The Poetic Apriori: Philosophical Imagination in a Meaningful Universe

Raymond C. Barfield
Publisher: 
ibidem/Columbia University Press
Published Year: 
2020
Image of universe on cover of The Poetic Aprior book

Raymond C. Barfield, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and Christian philosophy at Duke University and a pediatric oncologist, has written a book in which he develops a theory of philosophical imagination based on conditions necessary for the universe to be meaningful.

The book, The Poetic Apriori: Philosophical Imagination in a Meaningful Universe, was published by ibidem/Columbia University Press in March and is part of the Studies in Historical Philosophy series. Also a palliative care physician, Barfield has an interest in expanding the role of the humanities and the arts in the formation of physicians. He holds dual faculty positions with both Duke Divinity School and Duke University Medical School.

In the book, Barfield explains how theories about the nature and function of philosophical imagination depend on our understanding of what kind of universe we inhabit. Some theories are convincing if the universe is meaningful as a whole, but they make no sense if it is not.

Barfield discusses conditions that would be necessary for the universe to be meaningful as a whole and then develops a theory of philosophical imagination based on that that starting place. The theory moves toward the conclusion that if the universe is meaningful as a whole, the concept of the analogia entis, the analogy of being, illuminates philosophical imagination in a way that changes our understanding of its function and potential, along with the significance of what is discovered through the things it creates.

He has published widely in medicine, philosophy, and literature including the following books: Life in the Blind Spot (poetry), The Book of Colors (a novel), The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy, and Wager: Beauty, Suffering, and Being in the World. Forthcoming books include Griefs and Dreams of an Underworld Aeronaut (poetry) and The Practice of Medicine as Being in Time (philosophy).