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"Different Cultures Have Different Truths". "A Truth Is That Which Can Be Accepted Universally". What Are The Implications For Knowledge Of Agreeing With These Opposing Statements?

1295 words - 5 pages

"Different cultures have different truths". "A truth is that which can be accepted universally". What are the implications for knowledge of agreeing with these opposing statements?The two statements are contradictory as they essentially convey opposing theories about truth; relativism - the belief that what is true is what is accepted by one's culture or community - and absolutism - the branch of thought which claims that a statement is either absolutely true or absolutely false and therefore, nothing can be true for a culture or era and yet be false for another. Nevertheless, both absolute and relative "truths" can be obtained from the different areas of knowledge.Knowledge is generally accepted as a justified true belief, and if relativism and absolutism is in discordance about the truth, its validity can be questioned. The implications for knowledge can vary depending on whether we agree with the opposing statements collectively or individually. The first statement in itself, "different cultures have different truths", surely suggests that a culture itself is identified by a shared belief of what is true by its people, and what the "truths" are to each culture is what differentiates them from others. The implication for knowledge for accepting these statements collectively is that truths can vary if we consider the relativists point of view that there can be "different truths", while absolutist would claim that there is only one universal truth. Thus at least one of the "cultural truths" will not be corresponding to the "facts of the matter" if truth is absolute. Therefore, how can there be any validity in their knowledge - their justified true beliefs - considering it was derived from a truth which was potentially independent of the "facts of the matter" or inconsistence with the universal truth?A second problem that the relativists' view implies on knowledge is caused by the fact that the determining factor for the truth can often be what is accepted by the majority as such. In the case of social relativists, the argument states that "if the majority of a particular society believes that A is true, then A is true. It is therefore possible to cause A to be true, simply by having the majority of a particular society believe it to be true. Whatever the majority of a society believes to be true, then, is true. Thus, the majority of a society is infallible."Abiding by this argument, it's possible that the truth can be changed, causing many implications to the validity of knowledge acquired from these beliefs. Was it not common belief and therefore not true that the Earth was flat a few centuries ago? And does a change in belief constitute a change in truth, or in other words, did the Earth change its shape? And say if Columbus only shared his discovery with a certain culture, it would be possible for two different truths about the Earth's shape to theoretically co-exist.To some extent this could even be exemplified by the occurrences in months...

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