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Cultural Relativism Essay

942 words - 4 pages

Today, we live in a rapidly evolving society, which as a result, increasingly brings people of various cultures to closer interaction with one another. These interactions have the potential to cultivate into either positive or negative relationships given the degree of courtesy and sensitivity that people display towards other cultural groups. These displays of behaviour are relative to an important concept: cultural relativism. Cultural relativism holds the opinion that there is no universal morality that is common amongst all cultures. In an article written by James Rachels, an American philosopher, he breaks down the different challenges ...view middle of the document...

In addition, due to the similarities in topic between the idea of cultural relativism and Epictetus’ view on ethics, it is natural to wonder the extent of which the Greek stoic philosopher could be considered a cultural relativist. This essay will explain how Epictetus would, be considered a cultural relativist and why cultural relativism is not a viewpoint that necessarily needs to be adopted in regards to moral issues due to its possible lack of empathy for individuals.
As a stoic, the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, held the belief that humans should be concerned exclusively with their will because it was undeniably the one thing that they would have complete control over, whereas external events would be beyond one’s control. An intercept from Epictetus’ The Encheiridion states “Remember, therefore that if what is naturally slavish you think to be free, and what is not your own to be your own, you will be hampered, will grieve, will be in turmoil, and will blame both gods and men; while if you think only what is your own, then no one will ever be able to exert compulsion upon you, no one will hinder you, you will blame no one, will find fault with no one, will do absolutely nothing against your will, you will have no personal enemy, no one will harm you, for neither is there any harm that can touch you.” This passage reiterates the idea that certain things are under our control, those being: conception, choice, desire, aversion and makes it evident that Epictetus would be considered a cultural relativist. Epictetus strived to teach all that man should seek an untroubled life and what better way to adhere to his teachings than to stray from a life of judgment of others and the practices relative to their culture. If Epictetus were alive today he would explain how the cultures...

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