I didn’t get a single question, not one since the last post. I guess this just means you all decided to see what I would come up with on my own, or there is no “you all” in the first place. Nevertheless, I cannot let this stop me, so I have used my horribly limited creativity to decide that this…
Very Interesting, Nick, but I have a few problems with what you say, as well as some agreements. First off, if you believe in relativist theory, there technically aren’t any objective statements. Every “objective” statement is relative to some frame of reference. The problem of your logic is that the relativist admitted that there could be one objective statement. This is false. There is no such thing as an objective statement that is outside a reference point. Now, this may be taking an engineering point of view to the question, but if you define a relative reference point, many statements suddenly seem to become objective. This has effectively merged the philosophies by just realizing that if we realize that everything we can state is relative to whatever reference point we ourselves see things from, we can treat any statement as either objective or subjective based on that reference point. Just like there are really no concrete statements in physics or engineering, and everything is defined by your reference point, what everything in your system is relative to, so it goes in philosophy. Everything about your philosophy is defined relative to your reference point (which consists of your views, thoughts, experiences, etc. Basically how you look at the world).
I do completely agree with your point about poetry. I completely detest post-modern poetry and most post-modern prose. It’s either inane and silly or obnoxiously dark, and after a semester of creative writing I absolutely can stand no more dark angsty writing. I wrote a post modern poem for an english journal this year, and it was a blank piece of paper. They are so open to interpretation it would have been better had they not written anything at all. If you are trying to get a message out, why would you write something so stupid? Of course, my view is taken from my point of reference, and everyone else is entitled to their opinion. But they are wrong.
With your point about the constitution, where was the jefferson quote taken from? I won’t accept it as evidence unless it’s put in context. But I do agree that parts of the Constitution should stay the same and some should be developed for the times. But who is to say which part? We each have a unique view of the world, how can we definitively say what is the right or the wrong way to interpret it. None of us see the whole picture, or even through the same lens. it becomes a question of personal beliefs. Personally, I would stay as true to the original Constitution as possible, were I a supreme court justice. I would take a look a the case, look at the letter of the law, and decide on that and not on my personal views of the subject (though you could say my personal view is that the letter of the law should be obeyed at all times). This would lead to a lot of conflict with the silly view that “we should change the constitution because it’s three hundred years in the future”. Why should non time specific laws be changed just because the times have? There is no rhyme or reason for it.
First I will respond to the note on Relativism. I tried to simplify my argument last time against it for the sake of keeping my post of a readable length, but I’ll develop it a little more here for the sake of showing that my logic still holds. The first qualification is that there are obviously some relatives in this world. For example, the world does not always look the same. In some places you will see seasons changing and a variation of colors, all of which are subjective to your environment and time. In other places, all you’ll see is white, ice, and more ice. It will snow, and you will hardly notice seasons. Clearly, the observable world is not one giant absolute, it varies by environment. At the same time, there are absolutes. Objects of mass will exert forces of gravitation attraction with each other. This is true regardless of where you are in the universe. This is an absolute. The disagreement of Objectivism and Relativism is a disagreement about morals, not a disagreement about statements of fact or observation. A Relativist would say that there are no absolute morals, or there are no statements of right and wrong that apply universally. An objectivist would say that there are certain absolute morals that hold true for all people, regardless of their circumstances.
Before I go on, I will refute the first anti-objectivism argument everyone uses. People will say that simply looking at history, we can see that some cultures said that all murder was wrong, while others regularly allowed it for the sake of sacrifices to the gods (Aztecs). For that reason, “thou shalt not murder” cannot be an objective moral truth (or there cannot be any objective moral truths for that matter) because clearly there is a discrepancy here. The problem with that argument is simply that it misquotes objectivism. Objectivism does not say that all people hold the same morals. Objectivism says that there are certain moral truths that apply to all people, but just becuase it applies to you does not mean you necessarily follow it.
Moving on, you brought up the point of “if you believe in relativist theory, there technically aren’t any objective statements.” That is true, and that is how my logic disproved Relativism. I forced a Relativist argument into a statement of Objectivism.
Then you say that “every ‘objective’ statement is relative to some frame of reference.” This needs clarification. In the way you stated it, you assumed Relativism, that you have to look at everything as relative. On the other hand, you might have meant “relative” in a different sense of the word, as in every “objective” is from a given reference frame. In that case, you are correct, we do observe objective morals from a given reference frame, but the point of an objective moral is that it will be the same regardless of a reference frame. That is simply its definition, so you have done nothing to disprove it, merely misunderstood it. I move on.
Then you say, “There is no such thing as an objective statement that is outside a reference point.” The problem with that is once again that you assumed a Relativism opinion. In order to discuss the relative accuracy or correctness of Relativism and Objectivism, you cannot assume either of the ideologies, only refer to what they state.
You went on to speak about reference frames and how everything we see is from a particular perspective, no one disagrees with that. The disagreement is that Objectivists will say that regardless of you reference frame, this set of morals will always be true, while Relativists will say that you will never find a moral that is true in all cases. Your point about things being outside of your reference frame would be true if humans were the ones defining the morals. If we were the only ones who could set morals, obviously they could never supersede a given reference frame. However, Objectivists assume that those morals which are absolute are set out by a being greater than humans, thus God, so they are inherently designed to be outside of a reference frame.
So in that sense, I feel that nothing I said in my original post was factually or logically incorrect, per my elaborations and explanations in this post. Therefore, my conclusion that Objectivism is logical while Relativism is not still holds.
The poetry we clearly agree on.
Now on to the quote. Looking back to my source, I now see that I associated the quote with the name below it, whereas it belonged to the name above it. That quote was given by Noah Webster, another Founding Father, so I see no reason why this would change its impact or relevance in the slightest. In regard to its context, it merely addresses the idea of misinterpretation, with a particular emphasis on original intent. It is often used to point out the danger in how the Supreme Court has reinterpreted the First Amendment. Therefore, it seems the context is simply a general interpretation of what an author meant, though clearly he knew that what he said was applicable to legal documents such as the Constitution.
You went on to discuss which parts should stay absolute and which parts should change with the times, and I believe that question is simpler to answer than you assumed. You stated that there are some portions that supersede time. Those are the ones that should stay indefinitely. Other statements that are relative to the Founders’ specific circumstances (three-fifths compromise, dealing with militias, etc.) are subject to change as necessary. Therefore, you seem to have answered your own question. The parts that must stay as accurate to the original intent as possible are the parts that are timeless. Ideas laid out in the Preamble and the Declaration are great examples. Now, at this point you might say, what if people disagree on which are timeless? And they do. However, there are definitely some we can agree on, and that is why our government has succeeded so well throughout history compared to other governments. As for others, when you ask who is to decide what must stay the same, that is the power of the Supreme Court. As for what should stay the same, the answer is the objective morals, which builds off of the first topic of this post. If you can agree with me that Relativism is an illogical view and the Objectivism is true, then there must be some objective moral truths (all men are created equal, unjustified murder is wrong). Those ought to remain constant, those are timeless, and those, I pray, will remain part of our country’s legal code for as long as our God allows us to endure.