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a brief critique of relativism

Here's an excellent and succinct critique of postmodernism's philosophy of relativism.

It is an update on Dostoevsky's, "If there is no God, then all things are permissible." But more: If there is no God, then we as humans are not even knowable. Some excerpts (actually, most of the article...)

Nietzsche was right. None of the existing philosophies explains anything. We are on our own. We are our own projects with no models that come from elsewhere to guide us.

Modern philosophical relativism is a perfect alternative to a world of meaning. It now usually goes under the name of post-modernity. It is presented under the idea of freedom. This freedom in turn is based on the idea that no stable nature can be found. No question of a cause of nature’s order thus arises. Human beings are not intended to be human beings, as if that were an intelligible idea. Indeed, the human condition is that there is no human condition. Since human beings are not any particular kind of being, they are free to make themselves into any sort of being they wish themselves to be, provided, I suppose, that it is not the kind of being described by Aristotle or Scripture...

The only kind of being he is not free to become is the one that used to be called the virtuous or complete human being. Everyone is free to make himself over into whatever kind of being he chooses. This making-over includes both his body insofar as science can reconstruct it and his soul insofar as he guides himself as he wills. The public order is really a freeway interchange to facilitate these constantly changing selves. No one can really criticize anyone else for being what he decides to be. Equality means that no standard of what is human exists...

The virtue that supports this world of nature-less freedom to be whatever we choose is generally defined as tolerance. This tolerance is really a skepticism. It is not based on freedom to do something, but on the lack of any knowledge of what ought to be done. Generally, we are also assured us that we are free to do what we want provided that we do not “harm” others. The logic of this restriction escapes me. Why cannot I be free to harm others if that is what I choose?


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