Monday, April 16, 2018

Review of Michael D. Aeschliman’s The Restitution of Man: C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism

While neither Aeschliman, nor the philosophers he quotes, possess Lewis' happy ability to clothe complex philosophical notions in the lingo of common man, nonetheless his defense of Lewis' concern about scientism is well done. Aeschliman describes scientism as a misuse of science that asserts "what is not in principle observable is not in fact in existence."

This is an excellent book for exposing the inherent contradictions in philosophical materialism. Reducing man to an object of study is fatally contradictory, because, as Aeschliman points out, the realm of scientific theory is limited to objects lower than man. But when man the observer of man the object assumes that one is higher and the other lower, it is but a short distance from there to the idea that the proper end of science is the manipulation of some men by others for the sake of maximum utility. Man becomes a means to an end, rather than the end itself. Brute facts having triumphed over values (the former being seen as objective and real, the latter as merely subjective), there is no longer any wisdom (what Aeschliman terms sapientia) to govern the use of technology--it may be as readily employed in eugenics or nuclear war as it is in delivering water to an African village.

“Modern scientistic doctrine," Aeschliman says, "holds all fact to be objective and all value to be subjective. To call it a ‘doctrine’ is to draw attention to the fact that its characteristic assumption that only factual statements have validity is itself nonfactual, speculative, and dogmatic; it is, in fact, a diabolically ironic article of faith” [74].

Note well: the book is not anti-science; rather it is a call for science to once again be the handmaiden of wisdom: the recognition that there are ultimate values that define right and wrong, anchored in God Himself. Highly recommended.