A Brief History of a Complex Idea
DOI link for A Brief History of a Complex Idea
A Brief History of a Complex Idea book
The history of relativism is simultaneously a history of the attempts to overcome or defeat it. The approach is further justified by the fact that, relativistically inclined philosophers have relied on Pyrrhonian skepticism to advance their particular versions of epistemic relativism. There is little evidence of continued interest in either Protagorean or Pyrrhonian discussions of relativism in the medieval period. Encounters with new peoples and worldviews spurred debates on universalism and relativism in early modern period, as they had done for the ancient Greeks and would do again for the 20th-century cultural anthropologists. Contemporary postmodernists condemn the Enlightenment for its faith in universal norms of rationality, but at least some strands of the Enlightenment bear the unmistakable signs of a nascent relativism. The exoticism of the Enlightenment manifested some of the intellectual tendencies that have given rise to modern-day relativism. Historicism, inspired by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, had the most direct impact on discussions of relativism in the 19th century.