Thursday, January 29, 2015
One Metaphysic to Rule Them All
So here is how I would assess things. If we were to go with a philosopher, the obvious choice would be Heidegger. Except Heidegger is forever going to be tainted by his connection to Fascism, so he is out. This leaves some later philosophers, and although much can be said for Foucault, or Derrida, or even alternative thinkers like Girard or Husserl or Arendt, in the end, I think we would have to name the century Deleuzian.
However, philosophy does not provide a complete metaphysic, so we drift out from there, and consider some theologians. Although much is made of the Barth-Balthasar pairing, and this would be very legitimate, given how each of them wrote a body of work that really attempted to be complete, I would give the century in theology to Dietrich Bonhoeffer if we are speaking of Protestants, and Rahner or de Lubac if we are speaking of Catholics. And Schmemann or Bulgakov if we are speaking of the Orthodox.
Yet this does not yet cut it. This is simply theology. More complete metaphysics are on offer from some of the greatest creative authors of the 20th century. If we move in this direction, the obvious choices include J.R.R. Tolkien, and his progeny, such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Lloyd Alexander. Although C.S. Lewis made an attempt, he was more of an apologist than a creator of worlds, so Tolkien is a more appropriate choice. Le Guin is my favorite in some ways even above Tolkien, if you consider her entire oeuvre. And into this category of 20th century thinkers I would also place such novelists as Dorothy Sayers and G.K. Chesterton.
If I were to take the next generation still in the 20th century, I would go for Discworld (Pratchett), who creates an entire universe that points in an interesting way towards the 21st century. And of course there is Rowlings, whose universe is much more robust than she is often given credit.