Friday, March 02, 2007

The Prevailing Narrative

Modern moral philosophy has in general been blind to the complementary character of narrative and theory both in moral enquiry and in the moral life itself...Is there any way in which one of these rivals might prevail over the others? One possible answer was supplied by Dante: that narrative prevails over its rival which is able to include its rivals within it, not only to retell their stories as episodes within its story, but to tell the story of the telling of their stories as such episodes...-Alasdair MacIntyre, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia, Genealogy and Tradition, pg. 80, 81.


This stuck with me long after I read it and then he returned to explain this at greater length later on. I think this explains with some progressive incision how the body of Christ is at least intellectually to proceed--- hmm, at least the church in the range that I have a working or recuperable to working awareness of.
I have heard references to biblical scholarship which argues that the Genesis account contains within it marks of awareness of other rival accounts and also a picture of victory over these accounts...Surely we must be careful but not shrunk to thoughtless timidity in dealing with such questions but there is something provocative in that and I wonder if there is not the same kind of struggle going on now. Really, I do more than wonder. I am quite aware of rival cosmological worldviews, rival all encompassing philosophies and belief systems. There is a struggle beyond questions of literal readings of the Genesis account and whether evolution accounts for the development of all biological life that goes back and forward to who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Atheistic philosophical materialist philosophers such as Daniel Dennett seem to me often at times to simply be working out that narrative, in a kind of priestly role. They are explaining and synthesizing according to their accepted doctrine including what they take science to be. Richard Dawkins is also doing the same kind of thing, creating a philsophical and science based narrative...I say science based because I believe his science his generally good from what I can tell but the tale he weaves, "the anscestor's tale" I think is something all together different, is following cosmological doctrines with a lineage traceable to some extent back to the ancient philsophers and/or poets, Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. These later especially have an interesting history and influence in modern times but I don't mean to get into that. My only point in mentioning them is to say that they provided principles outlines for a worldview that persists and reoccurs today---that given inifinite time and the clashing of atoms every possible combination would occur including us and that the cosmos is all there was, all there is and all there ever will be, and that religion is the source of disturbance in the world and we should work toward a mental psychologlical state called ataraxia where we are untroubled and soothed by the cold meaninglessness of life and the annihilation that death brings (Epicurus provided psychological kinds of practical meditations to help his adherents embrace their imminent annihilation). There is a rival worldview. But it is not merely a story but the true story, one that God writes, and we can feel the pen on our hearts in Christ Jesus, so that the rival stories must be overcome, the true story must be illuminated. "Good philosophy must exist if for no other reason to answer bad philosophy."

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