Relativism, in itself, in its truest form, can be called rational. Relativism, in itself, can be called a reasonable conclusion. Yet relativism, in itself, is an inescapable hole. It is a dogma – a dogma that shrugs off questioning and free thought. It is a bottomless pit that can only be dug into, but not exited from…once the shovel breaks ground.
Last post, we explained relativism as the belief that “nobody is objectively right or wrong.” The premise of mainstream relativism, although no one likes to say it, is that morals really aren’t that existent in the first place. That was clear and explained in Part 1.
And from that premise, we can draw inferences on the implications. When there is no real right and wrong, no true right and wrong, the question is raised on how one goes about deciding right and wrong. It would have to fall into, I think, a hedonistic or nihilistic attitude – the first being “be good because it feels good” and the second being “be good because human nature is a bull you can’t fight”. And whether it’s admitted or not, those are the only two bases to which someone could have relativist morality. Arguably, the nihilist one is hedonistic in its essence, too, which is similar to what I discussed on altruism.
And from the basis of hedonism, one would only question their values if it appealed to them to do so. For nihilism, it would never. And it is fair to say that those who like to question are few in numbers – the rest are dogmatic, and have no reason to care to not be. So where is the dogma, now? When a philosophy doesn’t bother with questioning, where is the intellectual endeavor, the desire to learn? No where found.
In religious philosophies, and I won’t be so arbitrary as to say all, but in many, questioning is imperative. Learning is necessary. Inquiry is a way to the Divine. And there is no hole digging – there is stair climbing. Sure, one may question themselves out of faith. One may start to believe something just isn’t right about X or Y religion. And when they do so, they may fall to an agnosticism – possibly, then, leading to a relativism. The entire process was reasonable. To travel from faith to doubt, from absolute to relative, is normal and fine and in many cases the smartest move there is. Yet at the beginning of the relativist road is a trap. A hole, that when entered, may never be left again. For one when is led to believe questioning is unnecessary, why try?
It is a sad loop that there isn’t much to stop from happening. Sure, X relativist can say that everyone should ponder, and continue to gain knowledge, and continue to question themselves. But X relativist has no right to tell Y relativist what to do”because nobody is right or wrong, [so] we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when we disagree” (that’s a contradiction in itself, but that’s for another day). And when it comes down to the masses, I’ll bet, most would be Y’s – living in mental comfort and contentment. “Philosophy is dead“, to some, and it would be a darn nice world if it was.
So relativism, to recap, so far, in its pragmatic and general form, is:
2) appealing – the easy way out
And I thought religion was all that?