As a qualifier for this and every article to come, it is the author’s attempt to succinctly answer a question that must be addressed before any attempt is made to increase anyone’s understanding on the topic of freedom built on the premise of an objective reality. That question is this: What is Truth? Not only was this question Pontius Pilate’s cynical reply to Jesus Christ’s stating of His purpose and mission, but it is a question that must be addressed on a blog that is attempting to convince, argue, use reason, and use logic based and built upon on a specific premise.
That premise is that there is an objective reality. This objective reality is what we often simply call the Truth.
The Truth is simply, reality. It is “things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” If the circumstances surrounding our existence are honestly analyzed, it should be readily acknowledged that reality is not dependent upon our belief of it, feelings for it, our interpretation of it, and is not even affected if we have an active denial of it. For example, even if someone were to believe that the law of gravity did not exist, they would not be spared from its effects. Even if someone were to believe two plus two equals four, it would not change or alter that mathematical reality.
St. Thomas More may have stated it in this way:
“Some men say the earth is round and some say it is flat. If it is round, can the King’s command flatten it; and if it is flat, can Parliament make it round?”
The answer is, of course, No. The question everyone must ask themselves is: Why not?
Now it should be noted, the definitions of two terms that are used heavily in this article. These definitions come from a simple dictionary.com search:
Subjective is defined, in full, as: (1) existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective).(2) pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation. (3) placing excessive emphasis on one’s own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric. (4) Philosophy. relating to or the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself. (5) relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.
Objective is defined, in part, as: (4) being the object or goal of one’s efforts or actions.(5) not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.(6) intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.(7) being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective).(8) of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.
Now, regardless of whether someone is literally blind, or they refuse to see it, or even if they had short-term memory health issues relating to their ability to even remember it during the night; no one can reasonably dispute even the sun’s existence, or life’s current dependency on its existence, let alone the reality that is; the reality that encompasses every fact in existence, including existence itself! Even if it makes them feel awful, or if they “can’t” believe it (which is often code for “won’t” believe it), the truth is not without affect. This leads to what the author asserts as the obvious basis for an objective reality. And thus, naturally leads to the recommended goal of discovering, to the best of our ability with the faculties we have been blessed with, just exactly what that reality, or just what the truth, actually is.
Today in academia, we are continually bombarded with a radical subjective interpretation of reality, a reality that also is often portrayed as subjective itself. This leads many to consider the conclusion that there isn’t Truth, and that “everything is relative.” (Which is, of course, a self-contradictory phrase!) This seems to be the most apparent in the realm of “moral relativism.” The irony is apparent, of course, to those who see that mindset or belief as a part of reality. The fact that this philosophy exists would not be changed, for instance, even if someone felt that it shouldn’t, and were even to avoid the topic completely in their thoughts and speech. Of course, the validity of this point is sifted by real events, and often even by nature itself! Yet this certainly does not change the fact that this system of belief does exist in the minds of many.
For instance, mankind may believe, and prominently so, that two and two equals five. But because of that basic mathematical equations’ flaw, it would obviously hinder mathematical performance in any area of life. Can you imagine a construction company trying to build a house on that flawed mathematical basis? How about a chemist, or physicist, to say nothing of a mathematician? It would obviously be a barrier, especially the further someone attempted to learn how to correctly equate other aspects of math, even within the principle of addition itself, let alone the deeper mathematical precepts. This is obviously due to the flaw in the foundational understanding.
If you start right, it is much much easier to end up right. Yet, the inverse of this is also true. Oftentimes, the problem can exist by virtue of the fact there there is a need to go back to the basics and correct foundational understanding to then be able to reach a certain and more correct end or conclusion. (It should be noted that this is the case as much with the principles of freedom as it is the case with the example of mathematics.)
However, regardless of the fact that the philosophy of moral relativism, or any other radical subjectivist view, is being held my many persons, and some who may even be reading this blog, it is this author’s claim, along with a loving reprimand, that it is time for mankind to graduate from such foolishness. Even though the truth does bring about feelings that are relative to various persons, it in no way proves that the truth itself, which encompasses the facts of such feelings’ existence and even their relation to such persons, for such things, at such times, etc., is “relative.”
It didn’t matter if the whole world, even, for instance, if that included Galileo, thought that the sun solely revolved around the Earth. It doesn’t. Even if nobody believes a fact, even if it is a hard truth, it still stands on its own merit as truth. As John Adams put it, “facts are stubborn things.” Thus, the author asserts that any attempt to convince, dissuade, or argue along the lines of a subjective interpretation of reality can reasonably be considered irrational! If Truth doesn’t exist, then logic and reason would simply be a road to nowhere! But even in that statement, logic and reasoning are being used, aren’t they?
Suppose, for example, there are three persons in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the temperature is thirty-two degrees. Let’s suppose that one person is on vacation from Siberia, another is on vacation from Jamaica, and another has lived in Salt Lake City their entire life. Sure, these persons feelings associated with the temperature will, at least, be relative to what they are accustomed to and what they desire, BUT it should be noted that the temperature is, in fact, thirty-two degrees; and that fact was in no way, shape, or form altered due to the way any of them felt about it. There is additional folly, as well as some irony, in attempting to separate those people’s respective feelings as if they, as facts, are somehow exempt from an all encompassing reality.
Unfortunately, we are seeing, all too often, this radical subjectivism and moral relativism plague our society! And it obviously affects their mindset in approaching day-to-day issues regardless of the specific subject. This mindset can often treat “universalities” as “extreme” regardless of the principles, and any corresponding merits or demerits, which are under consideration. This mindset is, ironically when taken to its extreme is the very mindset that will foolishly act as if all ideas, regardless of merit, are somehow “created equal,” and often lead to the twisting of “illogic” to treat freedom, as an ideal, let alone as a practice, as if it is, ultimately, no better goal than slavery itself.
This mindset would have to approach as if there is ultimately, “equal” standing between the importance of any noble cause or crusaders for freedom and individual rights, and any movements of equal (or even greater) magnitude, associated with leading to murder, and worse, outright slavery. There could be no judgments of “right or wrong,” or “better or worse,” in comparing some ancient hunting-gathering society where cannibalism is accepted, and infanticide is seen as kosher, and any advancements coming from ancient Israel, the Golden Age of Greece, the Renaissance, as well as that of America itself.
This is the mindset that would ironically, in a public elementary school, for instance, avoid, and perhaps punish and/or remove mentions of the religious biblical moral code of the ten commandments, which includes the principle of refraining from lying, or not “bearing false witness,” and yet simultaneously, will punish a student for plagiarism, or any other form of lying that is caught attending his conduct in relation to the academic community. How could a state university, in today’s climate of “separation of church and state” enforce a code of conduct, based on a moral standard, against students that plagiarize? Isn’t that a judgement of right or wrong? I thought it was all relative?? [Future posts will cover further the issues attendant in this paragraph, such as “separation of church and state” and “legislating morality”]
Of course, as the French political economist Frederic Bastiat noted: “On a wrong road, inconsistency is inevitable; if it were not so, mankind would be sacrificed. A false principle never has been, and never will be, carried out to the end.” (That Which Is Seen & That Which Is Not Seen, pg. 26)
To be clear, obviously perspective is relative to the person that holds it. When thought about in this way, moral relativism does become a misnomer of sorts. But, once again, if that were used as an argument against an objective reality; perspective of what, if not an objective reality or a fact that would be encompassed by it? How could perspective even be identified, if everything that is is merely perspective, and their wasn’t a common denominator of reality recognized, explicitly or implicitly, in that identification process. Even when dealing with feelings, which is the realm drenched with subjectivism, is there not a common denominator of identifying what anger, sadness, happiness, etc., really are, as objective facts? Have you noticed people’s universal ability to understand what is meant by those emotions, regardless of time, place, or circumstance?
To be absolutely clear, it is obvious that there will be debates, and should be debates, surrounding what different portions of reality actually are. That being said, we, as mankind, are wasting our time if we are wasting our time and energy considering as a debate, in itself, whether or not reality exists or not. The folly of this task is the reason why the author prefers to label the philosophies altogether as irrationalism. It makes this author question even why those who argue radical subjectivism and moral relativism, , as an intellectual group, would even lobby themselves into the battle in the first place? What difference does it make, in their view??
It is the author’s goal, as well as a goal associated with this blog, that we all take the attitude of Patrick Henry as found in his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech of March 23, 1775, which was addressed to the Second Virginia Convention, which was essentially meeting in secret in Richmond, Virginia in St. John’s Church:
“It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song that siren till she transforms us into beasts…For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
In the end, regardless of the conclusions made on whatever myriad of topics, it is the author’s hope that moral relativism in its many forms should be considered what it truly is: Irrationalism.
However, in the end, it is entirely up to us.