Oakshaman's Reviews > Beyond the Post-Modern Mind: The Place of Meaning in a Global Civilization

Beyond the Post-Modern Mind by Huston Smith
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's review
Jun 18, 2009

it was amazing
Read in April, 2009

There Will be Some Who Will Understand

While I would not necessarily recommend this book as a first introduction to the Perennial Philosophy, I would recommend it as the best single volume critique of the Modern Western Mindset. Indeed, I wish that this book would have been available in my younger years when I intuitively knew that there was something inherently wrong with the modern worldview yet I was not scholar enough to pin it down. Fortunately, Huston Smith is such a scholar.

While the chapters on the Perennial Philosophy and the relevance of the great religions are concise and to the point, it is the way that he deconstructs the deconstructionists that is unique and powerful. The way he proceeds to point out the flaws in the basic assumptions of the major modern schools of philosophy is refreshing to say the least. There is really no convincing foundation to the materialist (or naturalist) mindset. The scientism and dualist mindset that has grown to dominate the West since the 17th century has no real justifiable basis. The major thinkers in modern philosophy recognize this and have declared their own discipline as dead- except in the most technical and relatively insignificant technical areas. When they conspired to kill metaphysics they killed the source of all possible meaning in the world.

Still, it is not all an attack on modernity. When the author mentioned his discovery of Schuon's works I knew exactly the excitement that he was talking about. They served to validate conclusions that had been brewing in my mind for some time. In the same way, this book has served as a powerful validation.

One thing that jumped out at me was his discussion of the alienation and atomization that characterizes modern life. It is a direct result of the dualist mindset that has gained dominance over the past several centuries. So much of our lives are compartimentalized into separate closed boxes that no one sees us as total human beings- and as such they cannot reflect back this complete understanding to us. Combine this with bankrupt modern philosophies that deny even the possibility of meaning in the world- or our ability to even know reality- and you have the dehumanizing mess that that passes for modernity.

The author repeats the argument of Mara the Tempter when he tried to persuade the Buddha not to teach. The Buddha was told that it was hopeless since no one would be able to fathom his teachings. His response was, " There will be some who will understand."
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