[I]f you are someone interested in righting wrongs and seeing justice done, you might want to think twice about being a philosophical skeptic, i.e. someone who believes that “we all have our own truth,” and that there is no objective truth. Why? Well, if there is no truth, no objective reality independent of individual perceptions, then there is no injustice either, as the political philosopher Norman Geras observed some years ago. You can’t claim one minute that all truth is subjective and then the next minute claim to have been wronged and expect anyone to believe you if they too live by your philosophy. By that philosophy, anything you say is just your “take” on it, just your story, and which could be told differently. You were raped? I don’t think so; that’s just your reality. There was a Holocaust? Nah, that’s just one way to look at it. Everyone has his or her “own truth” and so why is the Nazi truth any less valid than anyone else’s? You can’t claim to be a philosophical skeptic and then turn around and say “Well, obviously there is injustice in the world.” No, there are no more facts that are not interpretations. That’s no longer an option if there is no truth “out there,” beyond subjective perception.
Of course such relativism doesn’t mean “truth” goes unclaimed. It certainly does, only instead of being determined by the honest attempt to find it in reality, what actually occurred or how things actually are, it is instead determined by whoever has the power to get their preferred version of reality—the one that allows them to get what they want—imposed on everyone else.
We have minds and the purpose of our minds is to know the truth. The most dangerous thing we can do, as Fr. Schall has perfectly put it, is to “doubt the capacity of our mind to know and to state, as true, what it knows.” Skepticism is not just a philosophical failure, but also an ethical failure. It lacks the virtue of courage. By refusing to use our mind to know and to state, as true, what it knows, we open the door to all kinds of horrors.
Skepticism is a plague on the universities, where I spend most of my time, and where most of my time there is spent fighting it. Today university students are led into or confirmed in their skepticism by my colleagues, often the very same professors who claim society is overflowing with obvious injustices. So why would these smart people be so unconcerned with such philosophical incoherence? To make sense of it you have to realize that the universities today in the main serve more as re-education camps than as universities. Skepticism might be untrue, but it is useful to the goal of convincing students to embrace a secular humanist perspective. Once you convince someone that there is no truth it is much easier to convince them of “your own truth,” i.e. ideology.
In the case of professors in most of the social sciences and across the humanities, the vision offered is of a fallen world, riddled with preferred injustices (some are highlighted, others ignored), but one capable of redemption, and indeed exaltation, through science, technology, state power and of course, plenty of “education.” In the secular humanist dispensation, we will save ourselves from ourselves without any assistance from God, who we don’t need, and who in any case probably doesn’t exist.
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