NEW LHP BOOK: REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE

Here’s an excerpt from Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy:

Homo Sapiens, they call us, the thinking people; if it is so, it is because first we are homo quaerens, the ones who must question everything.  We started early, noticing and wondering about the apparent discrepancy between the earth, where everything seemed subject to the ravages of time, and the heavens, which seemed perfect and unchanging except in predictable cycles (Lewis, Discarded Image).  We have been unable for long to resist the impulse to find a unity behind the diverse appearances that surround us. Accepting such surface polarities as Time vs. Eternity, Change vs. Permanence, as ultimate, has until the advent of Post-Modernity seemed like a defeat that made us less than human.  But the search for a unity based on human experience alone has often led to various dead ends.  One of the first was reached by the Pre-Socratics, who, in a day before the building of many bridges, apparently had to ford a lot of streams.

Men once thought that it would be nice

To step in the same river twice.

But then Heraklitus,

As if just to spite us,

Said, “No!  Once will have to suffice.”

“The water is flowing away;

The new that arrives does not stay.

Therefore, my conclusion:

All else is illusion.

There is Change; that is all we can say.”

Parmenides answered, “Not so!

The stream doth eternally flow.

What is permanent’s real;

So, whatever you feel,

There’s no motion and no place to go.”

He went on, “Heraclitus, you dunce!

Why attempt such ridiculous stunts?

With no motion or change,

You can’t even arrange

To step in the first river once!”

Is the world all in flux, or immutable?

The answers both looked irrefutable.

But while they were debating,

Some children went wading

Once–twice–and it seemed somewhat suitable.

The best human thinking had reached an impasse that seemed irresolvable based on the thinking the best human thinkers were able to do.  How do we find an explanation that can relate the changing and the unchanging, the flux and the permanent structure without which there could be nothing to flow and nowhere to flow to?  Unless something remains unchanging, how could we ever measure–or even be aware of–change? How do we find an explanation that does not have to deny the reality of an inescapable aspect of our experience of the world as the price of the unity of thought?

Good question!  To find out the answer, order REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE: ESSAYS IN EVANGELICAL PHILOSOPHY  from Lantern Hollow Press, at  https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/

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About gandalf30598

Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.

Posted on March 19, 2012, in Donald Williams, Philosophy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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