Sunday, July 5, 2009

Firmly Planted In Mid-Air

Many will say my open-mindedness leaves me with no absolute moral foundation in which to approach life. Noted theologian and writer Ravi Zacharias cleverly expresses this by saying that those who lack an absolute moral foundation have their feet firmly planted in mid-air. This brilliant cliché is more or less true but is this necessarily a bad place to be?

Without this absolute moral foundation, it is thought, one is forever precluded from knowing the fine line between what is right and what is wrong. This will then systematically lead to what is commonly perceived as perverse and wicked behavior. It can lead to this type of behavior but it can also lead to a very open and understanding person who feels no need to judge and criticize others who do or believe seemingly peculiar things.

Additionally, many require an absolute foundation only because they need to “know” they are right in order to feel fulfilled. This is a form of control motivated by nothing more than ego. I don't need to be in control of “truth”. I can just be who I am without such control.

Perhaps some are suspicious of their own intentions and as such need a firm foundation in “truth” lest their real self might come out and wreak havoc on themselves and worse, others. Furthermore, I presume many have been indoctrinated with the belief that one must have a worldview based on absolutes to have any semblance of peace and fulfillment. This then commonly becomes self-fulfilled prophesy.

Alas, there is a crippling flaw with any sort of "absolute" moral foundation: contradictions inevitably ensue. This is not the fault of the person per se, rather it is the fault of this system of thinking. It doesn't work. Different absolutes are clearly in opposition to one another but are believed wholeheartedly nonetheless. Doublethink as George Orwell so wisely termed this.

In addition, many absolutes are arbitrarily embraced on a preferential basis. At this point, absolutes are merely relatively absolute. Which means they are not absolute. Are they relative? Certainly not, for if they are relative, they could simultaneously be absolute.

I have reflected extensively on the absolute/relative dichotomy and have comfortably concluded it to be an irreconcilable paradox*. On the other hand, not establishing an absolute foundation does not create these contradictions but is of course replete with its own set of problems. Everything pertaining to the morality and well being of societies is a trade-off and therefore nothing can ever be absolute.

*Please see a couple of my writings on a more thorough examination of this paradox:

The Duality Of Relativism/Absolutism

The Shortcoming Of Absolutes

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