Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Addressing the conditioned relativist: Part Two

This is the second half of my persuasive speech for class. First half was posted last Wednesday.

Second argument: How can we truly be free if we can’t create our own values?

Despite an almost prevalent belief that each person can arbitrarily legislate his or her own self-governing laws, this argument also falls through on the grounds of simple logic. For starters, this argument must assume that freedom is really valuable – an objective value – precisely the kind of thing it attempts to relativize and argue against. If freedom is something good, then it must be freedom from something bad. Thus the relativist has already argued from an objective good. If he’s also stated that everyone should have freedom, then he’s advocating the real value of equality too. If freedom and equality are just his subjective values, then he’s advocating the submission of everyone else to his value system – not exactly very tolerant or free of him.

Using an ad hominen, I might say that well, I’m going to create my own values too. I declare that I’m to be treated as a god, and everyone should be obedient to me. If he protests in the name of justice, then he is arguing me based on an objective value. If he protests in the name of his created value system, then neither he nor I have the upper hand, and it again comes down to a power struggle where the physically weaker, less clever person or on a larger scale – a group of people – becomes submissive to the stronger, dominant party or majority. How this fosters freedom of any kind, I’m not sure.

While we can easily manipulate the rules to our favorite game, experience shows that we cannot create alternative morals. You will never feel morally obligated to be sexually promiscuous, but you can choose to be. On the other hand, you may feel obliged to support a friend in need even if it’s inconvenient. Those are rules you can’t change.

The reality we know is governed by laws of all kinds; why not moral ones?

The desire to eliminate guilt is strong, but pretending morality is what you make it is a detrimental lie to yourself and others. Moral relativism isn’t a solution; it’s a fairy tale, a distortion of reality. By realizing the illogicalness of the arguments for moral relativism from cultural relativism and freedom, this should help provide a clearer view of truth and reality. Believing gravity doesn’t exist never gave anyone the ability to fly; it only made them foolish. Likewise, ignoring moral absolutes won’t make you happy because these unchangeable, objective, universal laws are in your nature. If you want to be a dog, eating dog food and walking around on all fours barking won’t reduce you to one. You can’t change your nature, but you can deny it and act in a way contrary to who you are meant to be.

As a side-thought:

While listening to some of my classmates’ persuasive speeches yesterday, something reoccurred to me. Not once was there a mention of truth or adherence to reality or nature. There seems to be no concern for whether something is true or good or beautiful, but only if it meets what one desires: reality must conform to us, not us to reality. I think this is extremely relevant to my speech because mine is precisely based on truth and reality, and against the desire to pretend we create our own reality (because obviously Sartre was right; there is no meaning, we must create our own, but no one seems to realize where they found this idea). In fact it seems to be an entirely different way of thinking. People no longer think in terms of truth unless these terms are being qualified, coded, and hidden under sociological, psychological, or scientific determinations. I see more closely how relativism – not specifically moral – is so dangerous; it removes that which makes us human: our desire to know. Instead we pervert the act of creation and pseudo-create personal truths and moralities.

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