The Headless Way
A method of self-enquiry
pioneered by Douglas Harding
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Reviews of The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth

by Douglas Harding (see submenu for complete list)

Extract from a letter to D.E. Harding from C.S. Lewis, Easter 1950.

"Hang it all, you've made me drunk, roaring drunk as I haven't been on a book (I mean a book of doctrine; imaginative works are another matter) since I first read Bergson during World War I. Who or what are you? How have I lived forty years without my having heard of you before and my sensation is that you have written a book of the highest genius."

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Extracts from the Preface to The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth by C.S. Lewis. (First published by Faber & Faber.)

"This book is, I believe, the first attempt to reverse a movement of thought which has been going on since the beginning of philosophy."

"If [this book] should turn out to have been even the remote ancestor of some system which will give us again a credible universe inhabited by credible agents and observers, this will still have been a very important book indeed."

"It has also given me that bracing and satisfying experience which, in certain books of theory, seems to be partially independent of our final agreement or disagreement. It is an experience most easily disengaged by remembering what has happened to us whenever we turned from the inferior exponents of a system, even a system we reject, to its' great doctors. I have had it on turning from common 'Existentialists' to M. Sartre himself, from Calvinists to the Institutio, from 'Transcendentalists' to Emerson, from books about 'Renaissance Platonism' to Ficino. One may still disagree (I disagree heartily with all the authors I have just named) but one now sees for the first time why anyone ever did agree. One has breathed a new air, become free of a new country. It may be a country you cannot live in, but you now know why the natives love it. You will henceforward see all systems a little differently because you have been inside that one. From this point of view philosophies have some of the same qualities as works of art. I am not referring at all to the literary art with which they may or may not be expressed. It is the ipseitas, the peculiar unity of effect produced by a special balancing and patterning of thoughts and classes of thoughts: a delight very like that which would be given by Hesse's Glasperlenspiel (in the book of that name) if it could really exist. I owe a new experience of that kind to Mr. Harding."

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