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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • From postmodernity to final participation: talking Owen Barfield Aug 13, 2019- Michael Leighty asks me, Mark Vernon, a range of questions from Barfield's attitudes towards postmodernism to his understanding of the power of story. We explore how language is an embodied activity and what Barfield meant by final participation. We ask what he has to say to readers of Plato and what he has to say to people seeking new grounds…
  • The faith of the Inklings, with Malcolm Guite Aug 10, 2019- Malcolm Guite and I join Justin Brierley on Justin's Unbelievable radio show to talk about how the Inklings, the group of Oxford intellectuals including CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Owen Barfield, made sense of Christian faith. Mark Vernon shares how he draws on Barfield’s approach in his new book ‘A secret history of Christianity’. Theologian-poet Malcolm Guite responds.
  • Human evolution and soul Aug 8, 2019- "Without soul, there would be no tools," I write at the Perspectiva blog. "The human niche is one marked by an openness to the transcendent." Narrative accounts of human evolution are big right now. You may well have read Noah Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and its follow up, Homo Deus. And there are others, such as the “big history” of David…
  • Was Pascal right about belief? Jul 30, 2019- This piece was published at Christian Today. Pascal’s Wager has become a notorious reason to believe in God. The French mathematician and philosopher proposed that it’s rational to believe in God because if you’re wrong it won’t make any difference, but if you’re right it might make every difference as to where you spend eternity. It’s as if he was…
  • The evolution of the self Jul 25, 2019- Human consciousness has shifted dramatically over the last 5000 years. Evidence as diverse as prehistoric archeology, ancient social structures and the history of words suggests as much. In particular, it looks as if our sense of being individual selves is a relatively recent perception. It changes our relationship to nature, the cosmos and gods. In this conversation, I talk with…
  • Introducing Owen Barfield Jul 19, 2019- The words of the last Inkling himself open this discussion I had on Barfield's thought with the editor of the Barfield Literary Estate website, Rory O'Connor. It was a pleasure to talk about thinking and imagining, rainbows and spirit, climate change and the future. For our conversation, click here.
  • The front line of parapsychology Jul 7, 2019- youtubeembedcode esadd-link-Exchangeyoutubeembedcode.com/pl/check this out In this new episode of The Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and I discuss how psi experiences can best be understood. The evidence for these phenomena is dismissed by sceptics with increasingly dogmatic assertions. But that's no surprise because the data in support of phenomena from telepathy to pre-sentience is now openly discussed in leading science journals.…
  • Romanticism and the meaning crisis Jun 24, 2019- The Toronto psychologist, John Vervaeke, has reached romanticism in his series, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis. He is moving into the area that Owen Barfield considered core. In this discussion, that ranges across the ideas of Kant, Romanticism, psychotherapy and Christianity, I sketch how Barfield's notion of final participation offers a sense of the way forward.
  • Testing Christianity and the Evolution of Consciousness Jun 20, 2019- A couple more podcast talks have been published. Skeptiko with Alex Tsakiris - a penetrating exchange considering not only the place of Christianity in the evolution of consciousness but the significance of everything from NDEs to UFO experiencers today, and how Owen Barfield's ideas help illuminate them. Challenging Opinions with William Campwell - another feisty conversation that teases out the…
  • Living in an Age of Spiritual Crisis Jun 13, 2019- Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our series of conversations, this time on Living in an Age of Spiritual Crisis. The depth of the environmental crisis is becoming clearer. Social crises are around us, too. But do these realities stem from a deeper spiritual crisis? We discuss whether we’ve become uncoupled from the foundations of life, which…

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