The Enlightenment Vision: Science, Reason, and the Promise of a Better Future

Stuart Jordan. Prometheus, $26 (295p) ISBN 978-1-61614-640-5
Jordan, a former NASA physicist and current president of the pioneering Institute for Science and Human Values, makes a scattered collection of arguments on the goals of the Enlightenment and contemporary culture’s inability to live up to them in this thinly researched treatise. Positing that current political and societal ills stem from anti-Enlightenment forces like faith-based, superstitious, nationalistic, or tribal forms of “widespread ignorance,” the author makes a full-throated appeal for secular, science-based inquiry as a central and infallible mode of reasoning and progress. Unfortunately, Jordan’s book, though well-intentioned and passionately argued, is insubstantial; the author makes grand claims on topics as diverse as evolutionary psychology, educational achievement, and the history of the Enlightenment, but fails to supplement these assertions with sufficient citations. Readers interested in an assessment of the Enlightenment, reason, and current affairs would do better to consult books like Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason or those noted in Jordan’s bibliography (including works by de Tocqueville, Diamond, Freud, and Kant). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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Ebook - 153 pages - 978-1-61614-641-2
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