Thursday, July 28, 2016

Losing Our Objectivity

This post will probably won't sit well with a number of you, but that's what discussion is for.

After wrestling practice last night, I got really, really deep into this discussion with a friend of mine from Volgograd.  So the question is;  where does moral, spiritual, and philosophical relativism leave us?  At what price do we reject objectivity?  I believe this is at a great, great cost.

Let's set a foundation for this.  I have a masters degree in theology, as does my cousin in Chicago, but we are both agnostic leaning toward atheism.  When I asked her about her current religious beliefs, or lack thereof, she said that she identifies mostly with Vaclav Havel's position that humanity requires an eternal, objective standard or point of reference, lest we fall into nihilism and existential despair.  The consequences of that shift in the public consciousness are being felt right now, I believe, in our collective nihilistic shoulder-shrugging, religious-like adherence to ideology, and reactionary behaviors in groups like ISIS.  Most succinctly, Havel

"...points to that “‘higher’ responsibility, which grows out of a conscious or subconscious certainty that our death ends nothing, because everything is forever being recorded and evaluated somewhere else, somewhere ‘above us,’ in … an integral aspect of the secret order of the cosmos, of nature, and of life, which believers call God and to whose judgment everything is liable.”

Without an objective order, our lives mean nothing in the truest sense, as meaning is a human projection onto the framework of ontology.  The logical conclusion of subjective meanings is nihilism.  Our influence on others, in the face of death, ends in their deaths, and it all ends when the Earth is swallowed by the sun.  Philosophers or part-time philosophers like Schumpeter attribute this to the march of capitalism and liberalism, as well, because it was Enlightenment liberalism (in his opinion) that began to reduce everything to mere calculations and automations.

We need to believe that somehow, somewhere, our actions and lives mean something objective.  It is being recorded somewhere and these things matter.  It is integral to our most basic programming as humans.

This is not to say, though, that it must end in religion.  On the contrary, I view this universal objectivity as a point in a cloud of quantum uncertainty, insofar that you can point in the direction of this higher reality, but how you define that reality is difficult to locate unless you are looking for it.  Understand that this isn't an apologetic for religion (although it certainly could be) as much as it is the recognition of our need to behave ethically and compassionately, which only makes sense if we believe our individual and collective lives contain eternal significance.

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