’t be exhaustive most of the times, and I’m afraid I will also talk about matters I’m not an expert about. However, complete ignorance can be avoided if I stay focused on depicting perspectives on our multifaceted reality, with the purpose of inspiring further ideas.

Furthermore, I hope not to fall victim of the greatest enemy of philosophy and rational thinking, the “doxa”, that is the unjustified opinion. Social networks are full of it, and relativism about facts and principles appears to have lost any pure theoretical intent, degenerating into the struggle to obtain as much consent as possible, no matter under what flag or ideal. I can’t grant that the result of my letters will be any different.

Maybe I’ll still be lead to hell, in one way or another. There is only one last defence I am left with: the conviction that together with you, my dear Princess, and with all our friends, we can give our little contribution to make this world a better place.

Forever yours,

‘Miasha