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Understanding the Present


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About the Author

Bryan Appleyard is a special-feature writer and columnist for the Sunday Times of London. He is the author of several books, including Understanding the Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man and The Brain Is Wider Than the Sky.


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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