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Christopher Hall

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What are the educational implications of holding on to objective truth in a culture that values relativistic truth?

Besides conflict, of course! This question is deliberately broad, not focused on teachers, students, curriculum, or institutions specifically, so that the soil of it may be tilled as completely as possible through discussion.

Let's start here: if one holds that objective truth exists, then the interactions with culture, peers, professors, course content, and even the disciplines themselves must be flavored and shaped by that assertion. In a postmodern, relativist culture, this questions is somewhat pressing: there are movements in education that favor both types of truth, and that can make plugging into education, for a student, disciple, or apprentice of an opposing view, feel something like a 120V appliance being plugged into a 220V outlet. Without a transformer, step-down or step-up, these learners seemingly would not be able to approach, apprehend, or socialize around the learning because the premises behind its whole gestalt are out of phase. Or could they? What are the transformers necessary to do so? And the greater question: what are the implications for our culture? Can folks who have these two views, and therefore different educations, inherently, create a functional society together?

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  • Jul 1 2013: I suspected that this was religiously motivated, and I was not surprised when you revealed this to be so. Using some fantasy, like the Christian god, as a foundation to call something an objective truth would be but an example of your main complain: that education is based on relativistic truths. You would make the whole thing relative to believing that the Christian god and the Bible (I suppose) are objectively true. Thinking so does not make it so. believing so does not make it so, which means that your epistemology would be in much worse shape than what you are complaining about.

    By the way, objective is not the same as absolute, subjective is not the same as relative. For example, if we measure meters according to a standard, that makes the measurement objective, since the standard is not dependent on each subject. However, the measurement is still relative because it depends on the standard.
    • Jul 1 2013: I'm using Christianity as a jump-off point because it's easy for most readers to relate to, but it's not the only one. What if entropy was your objective standard? How might that change the way you understand fundamental truth? And what if you were in a class where the teacher were operating under the premise that order is the fundamental truth? How would that change how you two relate in the learning sense, fistfights aside?

      I know that many folks here are prejudiced against a concept of a Christian god, too. That's what makes this a hard topic for folks to access. I get that. I'm not trolling, I'm inviting a thought exercise.
      • Jul 1 2013: I don't think that you're trolling Christopher, I just thought that your post was religiously motivated, and it was.

        I would not make either entropy or order my fundamental truth. My fundamental would be let's see what we can figure out (it's actually existence). If I were to propose that history is the fulfilling of the Christian god's plan, then how would I determine that such a foundation is false? Wouldn't it be better if I held that if history was the fulfilling of some god's plan, then the facts would show so? (Please don't mistake the problem of figuring out the facts with the facts themselves.)

        Foundational metaphysics might be hard to come by, but I find it ridiculous to start with such a shaky foundation as a god, or to holding that we should use some position as if it were an objective truth to hold everything else without actually knowing it to be so.

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