I’m going along slowly through David Bentley Hart’s book The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss. It takes me longer to eat my soup at lunchtime, because I so often put down my spoon and pick up a pencil to underline one passage after another, sometimes just because the most obvious ideas are expressed in eloquent prose that makes me happy.
On the other hand, I also have to stop and consult the dictionary about quite a few words I don’t know, some that seem completely new to me and others I just haven’t read for several years and whose meanings have become foggy. Sapient, proleptic, etiolated, deracinated, lacunae, phylogenic, otiose. Really, I should make myself a Vocabulary List to keep handy for study and review, and maybe I wouldn’t forget so soon. This list should include scores of words I have circled on the pages of almost every book I read, words that I don’t often take the time to investigate right then — or sometimes ever.
In the second chapter, from which the following paragraphs are taken, Hart is discussing “Pictures of the World,” and he cautions the reader that “the philosophical tendencies and presuppositions of any age are, to a very great degree, determined by the prevailing cultural mood or by the ideological premises generally approved of by the educated classes.”
“…inasmuch as the educated class is usually, at any given phase in history, also the most thoroughly indoctrinated, and therefore the most intellectually pliable and quiescent, professional philosophers are as likely as their colleagues in the sciences and humanities (and far more likely that the average person) to accept a reigning consensus uncritically, even credulously, and to adjust their thinking about everything accordingly.”
“…I think it is fair to say that a majority of academic philosophers these days tend toward either a strict or a qualified materialist view of reality (though many might not use those terms), and there may be something of a popular impression out there that such a position rests upon a particularly sound rational foundation. But, in fact, materialism is among the most problematic of philosophical standpoints, the most impoverished in its explanatory range, and among the most willful and (for want of a better word) magical in its logic, even if it has been in fashion for a couple of centuries or more.”
–David Bentley Hart in The Experience of God, Chapter 2