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E-book Review - Clues To The Unknown


Joseph M. Felser, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy.
Kingsborough Community College/ City University of New York.

A bad case of bronchitis has sidelined me for a couple of days, so I had a chance to read "Reflections." I think it is a marvelous expression of an inquiring soul-brutally honest and thoroughly heartfelt. I am glad that you completed it, and honored that I had a small part in birthing it by prodding you with my little introduction.

I was not totally surprised but not any the less distressed when I read the final chapter. Have you had any treatment for your condition? Has it stabilized? Often when such things show up in later life, they become manageable chronic conditions. My uncle lived with cancer for many years after he had been given up for dead by doctors who "removed what they could" on the operating table and closed him back up again. He lived to enjoy many years of fishing and playing golf and cards. And he did not die of the cancer.

As for some of the important questions you raise, I have no easy answers. It may very well be that the experiment called "human civilization" is in the process of coming to an end. Frankly, I don't see how things can just go on indefinitely as they are. Neither science nor the existing religions can provide a sound basis for a truly human society any longer, if they ever could. Bankruptcy looms. As to whether this ending, when and if it comes, would be a "good" or a "bad" thing, I cannot judge. Both, I suppose, from various standpoints. Perhaps what would replace it would bear a stronger resemblance to the naturalistic tribal cultures that were everywhere eradicated and displaced in order to make room for "us".

As to the metaphysical question of whether human personality survives death, I often muse that this is a meaningless tautology. I don't think that we have the slightest clue, really, of what personality or consciousness truly is-they're mysteries. And so is death. Does mystery survive mystery? Of course it does. Well, if I were to be a bit less flip, I would venture that something continues, but the idea that it would be an unchanging element does not accord with the fact that we are changing all the time, in relation to certain relatively constant patterns of the psyche. I suspect that neither the western idea of the single, simple perdurable soul, nor the eastern idea of the drop vanishing into the ocean, is a correct picture. It's far too complex for that. Beyond that, however, I really cannot say.
Space is indeed the final frontier for the country of manifest destiny, but it need not be a shallow and vainglorious one, if we can learn to see this path as the outer manifestation of the infinity within. Only time will tell whether this is still possible for us.

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