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  1. #11
    Senior Member Passacaglia's Avatar
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    No to the first, depends to the second. For the first:

    You can be proud of your own culture while understanding that other cultures have different values, but ethnocentrism takes things a step further, into the realm of judgment. It's hard to say that 'My culture is better' while at the same time understanding that 'better' is subjective.

    (Note that I'm separating moral relativism from cultural relativism here.)

    As for the second, what msg_v2*, Qlip, and Hard said. It's entirely possible to argue that certain cultures are better at certain things than other cultures, and you might even reach some degree of objectivity if you get specific enough. Like I might argue that American culture is good at absorbing foreign recipes, giving them a deliciously unhealthy spin, and then mass-producing and selling the end product. I can already see a few ambiguities and weak spots in my argument, but with enough refinement I could argue it.

    *With the exception of msg_v2's comment about nihilism, which I may or may not quibble about later.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    OK, ball begs, I'm going to post after all.

    I dont think the dichotomy of ethnocentricism and moral relativism is correct. Those are two equally mistaken/erroneous choices or alternatives/options.

    If you are endorsing ethnocentricism, well, there are numerous ethnocentricities, all competiting and co-existing, all relatively correct.

    Instead the dichotomy ought to be moral universal/absolute vs moral relativist.

    Yes, one ethnocentricity can be superior to another if it is a closer approximation of the moral universal/absolute. No, properly understood this is not merely cultural/ethnocentric supremacist, neither is it the naturalistic fallacy, nor merely a rationalisation, yes, affect and emotion may play a part but so does reason, logic and pragmatism.

    Yes, absolutes exist, usually they are most easily articulated in simple, universally recognisable terms or concepts which do not enlighten more complex contexts or situations and yes it can be demanding to tell what truly warrants that label from what is over layered cultural/ethnocentric norms, mores, values, ideology etc. etc. No because it is demanding and difficult does not invalidate the essential premise or make it impossible to tell.

  3. #13
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Yes, absolutes exist, usually they are most easily articulated in simple, universally recognisable terms or concepts which do not enlighten more complex contexts or situations and yes it can be demanding to tell what truly warrants that label from what is over layered cultural/ethnocentric norms, mores, values, ideology etc. etc. No because it is demanding and difficult does not invalidate the essential premise or make it impossible to tell.
    I think the point is that unless you understand the source of your "absolute" then you are no better than any other regurgitator of "truth". It's fine to learn something but to extol it to others you should really first understand it.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?
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  4. #14
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    Such standards aren't really objective. They're the equivalent of me saying something like, Sally is bad because she always fights me for the last lemon poppy seed muffin and loads the copy machine with three-hole punch paper. But, the stakes are always higher. It's fine to have criteria to judge, but I feel it's important to be aware of where that criteria comes from.
    I understand that they aren't objective. It doesn't need to be objective for there to be some comparison though. For example, it's not hard to tell the fact that a culture that has a high degree of violence, irrational law, and frequently causes harm to it's own people is going to be worse than a culture that does not have that.
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  5. #15
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xander View Post
    I think the point is that unless you understand the source of your "absolute" then you are no better than any other regurgitator of "truth". It's fine to learn something but to extol it to others you should really first understand it.
    I dont disagree, I would merely point out that eventually you reach some sort of axiomatic statement, Bertrand Russell found this out himself when attempting to apply rigor to mathematics.

    For my part I think that Kantian and later ethics are or have been roundly demolished by existentialism etc. but I think that virtue ethics stand up better and the test of time, however, were I to support that with argument I would struggle and simply have to refer people to the experts, Aristotale, McIntyre, etc.

  6. #16
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I dont disagree, I would merely point out that eventually you reach some sort of axiomatic statement, Bertrand Russell found this out himself when attempting to apply rigor to mathematics.
    Would you not also agree though that on such cases it's not necessarily the destination which is the desirable part of it but the journey embarked upon?
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  7. #17
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xander View Post
    Would you not also agree though that on such cases it's not necessarily the destination which is the desirable part of it but the journey embarked upon?
    Would need clarification.

  8. #18
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    I understand that they aren't objective. It doesn't need to be objective for there to be some comparison though. For example, it's not hard to tell the fact that a culture that has a high degree of violence, irrational law, and frequently causes harm to it's own people is going to be worse than a culture that does not have that.
    I suppose the closest you could get to objectivity would to judge a culture on its sustainability and growth. I could think of situations where non-humanitarian treatment would be beneficial to those things. This sort of thing is bad, because I do strongly believe in human rights, which is my own cultural prejudice. Ironically, I suspect that the success of the U.S. so far has been to fundamentally treat people unequally, and look away from the individual's basic needs. We're good, we're bad.

  9. #19
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Would need clarification.
    What doesn't?
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?
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  10. #20
    Senior Member Frosty's Avatar
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    I think that you can be ethnocentric while also adhering to cultural relativism. Understanding the merits of your own culture, while objectively viewing that of another does not mean that you do not accept the merit of the other culture, but that you can recognize yours enough to not totally bend to the other.


    To include a practical example, I'll talk about one of the many conflicts I had with my anthropology professor.
    Now in this example we could both be total idiots, but we were learning about this culture, that predominately relies on the blood, meat, and milk of the cow for their nutrition. I said something along the lines of that sounding unhealthy and leading to vitamin deficieny, and he told me I was ethnocentric.

    Every culture has parts that are seen as negatives and parts that are seen as positives, and I think people are sort of lying to themselves when they say they do not judge. If you are able to judge inwardly your own culture, than you should also be able to judge outwardly. I would never say to completely blanket a culture as bad or good, but being able to see the parts that to not mesh with your own way of life actually seems to be a good way of keeping other cultures alive.

    If you accept every part of a culture as different but equal, what is to keep you from acclimating that into your beliefs? It seems sort of disrespectul to the other cultures, and to your own culture, to deem something unworthy of judgement. Blind acceptance seems almost more judgemental than judgement itself.

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