The Challenge of Cultural Relativism and Trying Out One’s New Sword introduced moral relativism nicely, the former introducing the example of the eskimos and concluding by relating moral relativism to cultural understanding, and the latter focusing on the samurai example. One of the key quotes I pulled from Mary Midgley’s article states is, “when we discuss these things, it becomes instantly clear how far we are from doing this,” which perfectly encapsulates the personal process of studying philosophy. The process of asking more questions and discussing new topics not only expands my breadth of knowledge, but increases my awareness of how much I don’t know yet, making the exploration of philosophy over the past 2 weeks intriguing yet subtly overwhelming.
The second key quote from Midgley, related to cultural relativism is, “morally as well as physically, there is only one world, and we all have to live in it,” alluding to the theme of understanding when it comes to cultural and moral relativism - by understanding why a certain culture views specific actions as morally just i.e. tsujigiri we may be able to achieve a compromise in perception. For example, in class we spoke about relativists still agreeing to the idea that there are objective moral truths, such as the objective truth that the Earth is a sphere while understanding that different cultures may have different perceptions of the Earth's shape. This makes me question whether dualism will eradicate the tension of moral relativism and objectivity, such that we are able to believe in one mode of thinking but believe in the opposite end of the spectrum, ultimately taking neither side, closing the argument as to which mode of thinking is more correct or valid. Moreover, a state of neutrality will ultimately make these discussions redundant. To an individual who has a very flexible moral code which constantly changes as they learn, moral relativism and objectivity are just temporary mindsets one will bounce between over time. However, in terms of whole cultures, history and tradition play a role in a culture’s moral code and the same aforementioned individualistic idea, while feasible, is highly unlikely to occur.