THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF MULTICULTURAL RELATIVISM;

FROM DARWIN TO DEWEY--PRAGMATISM AND OUTCOME BASED EDUCATION

 

The development in Western civilization unfolded Operationalism, Structuralism, and Functionalism as a result of the revolutions in the scientific method. How are we to respond to these cultural factors in light of The Challenger (1986), 9-11-01 and The Columbia tragedy?

 

                                                             Cultural Indicators

 

1.  Science and Mathematics and Ratiocentricism (right and left hemispheres of the brain, e.g. The right side is for rational logic, the left side is for creative imagination).

2.  Western civilization as Eurocentricism (e.g. Meta-narrative of Western culture in one world, multicultural nationalism, patriotism, dominance, terrorism, distraction and control)

3.  Mathematics; number theory after Goedel.

4.  Linguistics: identification of thought and language. (Goedel’s theorem, linguistic analysis, logical positivism, Whorf’s relativistic logistic hypotheism, Sapir’s linguistic relativism (e.g. different languages), narratives have different world views, i.e., Wittgenstein’s Language

Games)

5.  Whatever Happened to True Truth? (Correspondence coherence, pragmatic theories).

6.  Biological Revolution (origins, pragmatism, multiculturalism (from Darwin to Dewey).

7.  Historical Relativism: Historical Revolution (from Kant, Lessing/Herder to Heidegger and the Historicism of all reality. Tension between Positivism of the Physical Science to Historicism

in The Social Sciences, i.e., anthropology, psychology, sociology, global economics, legal theory, politics, art, literature, media/education, etc.).

8.  Hermeneutical Revolutions (Dilthey, Heidegger, Derrida’s deconstructionism, e.g., Bernstein, Fish’s Copernican Revolution).

9.  Epistemological Relativism: Dewey’s pragmatism and “Pop culture”

10. Cultural/Linguistic Relativism of Mead, Boas, Benedict, Humbolt, Sapir; Correctives: Chomsky, Nida, Pike.

11. Legal/Relativism: Sociology of Law after Oliver Wendell Holmes (Harvard Law School).

12. Media Revolution: from audibility to visibility

13. International conflict as the result of multicultural relativism: (see my essay, “Terror in the

Temple of Tolerance.”)

 

The following are quotations from major literature expressing cultural and epistemological relativism (i.e., postmodern multiculturalism).

 

Developments in Science: 

 

According to this postmodern faith in the inviability of cultural diversity, what we describe as “science” and what we regard as universally valid, culture-transcending knowledge, is simply a European way of chanting, and to exact analogue of the Cashenahua (tribal) chants which legitimize the Cashenahua and ensure that people who have different chants are not to be trusted or married or eaten with, and designate all others as outsiders who are really prey. If that science is simply a European way of chanting on an ideology used by Western societies to identify and legitimize themselves, you should see Anne Salmond’s cultural relativism expressed in her prize-winning work on history and anthropology (Two Worlds: The First Meeting Between The Maori and Europeans (1512-1772) (Viking Press, 1994).

 

Another expression of cultural relativism is found in Edward Said’s book, Culture and Imperialism). The thesis of Said’s book would have suited Salmond’s view of history and the relationship between the European invaders and the earlier discoverers of New Zealand. Salmond and Said would have agreed that when The Maori and Europeans first met, they were on equal ground, with similar intellectual and cognitive equipment and with similar ideas about the world, which disappeared purely accidentally because they happened to suit their respective cultures. Kuhn, and if not Kuhn, then Foucault, would have led them (Said and Salmond) to believe that the European way of sailing and mapping the world and of approaching indigenous culture, which were limited in their perspective by a vary narrow horizon, was in no way more “true” nor more universally applicable than the Maori way of doing these tings. The sources of Salmond’s paradigm is that all societies and all cultures are on equal footing and that the notion of “more advanced” and “less advanced” have no referential meaning because they are derived from a chart which Europeans happen to have adopted to represent themselves to themselves. What Salmond does not mention in any chapter of her work is whether Foucault, whom she mentions, and Lyotard and Kuhn, whom she does not mention, are sound guides. (This cultural relativism thesis will be considered later on in this study concerning the Freeman/Mead Controversy, since Mead, like it or not, laid the foundation for the counter culture of the 1960s),

 

As a result of this development, Western civilization is adjudged to be only one of the cultural structures of reality and the “politically correct” judgment on Western civilization is Eurocentricism.

 

Mathematics

 

This fundamental attack on mathematics after Goedel’s Theorem refuting the autonomy of the mathematics of Russell and Whitehead is the foundation for the rejection of the meta-narrative of mathematics (see my discussion of the result of this phenomena in my paper, “Whatever Happened to True Truth” see pgs. 3ff. “From Euclidean Geometry to Goedel’s Theorem”).

 

James D. Strauss