The Crisis of the Western Humanist View

5 Mar 2013 Richard Russell, BRLSI Member Details Our current intellectual, spiritual, cultural and educational malaise finds pointed expression in the deep conflict between broadly scientific naturalism and postmodernism. Both are emphatically atheist and post-Christian, regarding Christianity as a constraint on human reason and human freedom respectively. Modern philosophy of science - in the form of logical positivism - started as the fawning apologist for scientific naturalism and the dismissive critic of any alternative perspective, not just as false, but as cognitively meaningless. More recently, philosophy of science is now providing postmodernism with ammunition against scientific naturalism and its self-image. Does scientific naturalism itself lack a coherent philosophy of science and nature is the question. What is ‘science’? What is ‘nature’? Postmodernism, in its defence of human freedom, is also in deep trouble. Its self-referential contradictions and opaque texts generate a fragmenting nihilism, while its intellectual pretentions have been exposed by the Sokal hoax. What sense can we make of all this? Where did our culture go wrong? And can it be fixed?