Rollin' Like Sisyphus

The Frank Drebin School Of Operable Philosophies

Posted in A Chronicle Of Decline by Huckleberry on March 5, 2015
Nothing to see here. Move along.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

On the surface, the health of a given civic order can be gauged by any number of metrics, including its level of technology, its wealth, its economic system, but these are all basically trailing indicators of a somewhat amorphous sense of “health”; the viability of a civic order is determined at a much more fundamental level by its prevailing culture and the values that underpin it. This is why I hold philosophy, both in theory and in practice, to a higher esteem than most. You can choke off the economy of a civic order, inhibit its technology and corrupt its politics, but if you wish to fundamentally change it in such a way where its populace embraces its own corruption, you target a civic order’s operable philosophies.
A brief examination of the 20th century, at just about any point you wish to investigate, will illustrate what I’m getting at here. Subverting a civic order’s operable philosophies is a slow process – the people who got the ball rolling on our own decline are long since ash, yet make no mistake, the fruits of their effort are being harvested:

[O]ur public schools teach students that all claims are either facts or opinions and that all value and moral claims fall into the latter camp. The punchline: there are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths … my son brought home a list of student rights and responsibilities. Had he already read the lesson on fact vs. opinion, he might have noted that the supposed rights of other students were based on no more than opinions. According to the school’s curriculum, it certainly wasn’t true that his classmates deserved to be treated a particular way — that would make it a fact. Similarly, it wasn’t really true that he had any responsibilities — that would be to make a value claim a truth. It should not be a surprise that there is rampant cheating on college campuses: If we’ve taught our students for 12 years that there is no fact of the matter as to whether cheating is wrong, we can’t very well blame them for doing so later on.

The circumstance where there are no moral facts – and make no mistake, we’re nearly there – is the result of a rather sad confluence of design and accident. While the initial intent was always a civic order governed by suppressed or exiled morality, it wasn’t achieved directly through attacking moral values; the foundation of those moral values were eroded from underneath through obfuscations and oversimplifications. The former was intentional, the latter a by-product of the civic order’s intellectual down-cycling. As is clearly illustrated in the excerpt, “facts” are true and/or provable, everything else is opinion.
The problem is, even the facts are basically opinions and beliefs. To say that George Washington was the first president of the United States is a statement made on the belief that everything you’ve read about the subject is true, and that even the existence of the man himself is true. You do not know the existence and eventual presidency of George Washington to be a fact, you believe it to be so. You cannot personally verify it. No one you know in living memory can, nor can anyone in living memory by several orders of magnitude.
Hell, even accepting that 2+2=4 is a belief rather than a fact. The proof for even that simple equation is considerably more involved than any sane man should be comfortable with, and yet here we are. In reality, the facts as we know them are mostly beliefs working in shorthand to establish the base of knowledge with which we go through our lives. And in and of itself that is perfectly acceptable, if that shorthand is acknowledged with the proper caveats that there is a slim possibility everything is full of shit.
But with the simplifications and binary buckets for Either/Or, the caveats go away, the acknowledgements go away, and all that’s left is a sick, corrupt, perverse relativism that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.


2 Responses

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  1. Giraffe said, on March 9, 2015 at 10:56

    It reminds me of the moral argument of God.

    P1. If objective moral values exist, then God exists.
    P2. Objective moral values exist.
    C. Therefore God exists.

    I’ve always figured that the only way to attack that was to deny the second premise. I figure it doesn’t prove that God exists, but if you don’t believe He does, you certainly can’t whine about anything relating to morality. Yet they still won’t shut up.

  2. Giraffe said, on March 9, 2015 at 10:57

    Ravi Zacharias also talked about how we shouldn’t be surprised when we teach moral relativism at Harvard and the result is Enron.

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