Written by Mary Evelyn Tucker, PhD, one of Thomas Berry students, the article begins…
From his academic beginning as a historian of world
cultures and religions, Thomas Berry grew into a historian
of the Earth and its evolutionary processes. He sees himself
not as a theologian but as a “geologian.” Berry began his
career as a historian of Western intellectual history.
His thesis at Catholic University on Giambattista Vico’s
philosophy of history was published in 1951. Vico was
trying to establish a human historical science of the study
of culture and nations comparable to what others had
done for the study of nature.
Influenced by Vico, Berry gradually developed a comprehensive
historical perspective in periodization and an
understanding of the depths of our contemporary crisis
due to the ecological destruction caused by humans.
Eventually he saw the need for a new mythic story to
extract humans from their alienation from the Earth. Berry
described this alienation as pervasive due to the power of
the technological trance, the myth of progress, and human
autism in relation to nature. With his books, The Dream of
the Earth, The Universe Story, and The Great Work, Berry
aimed to overcome this alienation and evoke the energies
needed to create a viable and sustainable future.