by Fred Alan Wolf ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1996
An attempt to prove by scientific methods that the soul exists, by a physicist who has explored this terrain before, in The Eagle's Quest (1991) and The Dreaming Universe (1994). Wolf certainly succeeds in pointing up the limitations of the old Newtonian science. Logical, objective, materialist science gave us industrialization, and one of industrialization's undeniable results is a polluted world in which the majority of inhabitants live in poverty. Thus science in its objectivity, the author asserts, fails to provide any usable moral compass. But Wolf indicts science for an even more profound and damaging failing: its contribution to our sense of ""spiritual isolation, to a feeling of depression,"" and to the conviction that life is pointless. He wants somehow to quantify those manifestations that are universally felt but cannot be seen: the diminishment one feels after the death of a loved one; sudden insights that lead to greater knowledge; dreams that transform consciousness as surely as cold logic. Such conditions are real and have real effects, he argues, even if they are subjective. The old science describes static conditions and cannot deal with the fluid nature of reality except to deny its existence. Quantum physics, however, allows us to begin to grapple with fluid reality, because it recognizes that the observed object changes even as it is observed. Does such a recognition suggest the realm of the soul, ebbing in some unmeasurable, timeless constant? The argument is essentially this: We cannot see the soul, but we can fleetingly observe its effects on consciousness. Therefore, it's real. Wolf's language is, thankfully, quite clear, his presentation of ideas deft, including an entertaining tour of theories of the soul from Plato to Einstein. In the end, however, he sounds less like a scientist than a Buddhist--or, to be precise, he tries to use Buddhism to explain what science has been unable to describe. Trendy, but earnest and appealing as well.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996
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