A Sophic and a Mantic People



In the early sixties the manuscripts for what are now the last two chapters of Hugh Nibley’s The Ancient State: The Rulers and the Ruled came into my possession. In them Nibley describes the ancient conflict between Western naturalism and Eastern super-naturalism, a conflict which has given rise to modern civilization with its polluted atmosphere of secular righteousness and split-level churches and which pits the academic religion of culture against the prophetic culture of revealed religion. This paper is a response to those chapters.

The fundamental ambivalence of Western civilization consists of a permanent conflict of spiritualities derived from the human condition itself. The assumptions underlying this conflict have created the mantic world view of vertical supernaturalism, a dualistic metaphysic that includes not only the natural order, but also another world order which transcends it, and the sophic world view of horizontal naturalism, a monistic metaphysic that confines all realities to the natural order.

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