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Philosophy Issues: Universalism versus Cultural Relativism Essay

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Updated: Mar 18th, 2020

Universalism

  • The term “universalism” is a concept used to denote various doctrines and ideas that consider all human beings in their origin and formation.
  • That being the case, universalism would refer to various concepts such as theology, philosophy, and religion. It is a state whereby something is “universal” in nature.
  • This is the case because such concepts tend to have “universal applicability.”
  • In its wider sense, universalism supports the idea that “religion is a critical quality of human beings.” This makes it an important universal value.
  • From the above definitions and considerations, it becomes evident that universalism refers to “concepts or things that are universal.”
  • Since universalism is the state of being naturally acceptable and universal, it plays a significant role in the formation of different theological doctrines and concepts.
  • For instance, Christians have developed the concept of “universal reconciliation” whereby all human souls will eventually be saved or reconciled to be part of their creator (or God).
  • This explains why a new form of universalism known as “Unitarianism” assumes that “religion and theology form an important human aspect or quality.” As a result, the concept integrates all global religions.
  • The concept goes further to embrace the idea of “universal reconciliation” between people and their God.
  • It is agreeable that “universalism” is a critical idea or concept that has played a major role in the establishment of modern religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, among others.
  • The other important tenet of universalism is that human beings believe in a specific “truth” that is universally acceptable.
  • This is acceptable because such kind of “truth” sweeps across religious, historical, ethnic, global, or cultural boundaries.

Cultural Relativism

  • The question of “culture” has remained a significant issue in many societies today.
  • Cultural relativism is a unique principle that seeks to explain the nature of our conceptions, views, and ideas.
  • From a cultural perspective, the concept explains that all cultures are equal. This means that there is no superior society or cultural group than the other.
  • Supporters or proponents of cultural relativism have gone further to argue that all ethical, political, religious, cultural, and societal beliefs are always significant to a person’s culture.
  • Ethical issues and ideas will always be guided by “social aspects or constructs” of a given society.
  • It is because of such ideas that cultural relativism is widely acknowledged in our modern societies. As a result, anthropologists use the concept widely across the world.
  • Cultural relativists and proponents argue strongly that all societies and cultures are superior, based on their values and beliefs.
  • What many people fail to understand, according to cultural relativists, is that the differences between cultural groups are not signs of superiority or inferiority.
  • The concept of “cultural relativism” goes further to explain that “the truth” is never objective.
  • This explains that a person will be either wrong or right, depending on his/her opinion. As well, the society will also play a significant role in determining what ought to be right or wrong.
  • That being the case, “cultural relativism” is a concept that sees everything to be right or wrong depending on the idea of “cultural expression.”
  • Cultural relativism is, therefore, necessary because it supports the welfare and position of different cultures in society.
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"Philosophy Issues: Universalism versus Cultural Relativism." IvyPanda, 18 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-issues-universalism-versus-cultural-relativism/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Philosophy Issues: Universalism versus Cultural Relativism." March 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philosophy-issues-universalism-versus-cultural-relativism/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Philosophy Issues: Universalism versus Cultural Relativism'. 18 March.

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