John Dunn

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The Falsity of Western Thought

Monday, 14 Jan 2013

Empiricism, the false view of the world and man’s place in it, has brought about the loss of transcendence and community.

Thisfalse view has dominated Western thought since the sixteenth century and, in part can be traced back even further, to Plato’s radical dualismbetween body and soul, the sensory and the intelligible, the mind and amind-independent external world.

A decisive threshold was crossed with Galileo. In Galileo's conception of the world, mathematics constituted the veritable 'being in itself' of nature. As a result, the relation between the sensory and the rational became a mystery, for the mathematical model of the world is in fact an impoverished one produced by eliminating both the sensory qualities of the known object and the initiative of the knowing subject.

Thecommon thread running through my Marxism and Christian belief has been the belief in transcendence, in the sense of surpassing or rising above the present human situation.

Before transcendence is possible, man must cease to think of himself as a beingwith a ‘tabula rasa’ of a mind, pushed into a prefixed and prefabricated world where most of our responsibilities are unacknowledged and are progressively diminished. Otherwise our freedom will remain restricted. We will forever imagine ourselves the products of genes and the environment, functions of complexes and familial trauma, inextricably dependent on external contingencies. We will remainvulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.

John Dunn.

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