Cultural changes, such as the one that gave birth to the modern age, have a definitive and irreversible impact that transforms the very essence of reality. Not merely our thinking about the real changes: reality itself changes as we think about it differently. History carries an ontic significance that excludes any reversal of the present [...]
We have witnessed the birth of neo-Aristotelians, neo-Platonists (in both senses of the term), neo-Thomists, and, most recently, neo-nominalists. Those who, by updating past thoughts, hoped to neutralize such baneful features of modern thought as the oppositions between subject and object or the loss of a transcendent component underestimated the radical nature of the modern revolution. Its problems cannot be treated as errors to be corrected by a simple return to an earlier truth. That truth is no longer available; it has vanished forever … [P]ast thought cannot solve modern problems. Though eternal in its own way, it does not address conditions that are exclusively our own – such as the fragmentation of our world picture. It may assist us in sorting out modern issues, but it does not provide ready answers. Modern culture has contributed a totally new way of confronting the real.
A genuinely new synthesis, if ever to come, will have to rest on newly established principles [...] Our present task may well be the humble one of exploring how the fragments we are left with serve as building blocks for a future synthesis.”
Louis Dupré, Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture (Yale, 1993), 6-7.