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Nature's Primal Self

Peirce, Jaspers, and Corrington

Nam T. Nguyen

Nature’s Primal Self examines Corrington’s thought, called “ecstatic naturalism,” in juxtaposition to both C. S. Peirce’s pragmatic and semiotic concept of the self and Karl Jaspers’ existential elucidation of Existenz. Peirce’s and Jaspers’ anthropocentrism is thus corrected by Corrington’s ecstatic naturalism. Ecstatic naturalism, as a new movement, is both a semiotic theoretical method and a metaphysics that probes deeply into the ontological divide between nature naturing and nature natured. Author Nam T. Nguyen attempts to achieve three goals: first, to present and elucidate the underlying philosophical concepts of Charles Peirce, Karl Jaspers, and Robert Corrington; second, to critique the anthropocentric self of Peirce’s semiotic pragmatism and of Jaspers’ existential anthropology (periechontology) from the standpoint of ecstatic naturalism; and third, to introduce the concept of nature’s primal self, radically grounded in the perspective of ecstatic naturalism, as a judicious, more encompassing, and richer framework compared to Peirce’s semiotic construction of the self and Jaspers’ existential concept of Existenz. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 280Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-7391-5040-5 • Hardback • December 2011 • $90.00 • (£57.95)
978-0-7391-5042-9 • eBook • December 2011 • $89.99 • (£57.95)
Nam T. Nguyen teaches philosophy at the University of Central Florida.
Foreword by Robert Corrington
Chapter One: The Anthropocentric Self in Peirce’s Semiotic Pragmaticism
Chapter Two: The Anthropocentric Self in Jaspers’ Periechontology
Chapter Three: Nature’s Primal Self in Ecstatic Naturalism
Chapter Four: Nature’s Primal Self: An Ecstatic Naturalist’s Critique of Peirce’s Semiotic
Construction of the Self and Jaspers’ Elucidation of Existenz.
Appendix: Divine Transcendence or “Deep Pantheism”?
This book brings together three profound thinkers, Peirce, Jaspers, and Corrington, with clarity, precision, and insight. Nguyen’s grasp of the problem of the self through semiotic, existential, and ecstatic naturalistic frames is illuminating and brilliant. The self remains a philosophical portal into questions of transcendence and naturalism throughout this work, an opening the author explores with care and precision. By counterpoising his theism to Corrington’s ecstatic naturalism, Nguyen uniquely deepens semiotic anthropology for philosophical theology and for Peirce scholarship.
Roger Ward, Georgetown College

Nguyen provides us with a detailed exposition of Corrington’s philosophy of nature as it has developed over the years, comparing and contrasting it with two of its major influences: the semiotic philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce and the existentialist philosophy of Karl Jaspers. He invites us to ponder such features of Corrington’s “ecstatic naturalism” as the presemiotic, unruly depths of nature naturing; the semiotic character of the human self and its melancholic struggles arising from a profoundly divided and wounded unconscious that is linked to the primordial fissure between nature naturing and nature natured; the self’s journey from its mood of melancholy and loss toward one of ecstasy and love; and the role of an impersonal, evolving, sustaining God as an aspect of nature churned up from its mysterious depths. This book is not suited to someone who wants a quick and easy rundown on the ideas of a significant thinker, but for thoughtful and persistent readers it provides a captivating portrayal of the subtle nuances and interweavings of Corrington’s strikingly original philosophical vision.
Donald A. Crosby, Colorado State University

This is a timely and ambitious rendering of a truly original voice in contemporary American philosophical theology, that of Robert S. Corrington and his 'ecstatic naturalism.' In this book author Nam T. Nguyen compares ecstatic naturalism to C. S. Peirce’s pragmatism and Karl Jaspers’ existentialism in order to elucidate how ecstatic naturalism de-emphasizes the notion of an anthropocentric self (a concept of self which remains a pressing problem for Euro-American philosophy given its challenge to accomplishing a truly ecological and relational perspective). Contra anthropocentrism Nguyen explains how ecstatic naturalism affords a view of nature’s own 'primal self.' One learns vis-à-vis Peirce and Jaspers that ecstatic naturalism is a philosophy which honors all possible as well as actual existence—nonhuman, human, and divine—taking all to be encompassed by nature.

Leon Niemoczynski, Loras College

As would be expected, Nguyen’s study brings a plethora of interesting philosophical questions to the foreground with respect to these three extraordinary thinkers, making it difficult to know where to start in reviewing the book’s most noteworthy ideas.

I take this to be the persistent value in Nguyen’s text, not so much that it reminds us to restrain our temptation to privilege and eulogize the human self (writing it “large on the canvas of nature”), but that it reminds us, in a true Tillichian vein, of our need for ecstatic healing and wholeness.

Nature’s Primal Self serves as one of the most helpful interpretations of Corrington’s corpus to date, helping us through the maze of Corrington’s dense but exquisite theoretical framework while keeping us focused on the expectation that drives Corrington’s theorizing, the expectation for nature’s primal self of spiritual transfiguration and ecstasy.

American Journal of Theology and Philosophy