We seem to live in a world of relativism. A world in which what is good, true, or beautiful is all subjective. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. It’s all based upon your perception. It all revolves around the individual and what the individual is comfortable with. Sometimes, relativism goes so far as to deny the existence of moral absolutes.
Plato argued against this relativism, particularly against the Sophists, instead arguing for the objectivity of virtues. The virtues of goodness, truth, and beauty do not exist in a vacuum. They are above the line of human relativism, in the realms of objective reality. The human experience is relative, but there is an inescapable pull upon us to seek out the higher standards, to seek out the absolutes, and to discover a foundation outside the chaos and seeming meaningless of existence. There is a pull to discover a deep, satisfying meaning of life.
For Plato, the “Good” was the ultimate reality. This “form of the good” is the source and basis for other forms, and therefore by it we may understand everything. It is ““what gives truth to the things known.”
Pulling this idea of the objective form of the good into twenty-first century, what is the ultimate reality of “good?” Relativists would argue, there isn’t one. Others, especially theists, argue that there must be something that is the source of everything good, true, and beautiful. I’m not here to debate on what is the source. I’ll just tell you what my source is for this experiment.
The Source is God. In whatever form you know him(her), s/he is the Source, the standard, of goodness, truth, and beauty. Everything we know about what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful, comes from the epitome of truth, goodness, and beauty itself.
These are higher virtues. Searching out the things of this world that are good, true, and beautiful is work. It is not easy.
We live in a world that is stained by hatred, blood, war, violence, and bigotry.
But we also live in a world that begs us to look up in wonder at the stars.
To gaze into the face of our enemy and see our brother.
To marvel at the vast diversity of life on our small planet in this remote corner of the universe.
To share in creation, in laughter, in love, in making love, in meeting needs.
To take pleasure in the simple, in the complex.
To stand in awe of the things we have come to understand, and to continue to wonder at the things we’ve yet to understand.
Striving towards the good, true, and beautiful is to strive towards God. To strive towards the transcendant.