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(Original review by Leon Wieseltier, at The New Republic...)

"NOT LONG AGO the prestige of science was nastily contested by American politics, as conservatism’s war on evolution, environmental science, and other forms of empirical research threatened to confound the American sense of reality. It was George W. Bush against Francis Bacon. Against this obscurantism—which has long held sway over significant portions of the American electorate—it was necessary to offer a ferocious defense of the premises, and the blessings, of scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, the defense of science became corrupted in certain quarters into a defense of scientism, which is the expansion of scientific methods and concepts into realms of human life in which they do not belong. Or rather, it is the view that there is no realm of human life in which they do not belong. Rosenberg arrives with “the correct answers to most of the persistent questions,” and “given what we know from the sciences, the answers are all pretty obvious.” (I have cited most of them above.) This is because “there is only one way to acquire knowledge, and science’s way is it.” And not just science in general, but physics in particular. “All the processes in the universe, from atomic to bodily to mental, are purely physical processes involving fermions and bosons interacting with one another.” And: “Scientism starts with the idea that the physical facts fix all the facts, including the biological ones. These in turn have to fix the human facts—the facts about us, our psychology, and our morality.” All that remains is to choose the wine.

IN THIS WAY science is transformed into a superstition. For there can be no scientific answer to the question of what is the position of science in life. It is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical question. The idea that physical facts fix all the facts is not an idea proven, or even posited, by physics. Rosenberg does not translate non-scientific facts into scientific facts; he denies that non-scientific facts exist at all..."


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 10th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC)
I'm sure that he had tongue planted firmly in cheek when he did it.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
Or maybe he's so hip and ironic that he's actually a closet Thomist revealing just how essentially uncool it is to be nihilist through his posing as one. That could be it...
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 10th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
I wonder how someone gets a degree while being this stupid.

I take it that you don't work in academia?
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
Ah, well that might have resulted in a reduced immunity to such examples of the absurd as The Nice Nihilist. Having spent enough time in a university, it would take a tenured, two-headed orangutan on a unicycle reciting The Bhagavad Gita in Spanish to get me to lift an eyebrow. This barely merits an eye-roll. :-p
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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