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ISBN/ASIN : 0877845387
Manufacturer : InterVarsity Press|
Release data : June, 1968
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Schaeffer Puts his Finger on the Path of Modern Thought
I read this little book for the first time in the early 1970s. A friend from Vassar read the book and became a Christian. When you look at the world 40 years after the book was written, Schaeffer's analysis of the modern trend of ideas away from the God of the Bible was surely prophetic. If you don't believe in God and you are a thinking person, then you may want to avoid reading Schaeffer because it has the power.
As I read this work, I couldn't but help notice how often Reformed writers blame Aquinas for current philisophical thought. They blame the others, and Schaeffer simply says that ever since Aquinas, men lost hope in finding a unifying principle that would make sense of both matter and spirit, body and soul, love and sex. And modern man (defined: 1200s to present), had since Aquinas messed it up, have failed at unification and despaired of ever achieving this end. And that failure, felt not only by the intellectual elite, has also drifted and seeped into the average man's life. The man on the street no longer has an authoritative voice--it used to be the Catholic church but no longer. C.S. Lewis also alludes to this in Miracles. Modern man has tried to search for unification in something other than the Scriptures.
Schaeffer contends that since man has failed to unify experience in nature and since also modern man has long since abandoned "grace" or "heaven" or "Scriptures" as the principle of experiential (i.e. existential and ontological and epistemological)unification, he has nothing left but despair. So now, man is trying mysticism, pornography,drugs, death and other forms of ways to 'leap' into something else that can provide meaning. Modern man has given up on dualism. The universe is not rational, it is an impersonal machine and man a part of that. But man is a personality and personhood according to Schaffer cannot be found in a mechanistic universe.
In sum, Shaeffer's work is a small overview of what he believes are the causes of modern thought (Aquinas, Kierkegaard) and its implications on modern culture. It is very interesting and a little depressing. You would never have guessed that you had such a longing for a theory or principle of unification and are really deppressed being stuck in the bottom storey. I don't believe Schaeffer realized that what was happening (maybe still), was no more than philisophical learning in any other age. Philosophy is the aim to unify all into one system with corresponding logic-based cohesion. But every system (so far) fails at unification. And modern culture or the man on the street is no more "irrational" than the medieval Catholic man for going along with the dominant thought of his respective age.
Despite its weaknesses, Escape from Reason is a vital little book because of its brevity and lucidity. He does a wonderful job of at least introducing his readers to the human side of an age old debate.
escape from reason
this book is short and brief (100 pages or so), that is its intended appeal. it is not and does not claim to be a comprehensive analysis of all theological and philosophical thought-- just a very thoughtful and broad view of the impact of thought, art, industry, etcetera and its culmination on the state of our current society. to this end the book is fullfilling.