With great passion, yet without a
scintilla of mawkish sentimentality, Coppola here makes the strong compelling
case for love as the direct and primary implication of human consciousness. That would be laudable by itself, but
these are not merely the pleasant musings of a decent well-intentioned
person. This is (and it is
astounding) tightly reasoned philosophy, based on acute, astute observation and
profound and powerful argument.
Building on Descartes (whom he explicitly reverses on the fundamental
matter of �proof� of personal experience) and Kant, who seems indispensable to
all who came after, Coppola emerges with a distinctive and compassionate
American existentialism that is unlike anything heretofore. With strongly grounded links to modern
cosmology, evolutionary theory and sheer phenomenology of consciousness in
space/time, Coppola delivers a ringing statement of free will, so sorely needed
in this era of burgeoning biological reductionist determinism.
This in turn yields a ringing adduction of the ontological primacy of
self, with commensurately devastating attacks on any variety of teeny-bopping
reductionism, chemical, biological, physical or psychological: and as well on
any religio-philosophical tradition (usually Asian), which explicitly denies or
tries to �eradicate� the self. �I
myself exist, and I can love� is the rigorously derived, powerfully demonstrated
theorem, which is the �first principal� here. What is more, the revolutionary
�optional� theology �Quest� proposes seems to at last settle that huge and
perennial question for contemporary times.
Additionally and astonishingly, and with philosophical deftness and
gracious style, Coppola�s secular Christology evinces sacred humanitarian
values, again so needed in this era.
Coppola is a highly trained professional philosopher, a prodigiously
well-read and deeply thoughtful theorist and analyst, whose similarity to the
preponderant mentality in his field is only superficial. That is because Vincent (V. Virom) is a
philosopher in the all but abandoned grand tradition, a professor who actually
professes, a professor who operates from a stance of engagement and compassion,
so unlike the horde of reductionist, detached, time-serving technician faculty
members who too often stand at the podiums of our colleges and universities; a
man who actually strives to influence his students� lives for the sake of
liberation through philosophic method, this, let�s say it, in the tradition of
the Platonic Socrates. Philosophy
is no idle pastime, dealing with jejune abstractions for Coppola, it is a matter
of life and death, a tradition he shares with only a few of the greats, the
likes of Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard, who, apart from particular
doctrinal identity or particular slant or area of concern, were in it for
And most importantly in that connection, Coppola herein posits suffering
as an object of philosophical scrutiny, i.e. being worthy of philosophical
address. This is unknown in western
philosophy to my knowledge: evil yes, even cruelty, but not suffering. While at pains to refute the Buddhist
account, he does not of course solve the matter of suffering, how could he? Short of a thoroughgoing and slavish
deism, (�the ways of the Lord are unknown to us, but He has His reason blah
blah�) � how could anyone? Remember
we are returning here to the root meaning of philosophy: philo+sophy = love of
wisdom, not love of word games.
The written style of this book is commensurately unique to its conceptual
output. It is by turns funny,
personal, engaged, warm, redolent with true and moving pathos (in the best
sense) � derived from the author�s own sometimes anguished personal experience:
the death of those he loved, as well (brace yourselves) his love for his Old
English Sheepdog, and cockatiel.
The book is startlingly and refreshingly entertaining. Stylistically, there has, I hazard,
never been a book of �serious� philosophy remotely like this.
The schema expressed herein is in no way explicitly political, as indeed
neither is Coppola�s classroom teaching.
Remember, we are doing philosophy here, not proselytizing. But never have human affairs so greatly
needed such an incredible book as this: remember, we are in yet another
horrible, horrible war. Read this
book, it will change your life. It
changed mine and I was already a pretty loving guy, going
Free Venice Beachhead News June 2004