‘You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many friends’, or so the saying goes. Actually, being at the extreme in any of those things is bad, if not fatal. Even having too many friends takes a huge, personal time investment and achieves diminishing returns, even for politicians. One point for the supporters of Relative.

Also, image a World without a spectral balance (contrast, depth, colour, tone, texture, style, shape, volume level), highs and lows, talent distribution, unopposed forces, virtue & vice, seasons, debate and drama. One point for the supporters of Relative.

What things is absolute or extreme good for? Accuracy & precision (within the constraints of time and money, more is usually better), consistency, binary systems, budget limits and the passage of time (reminding us that as our lives progress, our choices slowly diminish). Interestingly, setting budget limits requires judgement, so not all absolute things are objective and independent. Perhaps if something is absolute and requires judgement, feedback and human input is a more critical element than something relative requiring judgement and human input? A point for Absolute.

Absolute is also useful when things are unattainable – we might aspire to perfection proding us to raise our performance in that direction. Another point for Absolute.

What things is relative good for? Justice, reward, attractiveness, scientific truth and risk. Things heavily reliant on judgement, or the latest findings until superseded by superior insights. This is perhaps relative’s strength and its weakness. Another point for Relative.

Perhaps in the final analysis they both win different races. The trick is to bet the right way for the right race.

Post script: A young teen asks you, ‘what is the difference between relative and absolute?’ You could answer as follows; When you are born, in relative terms you know more about the World than what you know when you reach the end of your life! That’s relative knowledge. How so? If you accept that global knowledge increases exponentially (while human wisdom arguably only increases linearly, at best), then relatively speaking, you know more about the World in the first millisecond you are born into the World. Of course, absolutely speaking, you know more at the end of your life than at the beginning. That said, if at the end of your life you suffer from a mental degenerative disease, you may have trouble accessing what you actually know.

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