First, it is true that contemporary American culture seems to be moving in a more nihilistic direction every passing day. This is true whether one reads academic tomes like Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age or merely watches the latest reality TV show highlights on the Internet. People are certain of less and less; Dreyfus’ and Kelly’s diagnosis of a culture with an overemphasis on freedom leading to a form of suicide strikes me as prescient. As the Dominican tradition is wont to emphasize, freedom of indifference is no substitute for the true freedom of excellence, which is the freedom which comes not from our whim but from Truth.
Secondly, I think Dreyfus and Kelly are correct in recalling us to a life filled with “shining things.” Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Today’s materialist reductionism leads to a truncated sense of life. Catholic philosopher Jean-Luc Marion talks of the “saturated phenomena” where the content of revelation overwhelms our finite capacity to receive and interpret. The world is so saturated with meaning that even the banal events of everyday life should be filled with significance. As Hamlet says: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” This saturated sense may not be possible at all times, but if it is not present in the Christian life something is certainly amiss.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Miscellaneous Musings, Thursday, November 10, 2011
Brother Bonaventure Chapman, O.P. has a really good post on the blog, Dominicana, referencing a new book (I think its new) titled Our Contempory Nihilism. It’s well worth reading, as I believe, the book is too.