Thursday, February 21, 2008

Finding the Ultimate Absolute

When validating our deepest beliefs and convictions, reason tells us to look beneath our beliefs layer by layer until at the bottom of the stack we find a foundational truth we feel we can safely assume to be true—a truth beyond empirical proof, a truth that we accept as necessary or too obvious to question.

The process of working our way through these layers goes something like this: We believe it is right to help stranded motorists because we accept the validity of the maxim “do to others what you would have them to do to you.” We believe this maxim to be valid, because it is rooted in our understanding that we are mutually dependent on each other for survival in a world filled with trouble and pain. We believe that we should take this mutual dependence seriously as necessary to survival, because we accept without question the universal belief that society should be preserved. Virtually everyone accepts this truth as foundational. It is a universally assumed absolute adopted by all societies in all places and in all times. Yet even this absolute stops one step short of being bedrock.

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