Moral Relativity and the Aztec Culture Centuries ago, a man was marched up the steps to the top of a massive Aztec temple. Four priests siezed him, and slammed him on his back over a stone altar. He was slit open from one side of his chest to the other by an obsidian knife wielded by a fifth priest. His still beating heart was then wrenched out and burned as an offering. His body was rolled down the pyramid steps, which were built deliberately steep to accommodate this function. The body was then prepared and eaten by the Aztec people. In the Aztec society, this was the norm, this was what kept society in order.
Since the beginning of time, men have attempted to discern what is right from what is wrong through the creation of different philosophies and metaphysical systems. But what may be given as truth in one philosophy is often a fallacy in another.
Such is the case when we compare the views of Plato and Sartre in regard to the Aztec culture. Viewing the Aztecs from the perspective of Sartre, we see a society that is in accordance with his moral structure of the world, but in Plato's opinion the Aztecs were a culture in moral disarray.
Sartre has a relatively simple definition of what moral action is. According to Sartre, existence precedes essence. Therefore, man, by virtue of his existence, comes to determine his essence through his action. But because of this, man has an important responsibility in every action he takes. For in every action, man is not only determining his essence, but the essence of all mankind.
For this reason, Sartre's conception of morality asserts that before taking any action, a person must judge whether this action will lead to the...