Thursday, May 21, 2009
In our world of modern relativism the winners are politicians and the losers are philosophers. I recently came across this quote, “To ask an indelicate, pre-modern question: is this true?” The original sophists who Plato fought against (and prevailed, in the long run) were politicians. It was useful for them to play fast and loose with the terms they used because they could manipulate a situation to fit their wishes. As a politician, if you can manipulate people it makes for better PR, better campaigns, etc. However, as a philosopher, if you can no longer ask, “Is this true?” there is no longer any point to philosophizing. As a philosopher, the ability to manipulate people or situations for the sake of PR, campaigns, power… holds no appeal. This is precisely the difference between a philosopher (lover of wisdom) and sophist (Plato’s sarcastic name, wise, for the politicians of his day). So the dictatorship of relativism that has taken our world firmly in its iron grip plays perfectly into the hands of politicians and leaves philosophers out in the cold.