Unlike the apostles of the new political orthodoxies, I regard only a few questions as settled, questions to which the answers are self-evident, and therefore no longer in need of demonstration or debate: for instance, that truth and falsehood, good and evil, exist, and that there is a difference between them.
For such ontological and epistemological naivete, I am the object of derision amongst my more sophisticated and better-paid colleagues in the academy. As melancholic disciples of the French savants, my colleagues are convinced of one thing above all: that right and wrong are merely relative terms, that there are no such things as “reality” or “truth”, only words and concepts (wielded as instruments of oppression, they usually insert at this point, by the power elite).
I confess that they affirm such hypotheses both impressively and persuasively, and perhaps my characterization of them fails to do their doctrines justice. One thing strikes me as odd, however. They obviously believe their linguistic and existential theories fervently, and affirm them just as fervently as true. (There are some truths, it seems, after all.) As relativists, moreover, they are no less fervently opposed to absolute moral judgments; indeed, they consider making them to be absolutely morally wrong.
There’s the rub. Every human statement is an assertion of truth or right, even that there is no truth or right. This is so obvious that only the brain of an intellectual could be incapable of metabolizing it.
I take no credit, by the way, for recognizing this paradox. Socrates did so nearly 2500 years ago when he sent the Sophists back to their sandboxes in the nurseries of rhetoric.
Nor do I mind, really, that this long settled question has been re-opened. It would be more reassuring, however, if the Sophists of today had enough education to know that they are merchandising doctrines that are well past their stale-date.