The crux here is bringing the perennial and the sciential together, so they are both seen and experienced, though the distinctions are not blurred. Seems like the dichotomy is similar to (identical with?) the distinction between the ultimate and historical dimensions that Thich Nhat Hahn (Thây) refers to frequently. So Thây’s work would be a place to go to explore how the two fit together, and how to work with that connection and opposition. I am finding the question of the relationship between the perennial and sciential in both my activism (effective public leadership) and natural history projects. On the activism side, it’s expressed as the relationship between engagement with public issues to achieve specific policy goals, versus the potentially personally and socially transformative consequences of alternative methods of practice in this arena, in terms of our connections with the cosmos and beyond, with our mortality, and the ethical. On the natural history side, it’s the relationship between the geometric and quantitative scientific revolution, with its outfall, and nature as manifestation or representation of the ultimate. (See Rosenberg, previous post & his “The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.”) How to engage with both: a central question in my novel Alaska Dragon, so the question is basic, and the roots go deep.
from Conze, E. 1963. Buddhist Philosophy and Its European Parallels. Philosophy East and West 13, no. 1: 9–23, p. 14:
As philosophies, both the “perennial” and the “sciential” systems possess some degree of intellectuality, and up to a point they both use reasoning. But considered in their purity, as ideal types, they differ in that the first is motivated by man’s spiritual needs, and aims at his salvation from the world and its ways, whereas the second is motivated by his utilitarian needs, aims at his conquest of the world, and is therefore greatly concerned with the natural and social sciences. Between the two extremes there are, of course, numerous intermediary stages. They depend to some extent on the quality of the spirituality behind them, which is very high, say, in Buddhism, slightly lower in Plato and Aristotle, and still quite marked in such men as Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant, Goethe, Hegel, and Bergson. The general trend, however, has been a continuous loss of spiritual substance between 1450 and 1960, based on an increasing forgetfulness of age-old traditions, an increasing unawareness of spiritual practices, and an increasing indifference to the spiritual life by the classes which dominate society.
I agree with Professor Conze, along with practically all other students of Buddhism, that Buddhism, for the most part regardless of schools, provides “essentially a doctrine of salvation, and that all its philosophical statements are subordinate to its soteriological purpose.”