I have quoted Albert Einstein before for stating that “reality is an illusion albeit a very persistent one.” What this statement implies is that there is no predestined right or wrong, good or bad, left or right… There are no absolutes. Our only “absolutes” in this world are created by the general population or what we refer to as society. Is Justin Beiber the best celebrity because he trends more consistently than any other artists on Twitter? Not really. Is Lady Gaga it because she has the most followers? Not at all. Is it U2 because they’ve packed the most shows in their career? Again, not quite. The answer to who’s the best musician is of course relative to personal taste and personal perceptions.

Absolute art

It is a well known fact that there cannot be an absolute art. When award shows are held every year they feature a variety of artists who hope that they will ultimately be crowned the best in their lines of performance. They won’t be the best that can ever be and we certainly won’t see that in any days to come. The choice of ‘best’ is of course based on a popular vote or decision of consensus. If the aim in art is to be as popular as possible then these artists by all means have achieved their goals. However, that may not be the shared view of their fans. Fans might value the musical structure of an artist’s songs more. What this means is that any work of art can only be valued relative to something else. It could be mass popularity, the change it creates, uniqueness (innovation) or marketability. So how can there be absolute art if there is no one way of judging a piece of art. How can you say “This is a perfect book?” You can’t. Sometimes we try to identify some parameters that we can use to create a summative index of evaluation but still it’s not enough to define perfection. It’s just a selection based on some few favored criteria.

Mona lisa

So what’s important is what is relevant to your values. Create art to serve personal goals. No goal is indubitably better than the other. Making art that is more expensive does not necessarily mean its better than art that is completely unique. Also, there is no limit to what an art can be. If you visit any bookstore today, you’ll be amazed by how many things are referred to as ‘arts’. There is an art of power, art of war. If you hang around the net long enough you will come across other arts such as the art of non conformity and the art of seduction. There are no absolutes to what you can turn into a work of art is there?

Absolute science

Science is essentially assumed to be absolute – the key word here being assumed.  The facts are the facts. But how true is this? A friend of mine in high school once told me that you can’t accurately measure anything. Error is inevitable. Think about a ruler. What exactly makes you so sure that the ruler you are using isn’t off by even 5 mm. Any ruler can be off by some standard. But then again what can you use to prove that the ruler is off? There is a standard 1 metre ruler that lies somewhere in Europe at some display stand but even that ruler experiences changes time and time again – heat based expansion and contraction, corrosion or decay…  it just can’t stay constant in form. And neither can our own assertions of what a measurement unit is. So when you say that girl is 5 feet tall you mean 5 feet tall relative to your ruler and your perception of the 5 foot mark.

And even when these margins of error as very slight we still need to consider that even notions don’t hold perfectly. We say that for every action there is a reaction but that is only with relevance to time. If you can look at a whole event with disregard to time then it is all one big action inclusive of the reactions. Once we define what time is then we can accept what a reaction is. It’s what happens at a different time unit if something else happens before it. But then if we consider the butterfly effect doesn’t it mean that for every action there are infinite reactions and not just one? Scientific fact is only fact in as far as we set the limits of its context and define its elements.

Absolute religion

Generally, what is the perfect religion? Very good question if you are only familiar with one religion. We normally judge other religions based on the values of our own. It’s not a very good way of going about things. It simply does not bring a common agreement to who/what is and is not the right diety. At least science is indisputable as long as our human faculties collectively present the same picture of the universe. Religion is built entirely on the abstract (information) and depends on our faith in matters spiritual. Atheists have abandoned the possibilities of such entities and they might be right in doing so for their own reasons. Theists have stuck by their beliefs and they may be right in doing so as well. None of these stances are absolute but they are useful if they fulfill certain values for either party. There have been several scientific arguments to disprove the existence of God but then what right can a human school of thought have to sufficiently prove the illusion of supernatural beings? Not much.

Absolute limits

Limits are basically made by humans. A word is a word because it evolved and got chartered into its language’s dictionary. If you want to prove a word exists you simply check the dictionary. That’s the standard. Whoever makes dictionaries decides whether a word is a word. Do we get to vote on that? No. But we simply accept it so. Does that make it absolute? No. So the limits set for defining a new word are dependent on a few factors that are picked out by a small group of people.

House of Commons

Laws are limits created by members of parliament. The reason as to why they are always amended is because they were not absolute to begin with. They did not capture every possible interest they were meant to cater for. Who decided how many numbers there should be for single digit figures – 1 to 9? I don’t even know but now we can see how much of a better job the binary digit system is doing for technological progress through modern computerized systems.

The basic idea here is that we as humans should learn to choose our own ‘absolutes’. But this is as long as they conform to our values. Even our chosen values are relative to what we will accept and what we won’t. Like a natural feedback mechanism our very souls will react independently to tell us what we prefer and what we don’t. Would you refuse to pick the last piece of cake at the party because everyone else won’t, seeing as it makes one appear greedy? Maybe picking that last piece is the trait of an absolute pig to them but to you it doesn’t even mean a thing beyond savoring the taste of that morsel. Then go ahead and grab it… In the end, you only need to choose your ‘absolutes’ wisely. They make you who you are and they decide how you think. It can be a cage we create for ourselves or a ship to take us wherever we want.


4 thoughts on “Absolutes

  1. I disagree! There are, indeed, absolutes. God, for one, is an absolute, isn’t He? And when you say, “There are no absolutes.” Isn’t that statement paradoxical? As in, the statement itself claims that the only fact that will always hold true (and is therefore absolute) is that there are no absolutes. The intrinsic notion that the statement attempts to put across disqualifies the statement itself. And don’t even try to say that the irony was deliberate; that you meant to use it to emphasize the idea you’re purporting.

    All in all, saying there are no absolutes is like saying ‘all generalizations are inaccurate.’ The statement itself is a generalization, and if the intrinsic notion holds true, then the statement is false. That would imply that the converse (all generalizations are accurate) is true. But we know this is not the case. So which is it?

    Conclusion: don’t think too much about some things, lest the viscous chicken-vs-egg cycle drives you insane.

    • I am Sam

      I had that very argument in a previous post. https://theinsidescoops.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/beware-the-mind-fuck-1-6/
      The truth is that its one of those paradoxes that can affirm themselves. The statement itself is an absolute truth to the best of our knowledge because we cant also be sure whether or not there actually are absolutes since we have not encountered them. Those who have encountered absolutes cannot sufficiently prove they have and what counts as a sufficient proof anyway? 🙂 You say that God is an absolute because you believe that God exists. How about all those people who don’t? They wouldn’t agree, would they? The concept of God, if accepted, would mean that there exists someone who knows everything and thus for him there would be absolutes and for us absolute knowledge and existence would represent being God. But all this depends on an ‘If’, an ‘If’ that mankind has failed to unanimously agree on (with the different religions) thus creating a non-absolute picture of this absolute being.

  2. I am Sam

    Yes. It really isnt. Its a matter of faith and that’s the main idea of this entire post. Faith is what creates the ‘absolutes’.

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