The “Rhetoric” of Relativism

Exposing the Logical Contradiction

Relativism: (1) the wholesale philosophical rejection of the existence of any objective, absolute, or universal truths whatsoever (specifically referred to as cognitive/epistemological relativism or radical skepticism); or (2) the philosophical rejection of the existence of any objective, absolute, or universal truths which are distinctly ethical or moral in nature, thereby relegating all ethical and moral statements, propositions, and assertions to the purely subjective realm of mere opinion and personal preference, and, consequently, nullifying or rendering obsolete any basis for “justice” within society.

Said societies usually devolve into the most primitive of all social states, as the most fundamental human rights of the citizens who comprise the body politic are trampled upon by those powerful factions who, succumbing to a Luciferian blood lust for an ever greater power over their fellow man, become anxious to seize upon each new opportunity to exploit the vulnerabilities of the masses who are their socioeconomic inferiors. Thus, moral relativism, ironically, turns out to be the precursor and forerunner of dictatorships and communist-like police states. For, in such situations, as has been articulated by the great atheistic philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, “might is right.” Such has historically been the case, particularly as we look back on the rise of the communist, socialist, and fascist regimes that implemented the grisly pogroms of eugenic extermination of human persons, based upon an anthropologically materialistic, existentially nihilistic, anti-religious, morally relativistic, and ethnically narcissistic philosophy of life

These two philosophical extremes—Cognitive Relativism/Radical Skepticism and Moral/Ethical Relativism—have both been around since the time of the ancient Greeks and have, in recent decades, been promulgated by many in academia. This persistent effort to relegate objective, absolute, and universal truth and morality to the purely subjective and particularized realms of mere opinion and personal/cultural preference has trickled down into mainstream culture with devastating consequences. Having been adopted and promulgated by a significant number of leftist politicians, these “elected,” instead of relying on the sound, right reasoning of natural law ethics coupled with divinely revealed, Judeo-Christian codes of morality (i.e., the Ten Commandments)—for centuries, the moral and ethical foundation of Western Civilization—have taken it upon themselves to replace with the utterly erroneous, logically inconsistent philosophies of both epistemological and moral relativism.

The result of this “dictatorship of relativism” within our culture has had devastating effects on such fundamental issues as (1) the sanctity of innocent human life; (2) the sanctity of marriage between a man and a women; and (3) our God-given and constitutionally protected religious liberty to adhere to the dictates of our conscience and practice the tenets of our faith in the public square without fear of government censorship or persecution.

Never before, in the history of this once great nation, have such fundamental moral and ethical issues been so threatened. We truly have reached a fork in the road of this nation, as only two possible paths lie in front of us. On the one hand, we can choose the narrow path of traditional family values—a tried and true path which, heretofore, has served us quite well—and plead with our Creator to have mercy on our nation for the numerous mistakes we have made up to this point. On the other hand, we can continue down the “politically correct,” yet morally reprehensible, path of cognitive and moral relativism, refuse to repent of our sins, and persist in our effort to construct a purely secular, atheistic, and hedonistic civilization that justifies infanticide, same sex unions and marriages, and the persecution of persons of faith. This latter path, however, is surely the path of destruction, and continuing to traverse it shall undoubtedly call down the just wrath of the Lord in the form of both natural and man-made catastrophes, including nuclear annihilation.

The clock has struck the 11th hour, and it is high time that the philosophical presupposition that lies at the heart of so much cultural chaos be revealed for what it truly is: namely, a logical contradiction that cannot stand up to the most fundamental of logical disputation, and, simultaneously, the single greatest threat to whatever remains of the moral and religious fabric of this once great nation. Thus, what follows is a “deconstruction” of the deconstructive philosophy of relativism.

Before I begin to dismantle relativism, however, I’d first like to examine relativism from a psychological perspective, in order to better understand the profound appeal that this line of thinking can have, especially in light of social psychology and, what Jungian psychoanalysts might refer to as the “conformity” archetype.

It’s a given that each of us wants to be liked and accepted, especially when we find ourselves in such vulnerable situations as the “meet and greet.” In our multicultural, pluralistic world, we must accommodate not only a multiplicity of personalities, as has always been the case, but additionally, an almost unlimited number of differing worldviews which may deviate markedly from our own. Moreover, in our post-postmodern global society, and with technology making exponential leaps and bounds with each passing day, we have had to learn how to become lifelong learners; for, the moment we feel that we have just barely become “proficient” with a particular system or software, its updated replacement is ready to be installed.

For example, in the workplace, at a moment’s notice, we may well have to participate in an online Skype conference with a group of individuals, each with differing cultural, religious, ethnic, and moral worldviews. And, according to the only remaining moral norm that can be universally agreed upon, we must always be “tolerant” of those with differing “beliefs,” despite the progressive “truth” that, in truth, there is no “truth” to be believed. Yet, according to contemporary global social standards, all of which stem from that singular moral imperative of “tolerance” and a purely superficial “show” of politeness, despite the collective belief that there is absolutely no basis for an objective morality, we are, nevertheless, expected to conform our behavior to the singular, seemingly “objective” moral imperative of tolerance. Thus, it is essential that we use acceptable “expressions,” while avoiding what could potentially be construed as derogatory or condescending terms or expressions. It’s fine if you happen to be seething with hatred for another internally, provided you maintain an exterior facade of relative “politeness.” Morality has been reduced to a dog and pony show.

The acceptance of differing worldviews has devolved into a blanket philosophical relativism that leads to the erroneous conviction that since everyone seems to have his or her own understanding of religious and moral “truth,” and since there seems to be no objective standard according to which such “alleged” truths can be evaluated, we must, therefore, conclude that there really is no such thing as objective truth, and so-called religious and moral “truths” are not objective truths, but are, instead, subjective truths. Thus, what may hold “true” for one, may not hold “true” for another, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, this is, in fact, the erroneous conclusion that many otherwise intelligent persons have come to. Relativism is insidious precisely because it springs from a desire to exhibit and practice the virtue of “tolerance.” This concerted effort to promote the virtue of tolerance and acceptance of others who happen to hold worldviews that may differ from our own—an effort which, in and of itself, is most commendable—can, and often does, give rise to the misguided acceptance of the philosophically erroneous stance of relativism.

The erroneous nature of such thinking is quite easily pointed out, however. Take cognitive or epistemological relativism, which, as stated above, is the belief that there is no such thing as “truth.” Debunking this fuzzy logic is quite easy, as it turns out. For, the individual who makes the claim, “there is no such thing as ‘truth’” believes that at least this one statement is “true”; otherwise, there would be no point in making the statement. Yet, if anything at all is, indeed, true, then “truth” does exist. What is more, the academic epistemological skeptic will go out of his or her way to “argue” against the existence of objective truth. The self-inconsistency is glaringly evident, in that these alleged “debunkers” of the laws and principles of thought, argumentation, and right-reasoning are, themselves, relying on the very principles of logic and sound argumentation to make their case against logic and reasoning! Let’s face it: to be a true, consistent epistemological skeptic, one would quite literally have to refrain from any form of communication, as these latter are all predicated on the veracity of the self-evident laws of thought.

Specifically, there are three laws that lie at the heart of all sound, logical thought, argumentation, and, consequently, communication: the law of identity, the principle of the excluded middle, and the principle of noncontradiction. All philosophical, logical argumentation presupposes the self-evident validity and veracity of these three fundamental laws, and not even the greatest mind would ever be capable of getting around the absolute veracity of this logic; thus, the absurdity of cognitive/epistemological skepticism or relativism.

Regarding moral relativism or skepticism, we end up running into a similar situation. Numerous academics—otherwise smart people—have come to the conclusion that, due to the myriad differences of opinion concerning just what constitutes moral versus immoral human behavior, there must not exist an objective standard according to which “moral” or “ethical” human actions or behaviors can be judged. Moral relativism is rampant among social scientists—psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists especially. Moreover, moral relativism, as opposed to epistemological relativism or skepticism, poses a much more dire threat, and this is due to the practical ramifications of doing away with the moral compass that is so vital as we navigate the murky waters of radical advances in technology.

Technology, in itself, is a marvelous gift to humanity from God, who brought into existence the tremendous gift of human reason and intelligence which, of course, lies at the heart of every discovery and invention. With technology comes great possibility, and with great possibility comes an even greater responsibility. But just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

Recent advances in the field of genetics are making it possible to detect and diagnose latent illnesses and diseases that may, or may not, manifest, depending upon a host of environmental factors. Such advances in technology, while intrinsically beneficial, carry with them the potential for profoundly unethical and immoral applications. Without a code of ethics that underscores the intrinsic value and dignity of each human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, based on a Christocentric theological anthropology, as opposed to the purely utilitarian and qualitative approach that secular society takes toward human life, we, as a civilization, are in danger of increasing exponentially the already egregious number of abortions that take place on a daily basis throughout the world by even more aggressively promoting a philosophy of eugenics, or selective breeding. Consequently, based on the whimsical preferences of a pregnant couple enabled by a doctor who sees nothing wrong with selective, eugenic breeding, or the legislation of a depopulation agenda—like the one-child policy adopted by communist China—countless innocent human lives run the risk of being aborted on profoundly superficial, eugenic, or politically skewed grounds.

Put simply, the threat posed by moral relativism cannot be overstated or overestimated.

That said, allow me to explain why and how this insidious philosophy of moral relativism, which has been used time and again throughout the course of human civilization to justify virtually every immoral behavior known to man, is philosophically untenable and self-inconsistent.

Before I continue, however, I’d like to highlight one salient example from recent history to illustrate my point. Let us say, for the sake of this argument, that Adolf Hitler truly believed in his heart of hearts that murdering 6 million men, women, and children of Jewish ancestry was the morally “right” thing for his Nazi soldiers to do; or, at the very least, Hitler did not consider this command of his to be “wrong” or “immoral.” A bona fide, true moral relativist, given this information, could never, without contradicting the morally relativistic philosophical stance that he or she subscribes to, state that what Hitler did was “objectively immoral, unethical, or wrong.” My point here is that the majority of persons who espouse this philosophical stance usually fail to take this line of thinking all the way to its logical conclusion; for if they did, they would most likely dispense with it.

Ironically, the very reason most persons tend to espouse moral relativism turns out to be its philosophical undoing. You see, oftentimes, when I share with my liberally minded acquaintances my stance on the existence of an absolute, objective, and universal morality that is binding on all persons of all times and places, almost invariably at least one of them immediately has a visceral reaction to what I am saying and responds with something like this: “Who do you think you are to impose YOUR morality onto other person’s?! You ought to be more respectful of individual and cultural differences!” My response to this usually runs something like this: “You’re right … on two counts. I agree that I “ought” to respect individual and cultural differences, and I further agree with your tacit appeal to an objective code of morality, which holds that ‘being respectful and tolerant of other people’s beliefs is an objective, absolute, universal, moral axiom to which all persons of all times and places must subscribe.’”

Despite the radical unpopularity of objective, absolute, and universal truth; despite the reality that the existence of objective and universal truth flies in the face of contemporary standards of “political correctness”; despite the reality that speaking the truth about the reality of truth will most assuredly result in many persons feeling “uncomfortable” regarding their abdication of morality in an effort to exonerate themselves from the guilt associated with the pursuit of a life of hedonism; despite the reality that a fallible human person might possibly be “wrong” about something; and despite our desire to not come across as arrogant or intolerant by being so bold as to stand up for what we believe to be true, even if we happen to prove others wrong in the process; despite each of these possibilities—standing up for truth itself is infinitely more noble a pursuit than an endless, futile attempt to avoid, at any cost, making others feel uncomfortable. Occasionally, in this life, the truth may be the single most necessary and uncomfortable thing a person must hear. For these reasons, we must not allow certain fundamental truths, those most essential to the very nature of truth itself, to be swept into oblivion. Contrary to the copious “rhetoric” and “spin” that we, as a television and computer-screen worshipping nation of “vidiots,” are so used to witnessing, and contrary to the “different strokes for different folks” mentality that has been inculcated into the minds of the masses, there do, indeed, exist objective, absolute, universal truths concerning the ultimate nature of reality, the shared common nature of human persons, a shared origin, goal, and purpose of human existence, and finally, a common, universal, absolute morality to which all persons, regardless of culture, creed, or historical epoch, must subscribe and be held accountable. The truth of which I speak is Truth with a capital “T,” and I, for one, refuse to remain silent as the complete moral and religious foundation upon which modern Western Civilization rests is chipped away by so many pseudo intellectuals who earn money and status by promoting a Marxist, atheistic agenda.

Jayson M. Brunelle, MEd, CAGS About Jayson M. Brunelle, MEd, CAGS

Jayson M. Brunelle, MEd, CAGS, holds a BA in philosophy and theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; an MA in education in counseling psychology, a certificate of advanced graduate studies in clinical mental health counseling from Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts; and a certificate of completion from the pre-theology program at St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts. Brunelle has been published in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review and Lay Witness, and presented papers at the 8th International Congress on Constructivism and Psychotherapy in Bari, Italy. He is the author of the books: The Blessed Mother's Plan to Save Humanity, Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary and Joseph, and The Five Ways of Aquinas. He has guest-lectured at Springfield College, Western New England College, and Holyoke Community College, and worked as a chaplain at Suffolk County Prison.

Comments

  1. Well, if you want the masses to understand this, a condensation is necessary. How about, God’s way or the highway – to hell? That’ll do.
    I welcome the Almighty purging this nation of evil; i pray for it. ALL glory to God the Father, His Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and may His kingdom come.
    Sincerely, Mrs. Repovz

  2. Martin B. Drew says:

    Mr. Brunelle, your paper on relativism is marvelous and sublime with the truth about God . I.m happy you stated the fundamentals of principle of contradiction, the middle and principle of individuation. In Moral theology there is the fundamental option where man faces good or evil.

  3. True that :)

  4. Elenor K. Schoen Elenor K. Schoen says:

    This is a comment (accidently eliminated when the site crashed) and later sent to HPR from Thomas Richard.

    Thomas Richard: Hello, Mr. Brunelle. Thank you for your article, which I hope will strengthen the confidence of those who believe in the absolutes that we do. My experience with subjectivists, however, is that they are not impressed with, nor do they care about, such logic. I’ve concluded that reason itself has become one of the core casualties of modernism. Modern secular man does not reason, and does not want to reason. Modern secularists who seek power want to scheme, perhaps – to plan and plot, to strategize – but not to reason. Other modern secularists don’t care about reason either – or that they live according to contradictions – they simply like the results.

    The modern secular leader – such are the dangerous ones. For such a man, I think he is unconcerned that the popular mandate for subjectivism is immediately exposed as a hidden “absolute” and thus is self-contradictory: “Being respectful and tolerant of other people’s beliefs is an objective, absolute, universal, moral axiom to which all persons of all times and places must subscribe.” Such a modern secular man does not care that this rule is an “absolute,” thus contradicting subjectivism – as long as the fact is not made too public for too long. That would be embarrassing. Why would this admission not trouble him personally? Because his fundamental “belief” is actually (and unashamedly, within himself) “might makes right”, and the rule of tolerance is, for the power-seeking, modern, secular man, a convenient intermediary to his final goal: society run as he sees fit. He doesn’t care about reason, he cares about freedom from moral encumbrance. He doesn’t want logical consistency or morality; he wants to be as a god.

    Subjectivism is growing in secular society – and in the churches, among the increasingly unformed or badly formed laity. Subjectivism seems to justify any and all the favorite sins of the people – potentially a very popular plank in the political platform, along the road to power. (Please excuse the alliteration.) As long as sin is more popular than holiness among the electorate, for a democracy it’s only a matter of time. Our hope, in a society in moral decline, is in what Christ commands and can empower: His Church – a visible, vocal witness to a higher call, to which all men are ordered in their souls.

    • Thank you, Thomas Richard, for your astute observations. Your well-articulated comment, which I agree with entirely, reminds me of C.S.Lewis’ prophetic little book, The Abolition of Man. Therein, for those unfamiliar with this little gem, Lewis argues that man’s conquest of nature will invariably evolve into man’s conquest of other men; or, more precisely, the wealthy and the powerful, via the creation of super-advanced technologies (not at all unlike our I-phones and our use of uber-popular social-media forums, such as Facebook, etc) will use these very technologies, so beloved by the masses, as a highly potent means of surveillance and, ultimately, subjugation.

      Despite the fact that it is common knowledge that our own government, vis-a-vis the NSA, is working alongside powerful corporate entities that create and operate the hardware and software that is used to collect vast amounts of highly private information on every American citizen, folks still line up by the hundreds and literally “camp-out” on the street to be among the first to own the newest, latest and greatest Apple product, which shall only prove to be exponentially more intrusive (in broadcasting, in real-time, information about ones pulse, blood-pressure, oxygen level, number of steps taken per day, number of hours sitting / exercising /reading / driving / mapping ones GPS coordinates at all times, et-cetera) than the little spy machine smart phones (which can be remotely controlled by any number of “built-in back doors,” or any of the countless “free” apps, which force us to renounce any shred of privacy we may desire, in exchange for the ability to carry out some mindless function on our phone) upon which we have all become so heavily dependent.

      C.S. Lewis so accurately depicted the state of affairs that we now find ourselves in, and yet, could never have imagined the astounding degree of biometric exactitude, or the astounding potential for such egregious exploitation of personal information.

      Sadly, the American public fails to see the writing on the wall; they fail to see how or why they are being exploited, or that they are referred to as “useless eaters” by a billionaire banking system, which takes advantage of them at every turn, and which desires to usher in Global socialism under the guise of UN promotion of “Agenda 21,” which was ratified in 1992 in Rio de Janario’s “Earth Summit,” and which sets the “agenda” for the 21st Century as one of radical “sustainability.”

      “Sustainability” sounds like a great concept, except when we learn that, according to the official UN documents, private property is considered “unsustainable.” Air-conditioning is “unsustainable.” Living in the suburbs is absolutely “unsustainable.” In essence, under the ruse of sustainability, humanities freedoms are being eroded and chipped away at, slowly but surely, within an overall context and agenda to usurp the US Constitution, and to replace it with UN Global legislation, which would eradicate countless human rights and fundamental freedoms.

      I highly encourage every reader to purchase a copy of the excellent book, “None Dare Call it Conspiracy,” by Gary Allen, with a forward by Congressman John G. Schmitz. The book was written back in 1971, yet the absolute veracity of it’s thesis cannot be denied, in the very unfolding of predicted events. Few are aware of the fact that President Kennedy publicly stated, “There is a conspiracy to enslave every man, woman and child in this country. Such agendas must be exposed for the grave evils they are, and they must be thwarted. We all have a responsibility to ensure that American sovereignty never takes a back seat to Global Governance via the UN, or that God-given rights and liberties protected by the Constitution of the U.S. are never usurped via the implementation of so-called “International Treaties” that undermine our most cherished freedoms and civil liberties.

      The concept of moral absolutes stands in stark contrast to the radical brand of socialism that “groomed” and “pre-selected presidential candidates” – both Democratic AND Republican – wish to lead America into. To better understand what I believe to be the socialistic, collectivistic goals of the UN for a New World Order, where “Might is Right,” I encourage folks to read the amazingly eye-opening and scholarly “Tragedy and Hope,” penned by Professor Carroll Quigley of the Foreign Service School at Georgetown.

      I have conducted copious amounts of research on this very topic, and, despite its radical unpopularity, it turns out there is overwhelming evidence for a “conspiratorial” view of history; that is, numerous significant major events, such as the two World Wars of the past 20th Century, or the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 (the Fed is a PRIVATE BANK…and no one knows who officially “owns” this bank, from which the government of the United States must borrow it’s money) are not the “happenstance” events we’ve been taught them to be, but instead, are contrived by a small handful of tremendously wealthy and powerful “Insiders,” who, as it were, pull the political and socio-economic strings of world events, and are the same folks who pioneered the creation of the United Nations, and it’s pre-cursor, the “League of Nations,” which was rejected precisely on the grounds that it seemed to threaten American sovereignty. The abolition of any national sovereignty is, indeed, the goal of the UN, which is comprised of councils that are run by many of the worlds most dictatorial, communist and socialist nations.

      We must open our eyes to these events that are taking place under our noses. Moreover, Catholics must understand that the “war” is not between Liberals and conservatives; rather, the real war is between the “We, the sheeple,” and the Billionaire Banking Elite, who contribute equal amounts of money to both Democrats and Republican candidates; thus, whichever “side” or part wins, the same agenda continues on, as we move closer and closer to a globalized socialism and the eradication of national sovereignty.