I've taken this sentence by Wikipedia but I see it in a weird way.

"Culture sophistic through criticism of the notion of truth arrives at a more radical form of relativism. Not only there is no truth absolutely valid, but the only measure becomes the individual: for each individual it's true only his own subjective perception. Similarly, this relativistic view of the world is applied to the field of ethics ... There are no good or bad actions in itself; each action must be evaluated case by case."

I see two possible interpretations:

  1. There is not only 1 truth, but one for each point of view. For example on topic like death penalty there could be 49 reason pro and 50 against and going deeper and deeper we would simply see that the reality is a lot complex. And that "tags" don't fit it well. A math example could clarify the point. People see "truth" like a score calculated on a strong simplified model of the reality. But the model is too much simplified. It's not like a function from R^2 to R^3. But like a vectorial differential function from R^20000 to R^3000.

  2. "since we can join logical sentences which contradict one sentence defined as truth, it means that there is no absolute truth". "Since we can wonder on the definition of any word and argue pro or against it this means there isn't an absolute truth.

I strongly disagree on the second interpretation since a reasoning is just a logical mental association based on our human limited simplified model, not the reality.

Imagine someone is arguing that the pain is not existing. Take him in a torture chamber with a button, that if is pressed, states that pain exists. Every argumentation in the world will not change the fact that he will press the button in a short time.

The question is: how do we get the philosophical speaking to stay connected with reality?

A mental model, a rational consequence of ideas can describe many realities, philosophy has a name for define philosophy which are bound to this real world and the common perception of it shared by peoples?

*who doesn't understand the question will go to the torture chamber :p (jokes aside, is my first question, and I know it's harsh to ask a philosopher to stay pragmatical, can you help me to clarify it?)

  • "how do we get the philosophical speaking to stay connected with reality?" It's sort of a choice, isn't it? That description of relativism is just pure description -- you can take it or leave it. If you want my truth on "What limit to relativism?" I'd say the limit is rationalism and objective truth, lol. People can say whatever they want about 2+2, it is still 4. Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 14:24
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    You can find here a good discussion of Relativism. Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 14:24
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    There are absolute truths: e.g. self-evident principles of logic. And they serve as the bedrock of any philosophical/scientific endeavor for truth. All inferences must be reducible to them.
    – infatuated
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 11:15
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    "How do we get the philosophical speaking (rhetoric) to stay connected with realilty?" Hopefully, you are already connected with reality. Pay your bills and property taxes. That's reality! One never needs 'rhetoric' (wordiness). All one needs is "good sense." Your first question evidences this. That question interests me. The revised question is not sensible. Moral: don't be talked out of your best. Some people, here, are waaayyyyhh 'sophist'. "Just like in grad school" (this is what my dad says); so, don't try to please them; just go on to the next question. Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 21:35
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    I think I understand. I'll follow your posts. Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 22:02

3 Answers 3


The first step is to agree (or realize) that there are three levels/types of reality. 1) local(individual), 2) global(group), and 3) absolute reality. This realization is key so that the different sides/groups can understand each other. The relativistic group is correct when the "reality" they refer to is the local type (each individual can have his/her own interpretation of reality). The global reality is the observed reality as agreed by the consensus of a "large group" of people (current reality). The absolute reality can be attained, only by continuing to augment the global reality - until the "end of time" (future reality). As time passes, our global reality encompasses more and more of the absolute reality. What this implies, is that at any one time, we have a mixture of reality types. We have our own reality, the group reality we accept, and a portion of the absolute reality that we are able to perceive.

The reason your torture example "works," is because of the portion of the absolute reality that each of us is aware of.


The question is: how do we get the philosophical speaking to stay connected with reality?

Torturing people might be the wrong way to achieve that :) And your "torture chamber with a button" example would make most philosophers itchy, philosophically speaking. (I will restrain myself this time around!)

The root of the problem is that philosophy actually started as an activity aimed at questioning basic beliefs of everyday life. This basic attitude and motivation is still passed on in "philosophy's DNA", as it were, up to this day.

But there's hope:

[Which philosophies are] bound to this real world and the common perception of it shared by peoples?

There are many philosophical traditions which support your philosophical desiderata. A few modern examples:

Please note that these examples concern epistemology. Your discomfort with relativism seems to extend to moral relativism as well. Or, more precisely, it extends to moral subjectivism. You are interested in a philosophy that is able to defend moral realism, the view that moral judgements refer to objective features of the world out there, features independent of subjective opinion. I guess other will give more examples you can follow up.

On the other hand, most of these philosophies engage in the same kind of somewhat sophisticated (I guess you would say: hair-splitting) discussions as their counterparts. That is, they do not "stay pragmatical". Only some ordinary language philosophers tried to avoid this and practiced philosophy as a down-to-earth thinking about ordinary language.


The truth is ... there is no ultimate truth. Our truth is momentary, incidental and at best, an agreement of relative sources. It is not finite and it is not rigid.

There are many who argue against Relativism as some middle of the road sidestep from the truth. Relativism takes into account all 'truths', and, the basic relative judgement (experience) on what values are being forwarded. The "truth" of today may not be the 'truth' tomorrow

All truths are an evaluated system of agreement. Those with a membership card are included and those without are excluded. My truth and your truth can be different.

In a positional reality subjectivity, Cartesianism, they are considered doubtful and debatable truths. Philosophical hermeneutics, (Hans-Georg Gadamer) involves the linguistic bridging of two separate truths by revealing them as dialogical statements, not as positions. And, a new agreement of 'the truth' is formed.

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