Searching for Our Human Face: Wasteland

Eclectic Orthodoxy

by Brian C. Moore, Ph.D.


Everyone knows (so why investigate?) that the medieval world was dismissive of the earth. Silly jibes about angels dancing on the heads of pins are used to discredit an entire civilization. And then it is further asserted that it was only with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and the rise of modern science that a renewed appreciation for the world finally banished ignorance, superstitious credulity, perverse asceticism, hypocritical resentment—well, it is the usual screed. This is complicated territory, for there are significant differences between the ancient cosmos, the Christian understanding of creation, and the emergence of modern nature. The latter draws some momentum from the radical transcendence of the Creator from creation, whilst forgetting the equally significant dependence of the world upon the continuing care of divine solicitude. The weak tea of deism is already anticipated in the disastrous fourteenth century. Nominalism is the second…

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4 Responses to Searching for Our Human Face: Wasteland

  1. Robert Fortuin says:

    One wonders – what is the path of return? What will it take for the dominance of materialism to give way?


  2. Iain Lovejoy says:

    Am I getting this wrong, or are nominalism and materialism getting conflated in the above? Denying a separate philosophical realism to “redness” or “square-ness” is not the same as materialism, in the same way, I would say, that not believing in a whole host of separate, limited gods of bits of creation as the pagans did didn’t merit the charge once raised against Christians of atheism.
    I would say that God, and God alone and undivided in all his manifestations, is the underlying reality behind all the multitude of separate material things, and the distinctions between “square” and “round” or “red” and “orange” are man-made distinctions. I am fairly sure this makes me a nominalist, but notwithstanding I’m absolutely certain this doesn’t make me a materialist (whether or not I am right in my belief).
    Perhaps the rise of materialism in tandem with nominalism is explained in part by a failure to adapt the language and conceptual framework of an immanent omnipresent spiritual reality to the new ways of conceiving and thinking about the material world that nominalism introduced?


  3. brian says:

    It’s just a general portrait of modernity, Iain, painted broadly. Nominalism and voluntarism were significant factors in the advent of what became the dominant world picture presumed in educated and not so educated circles. Materialism is a broader metaphysical posture, of course. In all cases, the understanding of the Good is radically deficient.


  4. brian says:

    Robert, grace in ways we can’t imagine, better artists, a repudiation of consumerism in favor of more communal, contemplative living; and the convergence of renewed interest in metaphysics, the soul, and certain aspects of quantum physics may help.

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