by Ted Christopher ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2020
A thorough, right-wing perspective on the philosophical vices of modern science.
A theoretical critique of scientism, the hyperbolically confident view that scientific materialism is capable of explaining the universe in its totality.
Christopher announces an ambitious agenda: to challenge the “scientific vision of life,” the reductive attempt to capture all existing phenomena—human and otherwise—in the categories of scientific materialism. The author principally devotes his attention to the relentless attempt to explain human behavior from the perspective of DNA, the alleged “language of life.” However, Christopher contends, with impressive clarity and rigor, that such an attempt has long been exposed as a failure—explanatory recourse to DNA simply doesn’t account for the whole spectrum of behavioral differences or variations in innate intelligence. Despite the mounting difficulties with the explanatory power of DNA, however, the scientific community has doubled down on its commitment to it—a type of “faith-based” rather than evidentiary allegiance. The author interprets this commitment as an expression of irrational scientism, which combines a “total confidence in the materialistic model of human life” with a self-congratulatory “hype and arrogance.” Christopher devotes so much attention to the field of genetics precisely because he sees it as the crucible of this scientism: “I suggest that biologists/geneticists are effectively in the front lines of the defense of materialism. That foundational scientific belief that life is completely describable in terms of physics dictates that DNA fulfill the heredity role. Never mind some of the extraordinary behavioral challenges, DNA has to cover all of materialism’s bets.”
Christopher also assesses the ways scientific dogma clouds discussions of environmental sustainability, race, intelligence, and even meditation—in the latter case he furnishes a fascinating discussion of the limitations of the analysis of Sam Harris, a philosopher and neuroscientist who is a well-known critic of religion. Further, he does a credible job of not only exposing the vulnerabilities and limitations of DNA as a theoretical panacea, but also the ways the scientific community routinely dismisses them, betraying their avowed commitment to intellectual openness. “Contradicting the certitude of science there are bunch [sic] of behavioral phenomena which are very difficult to explain from a materialist perspective. The inability of science to acknowledge this situation contradicts the regularly proclaimed openness and curiosity of scientists. In fact science has its own rigid materialist purview and strongly defends it.” The author, whose perspective is unmistakably locatable on the right of the political aisle, claims he does not supply a “nuanced effort,” and this is sometimes true. In his discussion of black communities, he offers common racist tropes: “A relatively weak commitment towards education and a tendency towards violence are still substantial problems in parts of the African American community.” Overall, the author’s argument is clear and free of technical convolution, a remarkable feat given the forbidding nature of much of the subject matter. His chief goal is to demonstrate the “sacred” nature of the scientific community’s fidelity to DNA as a settled theory and, as a consequence, encourage it to “start looking elsewhere for explanations.” At the very least, he accomplishes this goal.A thorough, right-wing perspective on the philosophical vices of modern science.
Pub Date: March 25, 2020
Page Count: 178
Publisher: Wise Media Group
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Samuel Gorovitz ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 1990
A small gem of medical philosophy.
In his second book on medical ethics, philosopher Gorovitz (Syracuse Univ.) reports on his seven weeks in 1985 as "Authorized Snoop and Irritant-at-Large" at Boston's renowned Beth Israel Hospital.
As in Doctor's Dilemmas (1982), here Gorovitz tackles some tough topics: abortion, "do-not-resuscitate" orders, transplantations, and other issues circling around the question of "where to draw the line." His judicious investigations will not please hard-liners on either side. For instance, while supporting most fetal-tissue research, he opposes interspecies transplants; he restages the abortion debate on high moral ground, exploring prevailing community standards and such vexing questions as what happens when an aborted fetus survives the operation, in the process forging a middle path between abortion-on-demand and no-abortions-ever. Hospital advertisements, medical expenses, surrogate motherhood, and doctor-patient relations are among other issues explored with characteristic care. This all may sound dry, but in fact it's captivating, thanks to Gorovitz's decision to confront issues as they naturally arise in the course of day-to-day hospital operations. This grounds his difficult, sometimes abstruse themes in real-life, flesh-and-blood struggles, giving his conclusions added authority.A small gem of medical philosophy.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1990
Page Count: -
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010
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by Joseph F. Girzone ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2001
What curmudgeon would argue?
Once there was a parablist named Joshua and at times his fresh new parables were received with open minds by reviewers (Joshua in the Holy Land, 1992) as Joshua brought peace to the strife-torn Middle East. Yet in still later sheaves, as Joshua set about reforming sin-laden New York City, reviewers felt an encroaching blandness wash over them (Joshua and the City, 1995).
Clearly one cannot read all of Joshua’s parables at one sitting, particularly when one may not share Joshua’s views that God awaits all at journey’s end and will judge the righteous and the unrighteous and that heaven is a shining city to be sought under the guidance of the church while God counts (and recounts) votes for or against us with His mind as open as a left-wing liberal’s while perhaps weighing our interest in the social security of our offspring and the need for enforcing or cutting the death tax and measuring our decision to back or not back legal executions for capital offenses. Why not, a Republican might ask, embrace the wealthy just as warmly as we do the poor and spiritually disenfranchised? But Joshua’s latest parables fearlessly take on the hardhearted businessman, obsessed by the ever-rising value of his stocks, and in no way support Big Money. He takes on moviemakers focused on massacres. He dispenses wisdom about marriage in the parable in which Satan seduces the devoted wife, and in the parable of the ants shows how the peaceful and cooperative ant builds a healthy home life that husbands and wives should look to—though he fails to note the rages between rival ant colonies. To one synagogue he describes God as a Supreme Artist whose masterpiece includes the most far-flung matter in the Universe and whose Artistic Genius is not to be understood quickly, although He has a tender heart, witness our taste buds and eyes and ears for experiencing the ecstasy of His creation.What curmudgeon would argue?
Pub Date: March 20, 2001
Page Count: 176
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001
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