2020, 171 S, Gb, (Springer)
This book tackles the difficult task of defending relativism in the age of science. It succeeds where others have failed by combining the rigor of analytic philosophy with the first-hand insights of anthropological experience. Typically, an anthropologist's work on relativism offers rich examples of cultural diversity, but lacks philosophical rigor, while a philosopher's work on relativism offers rigorous argumentation, but lacks rich anthropological examples. Facing Relativism, written by a North American philosopher who lived in the Ecuadorian rainforest, does both. Relativism at a global scale is a view that our claims about the world, both theoretical and practical, are evaluable only relative to a context shaped by factors such as culture, history, language, and environment - or, "a way of life.? It can be at once intuitive and disturbing. While we might expect a way of life to exert some influence on our claims, relativism seems to move to the overly strong conclusion that all of our claims about what is true or good must merely be expressions of cultural bias. It easily opens itself to a host of charges, including paradox and self-contradiction. Facing Relativism argues that such problems arise largely from a failure to situate the view within the context that has, throughout its long history, been its inspiration: the experience - whether through literature, the imagination, or direct anthropological contact - of deeply engaging with a very different way of life. By starting with a careful analysis of the experience of deep engagement, this book shows that relativism is neither as incoherent nor as alarming as we tend to think. In fact, it might just offer the tools we need to face these times of global crisis and change.