CHAPTER FOUR
THE RELATIVITY OF MORALS

MANNHEIM AND DEWEY ARE TRYING NOT TO ATTACK, BUT TO defend, intelligence and purpose. This makes more striking the failure of their views to provide that defense. Human purpose is a glorious thing, building cultures, unlocking the secrets of nature--so long as its luck holds. But its luck holds only for "a while." The day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. If fear of the Lord, an awareness of human frailty, is the beginning of wisdom, then the irrationalists and skeptics must be allowed to have set foot on the path of learning. Surely they are far ahead of the naïive dogmatists who claim that we can plan our future and reduce the world to obedience to our desires.

Appetite makes Right But may this not be precisely the root of our failure to make sense of human purpose: the fact that so far we have approached the problem only from the angle of our "desires"? Purpose does not make sense as a means of gratifying our desires. But may it not be defended as a means of fulfilling the moral law?

So far our inquiry has been very much concerned with consequences. But in ethical thought there is an intimation, which is echoed by our moral feelings, that moral decision should eschew too much concern with consequences. In the course of the debates in the council of Cromwell's Army at a critical time in the Puritan Revolution, a Mr. Wildman aptly expressed this sentiment. As the argument over the question of who was to have the vote waxed hotter and more obscure, he broke in. "Unless I be very much mistaken," he said, "we

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