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Page ix

irenic than Marcel's. Ricoeur is apt to suggest that the various forms of reductionism are not so much wrong as one-sided. Luke the blind men who encountered an elephant, each is to be credited with having laid hold of a part and having insisted upon its reality. The mistake is in taking the part for the whole. In Marcel's language they have fallen prey to the spirit of abstraction; in Whitehead's terms they have succumbed to the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. It follows that a truly humanistic philosophy, in contrast, must be unwaveringly holistic; and indeed this too is an apt term for Ricoeur's thinking. There is, in fact, no surer rule for the reading of Ricoeur than to watch for the way in which he construes his chosen question in terms of an apparent conflict between two contrasting aspects or poles— and then proceeds to mediate between them: drawing the contrasting aspects together while yet preserving a certain productive tension or dialectic. One acute commentator has interpreted the entirety of Ricoeur's work in terms of this dialectic of "kinship through conflict." 6

Such effort of thought is quite different from the bland assertion that both parties to a dispute are somehow right. Ricoeur is clear that "eclecticism is always the enemy of dialectic." 7 It follows, then, that to accomplish a mediation of conflicting viewpoints the philosopher needs to have some anticipatory sense of the whole, some general notion of how the various isolated aspects fit together. And it is at this juncture, in the effort to clarify the nature of the whole, that we come upon what may be called "the humanist dilemma." For, on the one hand, our first impulse may be to identify the two terms which have thus far been central to our discussion—i.e., to say that the whole of which we speak is in some sense the human. We may call it human experience, perhaps, or human reason, or human potential. And yet the moment we make this move, we are bound to sense its absurdity. How obtusely self- centered, that we, the frail and transient inhabitants of a minor planet in a minor galaxy, should take "the human" to be the key to an understanding of reality!

But if, on the other hand, we are led by such chastening reflections clearly and emphatically to divorce our sense of the human from our conceptions of the whole of reality, the consequences are no less unsettling. For however we then proceed to understand the whole— as the material universe, as the process of evolution, even as