Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1. Absolute Truth

1st of 12 Statements Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer

1. “There’s no such thing as absolute truth.
What’s true for you may not be true for me.”
  • People use this argument a lot when they disagree with a statement and have no other way to support their idea. After all, if nothing is true for everyone, then they can believe whatever they want and there’s nothing you can say to make them change their minds.
  • But look at that statement again: “There’s no such thing as absolute truth.” Isn’t that, in itself, a statement that’s being made absolutely? In other words, it applies some rule or standard to everyone across the board — exactly what the relativists say is impossible. They have undone their own argument simply by stating their case.
  • The other problem with this statement is that no relativist actually believes it. If someone said to you, “There is no absolute truth,” and you punched him in the stomach, he’d probably get upset. But by his own creed, he’d have to accept that while punching someone in the stomach may be wrong for him, it might not be wrong for you.
  • This is when they’ll come back with an amendment to the original statement by saying, “As long as you’re not hurting others, you’re free to do and believe what you like.” But this is an arbitrary distinction (as well as another absolute statement). Who says I can’t hurt others? What constitutes “hurt”? Where does this rule come from?
  • If this statement is made based on personal preference, it means nothing for anyone else. “Do no harm” is in itself an appeal to something greater — a sort of universal dignity for the human person. But again, the question is where does this dignity come from?

  • As you can see, the further you delve into these questions, the closer you come to understanding that our concepts of right and truth are not arbitrary but are based in some greater, universal truth outside ourselves — a truth written in the very nature of our being. We may not know it in its entirety, but it can’t be denied that this truth exists.
What is a relativist ?
Relativism is sometimes identified as the thesis that all points of view are equally valid. In ethics, this amounts to saying that all moralities are equally good; in epistemology it implies that all beliefs, or belief systems, are equally true. (epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief)
Although there are many different kinds of relativism, they all have two features in common.
  • 1) They all assert that one thing (e.g. moral values, beauty, knowledge, taste, or meaning) is relative to some particular framework or standpoint (e.g. the individual subject, a culture, an era, a language, or a conceptual scheme).
  • 2) They all deny that any standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others.
Sources for this post come from: Catholic Education and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and me.

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