Monday, November 28, 2011

Misconceptions in Objective Morality 3: Objective Morality is not knowable

Continuing with the common misconceptions is the notion that objective morality is not knowable.  That is, while one may conclude that objective morality may exist, it is not useful because determining what is objectively moral is impossible.

There is admittedly some truth to this notion.  The human individual is limited to his experience. His perception of his actions and the results of his actions are limited.  He cannot see the effects of those actions in their entirety. 

But is that the whole story?  Is the blanket statement the whole truth about objective morality?

Consider the statement itself.  If we can claim that objective morality is "unknowable" then we have effectively stated an aspect of objective morality.  But how could we if objective morality is unknowable? The only way one could definitively state that objective morality is unknowable is if objective morality is knowable in some fashion.  If objective morality were truly above knowledge, the most we could say is, "We don't know if objective morality is knowable or not."

But if we can discern that objective morality exists, it follows that it is possible to discern other properties of objective morality.  For if we determine that objective morality exists, we have discovered some knowable aspect of objective morality (the property of existence). 

A comparable idea is the notion of God.  If we determine that God exists (which arguably we have if we accept the notion of objective morality) then we concede that it is possible to discern aspects of God.  But we also know that we will never comprehend God completely, given that He is far and above our experiences and perceptions.

The same is with objective morality.  We can determine aspects of objective morality but we will never comprehend it completely.  At the same time however objective morality can be comprehended in certain aspects. 

But how does one cross the limits of human reason?  In order for man to transcend the limits of natural reason requires the higher entity to assist in that knowledge.  That is ultimately the purpose of religion, the statement of truths that bridge the gap between what the human can know and what the human knows cannot be known without the aid of God.  St. Thomas Aquinas' statement then makes perfect sense, "I believe that I may know."

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