Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Greatest Proof for Black and White

One of the things that I love to do occasional (okay, I do it a lot) is to list blatant foolishness masquerading as wisdom and gleefully tear it to shreds from the top down. It is time again for me to vent, so in the words of Mr. Bean: "Brace yourself."
Today's candidate is this little pseudo-pearl of wisdom: "We know that there is no such thing as absolute good or evil because we know that everything is so complicated. We know that there is no black or white because everything is so gray." This statement is ludicrous for the following reasons:
  1. Gray needs black and white in order to exist (I speak in a moral sense, but even if I was referring to colors, I would still be right). In the realm of morals, you can have no concept of grayness without black and white, just like you can have no concept of "the middle" unless there really are two extremes. The very existence of the concept of a neutral ground is completely contingent upon there being non-neutral grounds. Without the concept of non-neutral grounds, neutrality losses all meaning; the same is true in regards to a middle with no extremities, or gray without black and white. They need each other in order to exist; the presence of one is directly dependent upon the presence of the other.
  2. Likewise, without a concept of absolute good and evil, then there are no "complications," for the "complications" (in order to even be complications) need absolute good and evil to exist in order to exist themselves. The very concept of moral complications is completely contingent upon the concept of absolute morals.
Should not this all be obvious, though? Ask yourself: why do these "complications" arise? What makes something morally complicated? Well, generally speaking, complications arise because we see good and evil in the same situation. For example, a man is willing to commit terrible atrocities (evil) in order to save the life of one who he loves dearly (good). That situation is most definitely complicated, but to claim that it is proof against the existence of absolute good and evil is completely idiotic. The only reason that this situation is "complicated" at all is because the "evil" that the man is doing really is something evil, and the "good" that he is doing really is something good. If good and evil disappear, then his actions are no longer "good" or "bad" actions; they are simply actions: "The man did something in order to do something else." There's nothing "complicated" about that (or interesting for that matter).
Far from being the greatest proof against good and evil, moral complications turn out to be the greatest proof for absolute good and evil. The greatest proof that black and white exist is the gray. That is what we call sweet, sweet irony.