Flirting with Relativism
Commenters Thales and Zach caution me against falling prey to moral relativism as I deliberately walk a path that leads around or away from moral certainty. I hear the warning bells they ring and the warnings they shout about the dangers of denying or doubting the existence of unchanging truth, but I remain, obstinately perhaps, unwilling to turn my feet away from the dark woods of doubt and step onto the sunlit roads of certainty. As comforting as certainty would be, as much as I wish the world made clear and ordered sense, I cannot stray out from under the stormy night sky. It is here, half-blind from sheets of black rain and half-deaf from roars of fierce wind, barely and rarely able to catch a glimpse of the stars, that I live the moral life and seek its truth.
If I can hold on to anything in this endless raging storm, it is the realization, or at least the hope, that certainty is not a prerequisite for the attainment of truth. I’m no relativist. I don’t deny there’s such a thing as truth. But I’m not certain of it. At most, I hope that the truth I pursue is actually there and actually knowable, in some manner or other. I’m not timid. I have no qualms about speaking what I think to be the truth, but I’m less than certain that what I think is truth really is truth. Socrates is said to have said, “I know that I do not know.” That limited knowledge may be the most that I or anyone can possess. Everything else, like starlight, eludes my grasp, even as it shines upon my hand.