The question of relativism is a perennial one, and as fundamental and far- reaching as the question of truth itself. Is truth absolute and universal, the same everywhere and for everyone? Or is truth historically, culturally, biologically, or otherwise relative, varying from one epoch or species to another? Although the issues surrounding relativism have attracted especially intense interest of late, they continue to spark heated controversies and to pose problems lacking an obvious resolution. On the side of one prevalent form of relativism, it is argued that we must finally recognize the historical and cultural contingency of our available means of cognition, and therefore abandon as naIve the absolute conception of truth dear to traditional philosophy. According to this line of thinking, even if there were univer- sally valid principles, knowledge of them would not be possible for us, and thus an absolute conception of truth must be rejected in light of the demands of critical epistemology. However, when truth is accordingly relativized to some contingent subjective cognitive background, new difficulties arise.
One of the most infamous of these is the logical inconsistency of the resulting thesis of relativism itself. Yet an even more serious problem is that the relativization of truth makes truth itself contingent, thereby undermining the motivation for preferring one belief or value to another, or even to its opposite.
One / The Critique of Relativism in the Prolegomena to the Logical Investigations.- 1. The Prolegomena Critique.- 1.1 The Self-Refutation Argument.- 1.2 The Argument by Way of the Meaning of 'Truth'.- 2. Relativism Reconsidered.- Two / The Critique of Historicism and Weltanschauung Philosophy in "Philosophy as Rigorous Science".- 1. The Critique of Historicism.- 2. The Defense of Philosophy as a Science.- 2.1 The Idea of Science.- 2.2 Philosophy as Weltanschauung and Philosophy as Science.- Three / The Phenomenological Elucidation of Truth: Between Skepticism and Relativism.- 1. Cartesian Objectivism and the Epistemic Critique.- 2. Truth and Evidenz in the Prolegomena.- 3. Truth and Evidenz in the Sixth Investigation.- 4. Truth and Evidenz in Ideas I.- 5. Summary and Provisional Conclusions.- Four / Phenomenology and the Absolute.- 1. Transcendental Phenomenology and the Path to Absolute Evidenz.- 1.1 Inner Perception, Immanent Perception, and the Epoche.- 1.2 Noetic-Noematic Analysis: Husserl and Kant.- 2. Adequacy and Apodicticity.- 3. Intersubjectivity: A First Approach.- 3.1 Intersubjectivity and Transcendental Subjectivity.- 3.2 The Evidenz of Intersubjectivity.- Five / Relativism and the Lifeworld.- 1. Historical Introduction: The 'Turn' to the Lifeworld.- 2. The Plurality and Relativity of the Lifeworld.- 3. The Lifeworld and Truth.- 4. The Priority of the Lifeworld.- 5. The Phenomenological Overcoming of Relativism.- 5.1 Phenomenology as Relativism?.- 5.2 Phenomenology of Universality.- Conclusion.