Sunday, June 22, 2008

Slacker Relativism vs. Courageous Relativism

The following was an unsolicited morning thought, and is still quite rough and redundant:

When relativism is experienced as a real interactive state, it expands value. It expands outward, increasing the range and the complexity of our comprehension, so that more things have greater value to us; more things have multiple value, and malleable value.

Relativism does not reduce value at all. That which holds intensity in one context, still carries value in that context, and possibly has added/other values when considered in other ways.

I believe we are overwhelmed by relativism's expanded universe of comprehension, and we deal with this by constricting its complexities and possibilities. We develop theories of containment, which restore our illusion of understanding. We reduce perceptions to a manageable range of possibility. Within this compressed and shallow context, value becomes perverted and chaotic; it becomes unrelated and valueless.

Anything goes. We introduce the crap factor of relativism...I'm specifically thinking of art here.Relativism does not diminish value, but a cowardly relationship to relativism does.

It takes patience and courage and effort to fully engage the world from a relativistic perspective.


Sam K said...

I think this is pretty natural, given the way our language works. Double meanings, triple meanings, contradicting meanings/roots, multiple options for expression...taken in individual scenarios we have contradictions, but in total, it's paradox.
I agree--active, thoughtful relativism can endow meaning. It allows for a more comprehensive understanding than any individual system allows. It's the lazy-minded, cop-out relativism that's dangerous.

Carla said...

I'm glad this post made sense. I keep encountering the products of cop-out relativism, but they are based on reasonable theories/philosophies. It's the deductive reasoning, maybe, that leads to the limited view, when a more additive thought path is required?

Sam K said...

Another way to put it, maybe: we're all pretty used to the eventual failures (partial or total) of our structures of meaning and understanding, so it's to be expected, a matter of course, that a better grasp of things comes from understanding multiple systems.

Even art people have a vested interest in affirming/preserving older, hard-proven philosophies, those approaches to making, those systems of meaning. But they're bound to come apart, no matter how much you spend fortifying them.

Carla said...

I'm losing focus on my own point, but I think I'm suspicious of even defining one's systems to the point where it's distinct and capable of coming apart. I'm calling for us risk a floundering and clueless existence, rather than a limited one which we understand well, or a defined one which we then change/update as necessary.

Or at most, we use defined structures very incidentally as tools and not as a belief system.

Carla said...

let me retract "calling for us to risk a floundering and clueless existence..."

tis a tad dramatic