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Understanding the Present

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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. (Mar.)

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