In and out of the chaos:
Finding oneself in philosophy
'Original to this book is its meta-philosophy, its manner of circling around arguments given by differing philosophers on fundamental issues in philosophy and the manner of rational analysis of these issues for purposes of making comparative judgments.'
- Prof Stephen Oliver Beasley-Murray
Chaos seems to be the stuff of the universe, our world and the world of our lives, both inwardly and outwardly. Yet we also know there is order in the universe and the world, though may be less so in the world of our lives. The human condition, the life that `knows that it knows', every so often, is faced with its routines falling apart. Our lives most seem out of control when confronted with suffering and death. The question of meaning becomes critically important. Conversely, our lives may suddenly turn for the better, new worlds of possibility open up, new loves and ventures never previously dreamed of become ours for the taking. Our self-understanding needs to be thought through. In the hum-drum as in the hurly burly of our everyday life, we may want to manage the forces of our roller coaster existence with more style. In the back of our minds we are aware of an impending apocalyptic crisis as our civilization collides with the realities of the environment. Suffering we know will be matched only by the human suffering already present in vast growing city slums around the world and the suffering experienced by those caught up in wars being fought for resources such as oil. We realize we need help in taking hold of our situation, both in its rational and emotional aspects. It is at these times (or in the anticipation that we need to be prepared for such times) that the debates of philosophers need to be more accessible and their implications for life made clearer. It is with this in mind that the book, In and Out of the Chaos, Finding Oneself in Philosophy has been written. What makes the book different from other introductory texts is the degree to which the reader is engaged in contextual, relevant, integrative, comparative and creative thinking.
Philosophy is presented as a question in the context of films, one for each chapter of the book. The ideas of philosophy come alive in the context of fictional worlds that then serve as a spring board to interpreting the reality of the world we live in. Though the focus is upon rational integration of ideas, the role of intuitions, feelings and judgments are integrated in every aspect of the study. The participant in this journey of ideas is challenged to be consistent but also to recognize that in a study of comparative philosophy, one is moving in and out of very different worlds of thought and reference points. A unique feature of the book is the central role that creative thinking plays, the capacity to think out of the box, or as more commonly is the case, to think in and out of boxes, for this study involves fifteen fundamentally different ways of thinking; contrasting and contradictory universes of thought.
Original to this book is its meta-philosophy, its manner of circling around arguments given by differing philosophers on fundamental issues in philosophy and the manner of rational analysis of these issues for purposes of making comparative judgments. It is presented in the form of a fictional heuristic device entitled the khipu of philosophy. The device assists one in 'getting a handle' on the chaos, the chaos of the outward universe and the inner chaos of ideas that makes up the subject of philosophy. The aim is to break out of the endless cycling of ideas and choose a best answer, one that fits the truth as the reader perceives and experiences it. The goal is for the participant in this study to construct or defend a particular position giving reasons. The example given in this book is a defence of a Marxist point of view, but the point of the exercise is for the reader or student to construct their own answer.