“The problem, however, is not only in language but in reality: What will unify and give meaning to everything there is? Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-), the French existential philosopher, emphasized this problem in our own generation. His concept was that a finite point is absurd if it has no infinite reference point. This concept is most easily understood in the area of morals. If there is no absolute moral standard, then one cannot say in a final sense that anything is right or wrong. By absolute we mean that which always applies, that which provides a final or ultimate standard. There must be an absolute if there are to be morals, and there must be an absolute if there are to be real values. If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions.

But it is not only that we need absolutes in morals and values; we need absolutes if our existence is to have meaning – my existence, your existence, Man’s existence. Even more profoundly, we must have absolutes if we are to have a solid epistemology (a theory of knowing-how we know, or how we know we know). How can we be sure that what we think we know of the world outside ourselves really corresponds to what is there? And in all these layers, each more profound than the other, unless there is an absolute these things are lost to us: morals, values, the meaning of existence (including the meaning of man), and a basis for knowing.” – Excerpt from How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Frances Schaeffer


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