Review of Metaphysics 21 (4):757-758 (1968)

Abstract
Wicker's concern is to build a philosophical and justificational foundation for a "Christian radicalism" which can serve to synthesize the two modern secular themes of self-determination and communalism. He explores particular secular theories of perception, language, and society and rejects them as irrelevant to modern realities. He then constructs in their place three sacred theories, where "sacred" is to be understood not as a sheltered corner of our experience but rather as the basis of the more general intersubjectivity which defines man-in-society. He draws on Merleau-Ponty for a theory of perception, Wittgenstein for a theory of language, and Marx for a theory of society. All three theories find man in a closer participating relation with his world environment than do their rejected alternatives. These three theories suggest three modes of being-in-the-world: the bodily, the linguistic, and the economic, all of which are expressive—the latter in the sense that it involves the transformation of environment into expressiveness. The conjunction of the three modes, then, defines our community life. Wicker uses George Eliot, Dickens, Orwell, and William Golding to show how various human attitudes toward environment are manifest in literature. These attitudes are classifiable into the secular—environment as passive context for human life—and the sacred—environment as fraught with primordial significance which man shares and of which he is part. Wicker further justifies his vision of Christianity with the aid of Levy-Bruhl, van der Leeuw, and Eliade whose studies in primitive religions fructify Wicker's notion of the sacred. The book ends with a theological formulation of its main themes involving new translations of old doctrines. The book is a brave effort to revitalize with secular insights a moribund Christianity and to point it to its own roots in the foundations of man.—S. O. H.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph196821496
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