Eclecticism and Relativism

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Here is an essay dealing with religious pluralism and relativism. Personally, I don't see any problems with it and I support eclectic spirituality.

Submitted: May 25, 2013

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Submitted: May 25, 2013




Modern Civilization itself often complicates the approach to God not for any essential reason but because it is so heavily engrossed in earthly affairs.

-Gaudium et Spes


I have observed that a number of religious writers have noted the rise of eclecticism and relativism with contempt and dismiss it as the primary enemy of faith and morals. Gaudium et Spes, one of the pronouncements of the Catholic Church in dealing with the Modern World, has stressed this rather brutally as the complication of the approach to God. Faith and reason are both essential in understanding God wherein faith is a virtue and must be held higher than reason. We are dealing with dichotomies. Dichotomies express the limitation of one and the strength of the other, the truth of one and the falsity of the other. In such strong dichotomy as faith and reason, faith as rooted in the gospel is belief with justification but being justified in belief, while reason is simply logic at play with its usual state of affairs, justifying this and that, knowing this and that. Theologians and philosophers alike see reason as being guided by faith. Reason not guided by faith becomes crooked and false. Thoughts like this are held by people whose obedience to Thomistic philosophy is tantamount to their obedience to God. Yet, there are many paths towards God. “The way, the truth and the life” to God is many and not one. But people who subscribe to pluralism are labelled as dissenters, deviants, condemned as relativists.

But should relativism be such a punitive term? As I was trained in a Catholic institution, relativism is held as illogical, easy to refute. One could not rest with a statement such as A and not A, it has to be either A or not A, true or false. Relativism is held as an illogical philosophy and even not a philosophy at all. Epistemology aside, relativism is held as the problem, the cancer that wreaks modern society at large. It carried with it: belief in pluralism, eclecticism, euphoric (feel good) spirituality, and hedonism. It is considered as the problem of nature, against all established truths. However, relativism expresses our primal human desire.  “I love everything, everyone, whatever it is,” says Madame de Saint-Ange in Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Boudoir. Libertine desires unlock a vast horizon in the fields of human desire that to turn a blind eye to it or dismiss it as insanity is a mistake. In the immortal works of de Sade, one leafs through the pages and sees what anyone might consider as a moral holocaust or insurmountable madness. One could not condemn the seemingly infernal pages of de Sade’s works. Inside is a vast study of human desire, opening the way to all levels of consciousness and dismisses morality as metaphysical.

“‘There are plenty of people,’ the Duc used to observe, ‘who never misbehave save when passion spurs them to ill; later the fire gone out of there, their now calm spirit peacefully returns to the path of virtue and thus passing their life giving from strife to error and from error to remorse, they end their days in such a way there is no telling just what roles they have enacted on Earth. Such persons,’ he would continue ‘must surely be miserable: forever drifting continually undecided their entire life spent detesting in the morning what they did in the evening before. Certain to repent the pleasures they taste, they take their delight in quacking in such sort they become virtuous in crime and criminal in virtue.’” The Duc’s observation opens up the oscillating tendencies of repressed desire. We are desire as much as we are bodies. In desire, we become human and in desire we unlock the creative powers of consciousness. Desire opens everything, accepting and dismissing everything ad infinitum. Relativism becomes the force of thought which makes our opinions just opinions and facts never matter. In a society that is laden with facts and considers knowledge of facts as knowledge, relativism is an enemy, a common enemy of science and religion. But, relativism opens us to eclecticism, where the individual’s own situation, his own context becomes the source of his own development. He decides whether to reject this one idea for another. He unlocks the creative forces of his own consciousness, by rejecting and accepting, fashioning his own idea from the remnants of all the ideas around him. The force strikes down upon a society that creates selves rather than a self. This power is created by the weakness of a few and the repression of their own desire. Power is then transformed from a creative force of development to a destructive force, serving the psychosis of a few by establishing a neurotic mass. We repeat the words of Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: “Desiring machines are binary machines.” The machines of the psychotic few establish the norms of the dichotomy: beautiful or ugly, good or bad, normal or abnormal and true or false. Power becomes corrupted through these machines and creates the ladder upon which we all should climb through conformism, the destruction of our own selves. In conformism, we become machines of logic; we think in syllogisms and take pride in the operations of logic. The machines of logic deal with dichotomies and become the secret police, enforcing the rule of the dichotomy to create rules and structures to create the neurotic mass, the victims whose desire has become so structured that their desires have become structured.

The images in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the shifts, the dystopia of such a distant future where people are machines of the industry, controlled by the few. The woman transformed as a robot becomes the servant of the psychotic few. She serves them at the table of pleasure beneath the fountains of champagne and the pomp and glitz, dancing under the sway of sensual music as she moves her body. The conformists have become stratified and static, their movements have become structured and their minds have become structured along with their bodies. They have become slaves with the illusion of freedom. Such dystopic image is not far from us for we are transforming into one ourselves. We see obedience as the creative, a moving force of society. Obedience is unity following one person or one ideal which unfolds in history.

We are made to face that reality is about change that everything even ourselves are subject to. Yet, in change, reality is fed to us. People who have decided for themselves that they will choose their own spirituality, their own genders and draw their own lives are people of excellence for they have the courage to divert their energies into creating and inspiring the transformation of other through creation and not obedience. Psychosis which is prevalent among those who have seen power transforming their reality has a counterbalance which is neurosis which plays on the basic human emotion of sadness. At such time, he gives up and joins in the band wagon hoping to join the other at the top branch waiting for the chance to make neurotics out others.

We return to the statements of Gaudium et Spes. Have really complicated the God-talk? Are we really more preoccupied with worldly affairs? The path to God is a creative path not a path of obedience and a path of destruction. It is not a single path but many and the person travels with his own collected tools.

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