The paradox of Relativism: Is there any solution?

5 min readOct 14, 2020

In theory, there should not be any hierarchical order among humans but in practice, hierarchy is everywhere. In theory, there should not be any caste system but in practice there are. In the Hindu culture of India, there are four district classes based on the functional role and respectability/nobleness for thousands of years, until relatively recently with the infiltration of India by the East Indian Company. Those castes were the Brahmins [the Elite, High Priest], Kshatriyas [the Kings and warriors], Vaishyas [the merchants, artisans, farmers, and the “producers”] and Shurdras [the manual workers]. Similarly, in the western world, there are also four distinct castes: the Lower class, the Middle class, the Upper class, and the Elite/Business class [1%] based simply on the money. This hierarchy model is not only limited to human society. It is also active in our bodies. Although theoretically, all cells of the body have the potential to do any function, especially when they are young [the pluripotent stem cells], in practice, not every cell can produce insulin, and not every cell can fire action potentials like a neuron. A neuron does not make Keratin like the epidermis and the epidermis does not have myelin sheaths. Even within the families of neurons, not everybody is equal in function. Although theoretically, any neuron can do the function like other neurons, especially if the situation demands to compensate, but in practice, hippocampal neuron typically behaves dramatically different than spinal cord motor neurons. This pattern can also be found even in different proteins, RNAs and DNAs or other molecules. The whole universe can be seen as a series of hierarchical beings/materials but deep down they are all part of the same universe. But when you claim that everybody is equal [relativism], even though you know that they are not equal in practice because of their own efforts/devotion/sincerity, you are just inviting discontent. In an absolute sense, there should not be any relativism and in relative terms, there should not be any absolute moral values. This is the paradox of relativism. The evil is to push one view superior to others and pass on any predefined judgment/legislature, whatsoever. Relativistic views should not be treated absolutely and the absolutes views need not to be treated relatively. It is foolish to try to categorize either relativism or absolutism as Truth. Trying to make relativism as the only truth (quite paradoxically, this relativistic view itself is an absolutism) is the perennial evil of the world. The Truth is bigger than either of those.

In theory, everybody can be anybody but in practice, anybody is only himself. So there is simultaneously a possibility of relativism and absolutism depending on perspective and depending on the situation, here and now. Relativism only exists in the future and the future does not exist yet. What exists is only present and this present is not relative. Whatever happened, happened and it is no longer relative to you! It is absolute. But was it good or bad? Again this is relative because you have examined it to know [in future] and that examination resides in the future [have not occurred yet], which is again by definition relativistic. It is happening out of a relativistic possibilities but once something happens that is the only thing exist [out of the field of its mutually exclusive competitors], others option were only past probabilities without any reality. If you want to change it, try or do it again and with different choices but do not complain about why other options are still there. They only exist in your/our minds and it is for your future use if your current choice turns out to be not the best one. Relativism is only true and valid for this esoteric reason but if you know that reason, you will immediately drop the relativistic view in favor of a holistic view. Your Relativism is perfectly alright with you but imposing your relativism on others or even imposing any generalized philosophy or ethics of relativism is unjustified. So relativism is and is not valid depending on the background of the perspective just like an unopened box of “Schrodinger Cat” is both alive and dead at the same time. Do not try to make relativism generalized like what Einstein did. Quite paradoxically, Einstein’s relativism starts with an Absolutism-i.e “Speed of Light is Constant”. No wonder relativity theory only lead to paradox like grandson killing grandfather and other nonsensical conclusions. For example, if there is any creator, before creating the world he had only 2 options- 1.) Creating the world and 2.) Not creating the world. But today that relativistic perspective at the time of creation is no longer valid. The world already exists and there is no option for it to not exist at the same time. Similarly, before doing something, you can have a relativistic perspective for the future but once you have done something, it is no longer relative. You have to take responsibility for the consequences or enjoy the fruitage of your decisions. If you do something but simultaneously think the other way, it generates the conventional “relativism” but in reality, it is still in the future and it is not settled yet, so in an absolute sense, you do not know if it is relative or absolute. You are just fooling yourself. Simply put, it is an invalid/illegal/unscientific question. In ordinary language, it is simply your hypocrisy for which you are making the relativism argument as a scapegoat. Before your action, things were relative but after you have done it, it is no longer relative for you. It is the reality.

For the other people who are not in a position of doing something or not to become a victim of other people’s action, are not in a position even to ponder the relativistic viewpoint for that particular situation. This is because you are not the part or center of that relativistic potential field. The person who is in the position of deciding is in the center of that relativistic potential field that will become a concrete nonrelative reality by his actions or choices. Do not judge him unless his interest is in direct conflict with yours and if it is in direct conflict, do what you think right for you without ever thinking what is right for him. Because if you try to impose your correctness on other people that is the birth of a relativistic worldview again but in disguise. Just do what you ought to do. One should not give verdict onto others like a theologian, a relativistic ethicist, or scientist. Even the verdict that relativism is the truth is an absolute statement! What a paradox it is!! Only the Unknowable can know what is right and what is relative. We know it not! We can decide what is right for us. If we really know ourselves well and when we know what is right for us, we will automatically know and do the right things onto others which is beyond both relativistic and absolute world views.