Conversations About the End of Time

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9780140285147: Conversations About the End of Time

How has the Western world responded in the past to repeated claims that the end of the world is nigh? How do different religions understand what is ment by the end of the world? What have science and philosophy got to say about the end of time? Why do people suffer? What is hell? Is time cyclical or linear? These are just a few of the questions tackled by Umberto Eco, Stephen Jay Gould, Jean Carriere and Jean-Paul Delumeau in a series of conversations. Mixing the religious with the profane and the deeply profound with the humorous, the book explores anything and everything from the concept of time as embedded in language to the reasons why war become an industrialized phenomenon in the 20th century.

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This discussion of some millennial themes consists of interviews with the principals followed by a certain amount of mutual comment and some final conclusions. Gould does his standard act about the arbitrariness of the millennium and the importance of the growth awareness of deep time--a sense of the vast age of the world and the universe is important to that perspective which might help us behave decently to each other. Carriere, a Christian intellectual, discussed the hopeful side of the Book of Revelations and the need for loving kindness. Delumeau talks about the end of the Kali Yuga and the balance of the role of Shiva and Vishnu in Hinduism and worries about the disappearance of tenses and moods in French--arguing that something is seriously lost if we can no longer think in the subjunctive Future Perfect. Eco is the star here, and says wonderfully phrased, paradoxical, but not especially memorable, things about how right all the others are; if anyone wants to know what the brightest and best think about the millennium, this is not a bad place to start--the stress on kindness as an ultimate human value cannot but be attractive. -- Roz Kaveney

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Umberto Eco, Stephen Jay Gould, Jean Delumeau, Jean-Claude Carriere, Ian Maclean, Roger Pearson
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Eco, Umberto; Gould, Stephen Jay; Delumeau, Jean; Carriere, Jean-Claude
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