Ideas Matter. What you believe affects what you do.
Welcome to “The Work.” I am not yet sure what the end result of this effort will be, but I invite you to participate along the way. The idea for this blog series was originally an effort to improve my teaching. At Palm Beach Atlantic University, our Provost, Joe Kloba, had the wild and squirrelly idea that a Christian university should not merely provide a Christian atmosphere but should provide something uniquely Christian in terms of intellectual life and ideas.
Lacking a better plan, the Provost asked that faculty use worldview thinking (**write a worldview article later and link here) as presented in James Sire’s book, The Universe Next Door, as a way to bring Christian thought to the traditional university curriculum and material. Naturally, this caused a bit of controversy. Some faculty embraced the effort, many tried the best they could to bring Sire into their course material, and some rebelled.
Over time, the de facto policy became to have one or two courses in a major introduce and discuss Worldview and then ignore it for the rest of the curriculum. In the School of Nursing, I became the go-to person to provide the Worldview lectures, but I became more and more dissatisfied with both Sire and the Worldview approach as a whole. The season of my discontent came to a head Spring 2011, when I heard nursing seniors discussing The Universe Next Door, completely bewildered by what it meant and confused as to how it could it possibly have any impact whatsoever on their lives.
I first thought about redoing The Universe Next Door, addressing its perceived inadequacies, however, the problem goes much deeper than Sire’s work. The problem is in our culture. For better or for worse, as a society, we have abandoned philosophy to professional philosophers. We have divorced thought from reason. We have isolated technology from science. Science has been rent asunder from the arts. We have no historical perspective, and when we do, more often than that we fall into the twin traps of disdain for primitives or ancestor worship. No. The work I intend to write goes far beyond revising and systematizing Sire’s worldview questions. I will settle for nothing less than understanding why the answers to these question matter, how the answers to these questions have affected the course of history, how they color the pursuit of science and politics.
In some respects, I am writing this book for my son, Logan as a guide to what he should get out of high school and college. Personally, I believe that our education system does us a great injustice, filling our children’s minds with facts and information, much of them quite vital and important but without any understanding of how the ideas interconnect, why they are important, and why they are worth remembering. It teaches them that science is copying the results of an “experiment” in a text book.
As I begin to write, I am heavily influenced by two historical scholars. The first is Murray Rothbard, who’s Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought was mind blowing. I am amazed at how much epistemological perspectives have influenced schools of thought. The other scholar is historian Ralph Raico, who’s podcast lecture series History: The Struggle for Liberty shared one of Rothbard’s insights, that one of the great tragedies of the English (language) dominated world is that more English and American scholars do not speak French. Otherwise, they might have known that the French economists Cantillon and Turgot were far more cogent and developed than Adam Smith (Rothbard’s insight) and they might have known that the French Liberal class warfare analysis predated Marx’s Hegelian analysis of class struggle. I, however, do not speak French, but I will try to step out of my anglocentrism for a few moments.
I have also been tremendously influenced by Richard Feynman, the Nobel laureate physicist. He truly understood science in a way that I believe most scientists today do not. Despite his protests that he did not like the humanities, I think that he understood the humane tradition and its relationship to the sciences better than most liberal arts professors. What he did not like was the formal study of humanities…and who can blame him?
Richard M. Gamble, a former colleague helped open my eyes to the need to study history, art, and politics together through reading Dante’s Divine Comedy. It has taken me years of post school study to begin to glimpse how the broad web of history is integrated with philosophy, history, economics, science, art, and religion. Hopefully, this work will help others to get to the glimpse faster and with less effort than I have expended.
In this work, I will attempt to answer the philosophic “worldview” questions mentioned above and show that how they have been answered throughout history has had enormous impact on history, science, religion, and on our culture today. It is an enormous task to do all that and wind up with a readable book. I may not be up to the task. We shall see.