Through a glass darkly

When one asserts that there is a transcendent moral order, and that the idea of quote "personal, subjective" morality is nonsense -- that would not be morality at all, but just whims! -- that claim is often mistaken for a claim that one sees that transcendent moral order perfectly.

But each and every one of us, down here in the cesspit of the universe, sees only through a glass darkly.

The difference is like this: the subjectivist astronomer argues that believing in the Andromeda galaxy is just a "personal choice." The astronomical realist says "No, it is really out there, 2.5 million light years away."

That does not mean the realist thinks he knows every star and planet in that galaxy!


  1. What we have are personal subjective perspectives of that morality, possibly less darkly.

  2. I assume you don't believe that anything personal and subjective is a whim. For instance, personally, I love my mother. That's not a whim, is it? So, what is it about the hypothetical personal-and-subjective-equivalent-of-morality that makes it a whim?

    1. I'm not sure I follow you. Something is a whim if it is subjective/personal and subject to dispute? That doesn't sound right. Care to expand on that?

      As far as I can tell, "whim" is simply being used here as invective: it links "subjective" to "unserious", which is a bad thing in a serious context, such as morality or mother love.

      The thread you linked to, in which Callahan also believes aesthetics is objective, is interesting because it leads me to wonder if I actually know what "objective" and "subjective" mean in context.

    2. Well, for one, I would deny your love for your mother is subjective: does not she feel you love her? Wouldn't friends who know you well be likely to comment, "Greg certainly loves his mother?" Could even a stranger observe it in your actions?


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