User:Indian Chronicles/Moral Relativism
The untold truth of ages 20 Jun, 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Mukul Sharma, ET Bureau
Moral relativism asserts that conceptions of truth and values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them. Thus, according to moral relativists, it makes no sense to ask whether a given act is good or bad, because there is no goodness or badness in the abstract; there are only polarities which exist in a specified context.
An act may thus be good for one person but bad for another, or good in one cultural situation but bad in another, but cannot be either good or bad, per se. They also say the fact that different people and cultures are constantly disagreeing and bickering over beliefs just goes to show they are right.
When King Vikramaditya asked Acharya Siddhasena Divakara if truth was that which was said repeatedly, that which was said loudly, that which was said with authority or that which was agreed by the majority, Divakara replied it was none of the above.
Everyone had his own definition of truth and it was conditional. He went on to state that all doctrines were right in their own respective spheres.
Only if they encroached upon the province of other doctrines and tried to refute their views, they were wrong. And that a man who held the view of the cumulative character of truth never maintained a particular view was right or a particular view was wrong.
Unfortunately, liberal as this notion is, it leads relativists straight out on a limb. Because they could then never condemn such past and present cultural events and practices like cannibalism, female foeticide, the holocaust, apartheid, genital mutilation, unjust wars, incest or terrorism.
They would have to insist that gassing six million Jews was not absolutely wrong but a matter of opinion. They would even have to disapprove of any historical person like Abraham Lincoln who was opposed to slavery in the United States on the grounds that he was in the minority, working against the existing and accepted cultural norms, and trying to refute its majority view.
Thus, while moral relativism’s axioms may initially be internally consistent, they begin to buckle when taken to their logical conclusion. It also flounders badly against the experience of the mystical insight which suddenly transcends good and bad and leads one into a realm beyond all polarities.
Which leads one to what Plato said a long time ago, “And what is good... and what is not good, need we ask anyone to tell us these things?”