Social Scientist. v 10, no. 109 (June 1982) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

IDEALISM has many hues. The denial of the validity of scientific findings altogether, as for example on the question of evolution, is only one of its hues. In another hue, it may accept a particular scientific finding or hypothesis, but use it to bring the Almighty in through the backdoor. In yet another hue, which is the current fashion, it appears as relativism. From the lack of finality of scientific theory, from the fact that any given theory is superseded by some new theory, the relativists lump to the conclusion that we can never know anything about the world. What we think of as knowledge at any particular point of time is only a set of beliefs we happen to hold at that point, a set that will inevitably be replaced by another set at some future moment. There is no progress in this sequence, no process of approximation, albeit an infinite process, towards absolute truth. Indeed there cannot be, according to relativism, any objective truth independent of our consciousness which we can arrive at through science. Relativism denies any truth-content to science. It is of course diametrically opposed to the materialist theory of knowledge upheld by Marxism which holds that "every scientific truth, notwithstanding its relative nature, contains an element of absolute truth".

It is imperative for Marxism to wage a struggle against idealism of all hues, including in particular relativism whose latter day adherents are no longer confined to parsons and clerics but include some highly sophisticated and erudite academics of the advanced capitalist countries. Their ideas invariably acquire currency and fashion in backward countries like ours with a time lag. So it is essential for us to come to grips with their ideas, however esoteric and far-removed from us they may appear at the moment. And this is



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