However, things get complicated, or at least ambiguous, because we can never know the Absolute, even though we can't do without it. Rather, it exists for us like an implicit placeholder for wholeness and totality. It is like the cognitive sun around which we orbit, except it is a sun we can't literally see. Still, it's always there.
I am reminded of a book conveniently called The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals. One anthropologist has identified 311 human universals, which are defined as "observable cultural features, practices, behaviors, or beliefs that appear in all human societies in history."
But we're actually talking about something deeper -- something that serves as the prior condition or deep structure of these surface universals, analogous to the "universal grammar" said to underlie all human languages.
Off the top of my head, I would say that these surface universals are to the Absolute as existence is to Being. A thing only exists because it partakes of a Being that is prior to it. Being is necessary, while contingent existents not only partake of Being, but only exist to the extent that they do.
I am at a crossroads. This subject is so full of implications that it could go in a dozen different directions. Let's briefly touch on our civil war. Why are we amidst one? Well, it really comes down to a war between absolutists and relativists. Except with a twist, since the relativists give a pass to their own relativism, and elevate it to a pseudo-absolute.
To repeat an aphorism from yesterday, The progressive believes that everything soon turns obsolete except his ideas. For The relativist rarely relativizes himself.
Really, there can no such thing as an honest relativist, because if there is no truth there can be neither honesty nor dishonesty. So, never ask why this or that leftist politician is "dishonest," for in their universe this is irrelevant. For them, a statement can be expedient, or convenient, or "empowering," but its truth is literally beside (or outside) the point.
So, To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth. Literally.
Okay, here is one from When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. Anderson notes that this movement "promotes a radical subjectivity in which individuals should be free to do whatever they wish and to define the truth as they choose" -- BUT -- at the same time call for "enforced conformity of belief in transgender dogma."
Not only is the totalitarian nature of the left clothed in relativism, but relativism is always a prelude to totalitarianism, because with no appeal to truth, power rushes in to fill the vacuum. It's really a heaven-and-hell situation, because hell is any place where truth is not only irrelevant and impotent, but caricatured as a kind of monstrous authoritarianism.
In this inverted cosmos, someone like a Justice Scalia is the authoritarian monster, instead of the bullying anti-intellectual mob of Ginsberg-Kagan-Breyer-Sotomayer.
People say "metaphysics is dead." What they should say is that it is deadly. Anderson correctly notes that
We live in a postmodern age that promotes an alternative metaphysics. At the heart of the transgender moment are radical ideas about the human person -- in particular, that people are what they claim to be, regardless of contrary evidence. A transgender boy is a boy, mot merely a girl who identifies as a boy.
Thus, their rhetoric "drips with ontological assertions: people are the gender they prefer to be." Think for a moment about the implications of a metaphysic in which "I wish" is utterly conflated with "It is." This is a radical subjectivism, but again, opponents -- people who live in the objective world -- are not accorded the same privilege of elevating our wishes to reality.
Now, in reality, I Want must always be parasitic on It Is. For example, perhaps I want a pet unicorn. Well, unicorns Are Not, so my I Want is utterly beside the point. It is just an impotent wish.
I'm also thinking of how the Absolute-Relative complementarity bears on the Appearance-Reality axis. For these same activists transform the reality -- one's biological sex -- into a mere appearance, and the appearance -- what I imagine I am -- into the reality.
It also reminds me of the first principle of economics, which is scarcity, meaning that there is always going to be a tension between I Want and It Is, or desire and desirable. In other words, there is never enough of the latter to satisfy the former.
Think of Venezuela, where they literally can't print enough paper money to satisfy the most simple want. Inflation is verging on "a million percent," but that's just an abstraction rooted in the insane belief that government can satisfy infinite desire. In order to do so, it must itself become absolute, AKA totalitarian.
Socialism can drive away It Is -- including human nature -- with a pitchfork, but it always returns.