THE FREEDOM OF MAN by T. Paul Verghese


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Authority -- parental, civic, military and ecclesiastical -- is fast disintegrating. But that, in Dr. Verghese's view, is not all bad. His thesis is that human growth presupposes a dialectic of conflict between freedom and authority, and that the present crisis of authority is but the agony of a new world aborning. His argumentation, however, is largely theological rather than sociological, and draws heavily upon the often astonishingly contemporary thought of Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa, although applying it, sometimes implicitly, to the analysis of the contemporary liberation movements. (In fact, in some respects -- e.g. when discussing certain aspects of the sexual revolution the author seems more infected by Augustine's heterodox Manicheanism than by his orthodox Christianity.) Man, according to Verghese, can be defined only in terms of a quest for freedom; but freedom should not be construed to mean an unstructured life. All structures, nonetheless, must be regarded as experimentally discardable. Freedom, in other words, must be sought through experiment and experience; and the process of experimentation should logically take place within an experimental, ecumenical Christian community, the basis of which Verghese describes briefly. An alternatively irritating and stimulating work, marred by a ponderous style and subjectively limited by its frequently authoritarian tone.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1971
Publisher: Westminster