Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Poison of Subjectivism

I find it interesting how Lewis writes, “After studying his environment, man has begun to study himself.” We believe that we have sufficiently observed and understand all that is around us and now attempt to explore the final frontier, ourselves. In fact, to do this we assume our own authority and reason by which we are able to see all other things. The funny thing, Lewis writes is that “it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them.” We try to observe ourselves, but in doing so are limited by being human. We are on the inside, not the outside. And thus, we settle for our own subjectivism. We accept our own reasons and observations about ourselves because we suppose they may yield truth or at least enough truth for us.

There is danger in this good-intentioned ignorance. When we accept our own practical reasons for truth, we often disregard or fail to remember the effects of the fall. By holding to our own presupposed standard, we eliminate the potential for a transcendental one and pledge our allegiance to an abstraction. We accept what we do not know because we believe we may know it. It is as if we are trying to remove our shoes, but yet still walk in them. I believe Lewis is recognizing our need for an Absolute Truth, an Absolute Standard. There needs to be an outside person who observes us, an outside source that determines the “good” and “better” in human thought.

Our desire for autonomy is incompatible with our desire for both democracy and freedom. Through subjectivism, each man becomes his own ruler; his life is relative to all others. Thus, he will accept and place his own ideas and beliefs above all others. This is only natural, to live by one’s own rules. However, it is here that democracy suffers. One’s opinion is elevated above another’s. There is no common man, but all gods. More it becomes anarchy, a game of survival of the fittest. And, in all this, we must recognize that our desire for freedom and understanding of the very word, freedom, assumes that there is a greater power. There are those who make rules and live under them. For us to be free, we must be free from something and someone must be setting us free. Perhaps, this power could be another human, but this would contradict our nature tendency to valuing our own subjective idea of thought. We would have to abdicate ourselves from our pretentious thrones of authority and submit ourselves to a God. For if man creates Law, then he is subject to break it himself or simply change it on a whim. The Law thus becomes subjective to his current state and situation, the fantasies and dreams of his mind.

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