I wish I had as much creative thought as the persons I have read in preparation for this work.

            I have come to believe that the basic project of modernism is worthy of philosophical articulation. The philosopher Hegel was the first to do so, and I remain indebted to his articulation of liberal democracy. My hope is that those who read this work will find confirmation of what they already value in the modernist project: science, pluralism, tolerance, belief in the worth and dignity of all persons, democratic institutions, and the limitation of the power of the federal government by the liberty of individuals. This document is primarily an exercise in practical reason, which means that my conclusions are open to future verification or falsification. I defend the knowledge we gain through science and the resulting improvements in ordinary life and uses of technology. My argument for the moral superiority of liberal democracy over other forms of social organization will not sit well with many. My thorough intellectual destruction of Marx will not win friends among many academics. However, I hope that if you are patient, you will find a carefully reasoned argument that you can at least respect, even if you come to disagree. The human effort to provide an adequate home for itself has found, I think, a real (meaning imperfect) fulfillment in liberal democracy. I also offer a modest reflection on the philosophical hints and clues that we find in human life for the possibility of God and religious community.

            I assume the importance of the philosophical spirit. Philosophy has sensed a need to justify its existence in a way that other disciplines have not sensed they had to do. Its own existence is a problem internal to itself. It shares this quality with psychology and theology. In this degree, it is at the heart of the human enterprise. After to be a person is to recognize that one’s existence becomes a “problem” in that people wonder, why they are and to what end they live. Some areas of human endeavor are neither critical nor immediately productive. Yet, they are important matters upon which human beings ponder at some point in their lives. Some people devote their lives to the pursuit of matters not obviously practice, but still are important. Other people, like myself, are engaged in living and enjoy reading the reflections of philosophers. They engage me in reflection about a human life and a human world.

            I have found it a privilege to sit at the feet of the masters. Even where I disagree, I do so with respect. If you will judge candidly, then your judgment shall not harm or offend me, whatever be your disagreement.  Though I am persuaded of the truth of what I share here, I consider myself as liable to mistakes I can think of you.  The value of this book must stand or fall with you as a reader, not with my opinion of it.  If you find little that is new or instructive, please consider that I do not present this as a work for experts.  I have written this work for my own satisfaction; I now hope that it will bring some enjoyment to you.

            As we reflect upon the great thinkers together, we must admit that we often require coherence from our adversaries, and grant exceptions to us.  We do not refute systems of philosophy; we abandon them.  After all, logical errors are trivial.  Ultimately, every system suffers from inadequacy and incoherence.  The failure to interpret significant portions of experience is the downfall of every system.  When a system is popular, we forgive the failures.  Once a system achieves some authority, it receives sharper criticism; our scientific approach of doubt enters the picture.  We eventually find the incoherence intolerable, and a reaction sets in.  Humanity never quite knows what it is after.  We try one idea after another, define its limitations, and discover its core truth.  The proper test is not finality, but progress.  Usually in disputes between people of noticeable merit there is right on both sides, although in different points. The primary function of theory is as a lure for feeling, providing enjoyment and purpose.  As we analyze theory rationally, aesthetic delight overtakes us.  This feeling, when it intensifies around propositions, becomes a belief.  Such feeling does not disqualify the belief as true; nor does it guarantee truth.  The primary function of such feeling is not belief or disbelief, or even suspension of judgment.  Such feeling has the function of concentrating our attention, thereby involving an increase of importance to that which we believe.  We then possess an affirmative intuitive judgment. 

            Rumi has an interesting way of putting the matter:


Little by little, wean yourself.

This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,

Move to an infant drinking milk,

To a child on solid food,

To a searcher after wisdom,

To a hunter of more invisible game.


            The searcher after truth is much like a hunter; the pursuit makes for a great part of the pleasure.  Every step we take in our progress toward knowledge and truth, even some genuine discovery we make that is not only new but also for the best, at least for a time. As I have read some of the great hunters after truth, I have made notes and categorized them in files in my computer.  I have refined my thoughts over the years to the point that you find them today.  This research and writing has suffered from long periods of neglect, in the interests of children and work. 

            I have said too much in some places and too little in others.  If you find too little in some areas, I would be happy knowing that I might have encouraged your curiosity to search for more.  If I seem to say too much in another area, please consider that, upon focusing upon one topic, I saw connections with another, and this led to still another.  New discoveries led me to the work that you now have in your hands.

            The increasing segmentation of modern society leads us to associate with people most like us. We associate with people who think like us. If we read philosophy at all, we read what seems agreeable to us, especially if it seems easy and obvious. Philosophy that challenges our thinking and way of life does not seem immediately practical. After all, it does not confirm the form of life we lead. We want a philosophy that moulds our hearts and affections, makes modest reforms in our conduct, and thus enters common life. Philosophy that confirms our form of life and belief seems more practical than philosophy that challenges us to reflect upon our pattern of life. Engaging our way of thinking does not enter into the business of common life and action immediately. If we read someone who does challenge our way of thinking, we quickly forget when we put the book back on the shelf. Challenging ways of thinking requires discipline and accountability to others that we rarely want to engage. In fact, our immersion in the practical tasks of the day and the agitation of emotional life often turn the profoundest among us into a common laborer.

            Philosophy makes us unfit to dwell in the common. After all, so few people share the interest. It puts us at odds with what we ordinarily say and do. It puts us in a position from which we are unable to recover our sense of the ordinary. We become able to view the ordinary only through the lens of a philosophical theory. For this reason, one who learns to think philosophically can feel quite lonely. True philosophy consists in re-learning to look at the world. The philosopher is the perpetual beginner, taking nothing for granted that people have learned or believe that they know. They can join movements and become persons of action.  Yet, the philosopher always engages such activity with freedom. The philosopher may be “for” a movement or party, while always remaining outside it.  In fact, philosophers who fully engage a movement or ideology one can justly suspect of giving up on thinking. Thinking is the most important task of the philosopher.  The philosopher wants to wake up, become conscious, and speak.  The philosopher has a special appreciation for ambiguity.  The uneasiness between the philosopher, other people, groups with which the philosopher identifies at some level, and life is essential to philosophy. 

            In many ways, the philosopher is a character that people do not readily accept.  Many suppose that a thinker contributes nothing to either the advantage or pleasure of society, while he or she lives remote from communication with humanity, and wraps themselves up in principles and notions equally remote from their comprehension. For some, philosophy is a matter of too much of a good thing, namely, education. Taking delight in philosophical matters suggests a narrow way of life, too busy thinking and too little living. In a nation where science and technology have such heightened value, philosophical reflection can be especially annoying. One is supposed to lead the balanced life of books, company, and business. In such an atmosphere, writing that moves people toward further reflection upon life than which they are comfortable is not a welcome pursuit. We prefer an easy style of thought and writing that allows us to enter everyday life immediately with noble sentiments and wise precepts, applicable to every demand of human life. We want an easy virtue, an agreeable science, instructive company, and entertaining retirement.

            Philosophy does not make things easier. It makes things more difficult. One can do nothing with philosophy. Yet, may not philosophy do something with us, provided we engage it? We misuse philosophy if we demand too much of it. We misuse philosophy if we distort what it can achieve. After all, human knowledge is not a matter of possession, but of understanding that we must learn again. Our desire to know is insatiable and we will never satisfy it. We do not have the faculties to quench that desire. One way to look at it is this. God has no desire to know, for God already knows. The animal knows nothing, in that the animal has reached its biological potential. We suffer from the insufficiency of our knowledge. We need to know, and at times can become desperate to know. Our ignorance can hurt us profoundly. We feel the ache within for something that we have never had. Bits of knowledge do not have the character of bringing our quest for knowledge to an end, but of stimulating further questions. Coming to a place in life where we humbly recognize we continually learn is far harder than arrogantly assuming that we possess knowledge.

            The method of doubt that Socrates established is central to the philosophical enterprise.  Most of us accept the traditions that parents or culture teach us.  We allow the order and traditions of the past to stifle creativity in dealing with new problems that we face, either as individuals, communities, nations, and the global community.  Most of us find comfort in what is sure and certain, at least as we hold it in our minds.  To become open to freedom and spontaneity is a risk.  As soon as we begin to doubt and question matters that other persons accept easily, we become uncomfortable, and we run the risk of making others uncomfortable.  As Socrates discovered, the philosophical task could even lead to becoming a social outcast and death. 

            What fascinates me is the philosophical search. Socrates regularly professed ignorance, asking questions about matters that, given appearance, should have been obvious.  He engaged in dialogue with people who had the conceit of knowledge.  He understood that human tendency to accept order and tradition stifled creativity and freedom.  He took this stance with a sense of irony, for he surely had a direction in his questions, desiring the education of the listener. To be a lover of wisdom is to begin the core human quest.  If the reader can ignore the sexism for a moment, Nietzsche commented on the classical image of truth as a woman.  All philosophers have been very inexpert about women.  Their seriousness and clumsiness reflect the awkward approach that most men have in winning the heart of a woman.

            Philosophy invites us on a journey in which we ask questions that we do not normally ask. We typically engage the immediate, the critical, and the trivial. We rarely grant ourselves the gift of reflection. I engage in the task by reading philosophical texts, and thereby take up the understanding of the journey that others have had make it my own. Philosophy is not a thing apart, like a work of art. After all, the artist does not have to live his or her work of art. The philosopher ought to be willing to live his or her philosophy. However, even in a work of art the artist learns the skill from others that the artist puts into practice. What is original in the artist is the conception as a whole, and the intelligent use of the means already at the command of the artist. The philosopher engages in a similar task.

            We have become an age in which philosophy, reason, and science need to have defenders.  Religious persons attack them, primarily because the use of reason and science threaten some foundational beliefs.  Therefore, they propose non-scientific answers to scientific questions.  Yet, others attack rational thought and reason because it cannot render easily attained certainty.  Therefore, they give up, assuming all ideas are the same, every opinion is equal, and that their instincts or feelings are adequate guides to such questions.  Serious scholars suggest that the rational enterprise contains no progress, but is rather nothing but a collection of opinions that are socially conditioned. For those who suggest that rationality is nothing more than a tool of the powerful, I can only say that I do not think they have proven their point. In any case, I trust that this work will clarify the commitment of one person to rational discourse concerning the issues facing the human family. I ask of you one favor, though I realize that in our busy times you will not likely be able to grant it.  Please do not judge the labor of many years in a couple hours.  Please do not judge particular phrases until you have considered the entire book.  If you want to know my personal desires, simply read the book, for it expresses my considered intention in the best possible way.  I have no ulterior motive.  I have before my mind the human enterprise, in all its diversity. We now live in a situation when the world seems alien rather than home-like.  Philosophy still has a work to do.  It may gain a role for itself for turning to consideration of why it is that humanity alienates itself from itself.  Present-day philosophy cannot desire a better work than to engage in the act of midwifery that Socrates assigned to it 2500 years ago.

            In fact, some philosophical traditions reduce philosophy to a theory of knowledge. Its quest is for reliable foundations for human knowledge. Although it rightly fights skepticism, its approach ends to ignore the contingency of human life. Philosophy intends to be on the way.  Its questions are more essential than its answers, and every answer becomes a new question.  Clearly, some social settings are at odds with the philosophical spirit. An authoritarian church and political totalitarianism are in violent opposition to philosophy.  Common sense is a milder form of opposition, clamoring as it does for the simply yardstick of whether philosophy has immediate utility. Philosophy will never measure up to that standard. Philosophy can only justify itself based on the forces within us that drive us toward philosophical thought.  As long as humanity exists, it will need to fulfill this striving.  Marxism, fascism, or any use of religion to enforce its tenets upon culture are forces hostile to philosophical thought, but cannot help but serve its ends.  They show how indispensable philosophy is for us.  Philosophy is always with us. Philosophy cannot fight.  It cannot prove its truth.  However, it can communicate itself.  It offers no resistance where people reject it.  It does not triumph where it gains a hearing.  It is a living expression of the bond between all people. 

            Genuine freedom is intellectual.  It rests in the trained power of thought, in ability to turn things over to look at matters deliberately, to judge whether the amount and kind of evidence requisite for decision is at hand, and if not, to tell whether and how to seek such evidence.  If thoughtful conclusions do not guide our actions, then inconsiderate impulse, unbalanced appetite, caprice, or the circumstances of the moment will guide them.  To cultivate unhindered, unreflective external activity is to foster enslavement, for it leaves the person at the mercy of appetite, sense, and circumstance. 

            Our passions, such as fear, anger, grief, and love are not blind surges of emotion that push and pull us without regard to reasoning and belief. Rather, feelings are intelligent and discriminating elements of our personalities that have a close connection to beliefs. Our feelings are beliefs and respond to arguments. Yet, our feelings are not transparent to ourselves. Beliefs we do not know we have frequently motivate us.  Reasoning is precisely the way to approach them. Surface exchanges of logic and dialectical argument will not address the thoughts that determine drive our emotional reaction.

            We have rich attachments to the good things of the world. Our best human life is a life rich in attachments to people and things outside ourselves: friendship, family, political ties, and ties to possessions and property. Consequently, even the best of human life has emotions such as love, grief, fear, and anger. This is contrary to Socrates, Stoics, and Epicurean thought, where the goal of philosophy is the elimination of passion from human life so that one can be self-sufficient through recognizing the worthlessness of external attachments. Philosophy can encourage us to reflect about the material and social conditions of our lives and design institutions that will allow people to be such that they can further perfected. We pursue the genuine happiness of others, as well as ourselves, for we recognize the intimate connection between them. We cannot separate pursuing our happiness isolated from seeking the good for other human beings.

            Philosophy is one way to deal with the most painful problems of human life. One who writes philosophically can hope to be a compassionate physician whose arts could heal many pervasive types of human suffering. Philosophers do not observe the world; they immerse themselves in the world, grappling with human misery and glory. Philosophers reflect upon daily and urgent matters, such as our fear of death, love and sexuality, anger and aggression, and so on. Philosophy heals human diseases produced by false beliefs, paving the way for the rewarding, fulfilling, and meaningful life. The ancients spoke of eudemonia, often rendered happiness, but actually refers to the sense of completeness of human life resulting from our activity. I am not convinced that such reflections require searching the heavens for answers, as Plato would have us to do. Nor can we study the social order as if it were an object of nature, and arrive at scientific answers. Although scientific study provides the modest role of suggesting tendencies, constraints, and limits that we must bear in mind, we do not live as untutored biological instinct might prompt us. We have the responsibility to deliberate with each other in order to form our life together.

            Medicine is a much better analogy for the task of philosophy, in that philosophy seeks partnership with those it hopes to treat. It takes seriously the pains and pleasures of us all. The aim is to help; even to the point of taking seriously what the patient thinks brings pain and pleasure. The doctor is never completely separate from the patient. At the same time, people can think they are well when they are not. At its best, the patient is active in securing his or her own health in partnership with the doctor. The patient must perceive the prescription as a path that yields health and happiness. The kind of truth into which I enquire has a close connection with what human beings deeply wish, need, and desire. In order to qualify as an enquiry into truth, I must present a reasoned argument. In the end, my argument must have some correspondence with those desires and wishes of humanity. I must be able to relate that about which I enquire to other fields of human endeavor and show some coherence with them.

            Such an approach cannot simply accept whatever is currently the socially accepted norm. My assumption is that human beings have an orientation to what is good for us. However, we must approach all common beliefs with some suspicion. My assumption is that some of our beliefs have gotten us into the type of problems with which we must deal, especially in reference to human suffering. My assumption is that society may not be in order as it is. Since the social order is the source of our beliefs and norms of behavior, I must assume that a portion of our healing will need to occur there, as we uncover beliefs that may cause us injury. This means that we must approach the report that people give concerning the source of their misery with some skepticism. Prejudice, error, and bad conduct result from incorrect reasoning. We can change the approach people have to their world by changing their beliefs about it. Our beliefs form a complex system. As such, we can begin almost anywhere, with any topic. The window to one’s belief system, and potential healing, depends upon the personal history of the reader. Knowledge of the heritage or tradition within which we find ourselves is important in this process, since it provides the basis for projection into the future of potentially healthier life. Frankly, it is difficult to know if we have probed deeply enough into ourselves, or looked critically enough at one’s society, to arrive at a sketch of a healthy home in this world.

            Kant made the point that to change one’s concepts would be to change what one experiences, to change one’s phenomenal world. Such a view recognizes the independent existence of a reality against which we continue bump up against and test the validity of our view of the world.

            We have metaphysical questions, such as:

Why is there something rather than nothing? 

What is happiness? 

What is morality? 

Why am I here? 

What ought I to do with my life? 

            It is tempting to forget such questions.  We have such varied answers in history.  However, even here, the objective is to move us on to perfection, to wholeness.  In this, we recognize that our individual experience is part of something much larger.  We do not experience life in fragments, but as a whole.  We long for a sense of completion, and many people find that completion connecting with something or someone that transcends human beings.

            Our place in the universe is not pre-established by instinct or habit, as it is by other living things.  Rather, through our observation, reasoning, and imagination, it is in us to wonder about our place in the universe, to wonder about death and eternity, to wonder about suffering.

            The problem in which philosophy engages is that of understanding the world in which we live; and thus ourselves, who are part of that world, and our knowledge of it. Both philosophy and science lose all their attraction when they give up that pursuit, when they become enterprises for specialists and cease to see, and to wonder at, the riddles of our world. A philosophy carried on as a specialty no longer has anything to do with people.

            My context is the modern social world. We live in a time when many persons are so engaged in living a modern life that we have forgotten its uniqueness in human history and its uniqueness in our contemporary world. The global crisis since September 11, 2001 calls us to reflect upon the challenges before us.

            The tradition of modernity is much richer in moral sources than its condemners allow, but this richness is rendered invisible by the impoverished philosophical language of its most zealous defenders. Modernity urgently needs to be saved from its unconditional supporters, a predicament perhaps not without precedent in the history of culture. The assumption of this philosophy is the following: 1) we are capable of higher forms of life, not just survival. 2) We cannot escape our framework; we can resist it. 3) We cannot describe a self without reference to surroundings, such as the language community.

            We inescapably confront the question of the orientation of our lives.

            I would like to mention briefly some of the intellectual sources of modernism.     Plato had a philosophy that contrasted inside and outside; eternal and changing; soul and body; material and immaterial. Augustine said that inwardness is where God is, not striving to see order. Transformation of will, for we have capacity to give as withhold assent; we are capable of two radically different moral dispositions. Descartes is the founder of individualism. He brought disengaged reason into the discussion. It is humble, separating us from narrow and egoistic tendencies. It helps us to see the whole picture. However, it also led to an instrumental concept of reason, where our reasoning constructed order. It was mechanistic rather than teleological in its view of the universe. Galileo added a representational element. God’s existence is a stage in my progress, my system. Inwardness of self-sufficiency, autonomy, prepared for unbelief in the world. Locke added freedom. He stressed self-responsibility or independence. He provided intellectual grounding for Newton. He was against innate ideas, teleology, and authority. Mechanism gave God freedom and made people masters and possessors of universe. Montaigne originated the search for each persons originality. He searched for self to come to terms with self.

            If you will pardon the expression, reality is thick with meaning.  Time reflects the thickness of reality, in that every moment in the present contains the past, as well as anticipates the future.  It has dimensions to it that we do not often perceive.  In fact, in every analysis, experience has sides that we cannot see.  We must not expect simple answers to far-reaching questions.  No matter how far we gaze, there are always heights beyond that block our vision.  We experience life as whole, not as individual parts. 

            In the analysis that follows, I do not suggest that we need to return to some ideal origin. One reason is a logical one; there is no such a thing as a return. History is one of the best defenses against this theme of the return. Nietzsche challenges the pursuit of the origin, and in this, I agree. The search for origins is an attempt to capture the exact essence of things, their purest possibilities, and their carefully protected identities. We tend to think that the origin is the moment of greatest perfection of a movement. We think of the perfection of the origin that precedes the terror of the fall. In reality, historical beginnings are lowly. Nietzsche always questioned the form of history that reintroduces a supra-historical perspective. History has far more random elements in it than many of us prefer to admit. Something in us longs for history to necessarily lead to our moment in history, and thereby glorify the present. We need far more appreciation of the contingency of all things human, and in particular the flow of time and history. Giving up on the human grasp of universal knowledge is difficult. We do not wan to let go. The drive toward universality has served human beings well. It still has a function, though philosophers need to hold it less firmly than in the past.

            If we have an intellectual crisis, it has its roots in a misguided rationalism. We must not take this to mean that rationality as such is evil or that it is of only subordinate significance for humanity’s existence as a whole. The stage of development of rationality represented by the rationalism of the Age of Enlightenment was a mistake, though certainly an understandable one. The Enlightenment thinkers fought oppressive social forces, thereby asserting the independence and freedom of the individual. The most general title for this naïveté is objectivism. The crisis could then become distinguishable as the apparent failure of rationalism. The reason for the failure of a rational culture, however, lies not in the essence of rationalism itself but solely in its adherents rendering rationality superficial. I suppose we could alienate ourselves from rational appeals to each other, although I suspect the result would be to descend into barbaric quests for power. Another approach would be a rebirth of the spirit of genuine philosophical discourse superficial objectivism and achieve a new level of commitment to the well-being of all humanity.

            We cannot find the answers in philosophy by looking up a handbook, by appealing to a set of experiments performed so painstakingly by the scientist, by referring to the masterful presentation of overwhelming evidence in some famous work. Philosophic evidence is within the way people live their lives individually and corporately. Socrates engages in philosophical discourse with civil society, thereby demonstrating that philosophy has a positive benefit to the city. His engaging rational discourse to discover truth is a challenge for us as modern readers, many of whom have lost confidence in such discourse. The dialogues of Plato remind us that the only knowledge we gain of the physical and social world is through dialogue. We can only have human knowledge, not the objective knowledge that God may have.

            Perhaps nobody will understand a philosophical book without believing it, or at least suspending disbelief. I invite you to stand aside a little while as a contemplative person. We are flexible beings, conforming in society to the thoughts and impressions of others. We also have the capacity to suspend judgment, to reflect upon our assumptions, to engage others in their assumptions, to imagine human life as they see it, and to incorporate what we find beneficial to our human life.

            Some people already have a philosophical system.  From the construction of their system, they have abstracted certain maxims, which have become a matter of principle with them.  Any beliefs not brought about through those rules they dismiss without further inquiry.  They do not even need to read about another system, for it will be false, since it does not follow the rules their system has laid out. Everyone has presuppositions that guide their reflections. As much as I appreciate the spirit of Husserl, I find that I want to return to the beginning of philosophy with him, but discover that is not possible.  We have no beginning that is without conscious and unconscious thoughts and perspectives that guide our reflections. People who read this book have greater dimensions and depths of thought than they know.

            The only way for me to deal with you, if you are such a person, is to invite you to have some mistrust or suspicion of your rules of thought, for those rules will become an obstacle to your receiving whatever truth I may have to teach.  I have had to go through this process of doubt, mistrust, and suspicion as well. A philosophical system is not a dead piece of furniture that we can reject or accept as we wish.  My suspicion is that we live our philosophies of life far more than we articulate them. My attempt is to help us reflect or contemplate our form of life.

            Since we cannot go back to the beginning, I invite you further along the journey of reflective life. We live in an age obsessed with self. I invite you to give attention to the social world we share as modern persons. In order to do so, you will need to do as a reader what I have done as a writer. You will need to set aside time for private reflection, examining your inner thoughts and beliefs. However, as you do so, I hope you will realize your intimate connection with the modern social world in which you live and, further, with hopes and dreams of humanity. Difficult as it is to stop thinking only about what immediately concerns us, I think we will find it worth the effort.

            In America, many social forces hinder us from setting aside such reflective time. We have become obsessed with minor things.  Our wealth has made us think small. We wonder what the government ought to do for us. Many Americans have invested themselves in gathering more stuff around them. We desire our moment of fame and recognition.  We search for happiness in sexual expression. Our youth rebel, like normal, but it is increasingly difficult to rebel with any sense of moral vision. We are obsessed with what group has political power, as if that determined truth and virtue.  We want to be sure that we are in that group.  We have become a petty, small-minded people. Yet, I sense a great uneasiness and anxiety among many persons. We search for happiness and meaning in all the wrong places.  We have raised the dust, and then complained that we cannot see.

            I wonder if we are ready for something that may feel new, even though it has been around for a long time.  We have gone through a phase of “no boundaries.”  Are we ready to take another look at reason and structure?  Some analysts have already suggested that we are leaving the post-modern age and moving into a neo-modern age.  If so, I have a suggestion.  Could it be that our culture is ready for another “enlightenment” period, seasoned by what we have gained over the past three hundred years?  We need to re-affirm that rational thought is progressive and cumulative, and therefore is not static or dogmatic.  It is a self-correcting system of inquiry.  It is a bottom up system, in which theory derives from painstaking attention to detail and experimentation.  Such an enlightenment model is what I offer in this essay.

            Every moment of our pursuit will reward our sacrifices with some delight.  We will have reason to think that we have not wasted our time, even if we cannot boast of capturing some exotic prey. I do not wish my thoughts to force themselves upon you, but rather that they should become a friend in the philosophical journey. The power of truth is incredibly great and enduring.  We find frequent traces of it again in all, even the most bizarre and absurd, dogmas of different times and countries, often indeed in strange company, curiously mixed up but yet recognizable.  It is then like a plant that germinates under a heap of large stones, but yet climbs up towards the light, working itself through with many deviations and windings, disfigured, bleached, stunted in growth – but yet towards the light. I invite you to read the whole work, for, as with all knowledge, context is everything.  We are better off having a truth-loving heart.  We honor God better if we honor truth, even if it leads to modification or denial of tradition. 

            My wonderment is what philosophy has to do with the world. My conviction is that philosophy can perform a social and political function, making a difference in the world by using its own distinctive methods and skills. Philosophy must work in the service of humanity, to the task of defining and clarifying the conditions that make humanity possible, that is, the participation of all people in a common truth.

            My intention in this work is to develop a practical and compassionate philosophy, one that exists for the sake of human beings, addressing our deepest needs, confronting our most urgent perplexities, and bringing us from whatever misery we experience to some greater measure of fulfillment and meaning.