Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Morality is subjective, or blogging toward truth

NOT THE GODOL HADOR: "Without God all morality is subjective"

I was enjoying my break from blogging, when I took a wrong turn and stumbled across the sentance cited above. "Without God all morality is subjective"

This is a familiar argument, but it stops short of the truth. I agree with GH, and his fundementalist friends, that morality sans God is subjective, but what GH's right-wing audience won't ever acknowledge is that morality WITH God is also subjective. Not because of a shortcoming in God, but because of a shortcoming in human understanding: By definition, our understanding must always be subjective.

Whenver we sit across from our study-partners and attempt to puzzle out what God wants from us, we're engaging in an act of interepatation. As you've heard me say before, any act of interpretation is biased because people are biased. We're not capable of apprehending the whole truth. Only parts of it. This is what the Sages meant when they said the Torah has 70 faces. Every perception occurs from a particular point of view, and every perception is different. We're each a perceiving center, and every perception is different.

The argument that God is necessary for morality is predicated on the belief that we can conform our minds to an objective truth. Those who make this argument forget that ambiguity is a property of those same minds. Change, therefore, is built into the way truth is perceived. Our understanding of the truth is altered with each perception of it.

I am a pluralist not because I am liberal, and not because I believe in peace, love and understanding. My pluralism is based entirely on my own self-interest. I believe that every person's perception has something to offer every other's. This belief flies not in the face of Jewish tradition but of recent Jewish tradition. When the Sages "accepted the truth from wherever it came" they were acknoledging that no one system -not Rabininc Judaism, nor any other - can explain everything. They were being pluralists.

You approach the truth from your angle, I see it from mine, and what we see is forever incomplete, but if we put our perceptions together we both draw closer to the reality. This is why I hold that revision, critisim and dialouge are far more relevant to truth-seeking than conformity to dictation from above. This is why I write the sort of posts I write. This is why I invited such a mix of personalties to guest-blog. And this, finally, is why I read blogs.

Now back to the secret mission.

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