Tyranny of Reason: The Origins and Consequences of the Social Scientific Outlookby Yuval Levin
Pub. Date: 12/06/2000
The astonishing success of the natural sciences in the modern era has led many thinkers to assume that similar feats of knowledge and power should be achievable in human affairs. That assumption, and the accompanying notion that the methods of modern science ought to be applied to social and political questions, have been at the heart of a number of prominent
The astonishing success of the natural sciences in the modern era has led many thinkers to assume that similar feats of knowledge and power should be achievable in human affairs. That assumption, and the accompanying notion that the methods of modern science ought to be applied to social and political questions, have been at the heart of a number of prominent philosophical schools in the modern age, and much of the politics of the past century. Is the application of scientific logic to the study of human affairs philosophically defensible? Does it aid or hinder our efforts at a genuine understanding of the human world? Why have so many modern ideologies, including those responsible for some of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century, advanced themselves under the banner of science? Why, in other words, do we assume that modern science holds the key to an understanding of human affairs? Are we right to make this assumption? And what does the assumption mean for contemporary society and politics? Tyranny of Reason, which is designed for the interested lay reader and for undergraduate or beginning graduate students in the social sciences, attempts to answer these important questions in the context of the history of philosophy.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Foreword by John Shosky Chapter 2 Author's Preface Chapter 3 Introduction Chapter 4 The First Commandment Chapter 5 From Chaos to Cosmos Chapter 6 Three Teachers Chapter 7 Synthesis Chapter 8 The Monk and the Philosopher Chapter 9 From Certainty to Doubt Chapter 10 From Doubt to Certainty Chapter 11 The Great Machine Chapter 12 Social Physics Chapter 13 Nature and Man Chapter 14 A Science of Man Chapter 15 Conquering Skepticism Chapter 16 The March of History Chapter 17 Dystopia Chapter 18 A Refuge from Choice Chapter 19 Conclusion Chapter 20 Notes; Bibliography; Index
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In this powerfully argued work, Yuval Levin discusses and assesses how an extreme form of the social scientific mindset gave rise to twentieth-century totalitarianism in the form of Soviet communism. Levin also shows that the New Deal and its resulting welfare state are products of that mindset. The main message of this brilliant study is to beware of people who believe in inescapable laws of human history and who presume that they can discern them. This is essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, history, politics, economics, or the social sciences.
This is essentially a book-length argument against treating politics like physics, i.e with equations and statistics in place of careful judgement. It makes its point very well and is interesting throughout.
This book does a great job of analyzing the philosophy behind the use of scientific methods in studying politics and society. Also provides a very good survey history of philosophy in the process. Ends up taking a conservative political position, in opposition to central planning and rule by experts. A great read.