Rosie, Al, the Acceptance of the Rise of Relativism, and the Death of Liberalism (Part III)
Now, in very short order, we have discussed the relationship among some popular figures (Rosie O’Donnell and Albert Gore) and some undercurrents of relativistic thought. Now, I know that it would be preposterous to claim that these individuals are nothing more than walking putsules of relativism, waiting to explode with modernistic thoughts that would deny truth. However, there are definitely shades and shadows of relativism, particularly in how they lack the capacity to have open dialogue on issues. Now, why does the growth of this type of thought matter to you and me?
Well, although there are a variety of schools of liberalism, at its core, liberal thought is nothing more than an affirmation of the importance of the individual first. I think that nobody can refute this basic tenet of liberalism, even though everyone can find something to complain about when they look at any full school of thought in isolation. Nonetheless, liberal thought affirms the primacy of the individual, the importance of the one among the many. While this can lead to radical (and even crass) individualism, it also is extremely exaulting for each and everyone of us to realize this fundamental truth of liberal thought.
Now, relativism seems like “true liberalism”, making the individual a god, for it sets forth an epistemology (a philosophical school on the nature of knowledge) which is based wholly on the perceptions of each and every individual. This means that to each person, his or her worldview is completely determinative of reality, that his or her thoughts and ideas are absolute unto themselves.
You may cry havoc and tell me that I should cut my fingers off and let the relativists go, for this seems acceptable and even aggrandizing of man. I ask you this, though: Is humanity made bigger by means of individual work or by its capacity to collaborate, to realize that there is something bigger? If someone is able to perceive (at least part of) the nature of an all-embracing Universal Truth, is that not more aggrandizing than telling him that he should remain a god unto himself. Truly relativism, in the last analysis, only tells people that their beliefs and ideas are not important enough to be shared with others. (Although power can force such ideas, coercion is not equivalent to sharing.)
Additionally, the walling-up of the individual prevents the greatest of ontological realities, Love, from penetrating into the lives of humans. At its core, love is a task of dialogue, an interpenetration of my I with your I, the interaction of my I with your thou. If my “I” and all that goes with it are relative and only power can be used to force my person and worldview onto you, love would be impossible, for there would be no chance for the dialogue of being necessary in love. No interpenetration of the subjective is possible where power must be used to overcome the other person.