I’m rather fond of one of my brother’s expressions. In reference to a snack I once offered him, it went something like this: “That’s not salsa, it’s tomato paste, lying about being salsa.” In his book, “12 Rules for Life,” Jordan Peterson makes a valid point: you can never go wrong by telling the truth. In light of this, my brother’s outright rejection of inauthentic assertions – even from a supposed can of salsa – is quite refreshing.
Much to the detriment of the poor and vulnerable today, such forthrightness has become the bane of modern culture. Broadly defined, “modern culture” can refer to the greater masses of society who exemplify and espouse the conclusions of such intellectual invalids as Descartes, Hegel, and Kant, whose collective academic products germinated into the philosophical plague we know today as “Moral Relativism.” A studied explanation of the assertion of these men lies outside the scope of this article and ultimately is not necessary. The responsibility for the ascendence of moral relativism in modern society is of far less concern than figuring out how far the disease might spread.
To this extent, a definition is in order.
The term “moral relativism” itself, while self-explaining on the face, does reserve allegiance to some underlying philosophical presuppositions that must be identified in order to make sense of its legacy of destruction. The first of these philosophical presuppositions lies within the subset of epistemology, which can be most quickly explained as the study of how things are known. The essential presupposition of moral relativism towards epistemology, is that at the end of the day, nothing really can be known. All supposed knowledge of existence is merely the product of the mind, and thus, external reality is outside the grasp of actual knowledge. The second philosophical presupposition of moral relativism, is that since all knowledge is the product of the mind, then instead of reality impressing itself upon the mind, the mind actually creates reality. This has given birth to the widely unquestioned distinctions between “your truth,” and “my truth,” and is as dangerous as it is meaningless, for it sets up the ultimate conclusion of moral relativism, which is that “there is no such thing as evil.” For if an infinite variation of truths are available to us, it is just as legitimate for your evil to be my good and vice versa. Any point of agreement on truth, then, is not the product of conforming to objective reality, but the product of negotiation. It is the ultimate democracy.
It is mob rule.
As the souls and bodies lost in the madness of the twentieth century can attest, there is no corner of humanity immune from the poison of this pernicious philosophy, precisely because it plays to every weakness of our nature. It disguises vice as virtue, demonizes Truth, and belittles the beautiful. It lets us claim victimhood as we confiscate everything to which we feel ourselves entitled, and gives excuse for a swift and brutal execution of those who would contradict our will. One can argue this point till their veins bulge, but they cannot contradict the actions of Hitler, Stalin, or Mao, while simultaneously asserting the validity of moral relativism.
What these authoritarian dictators all carried in common, and which liberated them to enforce the supremacy of their own wills, was a subscription to an excuse for rejecting any objective moral standard – that is, a moral standard that was not subject to man. Of course, they were not the first to accomplish this, but what they were able to do better than anyone in recorded history was to bequeath that moral liberation to the masses of their populace, under the condition that their subjects agreed to adopt the values of their respective “parties.”
Again, truth as a product of negotiation, not reality.
In turn, those in opposition to the ‘party’ defined themselves outside the accepted reality and by consequence, incapable of upholding the dignity due to a fellow human being. Which is why they were able to be exterminated.
Men today have let the lessons and teachers of the 20th century holocausts die out and have given themselves permission to rediscover the old philosophy of moral relativism. To guard against the possibility of this old poison becoming newly potent, however, modern culture seeks to define itself apart from the authoritarian despots before it by implementing clear new philosophical governors that are as unbinding as they are ambiguous, worn out, and impotent.
“[Insert a random emotional tautology that is simultaneously universal and yet subjective to every individual]”
The collective product of these presumed compass needles of modern philosophy is precisely nothing. If anything has been accomplished in relation to these terms, it is that they have been stripped of any actual meaning they previously held. However, because aberrations are only intelligible in relation to the ideals which they pervert, it is first necessary to examine the good that is at least claimed to serve as the intended goal. We will tackle “the greatest of these:” Love.
As impossible as it is for a modern “man” to define Love without appealing to an infinitude of anecdotal examples (since everything is subjective), Saint Thomas Aquinas cuts immediately to the core of what is actually Love: “To will the good of another.” With continued distinction from modern philosophy, we will note that each of the terms inside this statement are themselves precisely defined. Specifically the word “good.” Following the beautiful tradition of Catholic teaching, what concerns us about the subject, is the actuality of that thing. In this case, what is actually good.
At this point in the discussion, it becomes necessary to acknowledge the divorce that modern philosophy has made with reality, to include that part of reality which cannot be squeezed beneath a microscope; something we call the metaphysical, or “more than” physical. The reason for this recognition of what is “more-than-physical,” is that in order to define what is good for man, it is first necessary to know for what purpose man himself was made.
Just as the collective consequence of the modern philosophers’ musings left us with little more than a self-destructive rejection of reality, so too does modern philosophy fail to produce any reason for man’s existence, beyond the satisfaction of his own impulse. This coincides with the modern concept of “Naturalism,” which asserts that there is nothing beyond the physical world (which, again, is still just a construct of your mind), and that, as Catholic philosopher, Fr. Ripperger describes the assertions of Naturalism: “all explanations for the natural world can be found within itself.” However, just as we can recognize the futility of nature to explain the fact of its own existence from nothing, we can recognize its failure to explain the purpose of its only rational inhabitant: man.
Thus submitted, we can reasonably assert that man lives for the very purpose that his Creator expressly explained: “To know, love, and serve God in this life so that we may be with him in the next” (Baltimore Catechism). Thus, anything which contributes towards this end can be recognized as an objective “good,” while those things which operate against that aim, can be readily identified as “bad.”
One would even say “evil.”
While much could be said for the health benefits alone of conforming oneself to reality, it remains irrelevant for this discussion whether someone is motivated by that or by God’s will as expressed through divine revelation. What matters for this discussion, is that a man’s good is determined not by his own will, but by the nature of his being a man. So no matter what might feel good to a man, unless it is actually good for his purpose (as defined by his Creator), it is not good for him. To this same effect, those things which are contrary or antithetical to man’s nature, are evil. What separates man from his Creator is evil.
This would include all those things expressly contrary to the nature of man, such as sodomy, suicide, or even the self-mutilation that has reached popularity today under the title of “transgender” surgery. As if transitioning genders was something even remotely available to reality. But these examples, while illustrative of those things which violate the principle of goodness, are beside the point, since man has at his disposal, an endless selection of sin from which to choose, if he ever becomes so inclined. What really matters here, is that for one man to will the good of another, he must support what is actually good for that man, and not the contrary. For instance, to celebrate something as antithetical to a man’s purpose as his so-called “marriage” to another man, is not an act of love, but of destruction.
This principle applies to all such would-be fellowship. The man who makes no effort to discern right from wrong as he encourages his fellow man, is as likely to support his friends’ destruction as he is to support his growth. Such a thing is not just not loving, it is damaging.
A man who cannot reproach his fellow man for wrongs committed, is not a friend, but a coward lying about being a friend.
For the purposes of destroying man’s unity with God, such a scenario would be sufficient. But as seething with hatred for mankind as Satan is, he is not satiated by the destruction of a single man. It is in his interest that when he drags one man towards his pit of hell, that poor soul should drag others with him, and so on, such that no soul achieves damnation without as many others in accompaniment as possible. To this end, the corruption of Truth is not sufficient, for that will only serve as a hole through which a few might fall. However, if man can be convinced to build his entire society in direct contradiction to Truth, then the entire structure will surely fail, fetching a thousand souls through a thousand torturous deaths. Or in the case of Soviet Russia, tens of millions.
Such a ruse, however, must bear some resemblance to Truth, or else it will be too obvious. Unfortunately for Satan, his impotence for creation is too complete – a fact that sears his pride at the mere contemplation of a woman’s capacity to participate in bringing forth life and drives his hatred of them, and the Blessed Virgin most of all. Satan, for all his impressive form, is barren to the core and can only ape the things of God, so this he does, by not just contradicting Truth, but inverting it completely. And unfortunately, men are frequently too undisciplined to tell the difference, and entire empires collapse upon themselves.
Thus it is that ignorance becomes weaponized by the assertion that it’s actually wisdom. A lone fool is difficult to enlighten, but an army of fools will tolerate no contradiction at all. Of course, few nations are ever hypnotized en masse to digest lies as truth. Even in Nazi Germany, the progression towards genocidal arrogance was over a decade in the making. But once a society’s befuddled intelligentsia has reached critical mass, there is little that can be done to reverse the course. There becomes a barrier erected in the minds of its adherents, in that the virtues they purport to pursue are not just out of reach of their efforts, but are actively trampled underfoot instead.
A person who has bought in to the inversion of reality is not just a person distanced from the act of true love – they are rendered literally incapable of offering it.
These are the people who parade their vacuous abdication of moral responsibility around under the guise of tolerance, right up until the point where common sense prevails upon a mind within proximity, and tolerance evaporates like the ghost it was. Then you will see how religiously devoted are these zealots to their conviction that no conviction should ever be so religious. The Christian sects have suffered no lack of hypocrites across the years of their existence, but no failures of faith have ever succeeded in approaching the absurdity demonstrated by these enlightened classes of moral relativists, who feel so very strongly that no one should ever feel so very strongly about anything. One dare not broach this contradiction either, for then it is that their “tolerance” will give way to a righteous indignation, warranted in every way for the violence it inspires.
For violence is the righteous refuge of those in existential threat, and as everyone knows about today’s rapacious dissidents of Universal Truth: if the sad, small world of their inward gaze should ever suffer exposure to the impartial judgment of objective reality, the inverted “truths” of the willfully ignorant, and every edifice of the false reality they have built around those inversions would surely be destroyed. Hence, they are willing to lay beneath their feet, the bodies of those who disagree.
When people begin to assert that words constitute violence, they will begin to assert that they can act in “self defense” against those words.
It is very possible, of course, that one of these contestants to reality will run forever from the act of confronting the cognitive dissonance that invariably accompanies the rejection of objective truth. Unforgiving as it is, reality can be a bitter fruit, especially upon first introductions. Once robbed of delusion, the moral relativist may fight or flee, but he will continue to be reduced to those two options until the day he finally concedes the existence of objective reality and works to conform himself accordingly.
Until that day however, he is not a man, but a boy lying about being a man.
Rob Friedl is an avid adventurer, world traveler, and connoisseur of poor life choices. Graduating Purdue in 2009 with a BS in Aviation Flight, he proceeded to spend the next ten years experiencing the life of a working man in everything from being a deckhand on a river barge tug to building wind turbines across the midwest. He spends his free time exploring the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and can be found on his site: skypirateadventures.com.