By Huston Smith
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Extra info for Beyond the Postmodern Mind: The Place of Meaning in a Global Civilization
We can summarize the chief assumptions underlying the Christian outlook by saying they held that reality is focused in a personal God, that the mechanics of the physical world exceed our comprehension, and that the way to our salvation lies not in conquering nature but in following the commandments which God has revealed to us. It was the second of these three assumptions—that the dynamics of nature exceed man’s comprehension—which the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries began to question, thereby heralding the transition from the Christian to the modern outlook.
That it is articulated goes without saying. Here arises the first criticism of the project. Granted that life needs orientation and that in Homo sapiens the mind figures in effecting it, isn’t it better that the mind effect it concretely, through stories instead of abstractions? ) The answer is: yes, up to a point. The vividness, immediacy, and drama of stories, all made possible by their concreteness, give them the edge in every respect save one. When one foundational story collides with another that differs from it—which is to say: when one tribe or civilization encounters another, or when within a given civilization a story arises to challenge its original, founding one, producing thereby a crisis in the body politic—stories provide no court of appeal.
Are the charges that have been leveled against metaphysics in the last two centuries important half-truths, or are they, in aggregate, the full truth? Do they add up to caveats or to a death warrant? Has the time come for philosophy to close its books on the metaphysical enterprise? I intend to argue that it has not. I. What Metaphysics Is and Does Much depends on definitions, so let me say what I see as at issue. By metaphysics I mean a worldview that provides a sense of orientation. The word world denotes inclusiveness: the view in question purports to embrace everything, including regions of being that are presumed to exist without their nature being known.
Beyond the Postmodern Mind: The Place of Meaning in a Global Civilization by Huston Smith