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Robert Wood’s aim in Being and the Cosmos is to reestablish a speculative view of the cosmos that goes back to the ancient Greeks and that corresponds to the holism of contemporary physics. There are two sets of problems in contemporary thought that militate against any such attempt. Most widespread is scientific reductionism in biology and neuroscience that explains awareness in terms of the mechanisms that underlie it. The second is the widespread attack in philosophy itself on speculative holism by deconstruction and anti-foundationalism.
In Being and the Cosmos, the tack against both is to make explicit the character of the mind that sees and thinks, that actively takes up commitment to the truth available in the disciplines involved. The basic ground of this position rests upon the functioning of the notion of Being that opens up the question of the character of the Whole and the human being’s place in it. Thus position the treatment of the notion of Being as foundation and as orientation toward the Whole between the attack on reductionism and on deconstruction and anti-foundationalism. Wood concludes with a multidimensional sketch of an evolutionary view of the cosmos whose initial phases contain the potentialities for life, sensibility, and intellect as cosmic telos. The holism of contemporary physics has to be reconfigured in terms of this observation. Both reductionists and dualists should know that matter itself has to be re-minded and that mind itself matters.
Robert E. Wood is professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas and the author of The Beautiful, The True and the Good: Studies in the History of Thought (CUA Press).
"In a resounding challenge to assaults on holistic thinking, Robert Wood’s Being and the Cosmos demonstrates how the notion of being provides a fundamental orientation to the cosmos and our place in it. With considerable erudition and insight, Wood charts the interior dimensions of life, as he makes the case that the cosmos has an ‘inside’ in a way that links an ancient view of the cosmos with the holism of contemporary physics."~Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Boston University
"Robert Wood's writing uniquely combines phenomenological insight, metaphysical depth, wide historical learning, and familiarity with contemporary thought. In these essays he brings his talents to bear on the fundamental question of the human being's place in the cosmos, countering reductionist and deconstructionist tendencies with an articulation of Being that opens up the question of the character of the Whole. He engages recent work in physics, biology, and neurophysiology as he argues for an evolutionary view of intellect as the cosmic telos. The result is a very important book."~Richard Velkley, Celia Scott Weatherhead Professor of Philosophy, Tulane University
"An eloquent and poetic summary of the lessons learned and insights derived from a long and distinguished career of teaching and philosophical reflection. It is also the capstone of a life well lived. Readers will find this book quietly and thoughtfully inspiring."~Review of Metaphysics
"Being and the Cosmos presents a compelling framework for bringing together the metaphysical ground of thought and human action. It provides a serious riposte to materialist reductionism and suggests an alternative phenomenology that takes a scientific perspective seriously, while maintaining that speculative holism which gives sense to the regional pursuits of science. Wood has presented a dense argumentation here that deserves serious attention and further unfolding."~Reviews in Religion and Theology