But almost nobody believes in unlimited relativism of ideas and values.
Much of the phenomena we observe is not purposely created by a person. In addition, no one person is capable of knowing all there is to know about any issue, hence the value of outside perspectives. The origin of much of our conflicting views is in the belief that any one belief is the ‘objective’ one, where everything is settled.
Even when another person is obviously wrong to us, their method of knowing what they believe to know could be instructive in our methods of knowing, our means of argumentation.
If anything’s wrong with the world, it’s in not recognizing that others have a point, even when they don’t express themselves that well.
Update: I discuss the matter further in my book How to get good, the section ‘How to think critically.’ The required openness to other points of view is shown by curiosity and a willingness to be wrong. I say it much better in the book.
This article is guided by the fair-use doctrine.
13 thoughts on “My critique of the 6-9 meme critique”
No. We live in a world where people think vaccines cause autism and the earth is flat. Not even close, and you should be embarrassed for thinking this.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well we should oppose ideas that we believe to be harmful. I think that’s what you’re getting at. But let me ask, what is there to lose in opening yourself to learning something from someone you disagree with?
We live in a world where people are being mocked and judged for their opinions. Maybe we should instead educate people on how to think critically and how to be more empathetic.
Sorry, no. This example is not a natural phenomena, this is not a natural occurrence, this is a man-made number written on the ground. It it’s a six, or it has a nine. It is not both. One. Of. Them. Is. Wrong. You can listen to your opponent’s opinion til the cows come home. You can learn about their motivations, learn where they’re coming from, but that does not make them right. They’re right if the facts prove them right. Otherwise, they’re just someone with an opinion. And opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, some are well-groomed, and some are just full of shit.
Agree with you that there is a right and wrong number. However, ‘6 or 9’ is a simplified metaphor. Real-life issues are not as clear-cut as ‘6 or 9.’ Simplifying another’s argument as being unlimitedly relativistic, doesn’t help get one’s point across.
Also, being open to other’s ideas isn’t just about right and wrong. Let’s take flat-earthers. Sure there’s overwhelming evidence we live in a around world. Yet what is more certain, that the world is round, or that parallel lines never intersect? I’d say the latter. What I get out of this, is fascination and some humility, that even our most deeply-held facts are still short of being necessarily true axioms.
This response is PERFECTION.
I thought relativity is a scientific concept and also a proven one, there was this man what was his name Einstein who came up with this. I guess this sounds too scary for people who would like to make sense of the world we live in, which ultimately is chaotic and nonsensical. I know it is a scary world to live in – but it is also real.
We can create as many absolute notions inside of it, but ultimately they will be destroyed by its nature. Absolutism only makes sense from a specific point of view (perspective) which in itself is a relative notion.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Hahah
Look, I’m not sure that this “question everything” relativist mindset really helps in this instance. There are factual absolutes, some people don’t know this, or choose not to accept it, doesn’t make it any less fact. And it should not be discouraged to say it is so. Yes, be open to understanding the other person’s viewpoint and why they believe what it is they believe is truth – but at the end of the day someone is still right and someone is still wrong. Just the same in that everyone is a “philosopher”, because we all have the ability to question the world around us, but not everyone goes down in history recognized as one.
Life isn’t fair because it discriminates like that, and that’s okay to accept.
How many people do you know, including in the interwebz, who believe that 6 is just as true as 9 for all intents and purposes? To attribute this “relativist mindset” to others and take it to mean anything is true regardless of circumstance, is an unfair oversimplification of another’s statements. Yes you could establish “factual absolutes” but the things we observe in the world are more complex than saying ‘6 or 9.’
I see the point of the original critique, and I believe I understand your position as well. I think though that arguing about which of these is “ruining the world” is a waste of time. I think you could sum up by saying do research before advocating a position and keep an open mind to others’ positions. Why the false dichotomy?
Yup, that probably works better. Thanks Jeff!
I came to a different conclusion when I read the original meme because of a recent difference of opinion between a friend and I. Now we both believe in Jesus, the bible and all the big points of the gospel. But one of us is following some version of the prosperity “gospel” and one of us is studying what the early church wrote. Of course each of us are going to see certain things differently. It is nothing more than pride and ego that will not allow for various interpretations of nonessential ideas. We may be fully convinced our view is correct but I’ve been around this life long enough to know my views are not always right just because I believe them deeply.
If the number in the meme were a wooden item on the floor in a craft store we might find that the 6 and 9 number come from the same bin. It is how you intend to display them that signifies whether it is a 9 or a 6.
Y’all commenting about who ruins the world because you like to find out who is right or wrong, too objective! You only know how to answer either true or false questions. Life is not like that. Life is complex as it is, the 6 and 9 is just a metaphor and not a shallow literal meaning you want it to be.