Beyond Philosophy


Please let me take gentle issue with the last paragraph of David Toolan's review of Beyond Darkness [January 29], Shirley Du Boulay's recent biography of Bede Griffiths, and especially with the sentences suggesting that Griffiths's understanding of pluralism "merely exchanges the imperialism of Western metaphysics for an imperialism of Eastern metaphysics." In actual fact, Griffiths tries to liberate the religious mind from subservience to any particular system of philosophy by showing, first of all, that the Christ event is one thing and the philosophical terms (conceptual structures) in which we interpret it are quite another. Semitic phenomenon, Greek hermeneutics: historically linked but essentially distinct and potentially separable.

The Greek connection may have been the best available arrangement for the cultures of the Mediterranean world in the early centuries of Christian history, and it turned out to be remarkably adaptable to the peoples of northern Europe and Asia. But clinging to it in our day seems to amount to declaring that Christianity renounces its proper ambition to become a truly universal religion. …

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