Between Materialism and the Metaphysics of Eternity: A Reply to Joseph M. Spencer's Review of Responsibility of Reason
BYU Studies strives to involve readers in the LDS academic experience. In that spirit, we offer this scholarly exchange between Ralph C. Hancock and Joseph M. Spencer based on Spencer's "Goodness and Truth: An Essay on Ralph Hancock's The Responsibility of Reason," found in BYU Studies Quarterly 53, no. 4 (2014): 61–73.
It is a blessing to have Joseph Spencer's serious reading of my book from a Latter-day Saint perspective. Responsibility of Reason is about what the title says, but since it addresses fundamental questions about the world and our place in it, and since a Mormon wrote it, I would certainly hope that at some level it would shed light on concerns fundamental to Mormonism and, indeed, suggest a Mormon contribution to the pivotal questions of the Western tradition. I am glad Spencer finds it to be a step in that direction. Spencer and I seem to agree, largely, on the problem, which is a certain approach to modern materialism. The problem lies not so much in elevating the status of the material, natural, or physical, but rather in a theoretical framing of the natural as an open field of human mastery. The problem, as Spencer notices, is a privileging of the theoretical over the practical.