Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Failure of Modern Philosophy

Today, Larry Auster linked to one of his old essays, Philosopher Says We Must Create Meaning and Goodness.

In his 2004 piece, Larry critically examined Bill Moyer’s TV interview of Susan Neiman, the director of the Einstein Forum, a liberal think tank in Germany.

Larry sent Ms. Neiman the following email…

Dear Miss Neiman:

When Bill Moyers asked you (I'm paraphrasing), "Does life morally make sense?,” you paused a long, long time, and then you said:

"Meaning is up to us. We have to create it. If the meaning were given from the beginning, we wouldn't be free."

Moyers said: "How do we create meaning?"

You said: "By doing little things to make the world more just ... by trying to make the world a little more intelligible ... by trying to make the world good."

With all due respect, these statements strike me as incoherent. You say there is no inherent moral meaning in existence, and that we have to create the meaning by trying to create justice and goodness and intelligibility. But how would we know there is such a thing as justice or goodness unless these things already existed? How could we "make the world more just" unless there was objectively such a thing as justice? How could we make the world more intelligible unless existence was inherently intelligible?

I wrote about why modern philosophy degenerated into moral relativism in my essay From Rorty to Obama to Beyond.

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