Yesterday was the first day of a new year's classes at my university and it was remarkably interesting in one specific respect: the tenor established by my professor of Political Philosophy at the initiation of the class toward the presumptions of his students in regards to judgment and universal truth. In his first day's discussion he indicted modernist man for his presumptions and appealed to an extended order of truth. I will attempt to in brief summarize and expand upon his arguments now.
The professor asked the class something akin to, ‘what questions can we ask of this text (referring to Plato’s Republic) and why would the old Greek matter? What for example did the text tell us about government of both ourselves and our world, Plato intends to establish truth, and as you will see he does establish a truth. You will realize in the class that every thought of significance you’ve had, has already been entertained by others, your not original. So what do you think if you think of truth?’
The first hand of the class to go up belonged to a young woman who unapologetically stated, ‘who gives you the right to judge?’
The professors rebuttal kicked into high gear, ‘ah, now you're a modernist, and you're thinking like one. This is the problem with modernism: It’s relative and everything is, by asking who gets to judge you are refuting the notion that any objective standards may exist independent of ourselves, and if you discard objective standards the only relations which then occur to human beings are relations of power.’
Essentially she subconsciously marginalizes the possibility of truth and instead asks who has a right to power. This immediately couches her argument in a modern thinking and further alienates any conservatives who believe that such truth is at least marginally knowable. It also refers us back to the origins of such thought, or at least the main advocates of such. As we can see this questioning is directly related to Marx and Foucault’s revisionism where so much is determined by relations of power.
Though I am aware my own skill and understanding is limited what the exchange between the professor and undergraduate seem to indicate to me is the sheer disdain and distrust of authority implicit in the modern philosophical assumption and the obvious death of accepted social order. If there is no truth and all power may be disavowed then an essentially revolutionary doctrine exists in the public consciousness and this to me is greatly disturbing: or perhaps I am being a dramatist.