Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Um, What? A Treatise on Relativism Part 1

If you look around, there is a lot of silliness in our world. This modern or post-modern--depending on whom you are speaking with--world is based on the self defeating motto of relativism. For those not in the know, this refers to the right of every person to make morality as they will. The meaning here is that morality is personal and in no way universal. In practice it means that people are going to get mad at you for imposing your morality on them by imposing their morality on you.
If you think about it, this sort of exchange happens all the time. You will have a man say 'you have every right to believe what you want,' that actually comes in with the added aspect of only if it helps people and doesn't harm them. There is no attempt to say why one should care about society, other people, or keep them safe. Under true relativism you have every right to eschew such thoughts for a more aggressive stance towards people. You can kill them, you can take things from them, etc. There is nothing that any one can say to stop you. This is point where, in the immortal words of C.S. Lewis, you can say to another man, 'to hell with your standard' and go about your business.
That's the thing that relativists do not seem to realize. They cannot espouse their belief as a truth without contradicting themselves. That is interesting considering how many paradoxes are inherent in Christianity. I am sure an able-minded individual could come up with good arguments that compare these kinds of truths. But, there is actually a distinct difference that is being looked over.
The truth is, Christianity--and most faiths--are actually cohesive in their paradoxes. My meaning here is that their essential truths are not actually paradoxical, just some of the ways that getting to that truth are. Perhaps more accurately it would be wise to say that there is a difference between the paradox of the Eucharist and the paradox and flat out contradiction of the idea that there is no central truth so you have to make it up. That, in and of itself, is a central (read: universal) truth. It is refute by its own denial of itself. It is the man who attempts to shoot someone while holding his gun backwards, killing himself. It is a foolish and silly thing to do. It is also quite fatal.
Thus, we can see that relativism is actually what can be called suicidal. It doesn't actually make any sense and it is not because it is mysterious. It is because it is obvious, when one really looks at it. Here is another example: the issue with gay marriage. There a great many people who deem it to be wrong or sinful. This is, in this case, their truth. Yet, people who believe that will be termed as hateful for doing exactly what their relativistic opponents espouse (i.e. following their beliefs).
It is completely unreasonable to say that people should follow their heart and then chastise them because their different heart came to different conclusions. The relativist will then likely argue that the people against gay marriage are denying people who are gay happiness. That may be so from their point of view and, therefore, they are right to call foul (in their minds anyhow). But, their calling foul has little to do with their rightness. You see, they have eliminated rightness by virtue of their philosophy. A relativist has essentially tied his or her own hands in the matter. What they should do, if they truly believe relativistic theory, is applaud anyone who exercises their right to choose their morality. Why have strictures on someone choosing a previously made morality. They apparently had an affinity for it. Why is it wrong for them to believe?
In any case, it is rather oppressive to try and tell someone that they must vote against their beliefs because it is inconvenient for yours. Once again, they have chosen their morality and barring a sudden change in heading, their political participation is going to reflect said beliefs.
Furthermore, isn't any sort of wrong doing or sin bad for people? If someone is doing something you believe is wrong are you not remiss if you do not tell them or (in some cases) report them? You are letting someone damage your world by being silent and accepting. Here the relativist possess some sense of reason, though it is a self-defeating one. They believe in speaking out, but have no absolutes to speak out about. It is a wonder they are so surprised that they rarely get anywhere. It is hard to be united when each individual person can just choose whatever they like. There can be no consequences because there was nothing wrong or foolish done. They burned those bridges.
As far as sin and wrongdoing go, those with very clear ideas should be expected to do what they need to do to make sure the right thing is being done. Wrong doing does not simply harm the persons actually harmed, it harms the spirit of the wrong doer. This is something that has believed for years upon years, century upon century.
A good reading of Aristotle helps you find that many humans believed that their appetites and behaviors are acceptable only in certain situations. Additionally, you will find that making sure your mind and behaviors reflect a proper understanding of what is proper and good is an important step in education. It is pivotal to growing up.
In rearing your child, you are expected to teach them what is acceptable. You are to impart your cultural and spiritual beliefs in the child and hope that he or she keeps to them. You want them to believe as you do. Of course, they can do what they want when they are older, but it makes sense that you would indoctrinate a child.
Relativists are no different. They will tell their children that they should have free thought, you must emphasize moral autonomy. You must indoctrinate just as much as any religious person is prone to do. The difference is your relativist doctrine is not something that can make coherent sense if they come to question it later. They may choose another way to be and eliminate something that you imparted to them. Yes, this happens with religious children at times; but, unlike relativism, these children can likely come back.

-to be continued

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