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World Association of International Studies

Post Cultural Relativism Again
Created by John Eipper on 07/08/18 4:10 AM

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Cultural Relativism Again (Cameron Sawyer, Russia, 07/08/18 4:10 am)

JE wrote on July 6th: "To counter the example of burning widows, one could cite King Leopold's barbarity in the Congo, or those crowning achievements of Western civilization: the mechanized carnage of WWI and the incineration of whole cities in its sequel."

Yes, absolutely. The nuclear bombing of Japanese cities and the indiscriminate slaughter of the mostly non-combatant inhabitants, the Gulag, the Holocaust, the Tuskegee Experiment--you can go on and on about the glories of Western civilization.

But even these things do not mean that our civilization is no better or worse than any other, or that there is no such thing as progress. Or barbarism.

JE comments:  Interesting topic.  WAIS is about many things, but we're almost always engaged in the comparison of cultures.

Now we'll have to define progress.  More stuff?  Hygiene and cures for disease?  Laws to protect private property?  Air conditioning?  

Tim Ashby (next) has sent a comment on Viscount Hardinge, Governor-General of India in the 1840s.  He may have been the first cultural relativist:  "It is your custom to burn widows; it is our custom to hang those who burn widows."

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