From Publishers Weekly
Science columnist for the Sunday Times of London, Appleyard here chronicles the history of science from moral and philosophical points of view, aiming to explicate the "appalling spiritual damage that science has done." Pandering to neither neo-Luddites nor eco-reactionaries, he argues for the primacy of the human soul, recalling the spirit, if not the ontologic letter, of Teilhard de Chardin. The chapter "The Humbling of Man"--effected by a reductionist science--begins with a discussion of the 17th-century figures Newton, Galileo and Descartes and ends by considering Freud's arguably scientific work as being both in this continuum and a way to move beyond its limitations. Appleyard sees the scientific paradigm as having developed into a psuedo-religion that is incompatible with its core human culture, both personal and social. "Science, quietly and inexplicitly, is talking us into abandoning . . . our true selves." Impassioned and robust, his arguments with such humanist apologists for science as Bertrand Russell and Jacob Bronowski are consistently provocative and often persuasive.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
A withering indictment of modern science by, of all people, the science-and-philosophy columnist of The Sunday Times of London. Appleyard's blast is ferocious: Science has done ``appalling spiritual damage'' to modern human beings, for it rules the day but ``offers no truth, no guiding light, and no path.'' Enough is enough: ``We must resist and the time to do so is now.'' Appleyard's resistance takes the form, largely, of a history of how science came to be and the havoc it has wreaked. The crisis began in 1609, when Galileo peered through the telescope and ``invented the modern.'' Suddenly, observation and experiment replaced rational authority (exemplified by Aquinas's brilliant synthesis of Aristotle and Christianity) as the bastion of knowledge. This new way of seeing eschewed value and meaning, Appleyard says; it found its philosophy in Cartesian dualism, and its final, tragic expression in Darwinism. Appleyard runs through responses to this alleged debacle, from Nietzsche to Kierkegaard--all noble failures, he contends. Science's internal revolutions, especially quantum physics, may provide new life--but Appleyard doubts it. Nor does he have faith in New Age science (Bohm, Capra, Sheldrake) or the Green movement, which he describes as ``a religion of rejection.'' What, then, to do? Consider that science cannot understand self-consciousness or the soul, he says, although subjective experience indicates that we may possess both. These are clues that science is blinkered, that it poses its own questions and then insists these are the only ones that exist. The answer is to ``humble'' science, to see it as just one ``convention'' of knowing rather than as the royal road to truth. An old argument, but Appleyard attacks scientism with uncanny intelligence and heat (who else has managed to squash hard and New Age science with the same hammer, or has scorned Sagan, Hawking, and other scientific icons in such blistering terms?). This should crack a few test tubes. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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