In this engaging exchange with WIE senior editor Elizabeth Debold, author Dennis Ford explores the perennial human quest to find order and meaning in an often chaotic world. Touching on a wide range of philosophical, religious, and scientific approaches to the search for meaning throughout history, Ford sheds light on our relationship to these questions today, illuminating many of our most unconscious beliefs and unexamined assumptions in the process.
In an age defined in many ways, Ford believes, by purposelessness and alienation, engaging with fundamental questions of meaning is our “last taboo.” Reflecting on his early life as a child of the sixties, he discusses the general resistance to self-reflection in contemporary culture and highlights the significance of the freedom to question authority that made it possible for him to abandon traditional belief systems and seek out a more all-embracing perspective. That quest ultimately gave rise to his recent book, The Search for Meaning: A Short History, in which he outlines eight basic approaches to meaning-making and boils them down to their bare essentials.
Discussing the pros and cons of these eight different belief systems in this week’s audio release, Ford ends by speculating about what anew worldwide belief system might eventually look like—one that could provide new meaning and purpose for human beings at the outset of the twenty-first century, and help take us all “from darkness to light.”
Recorded on: 10/3/2007