Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Is Honor Killing Wrong?

This one should be a gimme. We know that honor killing is wrong. We have no doubt that it reflects cultural depravity, no more and no less.

And yet, some cultures believe that it is not only right, but that it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

Now, enter an American philosopher, one Alex Rosenberg who teaches at Duke University. Being a man of his times, up to date on all the latest in neuroscience, Rosenberg tries to persuade us that we should not be so quick to condemn honor killing. He does not quite say it this way, but he means to ask: who are we to judge someone else’s culture?

Whatever the reasoning, one comes away from Rosenberg’s article thinking that he has managed to trick himself into excusing the most abhorrent human depravity. And he is asking us to do as much. He wants to dull our moral sense by dunking us in a warm bath of moral relativism. For now disregard whether he is right or wrong. When faced on the battlefield for armies who are fighting for the right to murder and mutilate their (and eventually our) daughters, should we consider that they hold an interesting negotiating position?

Rosenberg has offered up a fascinating picture of the latest in Western ethical thought. If it ends up convincing us that we cannot rightfully condemn honor killing, where does that leave us? Would Rosenberg make the same moral pronouncement about the Nazi practice of human sacrifice, the Holocaust? Does he believe that we should not have fought Nazi cultural practices, because, who are we to judge someone else’s culture?

Anyway, Rosenberg begins with a definition of honor killing:

Honor killing is the execution of one’s own family member, often a woman, who is seen to have brought disgrace to the family. It is a practice most of us find absolutely wrong, no matter the goal — in this case, restoring dignity to the family. The fact that it is a practice long sanctioned in other cultures does not matter to us. Meanwhile, those who approve of or carry out honor killings reject our condemnation, and most likely see it as a moral lapse of ours.

Some will say that honor killings are wrong because God says so. We might explain this by saying that you gain no honor by killing a child over a lapse of judgment. Perhaps, forgiveness would have been a more appropriate reaction. In truth, so-called honor killings are effectively dishonorable.

After offering up a short course in the history of moral philosophy Rosenberg suggests that we need to bring emotion into the picture. When we condemn certain behaviors as immoral we are making a judgment. We make such judgments because our culture has taught us to feel strongly, and to base our moral being on the fact that we feel strongly about a man who kills his daughter. He does not say it, but it sounds suspiciously like he sees it all as something of a social construct.

But, if there is no higher law or no higher authority, if there is no authority beyond emotions that have been formed by the culture we live in and the company we keep, then we have no right to judge:

Factoring human emotions into moral judgment explains much about them. Why they are held so strongly, why different cultures that shape human emotional responses have such different moral norms, even why people treat abstract ethical disagreement by others as a moral flaw. And most of all, this meta-ethical theory helps us understand why such disputes are sometimes intractable.

Here Rosenberg has neglected to consider another alternative, one that I presented in my book The Last Psychoanalyst. We accept that moral precepts and principles function as the basis for culture and civilization. We know well that different cultures were founded on different principles. Evidently, there is some overlap, but human cultures do not all follow the same principles.

To take the example I used in my book, Judeo-Christian cultures are founded on the principle of benevolence, especially of benevolence toward children. The Bible teaches the importance of saving children, not of sacrificing them. Whatever you think of the God of the Old Testament, He saved Isaac from sacrifice. With many other passages in the Bible, that text established a central tenet of Western culture.

This means that those who belong to that culture are required to protect and provide for children. You might say that they are going to be judged by God, but you might also say that they are judged in more practical terms.

One might object that other cultures should not be judged by their ability to protect and provide for their children, but this fails to recognize that the truth of these precepts is determined by the outcomes they produce. It may feel less than pious, but human cultures can be judged on pragmatic grounds.

Cultures, like civilizations, compete. They succeed or they fail. They thrive or they collapse. The extent to which they succeed or fail provides evidence that can validate or invalidate the precepts that founded them.

In days of old people did not quite use the same terms, but surely there is a direct correlation between a culture based on a single God and a culture based on many gods. As you know, the one God was trying to supplant the multiple gods of polytheistic religion. What else would it mean for God to say: thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Surely, Western civilization has succeeded—in pragmatic terms-- especially when compared to pagan cultures, Muslim cultures and to atheist cultures. This suggests that its precepts represent a higher truth.

No one suggests that Western civilization has been a Happy Valley, nor that it never did anything wrong nor that it never failed. And yet, if we balance the bad with the good, the calamities with the benefits one finds that the record was far more positive than has been those of today’s noisiest civilizational failures. Many polytheistic and pagan religions have failed and have disappeared. Cultures founded on atheism have been abysmal failures. Islamist cultures, the ones that practice honor killings, are awaiting a significant reformation.


27 comments:

Sam L. said...

I read a number of comments, and was kinda surprised that he was not attacked by feminists. Then I thought, multi-culti trumps feminism, so of course they didn't, not in the NYT.

priss rules said...

"This one should be a gimme. We know that honor killing is wrong. We have no doubt that it reflects cultural depravity, no more and no less. And yet, some cultures believe that it is not only right, but that it’s absolutely the right thing to do."

I would say it's almost always wrong. But when I look at the Miley Cyrus, Emma Sulkowicz, and Lena Dunham, I wonder if honor killing would have made more sense.
I say jokingly, there are exceptions to everything.

More seriously, as depraved as honor killing may seem, it has existed in many communities all around the world down the ages as a means to fending off depravity. Why? Man is, by nature, 'depraved' in that he is an animal. If boys and girls are left to do as they please, they will often fall into temptation and depravity and give the middle finger to morality and commitment. We see that in black communities with rap culture, bumping and grinding, and twerking. We see in the 'white trash' community with use of meth and other drugs, in rising births out of wedlock.

Also, in times past, honor killing was a way of keeping the the tribe together. A tribe was strong if the women of the tribe had children of the men of the tribe. But if women went off with men of other tribe and had their children, the tribe would grow weak. So, the sexual behavior of the women had to be controlled through draconian means, and it could be honor killing.

We live in more tolerant and liberal times, so civilized folks cannot permit something as cruel as honor killing. But the impulse behind it is at least understandable. The sex drive is wild and animalistic. It can sway young people to give the middle finger to morality, responsibility, and loyalty. It can reduce boys into pimp-wanna-be's and girls into whores-wanna-be's. We now have university students in the US who think becoming a porn 'actress' is empowering. We now have the mainstream media promoting a dance called 'twerking' --- imitating sex motions --- as a legit dance for young ones.

Honor killing is not the way to go, but many moral parents are fuming mad about what is happening to their children. And some of these children turn into little monsters with nasty attitude who give lip to their parents and cuss in the worst way in imitation of trashy celebrities. And this is a global phenomenon as American music culture and TV culture now infect the entire world.

And speaking of mutilation, US now says that Bruce Jenner who mutilated his private organs to become a 'woman' is a role model of what courage is all about.

We don't have honor killing in the US, but we have 'sense killing'. I mean how else did we arrive at 'gay marriage'?

Furthermore and paradoxically, a permissive society that rejects something like honor killing may return to a different kind of honor killing. We already see this in the black community. A lot of blacks are sexually loose and licentious, but this leads to a lot of fighting among males and females in the wild game of who is whose stud and who is whose ho. The result is a lot of violence, even murder over sexual matters. It's not honor killing in the old sense since blacks aren't archaic moral codes, but it is about brazen pride. The narcissism of rap 'liberated' young people from older people and their old-fashioned morality, but what is the core message of rap? "I'm the baddest mofo in the universe and girls worship me, and if you get in my way, I will blow you away." From honor killing to pride killing. All these punks singing about how they are gonna pull the trigger to shoot any ni**a who don't respect his manhood, how they are gonna slap around and even some 'biatch' who fools around with other men. And the women are referred to as 'bitchass hos'.

priss rules said...

Honor killing is cruel and ugly, but a society that raises young girls to emulate this(see video) is no less depraved and deranged.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hPMmzKs62w

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

This Rosenberg is an intellectual idiot, infected with postmodernism.

Anyone can make a judgment, and everyone does. Non-judgment as the pinnacle of the enlightened mind is nonsense. It requires no discernment. You don't have to work at it. You just hold yourself out there as "cool and detached. Wow. What crushing demands. You respond to everything with "non-judgment" -- as if this were even possible. What do we get from this "cool"? The net result is indifference to... pretty much everything, including suffering. Joy, too. You walk through the world in a disengaged, disinterested way. Nothing matters. There's nothing to get excited about, so how can he suggest that people will get "emotional" around their "different moral norms"? Yes, of course. That's not new. That's self-evident. That's not doing research. That's regurgitating fashionable indifference.

That's how postmodern has metastasized into an aggressive form of the most ludicrous stupidity. It is assertively indifferent, as if that were even possible.

How would Rosenberg feel about the Indian practice of sati, where the widow throws herself on her husband's funeral pyre? Is that consistent with his belief system about their belief system? It's really funny... Rosenberg has a belief system of absolute tolerance and acceptance about another person's belief system, but claims this position from the point of relativism. He's above a belief system, because all belief systems are morally relative. Then why have one? Why should we care? That is a self-referential non-starter. How on earth can this Duke "professor" even grade student papers? What would be his basis. Is he incapable of bias?

Relativism in all forms falls flat on its face. We all make judgments. Our great opportunity is to be responsible for them. Moral relativists aren't willing to be responsible for anything because they don't accept the premise that there's anything to be responsible for.

Honor killings are a direct outgrowth of Islamic culture, which is based on "submission." Islam literally means "submission." Daughters are supposed to submit to Allah, their family, their father, their brothers, etc. When they don't, they might as well be dead. So they get killed. Simple enough. But is Rosenberg claiming that whoever commits an honor killing does so without emotional involvement?

All cultures deal with different problems in different ways. The Islamic way seems to be to lay waste to whatever lesser forms stand in the way of Allah. That's quite a bit different than the "benevolence" mentioned here, which is really an extension of the Christian belief in salvation, or redemption. It's a higher law than the Mosaic law. Jesus came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. In many ways, you could say it was a reformation of Judaism, although it took a separate way altogether. Islam is is distinct. If Rosenberg wants to say that this is what influences "emotions" or moral outrage, fine. But it is NOT relative. It is clearly objective, by comparison. If you want to say it's all subjective, fine. But that means there's no room for human connection and social agreement... it's like we're 8 billion subjective beings playing bumper cars as we float across the planet. He seems to want to prove that everything can be free from subjectivity, and simultaneously claims that the objective truth is that it's all relative. But that means it's subjective. That doesn't wash.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I can't believe the Western world accepts and pays for academics to come up with this drivel. It must demonstrate how benevolent we still are. What do you think would happen to Rosenberg at an Islamic university? This is actually a hint at the moral cowardice of secular relativism. Everything is fair game except that which will get you killed. Ahhh, that academic courage that simply demands for tenure! Sharing all those cutting-edge ideas requires medieval protection rackets like tenure.

David Foster said...

Several years ago, I sat in on a philosophy class at a well-known university, in which the professor *critiqued* the whole concept of cultural moral relativism.

Most of the students seemed almost disoriented; they did not see to have even *considered* that there might be a basis for ethics other than "whatever your society tells you is right."

Kaiser Derden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
priss rules said...

"Anyone can make a judgment, and everyone does. Non-judgment as the pinnacle of the enlightened mind is nonsense. It requires no discernment. You don't have to work at it... How would Rosenberg feel about the Indian practice of sati, where the widow throws herself on her husband's funeral pyre? Is that consistent with his belief system about their belief system?"

I think cultural relativism is necessary if we are to understand other cultures and our own past. But cultural relativism as a means of understanding doesn't mean endorsement or agreement on our part. We can morally condemn something while, at the same time, using cultural relativism to understand WHY other cultures feel and act as they do. From our viewpoint, the ancient Jewish laws that call for stoning people for various transgressions seem barbaric. But in the brutal world of ancient past when people believed in deities and had to struggle for survival--where nothing could be taken for granted, not even next day's meal and water supply--, the laws made perfect sense.
We may find the samurai practice of seppuku(harakiri) appalling, but it made sense to the feudal Japanese as a way of demonstrating honor in death. We find dueling a bit over-the-top but most people in the past thought it was perfectly honorable. Alexander Hamilton, one of the intellectual giants of his day, died in a duel.
Andrew Jackson, one of the greatest of American presidents, was a duelist-extraordinaire.

Also, cultural relativism can help us understand what is going on today. Politically Correct people are NOT culturally or morally relativist when it comes to stuff like 'gay marriage'. They are absolutists and cannot believe why it didn't exist since the beginning of time since they are so convinced that it is a good and wonderful thing. To such people, bakers who don't want to cater a 'gay wedding' are evil, evil, and evil and must be destroyed. They are not relativistic about that. They are like Medieval Christian burners of witches.

So, before we think we are so right about everything, we should ponder other mentalities that are so sure that they are so totally right about everything. It may well be that WE on the secular/modern right are better on most things, but there are plenty of people who are so sure that they are right and that we are wrong.

Cultural relativism may be misleading ultimately as a moral guide--as we believe certain things are superior to other things--, but it is at least useful as a tool in helping us understand the psychology of moral righteousness. We may not agree with cultures that practice honor killing, but we can at least try to understand the passions behind them that lead to such violence.

In some parts of the world, family matters a great deal and that means family reputation is of paramount importance. So, when someone disgraces himself or herself, it's not just an individual matter but a family matter. Also, as family is part of a clan, the disgrace of family member is an insult to the clan as a whole.
And usually this is often related to sex, but then sex is a powerful passion and is a determinant of the survival of the family and clan. We see sex as a matter of individual pleasure. Other cultures, in fact most cultures through history, saw sex as a means of continuing the family line and survival of the clan, as a crucial moral matter.
So, sexual disgrace isn't just bad behavior but an assault on the good name of the tribe, clan, or culture. Why else did the Old Testament call for adulterers to be stoned to death?

Anonymous said...

Islam is radically distinct from WCiv. Even the Spartans, brutal as they were, never thought to cut women's sexual organs off. The Spartans are also deemed by some to have invented the way away from family/clan/tribe to Nation.

It matters not a whit that soi disant sophisticates dreamily excuse or ignore the barbarities, irrationality, and blatant dangerous fantasies inherent in Islam and Arab culture. Well, to epate' le bourgeois is still au courant, after all.

I'll say it clear. We are better. Altho we seem to be getting worse. E.g., demographics. Bernard Lewis said Europe will be Islamic by virtue of numbers alone in 2100.

I'm puzzled tho, why so many West "intellectuals" are so solicitous and respectful of Islam ("The Holy Koran"; "The Holy City of Kum"'; "The Holy Month of Ramadan") - and furiously hostile to Judaism and Christianity and WCiv.

Well, they liked the Soviet Union too. They needed a Backup System, I guess. -- Rich Lara

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

prisms rules @July 14, 2015 at 7:39 PM:

"So, before we think we are so right about everything, we should ponder other mentalities that are so sure that they are so totally right about everything."

I have. The political, social, spiritual and economic Left is a barbaric, destructive force. That is its ethos, that is its purpose, that is its endgame... whether implicit, explicit or unconscious. They are destroyers.

They critique everything in their quest to destroy it, coming from a position of hatred and indifference, clothed in passive aggressive means or the disguise of "compassion."

Look at it. They create nothing. The hard Left looks at things you value, and seeks to destroy them because you value them, not because they care about them. They hate traditional marriage because you love it. You cannot accommodate these people with "civil unions." No, they want what you want because you value it, so they think by having something you value you will value them and view them as equal.

They don't create anything. If they don't create, they don't love. In fact, the Left universally, almost to a person, wants themselves and others to have the "right" (again, seeking societal endorsement in the law: their holy refuge) to abort a life they've created, because it might not be convenient at the time, having "made love" with someone they don't love, or don't value.

They're so angry that they want to "fundamentally transform" what you love beyond recognition. They're not seeking an alternative because it's better. They're not offering anything, either, as they don't even share their vision... mostly because they don't have one, because they have no connection with -- nor appreciation for -- what you love, which is why they want to destroy it in the first place. They base their worldview on opposing what you value and advocating the opposite. The result is always something that doesn't work, and so they double-down to the point of torture, murder, and genocide to assuage their rage at not being able to build anything of value, all the way parroting feel-good slogans that are baldfaced lies... and they know it.

They are destroyers, plain and simple.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

David Foster @ July 14, 2015 at 2:43 PM:

"Several years ago, I sat in on a philosophy class at a well-known university, in which the professor *critiqued* the whole concept of cultural moral relativism."

I'd have paid good money to be there with you. Oh, the delight to watch those faces. My God, they probably actually learned something... the blindfold removed, and all could see. It's must've been beautiful.

priss rules said...

"Even the Spartans, brutal as they were, never thought to cut women's sexual organs off."

They threw babies off cliffs.

Now in America, politicians praise parents who choose sex-change procedures for their young ones that involve mutilation.

David Foster said...

One thing cultural relativists don't seem to consider: What happens when people from *different* cultures must interact?

Indeed, multiple cultural traditions can exist within a single individual. One example I brought up in the afforementioned class is German General Ludwig Beck, who was executed for his role in attempting to kill Hitler. Cultures and value systems which were a part of this individual included:

--Prussian military culture
--European Enlightenment culture (Beck was a serious intellectual)
--The Protestant religious belief system
--The (relatively-recent but all-encompassing) Nazi belief system

How, in the view of a cultural relativist, was Beck supposed to determine which of these societal belief systems should determine his actions?

Anonymous said...

Strict genetic selection was inherently essential to Spartan society. Every man was a full-time warrior, every woman a warrior's Mother. Sparta couldn't exist without it. The culture HAD to be brutal.

It was vastly outnumbered by Helot Slaves, who Hated It, and with whom Sparta maintained continuous semi-guerilla warfare. To eliminate potential Helot leaders, and to terrorize the rest. Also to deter possible enemies.

But some form of infant euthanasia has been practiced by every society. There simply wasn't enough surplus resources to care for the sick, feeble, and infirm.

It continues today. Europe & Japan don't spend $millions on sick or premature babies. Doctors sympathetically tell parents to Try Again. That's partly why their health costs are but 50% of ours.

The other big reason is they let the elderly die w/o Heroic Measures. We do the opposite. They also Ration medical care. After 50, people w/serious illnesses or injuries get palliative treatment and die. Sorry if I sound sententiously utilitarian. -- Rich Lara

priss rules said...

"Indeed, multiple cultural traditions can exist within a single individual. One example I brought up in the afforementioned class is German General Ludwig Beck, who was executed for his role in attempting to kill Hitler."

This is true of all of us.

A person may be rationalist, religious, liberal, nationalist, and etc all at once.

David Foster said...

Priss,

The question is: where did the person get those belief systems? A pure cultural relativist would have to say that is depends on the belief systems of the society of which he is a part, if it is to be morally binding. So if I'm raised as a Catholic in a Catholic country, and convert to an atheist form of rationalism, a cultural relativist would have to say that I'm a bad person.

That's internally consistent, if not too bright. But what the cultural relativist *can't* deal with in any logic fashion is the case where the same individual is simultaneously the member of multiple cultures.

David Foster said...

In the previous comment, I meant to say "convert to an atheist form of rationalism **based on my own thought process**"

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Since we're talking about outrageous belief systems here, y'all should know that Angela Merkel became persona non grata worldwide today for her disgusting, medieval form of intolerance. She said -- aloud (gasp!) -- that she favors the German equivalent of civil unions, but does not agree with homosexual "marriage." The nerve. She should take the approach our courageous executive leader took, and seize the road to redemption. After all, Obama's views "evolved" when he needed money from the homosexual lobby for his at-the-time languishing 2012 presidential run. Did he become more "open-minded?" Did he cast his ignorant views aside? Perhaps so. With the cutting-edge move this week to have transexuals in the U.S. military, Angela's got some catching-up to do. I guess Angela is trying to push her German cultural views on... German homosexuals. Madness! Who are we to judge?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

David Foster @July 15, 2015 at 8:20 AM:

"How, in the view of a cultural relativist, was Beck supposed to determine which of these societal belief systems should determine his actions?"

That's interesting in the case of Beck, of whom I was not familiar. Another interesting case is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German minister who did graduate study at Union Theological Seminary (NYC) and hated it for all of these farcical relativist abstractions we're discussing. He was killed at the end of the war for his views on Nazism, as a true Christian witness in the face of Nazi depravity. It is impossible to understand Bonhoeffer without his German Protestant Christian views of the human person and how they affected his courageous attack on Nazism. His witness was the power of Christianity against the Nazi state. He won. In losing his life, he gained it, as a powerful example to all who knew/know of him.

In fact, one could argue that the Nazi "canvas" on which they build their movement was a realization of Nietzsche's core ideas... the superman, the death of God, and how we had to replace him. The Nazis selected the state, as did the Soviet Union, China, etc. 100 million people later, people still don't get it. Leftism is a replacement strategy bent on destruction, disguised as social liberty and freedom. This is what the existentialists later had to do with Kierkegaard's ideas: strip them of their religious/spiritual meaning (which was central) so they could make it all into whatever they wanted. And did.

Relativism creates a vacuum of meaning that opportunists seize, with devastating consequences. We humans create the meaning of our lives. If we deconstruct it beyond recognition, we seek a replacement. This is clearly a problem for the Western mind. The Islamic mind, which is where this thread started with "honor killings," is fully centered on Islam, both spiritually and politically. If the problem is pride, and the Islamic solution is submission, we will see social structures to facilitate submission throughout their culture. And indeed we do. "Honor killing" is a means of protecting the social order. Submit or die.

But our academy needn't honor it by being indifferent to it... it is wicked to treat "honor killing" the same as every other social construct, and of equal value. We're talking about values as social means to assign social value. If nothing is valuable, then one cannot distinguish how a culture truly operates. Everything will blend together into nothingness. Rosenberg certainly doesn't believe that, does he?

I read a book review in the WSJ today, and I thought Mitch Daniels (the reviewer) had some great jewels in his reflection on, and interpretation of, James Pierson's ideas in his new book "Shattered Consensus," and a couple of them go great with what we're discussing on this thread:

"Still, the author incites his readers to reflect for themselves on a host of intriguing questions. How, for example, will the contemporary left resolve the original progressive contradiction, which persists today: Affecting to be tribunes of 'the people' and advocates for democracy, in practice so-called progressives demonstrate a dismissive impatience with democracy in favor of rule by the diktats of our benevolent betters, namely them."

Another great capture was Daniels' description of the current academy, which he sees up close and personal as president of a major university (Purdue University, Indiana):

"[The] slippage of our academies of higher education into a boring conformity around that posture of disdain."

Never words truer said. That "posture of disdain" is part of what I sense we're talking about here... that "coolness" that relativism hath wrought, where a good postmodern academic stands above everything and for nothing.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

priss rules @July 15, 2015 at 7:09 AM:

"Now in America, politicians praise parents who choose sex-change procedures for their young ones that involve mutilation."

Oh, it's much better than that...

ObamaCare covers gender reassignment.

In Oregon, a 16-year-old seeking to medically transgender themselves can do so at state expense, with no parental consent necessary.

The Obama Defense Department said this week it is moving to allow transgendered persons to serve openly in the military. Ostensibly, our military will pay for surgical gender reassignment for our soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors.

What a great country! So once we move past all this transgender stuff, what's next?

priss rules said...

"The question is: where did the person get those belief systems? A pure cultural relativist would have to say that is depends on the belief systems of the society of which he is a part, if it is to be morally binding. So if I'm raised as a Catholic in a Catholic country, and convert to an atheist form of rationalism, a cultural relativist would have to say that I'm a bad person.
That's internally consistent, if not too bright. But what the cultural relativist *can't* deal with in any logic fashion is the case where the same individual is simultaneously the member of multiple cultures."

There is no pure cultural relativist, like there's no pure anything. Politically, cultural relativism is often tied to the Left that says the The West should not judge other cultures that have different traditions, customs, and cosmology. The Left also makes this assumption since the West often invoked higher values and civilizing mission to conquer, enslave, and exploit other peoples. So, the issue is tied with history and hypocrisy of West's relation to the non-West. And this criticism is legit TO A POINT. After all, US that now bitches about lack of sufficient 'gay rights' in Russia is so chummy with Saudi Arabia that sometimes kills homosexuals. During the Cold War, US ragged on USSR for its lack of human rights while also praising the Afghani rebels as 'freedom fighters' when some of these rebels were burning down schools and killing girls attending class.
So, the politics of this issue is muddled.

But from an anthropological viewpoint, I think cultural relativism can at least make us understand WHY other cultures and peoples believe as they do. It can also make us understand our own past. Lots of things that were normal and moral in the past are now deemed horrible and evil. It's not wrong to pass judgment on the past, but we also need to understand why people back then(with different cultural values) thought and behaved differently. Besides, we know it's not always the case that things get better. For me, this 'gay marriage' crap is immoral and evil, and I speak as an atheist. Also, current popular culture is foul and disgusting --- how is US a moral society when it produces garbage like rap and Lena Dunham? --- and Political Correctness has destroyed intellectual honesty in the West. It is now much worse than during McCarthyism, which lasted just a few yrs.

As for modern people who straddle multiple values and cultures, I think a cultural relativist can make a distinction between those who are immersed-in-cultures and those who are above-cultures. We modern people tend to be 'above culture'. Traditionally, people were 'trapped' within their enclosed cosmologies, and there was little in the way of individual choice.

But modernity allowed people to break out of the shell of their own cultures and become cosmopolitan. Modernism waged war on tradition, but post-modernism is accepting of both changes wrought by modernism and relics of past traditions. So, modern people are able, based on individual choice, to be traditional and modern at the same time. One can believe in God and still believe in evolution.
Modern people operate differently from people who are immersed in their traditions and don't have a firm grasp of the idea of individual choice.
Cultural relativism, when used as a tool of empathy than judgement, helps us to understand why different cultures are so sure that they are right, at least for themselves.

priss rules said...

It is worth asking, "is hog-killing wrong?"

We don't think so, but then, we think the killing and eating of DOGS(and cats) are wrong.

We say we should spare dogs because they are intelligent, but scientists say hogs are just as smart, if not smarter, than dogs.
So, if animal intelligence should be a factor in which animal is killed for food, shouldn't pigs be spared?

Some will say dogs are cuter and pigs taste good.

But that is an aesthetic and culinary decision, not a moral one. Besides, some people find pigs cute, and some people say dogs taste delicious.

I personally thing hog-killing should be ended around the world.

But for some reason, Americans who get all upset over dogs, cats, and dolphins, are completely uncaring about pigs.

So, the issue of morality always plays tricks on us.

Anyway, spare the pigs. They are our brothers and sisters.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Rich Lara @July 15, 2015 at 2:38 AM:

"I'm puzzled tho, why so many West "intellectuals" are so solicitous and respectful of Islam ("The Holy Koran"; "The Holy City of Kum"'; "The Holy Month of Ramadan") - and furiously hostile to Judaism and Christianity and WCiv."

Don't be puzzled. Mainstream Western intellectualism is hopelessly Left-wing. They are destroyers.

They destroy, and ally themselves with people who want to destroy us. Why should we be allowed to have nuclear weapons when the Iranians are not? It doesn't matter if they're misogynists, hate homosexuals, punish cruelly and unusually, abolish free speech, eradicate religious dissent, etc. No way. In fact, it's great!

To Sam L.'s point, the feminists and multi-cultis don't direct their fire and verve toward Islamic regimes like Iran. It doesn't matter. They're Lefties.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Besides, Shiite Islam is a spiritual tradition other than Judaism or Christianity, so it must be awesome. After all, those Christians and Jews are mean. They're the enemy. Heck, Rich... you're the enemy. Fun, huh?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

priss rules @July 15, 2015 at 2:01 PM:

"It is worth asking, 'is hog-killing wrong?'"

You just did.

"Some will say dogs are cuter and pigs taste good."

Some will say that. Dogs are wonderful pets. Pigs are delicious.

"I personally thing hog-killing should be ended around the world."

Don't despair... call the White House or the Democratic National Committee. They like fringe people who hate... well, anything. An aversion to pork will suffice to have your issue heard. If you give enough money, you can get an Executive Order to ban pork, and bypass the legislature altogether. You just have to stay ahead of the pork industry, which will certainly lobby against you. Or you can go to the Supreme Court and find 5 Justices who will agree with you that the 14th Amendment applies to pigs, too. Why not? It seems to apply to everything else! They don't think words mean anything anymore, so you could probably convince them that "We the People" should read "We the People and the Farm Animals" in these modern times, while claiming that Orwell's "Animal Farm" wasn't as much a work of satire as it was a prediction of the future that should come into being right now. After all, Old Major was the inspiration for the Revolution, and he was a pig, as were many other central characters. The Orwell reference should work very well, as there are enough Supremes who believe that "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." That should get some nods. Then your precious pigs will then be protected by the power of the Federal government, enshrined as yet another victory for the hopeless and downtrodden, a great multitude now liberated within our lands. Three cheers for a "living" Constitution!

"Anyway, spare the pigs. They are our brothers and sisters."

Are not. They're pigs. Swine. Sus Linnaeus. The other white meat.

I am personally for the eradication of Monchhichi toys and line dancing in all forms, but I know it will never happen. So I will have to content myself with being an extremely tolerant person.

But pork is going on the grill... tonight!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
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Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

priss rules @July 15, 2015 at 1:56 PM:

"That's internally consistent, if not too bright."

"There is no pure cultural relativist, like there's no pure anything."

"So, the politics of this issue is muddled."

"Modernism waged war on tradition, but post-modernism is accepting of both changes wrought by modernism and relics of past traditions. So, modern people are able, based on individual choice, to be traditional and modern at the same time."

"Cultural relativism, when used as a tool of empathy than judgement, helps us to understand why different cultures are so sure that they are right, at least for themselves."

Hey priss, are you sure you're not Ares Olympus' doppelgänger? I've not seen this side of you... so seemingly sophisticated, contrary, elusive. I suspect you may even be a strawman! From what I know, the Lena Dunham reference shakes out, and you have your 'gay marriage' reference in quotes, but I've not seen this side of you. No bother. It's just curiousity. Sorry about the comments on the pigs... sounds like you have real affection for them.