A brief note: Problem of Normativity

The problem of normativity lies in defining the source of normative value. What is good for one may not necessarily be good for another and what is bad for one may not be bad for another, the likelihood of it being good for another is more. The source of normative value is varied and differs from society to society, culture to culture and most importantly from era to era, as communities evolve with time, what ought to be and what is not, gives you a much boxed approach to life. It is not broad enough to encompass the totality of existence, and subjugates the purpose of living. And most of all normative values give religions ground to become its source and provides them authenticity towards making a conformed and controlled society.

For example, drinking is considered a bad act that leads you towards social evils in an Islamic society but is a source of rejoice in other cultures and wine in controlled volume is good for health. If you are a Muslim and live in a secular dominated society or otherwise which doesn’t hold such views, then evil according to your source of normative value is being committed around you and you are to accept that as good while holding it as bad within yourself. By law of nature it renders it void for you to even have a debate about what you should not be able to have. Whether drinking should be considered a social wrong or right, cannot be defined by a set of belief of a specific community or a school of thought, it needs to be considered objectively taking the individual out of the equation. So the problem lies in defining the source of normative value, the source of right and wrong cannot come from a book or likewise written down thousands of years ago by a divine question mark, it has to come through each individual, and then again rights and wrongs would be different from certain sets of individual to another.

“Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not.” – Protagoras, as quoted in Theaetetus by Plato section 152a. Protagoras might have given us the earlier thoughts as to measuring all individual things with relative determinism of a man, rather than the entire mankind through one measure. But it was Nietzsche in my view that propagated the best response through relativism in the sense, that it was the building block for things to come in the world of the inherently new. There is no absolute truth, rightly said, when you understand and accept that, you inherently deny the basis of all religions. There is no absolute truth and there is no absolute false, I know nothing and through that view I explore the world. Truth is only relative. When you have that thinking you are bound to explore and discover more than shutting your mind to the realities of the world. There is no good and evil that implies to the entire mankind, it implies to each individual, individually. And there is no absolute good or evil, it is through reason and logic and with evidence of thought that you can determine the merit of each in individual circumstances.

It is also very interesting to note over here that, while we make goods and evils for ourselves in this world, the earth will still remain even if none of us do, these are the scientific facts. And it is these scientific facts that make our minds grow more and more, and away from determining true rights and wrongs. But even though we completely dismantle the concept of normativity, of there being any absolute norms, we still have created new norms in this world. Religion might not stand the test of time, and seeing how flawed it is, we construct morality through rationality, we still end up making new norms. It again goes to the point of defining the source of such values. But whatever they might be they cannot be rigid, it needs to differ from case to case in order to make any sense of individual right and wrong. We are yet to find a way to determine situations as such. “In the end things must be as they are and have always been–the great things remain for the great, the abysses for the profound, the delicacies and thrills for the refined, and, to sum up shortly, everything rare for the rare.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.