Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you that I love baseball. It doesn’t matter if its the Padres/Nationals or the Cubs/White Sox, I love to watch the game. Since I was a little guy, I’ve loved to play the game as well – from t-ball and juice boxes to high school and sunflower seeds, it was an everyday part of my life growing up. So its with baseball that I choose as my “arena” to test a belief system that many in our culture associate themselves with. That belief system is relativism. WordNet would define relativism as “the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved”. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them”. So in summary: I am doing an “experiment” of sorts. The guinea pig is relativism, and the maze that the guinea pig is tested in is called baseball. Any questions? anyone? ANYONE??
Lets say that the Chicago Cubs are playing the Philadelphia Phillies. (this is a total random pairing, and has no relation to who is actually playing tonight, the teams and characters are purely coincidental…) Pedro Martinez is pitching, and Derrek Lee is batting (again, purely coincidental). Martinez throws a pitch, that hits the catcher’s mitt with a loud SMACK and the umpire gestures the third strike, effectively striking out Derrek Lee. But Lee turns around to the umpire and says, “I don’t see it that way. It may mean to you that it takes 3 strikes for a strike-out, but for me, it takes 5 strikes for a strike out.” The umpire rolls his eyes, but lets Lee step back into the batters box. On the next pitch, Derrek Lee hits a line drive, and the ball bounces off the center field wall. As he is rounding the first base to head to second, Phillie first baseman Ryan Howard steps right in the baseline path, blocking Lee from getting to second. As soon as the ball is thrown in to the infield, Phillie second baseman Chase Utley tags out Lee, who is still caught in the basepath behind Howard. “That is fielder interference!” exclaims Lee. Howard turns around with a chuckle and says “It all depends on what the phrase ‘fielder interference’ means”. Hopefully you all get the picture.
At the risk of giving my “opinion” in a sports blog, I must say that relativism is a dead-end philosophy that would be contradicted in so many ways in our society. In a world where no accountability is desired, “anything goes”, and it all depends what “is” means, a society cannot function without objective truths, in the same way that baseball cannot function without objective rules. If you don’t believe me, then try telling me that all truth is relative. Isn’t that an objective statement? Anyone???