This is a response to an essay by my friend Josh on his own personal philosophy. It seems that his essay confused some of his friends (including myself). I think that this is because he was trying to get his thoughts down quickly and failed to make some of his assumptions and reasoning clear. So I will attempt to clarify his argument, and point out where I agree and disagree with what he says.
To save scrolling, I have broken this response down into three parts. This is the first. I’ve also placed a complete, printable version of the essay on my website.
What I think Josh means
Josh starts out by rejecting what he calls relativism. By ‘relativism’, I am assuming he means the denial of absolute truth. That is, the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth and reality is essentially just a construct of our own perceptions. Looking down this road and seeing where it ends, all knowledge becomes meaningless—including the knowledge that there is no truth. If there is no truth, then there is no point in saying anything. I might as well stop my essay here.
On the other hand, claims to complete, 100% objective, literal truth are arrogant and fail to take into account the finite nature of human understanding and language. We cannot make our own reason the arbiter of truth, since our own reason is fallible. Neither can we claim complete understanding of everything by divine revelation, since our understanding is still subject to a finite brain. A judge can only make a certain, correct judgement if they know all the facts. To claim absolute objective certainty about transcendent truth is in essence the same as claiming to have all the facts. In other words, this is claiming omniscience and in some ways is equivalent to claiming to be God.
So, we must discount ‘relativism,’ or knowledge ceases to exist. On the other hand, we must be wary of claims to knowledge of absolute truth. Hence, we acknowledge that absolute truth exists, but must admit that complete and universal understanding of it is impossible for human beings. How then do we proceed? It is at this point that Josh’s argument becomes slightly difficult to decipher (and I do hope he will clarify it for us). As best I understand it, Josh proposes realism, rationalism, pseudo-subjectivism and post-modernism as the way forward. This seems to mean three things:( Collapse )