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TRANSCENDENTALISM OR EMPIRICISM? A DISCUSSION OF A PROBLEM RAISED IN E. O. WILSON'S BOOK CONSILIENCE

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Abstract:

Abstract.

E. O. Wilson writes that the “choice between transcendentalism and empiricism” is this century's “version of the struggle for men's soul” (1998, 240). The transcendentalist argues for theism—that there is a God, a creator of the world. The empiricist instead makes the point that the notion of God, including morality and ethics, are adaptive structures of human evolution. Before entering the debate of the transcendentalist/empiricist controversy I analyze how things exist and suggest that all that is exists as united diversity, as identity in difference. I argue that oneness by itself is intangible because wholes are concrete only through their tangible parts. I briefly discuss this understanding of existence in the realm of art to show that transcendence and immanence are not mutually exclusive but constitute each other. I conclude that existence, the hypostasis of unity in diversity, might be seen as a gift from absolute existence. In this view, the world might reveal itself as a gift that reflects the trinitarian existence of the Giver.

Keywords: Christianity; complexity; cosmogenesis; creation; emergentism; empiricism; evolution; natural law; origin of religion; racism; transcendentalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00703.x

Affiliations: Professor Emeritus at Texas Christian University. His address is 3006 Tanglewood Park W., Fort Worth, TX 76109;, Email: rambrun@yahoo.com.

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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