If someone is making a sensible remark by saying, “That is true for me but not for you,” then the person must mean simply, “I believe it, but you do not.” Truth is not relative in the sense that something can be true for you but not for me.

“Truth”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

It’s scary how many people now use the phrases “your truth” and “my truth” – especially when it comes out of the mouths of politicians. These are the very same people that sneer at so-called “science deniers” and yet, evidently, they don’t agree with the very core belief of science (that objective facts exist).

From what I can tell, this movement started with Schopenhauer‘s 1818/1844 book The World as Will and Idea (please don’t bother to read this book unless you’re tracing the history of dumb ideas). The very first sentence of this book is “The world is my idea.” Contrast this with the first sentence of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus: “The world is everything that is the case.”

But this really got rolling in the second half of the 20th century due to the quite reasonable work of  Wittgenstein, Derrida,  Foucault, and Lyotard which was then adopted by a bunch of people who did not fully understand their work. In fact, the place where you encounter this postmodernist radical relativism most is not in philosophy departments, but in teacher’s colleges. A very reasonable train of thought has come to mean the equivalent of “anything is true if you say it often enough and loud enough.” Now we’ve had two generations of teachers who swallowed this notion and then regurgitated it back to their own students.

Postmodernism is the enemy of truth. Even if you are an atheist and believe in nothing but “hard science” then you believe that truth is not subjective. So, to be a scientism-ist and a postmodernist is self contradictory.

The most radical postmodernists do not distinguish acceptance as true from being true; they claim that the social negotiations among influential people “construct” the truth. The truth, they argue, is not something lying outside of human collective decisions; it is not, in particular, a “reflection” of an objective reality. Or, to put it another way, to the extent that there is an objective reality it is nothing more nor less than what we say it is. We human beings are, then, the ultimate arbiters of what is true. Consensus is truth. The “subjective” and the “objective” are rolled into one inseparable compound.

“Truth”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“Consensus is truth” – doesn’t this sound like an Orwellian nightmare?

The single best counter-example I know for postmodernist radical relativism is the Boxer Rebellion, where the “Boxers” (so called because they were students of a charismatic martial arts master) were “convinced they were invulnerable to foreign weapons.” Putting aside who was right politically in this conflict, it quickly became apparent that — although thousands of people believed that Western weapons could not hurt them, they were very, very wrong. The summary execution of all those suspected of being Boxers ensued. You can not talk your way around a bullet.

By that same token, it’s important to remember that having faith in God or Jesus does not instill you with supernatural powers either. The only power you have is power over your own beliefs, attitudes and actions.

We would all like to live in a world where people have magic powers — just look at the popularity of Harry Potter and the Marvel superhero movies. But, wishing doesn’t make it so. And neither does consensus or political posturing.

 Public domain