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Reverend Cupitt suggests that a human being has no platonic essence, no identity that makes him uniquely him. Who we are is a constant stream of interactions. Not only at the human level-- Reverend Cupitt says there is nothing permanently existing, anywhere. There is no God. Even the sun is impermanent. No part of you is permanent. You have no soul. What would provide ethics in this situation, where all of existence is empty of identity?
The sun is what it is, because of the light and heat it constantly gives. It gives until it is gone, and that is the meaning and purpose for its being. Since the sun does this, therefore, we should do the same, Since we are nothing but a flow of interactions, a flow of particles, none of which are ours, and we are nothing else, therefore we should be giving, like the sun. This is the logic behind his ethics.
As philosophy, it is not very convincing. As metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, it is very unconvincing. And as ethics, it is very unconvincing. The qualities of non-self-importance, compassion and nonattachment, are still possible if humans, suns and God have permanent essences. The two topics have little to do with each other. There is no need for Reverend Cupitt to claim to know how the universe is without permanent essences, for him to suggest the joy of how we could live our lives.
Still, the book is likable. Perhaps we could accept it as poetry? As an extended prose-poem.
We feel the bounty of the sun and want to do the same. Imagining ourselves like the sun, or a fountain, we may release some of our attachments, and this would do us good. The book is inspiring in its metaphors and symbols.Read more ›
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