THE METAPHYSICS OF MODERN EXISTENCE by

THE METAPHYSICS OF MODERN EXISTENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Whew. A recklessly ambitious, amateurish synthesis of science, philosophy, theology, politics, etc. that comes crashing down of its own weight. Deloria, who contrasted Western religion with (American) Indian beliefs in God is Red, now takes on all of Western culture, and contrasts its old sterile rationalism with the richness and wisdom of newer (or newly rediscovered) ""tribal"" modes of thought. He downgrades, among other things, Christian individualism, Newtonian physics, Darwinian biology, and the overemphases on history (as opposed to nature) and time (as opposed to space). He exalts the intuitive, emotional thinking of primitive peoples, ""catastrophic"" interpretations of evolution, the ""space-time structural unity"" of contemporary physics, and the literal truths contained in myth. Through all this Deloria makes two fundamental mistakes: he limits his analysis of the tribal mind to scattered generalizations, and he frequently garbles his facts. He accuses Aristotle of Platonic dualism. He claims that causality ""has been abandoned as a useful tool for interpreting experiences and experiments."" He follows such questionable guides as Robert Ardrey and Immanuel Velikovsky. He's well-read and intelligent, but the job was just too much--for anyone, not just for Deloria. The irony is that beneath the clutter of quotations, summaries, and unsubstantiated speculations lies a perfectly valid insight: the West is turning more and more to the ""primitives"" for a way out of the massive crises it faces. But to say this, and to prove that all the currents of modern intellectual life are converging in a grand, systematic neo-tribal mentality, are two very different things.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row