Review of Metaphysics 59 (4):871-872 (2006)

Alejandro Vallega
University of Oregon
The author presents this volume as “a companion to Plato’s Phaedo”; as such, one expects it to engage closely the dialogue without abandoning critical rigor, while at the same time exposing us to some of the varied and rich issues that sustain today’s readings of Plato. As Beets’s Prologue indicates, his work focuses on “the issue of the coexistence and transition from the world of becoming to that of being”. The work is divided in two parts. The first part takes up one third of the book and begins by discussing human thought in terms of two main levels of thinking: intuitive and entirely determined by the world, and purely formal and “truly free thinking”. Setting out from this differentiation, the first chapter offers a conceptual structure that will determine the rest of the book. In the same chapter Beets goes on to present philosophical thought as the task of “calling up” from the deeper recesses of our mind our knowledge of “the universal a priori,” or the purely formal, which in turn turns us toward the objective nature of reality and free thinking. The chapter closes as Beets establishes the limitations of conceptual human knowledge in terms of the striving for a knowledge of absolute being or the noumenal, which, although available to the mystic, cannot be accomplished by conceptual knowledge but does serve as “the foothold for meaningful cultural, religious, philosophical, and scientific life and for human ethics”. In following Beets’s itinerary we find out that knowledge of the intuited world can be turned to knowledge of the purely structural, and that in this sense human life through critical conceptual knowledge may be a passage toward the eternal. This occurs if one realizes that the world as it appears is a lie and if we listen to the silent voice in the recess of our mind, which tells us of the a priori. This knowledge of the purely formal in the intuited also leads to Beets’s final insight, namely, that ultimately death will lead us to know the eternal. At this point the author equates absolute being, the noumenal, and God. Thus, the path is laid for the passage from time to the eternal.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph2006594122
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