Wisdom Books: The Ultimate Canon of Knowledge by Alvin Boyd Kuhn

Ever since man has found himself in this particular world and possessed of an order of consciousness that dowered him with the power to think about his situation, he has also recognized that he is ineluctably driven to wonder about his existence in such a universe. From the start of his self-awareness, he has been persistently haunted by the desire to know the what, the how, and, ultimately, the why of it all. With the dawn of sentience there arose first the questions about his environment, this amazing world in which he finds himself cradled, its components earth and water, air and fire and all their interrelations, those stars that glitter in the upper firmament, and all the phenomena attending the cycling round of day and night and the seasons, sun and moon, lightning, thunder, rainbow, aurora borealis, ice, steam, hail, cold, heat, color, life and death of vegetation, and the endless forms and movements of things.

Then, as this wondrous gift of consciousness develops its astonishing powers, he finds that it introduces him into a world that lies not outside, but inside, himself, so that he must balance himself, as it were, between two worlds of being. He finds he must study both of these worlds, as his exercise of the powers of the one within gives him understanding and control of the one without. Finally when usage has sharpened the faculties of consciousness to great acuteness, his genius drives him to seek answers to the question of how these two worlds may be related to each other. He thus becomes a philosopher seeking that inner satisfaction of his thinking power which he calls meaning. Vaguely at first, then more clearly, he finds that his experience leads him to believe that this precious core of meaning is involved in the relation between the two realms of his being. All through his history he has wavered between two positions, at times being convinced that the keys to meaning are to be found entirely in the outer world, but again being persuaded that they are better to be discovered within the area of his reflecting consciousness. So his philosophy has oscillated between naturalism and idealism, and it can not yet be said that the human mind has arrived at an understanding of precisely how the two areas of his experience, his two worlds, are related to each other. The quest for a more lucid insight into this problem and a sounder understanding of its total import is the theme of the present work.

~ Alvin Boyd Kuhn


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