Statements on observation are subject to the principle of relativity which was postulated as early as the 17th century by Galilei.
The validity and meaning of these statements therefore can only be discussed in relation to an underlying perspective. As a consequence of the principle of relativity, a few fundamental questions arise, which have been answered in different contexts and at different times in very distinct ways.
- Relation: How can different observer perspectives be correlated?
- Evaluation: Which observer perspectives are equivalent and how can non-equivalent perspectives be evaluated?
- Abstraction: What parts of observations are independent from the perspective, or, what parts can be described "absolutely"?
Starting from the key questions above, the RG Relativity's topical orientation emerged in focal points which can be summarised under the following questions and aspects:
"Why is red red and not another colour?"
Everyone is alone in their own perception – sensually, reflectively, normatively, trandscendentally, and pathologically. At the same time, we believe (and with good reason) that others, too, have experiences that are somehow similar to our – humans, animals too, conscsious life and other intelligences.
"Are you experiencing what I am experiencing?"
And not only that: we even believe we can communicate with others via our perceptions, in a manner which is consistent in the sense that what we meant does not lose its sense when it refers to the perception of others rather than our own. And beyond that, we believe we can put ourselves in someone else's shoes. This change of perspective is an interesting field in psychology: The question of, at what age the relativity of one's own perceptions, attitudes, emotions is recognised, has occupied develpmental psychologists most of all. Similar concepts are employed in autism research too. However, there has been little investigation into the breadth of variation of subjective 'relativity' and its determinants in healthy adults. From the realm of physics, the following quote is up for discussion: "What the observer knows is inseperable from what the observer is: the physical state of his memory implies his information about the universe. [...] In this manner, the distinction between ontology and epistemology – between what is and what is known to be – is dissolved". (W.H. Zurek, „Decoherence, einselection, and the quantum origins of the classical", Rev. Mod. Phys., 75, 715 (2003)).
- Every observer has a (certain, deliberate, involutary ...) influence over the observation. What are the consequences for the relations between different observers?
- What possibilities and criteria exist for a meaningful discussion on perceptions, experiences and observations?
- What do we perceive as relative? What do we see as universally valid?
- What of this is true from a different perspective? When can we agree?
The following concrete questions are starting points for the problematisation:
- What linguistic-logical consequences follow from the stochastic structure of global descriptions of a multitude of single observations (or, what does it mean that we "summarise" retrospectively, but cannot extrapolate from singular instances – put differently: what reality do we ascribe to a statistic?)
- How can we describe "aesthetic" events in a "relativistic" manner?
- Do we need a self-referential logical structure in arguments with a global claim ("anthropic principle", hermeneutics, mathematical logic, or similar)?
- How do the limits and the unrestrictedness of our imagination, or our range of experiences, affect our (aesthetic, value, spontaneous, pre-) judgements?
- In how far are they necessary for us?
- Why have philosophical concepts like deconstruction, constructivism, post- and structuralism not changed our (everyday) language very much? What linguistic consequences following from this should we be taking (more) seriously?
- What non- or para-logical speech patterns can describe the world (somehow differently) seriously (like a haiku, mysticism, joke, allegory, metaphor)?
The RG Relativity organised two events: the international summer school and workshop "per.SPICE! Truth and Relativity of the Aesthetic" as well as the interdisciplinary conference "Moral Relativism".
The proceedings of these events organised by the RG Relativity are documented in two anthologies and a magazine article.