There comes a time in a young humanities student’s life when he or she or it stumbles across that easy cure-all for differences: relativism. Ah, the simplicity of letting sleeping dogs lie. Got a tension that arises from incompatible beliefs between cultures, religions or knowledge systems? Just agree to disagree; adopt a modus vivendi approach and postpone any resolution indefinitely. But the young humanities student soon strikes two problems. The first arises when the student asks, ‘What about when the dogs are barking or biting, not sleeping?’ The modus vivendi style of diplomacy is well and good when the difference settled by an agreement to disagree is inconsequential, unimportant or trivial. But how do you settle cultural, political or epistemological differences when the point of difference is one of real intellectual or physical contention? This is exactly the point when the vacuity of relativism is revealed.