The cheapness

The empty relativism of our era, is articulately criticised in this Encyclical letter, written by Pope John Paul II.

I am no persecutor or fanatic (I hope not, at least) but these words ring so clear and true that I just had to share them. This is more than a Catholic perspective, or one presented by ‘tradition’, this is a criticism of the false humility that typifies this era.

It’s an assertion that “Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned.”

Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, François Lemoyne, 1737

Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, François Lemoyne, 1737

Here it is, enjoy,

“….This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread scepticism.

Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today’s most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth.

Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. While, on the one hand, philosophical thinking has succeeded in coming closer to the reality of human life and its forms of expression, it has also tended to pursue issues—existential, hermeneutical or linguistic—which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God.

Hence we see among the men and women of our time, and not just in some philosophers, attitudes of widespread distrust of the human being’s great capacity for knowledge. With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence. In short, the hope that philosophy might be able to provide definitive answers to these questions has dwindled.”

Read the letter in its entirety here.

2 thoughts on “The cheapness

  1. I am convinced that one can never grow towards a healthy mysticism if the agnostic level has not been reached. I’m also convinced that we shouldn’t stay there too long.

  2. Thank you for that Bert, that’s a perceptive conclusion.

    Yes, there is a certain skepticism, a cautiousness to the thoughtful person, isn’t there? C S Lewis, for example, in his “Surprised by Joy” found the homosexuality which sometimes took place around him at his boarding school- something which some Christians would find the easiest to condemn, to be less noteworthy than the pride and exclusivity that he also saw there.

    His unwillingness to submit to mass consensus on that point, is proof of this cautious, selective manner.

    It’s an example that came to mind, at least!

    “Healthy mysticism” sounds lovely, what does that look like?

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