Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Richard Rorty and Guys Like Him

...owe us an apology for making us to think that the big human choice is between relativism and dogmatism. The truth may be tricky, but it’s not the "truth" or the Truth. It’s just the truth. Even Rorty knows the Holocaust really happened, for example. That’s not to say, of course, that many things aren’t relative. And we can neither live nor think well without some dogma, some trust in things unseen. The Europe that Ratzinger/B16 frees from the tyranny of relativism will be the Europe of faith and reason.

Discussions - 8 Comments

One thing about the article I found dissapointing was the insinuation that religion is essentially dogmatic. The choice between relativisn and dogmatism, as Strauss framed it, was a choice between the "charm of competence" which is "engendered by mathematics" or "knowledge of homogeneity" and the "charm of humble awe" which is "engendered by meditation on the human soul" or "knowledge of heterogeneity", especially of human ends. As a constant searching, philosophy is characterized by the "firm refusal to succumb to either charm". European relativism impoverishes the European mind by refusing to acknowledge any genuine (vs straw man) contest between reason and revelation: it trivializes the former by dogmatically rejecting the latter.

"Relativism" is largely a strawman set up by neocons so that they can use it as a Trojan horse to destroy the Real America, with its real British and European past, and erect Jacobin abstractions in its place. Other than a few eccentric postmodernists, I've never met a real relativist. Some may say they are, but deep down they are liberal absolutists that want to impose liberal dogma upon society. Sure, a balance must be struck. Look at Orthodox Christianity. It cherishes the universal, but also respects the historical. Thus you have "Greek Orthodoxy" and "Russian Orthodoxy" etc., where there is a respect for ethnicity. This is very close to the first Christian communities. I for one, as a Euro-American, refuse to denounce Western Civilization, no matter how many Leftists / Neocons try to make me. And I refuse to bow to Jacobin abstractions or left-wing dictators (whether Mao or Lincoln) in place of the real America with its real British and European past.

Well, two very thoughtful comments...although Mao and Lincoln!

"The historical" is a standing alternative with a powerful allure. From the first, those who have thought they could do better have been up against it. Hasn't "the historical" always been the people's choice?

What, exactly, IS liberal dogma? I can't get a clear answer from liberals, so perhaps one of you could tell me. And about Real America, I must have misunderstood it, or missed it. I thought Lincoln was part of it, at least historically speaking.

Yet, I quite agree with Aristotle about the lack of real relativists. Believing absolutely in relativism seems so difficult as to be inhuman. One could only believe, relatively speaking, in relativism.

What, exactly, IS liberal dogma? I can't get a clear answer from liberals, so perhaps one of you could tell me.

Perhaps you haven't received a clear answer because there is none, except for what is the subjective "reflective equilibrium" for each individual "liberal" based on their own subjective experiences, subjective interpretations of those experiences, and subjective beliefs wrought from such interpretations. :-D Of course, I'm sure you can always tell me what the "true" interpretation or belief "should be".

Matt, I see...or I can't see, but maybe that's as it should be. Right? Is there a unity in their relative diversity?

Hmmm . . . not sure. I doubt we could take a poll . . . things like that seem to be impossible to quantify. Perhaps there is unity in their humanity? In their emphasis on subjectivity? I don't know. I just read Kierkegaard, write papers, and think too much. :-D

In all seriousness, I would be surprised if there were many leftists who would be as philosophically grounded in their beliefs as the above-mentioned analysis. Of course, that is not exclusively on the left. Americans, by and large, are really bad at explaining why they believe what they believe (at least, in my experience).

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