Contra Relativism and Postmodernism: Ten Universal Truths

 

1. All natural reality is structured.[1]

 

2. All real beings are specific[2], yet individual beings are still members of certain classes of beings[3];  there is no abstract ‘being’, nor univocal ‘being’[4]- these are perhaps a reification of language.

 

3. Structure takes precedence over history because all history takes place within structure.[5]

 

4. Most thought and culture are expressed in symbolic structures.[6] But even though thought takes place through symbolic language it is not reducible to contingent language.[7]  

 

5. All reasoning takes place within an explicit or implicit metaphysic,[8] and in an implicit or explicit fiduciary context[9] 

 

6. Self-transcendence is necessary for thought, and self-transcendence is demonsratable.[10]

 

7. Ideas are embedded in related ‘hierarchical’ structures,[11] as are physical structures.[12] Also, all meaning is in a context, which is why a dislocated image can be so multi-interpreted because its context is not explicit. 

 

8. Most thought and thought systems are deductive.[13] However, inductive and abductive inferences are certainly employed,[14] and most fruitfully when then integrated with deduction.[15]

 

9. The law of contradiction can only be dismissed never refuted because it requires the law of contradiction to refute it.[16]

 

10. Human beings are, structurally, moral beings because they posses a ‘category’ of the ought. Incidentally, this fact contradicts empiricism as ultimately adequate because nobody can inductively come to an ought. We can only empirically experience what is.

 

 

Additional Select Bibliography Contra Relativism and Pro Realism and Universals

Bach, and Harms. Universals in Linguistic Theory. Holt, Rienhardt, and Winston, 1968.

 

Bearn, Gordon C.F. “The Horizon of Reason,” in Relativism: Interpretation, and Confrontation (ed. Michael Krausz University of Notre Dame Press, 1989) 205-231.

 

Brown, Donald E. Human Universals (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University, 1991).

 

Cotterell, Peter and Max Turner. Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation (IVP, 1989) 19-25.

 

Davidson, Donald. “The Myth of the Subjective,” in Relativism: Interpretation, and Confrontation (ed. Michael Krausz University of Notre Dame Press, 1989) 159-172.

 

Gellner, Ernest. “Relativism and Universals,” in Rationality and Relativism (ed Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982) 181-200.

 

Harre, Rom. “The ‘Self’ as a Theoretical Concept,” in Relativism: Interpretation, and Confrontation (ed. Michael Krausz University of Notre Dame Press, 1989) 363-417.

 

Harris, James F. Against Relativism: A Philosophical Defense of Method (Open Court, 1992).

 

Heibert, Paul. “Form and Meaning in the Contextualization of the Gospel,” in The Word Among Us (ed. D. Gilliland, Waco: Word, 1989).

 

Hollis, Martin. “The Social Destruction of Reality,” in Rationality and Relativism (eds. Martin Hollis, and Steven Lukes; Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982) 67-86.

 

Johnson, Alan F. “A Response to Problems of Normativenss in Scripture: Cultural Verses Permanent,” in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible (eds. Earl Radamacher, and Robert Preus; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984) 257-282, esp. pp. 279-280.

 

Lewis, Gordon R. “A Response to Presuppositions of Non-Evangelical Hermeneutics,” in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible (eds. Earl Radamacher, and Robert Preus; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984) 613-626, esp. pp. 617-618.

 

Lonergan, Bernard J.F. “Cognitional Structure,” Continuum 2 (1964) 530-542, esp. pp. 537-540.

 

Lukes, Steven. “Relativism in its Place,” in Rationality and Relativism (eds. Martin Hollis, and Steven Lukes; Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982) 261-305.

 

Matilal, Bimal Krishna. “Ethical Relativism and Confrontation of Cultures,” in Relativism: Interpretation, and Confrontation (ed. Michael Krausz University of Notre Dame Press, 1989) 339-362.

 

Marcil-Lacoste, Louise. “The Trivialization of the Notion of Equality,” in Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (eds. Sandra G. Harding, and Merrill B Hintikka, 1983) 121-137.

 

McQuilkin, Robertson J. “Problems of Normativenss in Scripture: Cultural verses Permanent,” in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible (eds. Earl Radamacher, and Robert Preus; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984) 219-240, esp. pp. 236-237.

 

Naugle, David K. Worldview: The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).

 

Newton-Smith, W. “Relativism and the Possibility of Interpretation,” in Rationality and Relativism (eds. Martin Hollis, and S. Lukes; Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982) 106-122.

 

Niniluoto, Ilkka. “The Relativism Question in Feminist Epistemology,” in Feminism, Science and Philosophy (eds. Lynn Nelson, and Jack Nelson; Kluwer Academic Press, 1997) 139-157, esp. pp. 144, 154.

 

Norris, Christopher. Against Relativism: Philosophy of Science, Deconstruction, and Critical Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997).

 

Ogawa, Tadashi and Barry Smith (Eds.). Cultural Universals. The Monist 78.1 (1995).

 

Okasha, Samir. Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 58-76.

 

Rosemont, Henry Jr., “Against Relativism,” in Interpreting Across Boundaries: New Essays in Comparative Philosophy (eds. Gerald James Larson and Eliot Deutsch, Princeton University Press, 1988) 36-70.

 

Strauss, James. “Demise of Language as Truth,” at www.worldvieweyes.org/strauss-docs.html.

 

________, “Gödel’s Refutation of The Mechanical Model of Explanation,” at www.world vieweyes.org/strauss-docs.html.

 

________, “The Heart of Postmodernism is Rooted in Kuhn, Popper, Gödel’s Theorem and Polanyi’s Debate,” at www.worldvieweyes.org/strauss-docs.html.

 

Suppe, Frederick. “Towards a Metaphysical and Epistemological Realism,” in The Structure of Scientific Theories (ed F. Suppe; 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Illinois, 1977) 716-728.

 

Thesilton, Anthony. New Horizons in Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993).

 

Wainwright, William. “Doctrinal Schemes, Metaphysics, and Propositional Truth” in Religious Pluralism and Truth (ed. Thomas Dean, State University of New York Press, 1995).

 

Rick Allbee, HCC, 2004



[1] See esp. Richard Boyd, “On the Current Status of Scientific Realism,” in The Philosophy of Science (eds. Richard Boyd, Philip Gasper, and J. D. Trout; MIT Press, 1991) 195-222; Stanely Jaki, “The Absolute Beneath the Relative: Reflections on Einstein’s Theories,” The Intercollegiate Review (Spring 1985) 29-38; ________“Chance or Necessity: Interaction in Nature vs. Measurement in Physics”(Athens, 1981); Richard H. Jones, Science and Mysticism: A Comparative Study of Western Natural Science, Theravada Buddhism, and Advaita Vedanta (Buchnell University, 1986) 37-40; John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (Yale, 1999) 1-24, 101-130; and Gen 1.

[2] See Stanley L. Jaki, The Savior of Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) 223.

[3] See Ernst Cassirer’s critique of Heidegger in his, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Vol 4: The Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms (New Haven: Yale, 1996) 200-205. 

[4] See Stanley L. Jaki, The Savior of Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) 223.

[5] See Ernst Cassirer’s remarks about language and history in his, An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press. 1944, 1972) 118-122. Note also the litrerary structure of Gen 1 which accentuates primal creation’s structure.

[6] See Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (3 vols, Introduction by Charles Hendel, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955-1958).

[7] For example, Noam Chomski denies that mere empirical exposure is sufficent for a child to learn language. Besides mere experience, or more accurately, even socially structured experience (see Kenneth L. Pike, Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior, The Hague: Mouton, 1967), there is still a significant contribution from the mind that is necessary for language aquisition.

[8] See Stanley L. Jaki, The Savior of Science (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) esp. 166-168.

[9] See Karkkainen’s discussion of Lesslie Newbigin in, Veli-Matti Karkkainen, An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives (Inter Varsity Press, 2003) 251. Lesslie Newbigin himself is building upon the thought of Michael Polayni. 

[10] See J.R. Lucas, “Minds, Machines, and Gödel.” Philosophy 36 (1961): 112-127, Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind (1989); and Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (1962).

[11] See Paul Heibert, “The Missiological Implications of an Epistemological Shift,” TSF Bulletin 8 no. 5 (1985): 12-18; Bernard J.F. Lonergan, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978); Kenneth L. Pike, Talk, Thought, and Thing: The Emic Road Towards Conscious Knowledge (Dallas: The University of Texas at Arlington Summer Institute of Liguistcs, 1993); and Michael Polayni, “Life’s Irreducible Structure” Science 160: 1308-1312.

[12] See Arthur Peacocke, Intimations of Reality: Critical Realism in Science and Religion (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983).

[13] See Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1968). For the East see, Sue Hamilton, Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) 95. Also, for the similarity of Eastern reasoning to Western, see Harold Netland “Evaluating Truth Claims Across Boundaries,” in The Relationship Between Epistemology, Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology and Contextualization: Understanding Truth (ed. D.W. Kennard, The Edwin Mellen Press, October 1999) 87, and the litrature cited there.

[14] For abuduction see e.g. Richard Boyd, “On the Current Status of Scientific Realism,” in The Philosophy of Science (eds. Richard Boyd, Philip Gasper, and J. D. Trout; MIT Press, 1991)  212-214.

[15] See e.g. Copleston’s remarks about C.S. Pierce’s abduction where he says, “Abductive argument is predictive in character. That is to say, it formulates a hypothsis from observed facts and deduces what should be the case if the hypothesis is true. And we can then test the prediction.” (Frederick Copleston, S.J., A History of Philosophy, Vol VIII: Bentham to Russell, (N.Y. Doubleday, 1985) 310. For induction’s use with deduction see Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1968) passim. 

[16] See, Harold Netland “Evaluating Truth Claims Across Boundaries,” in The Relationship Between Epistemology, Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology and Contextualization: Understanding Truth (ed. D.W. Kennard, The Edwin Mellen Press, October 1999) 88; and Carl R. Kordig, “Self-Reference and Philosophy,” American Philosophical Quarterly 20 (1983): 207-216.