Review of What Man Has Made of Man by M.J. Adler.
Here are four lectures spoken before the Psychoanalytic Institute of Chicago, set forth in analytic form in the scholastic manner, with premises and conclusions numbered and indented. To clarify the lectures a much larger amount of space is given to some sixty-two notes, and to explain exactly what the notes mean there is appended a ten-page "epilogue."
The author's well-known contempt for sociology is indicated by his announcement that he intends to ignore the "so-called social sciences," and even this brief notice of the book would not be justified except for the strictures on psychology in which all sociologists have an interest.
From the knowledge that the author is a devout follower of Thomas Aquinas the position taken could be deductively known. Man has a soul and this soul was specially created. Its nature cannot be the object of any investigative science, for reason can be known only by "metaphysical analysis," the same method that gives us our knowledge of angels and demons. The chief advantage of the author's system is its absolute certainty; his conclusions are never in doubt. Indeed, they are hardly open to argument. "It is not a matter of opinion. There is only one right meta-physics." The reader is repeatedly informed whose system of meta-physics is "right."
Modern thought is admitted to have added something to a study of behavior, but "if one were writing a history of psychology as a branch of philosophy and were concerned to report genuine advances in analysis,
( 493) everything from the 17th to the 19th centuries could be ignored without exception." The revolt against authority which gave us the modern world of science is, therefore, no more acceptable to the author than it was to the scholastics of that earlier time. The sterility of scholarship is asserted to have endured even longer, for "even the best writers need not be mentioned because at their best they are only poor statements of what is better found in Aristotle or St. Thomas." The last seven centuries seem to the author as barren as Pharaoh's seven lean years.
Dr. Alexander's introduction is a vigorous attack on the whole argument. Two passages are representative and may be quoted. "If for nothing else, then as such an anachronism, Mr. Adler's lectures may have the interest and value of a curiosity." "If there is such a thing as turning back the clock of history and science, here we see a classical ex-ample of it. Scholasticism, a sterile form of deductive reasoning, developed as a harmless outlet for the reasoning powers of man in a period of intellectual servitude when man could not observe the world around himself lest any observation come in conflict with prevailing dogmas. He had to content himself with flawless reasoning from incorrect premises."
Turning back the clock never retards the sunrise. Scholastic subservience to authority is abhorrent to the modern spirit and is an outmoded form of anti-intellectualism. We are warned that we cannot investigate the nature of the human reason by scientific methods, to which we reply that we are already doing it. Once, heretical activities meant faggots and flames, but bans against freedom of investigation no longer disturb anyone. The seven barren centuries have at least witnessed the transformation of medieval dogmatism from an arrogant majority to an admittedly negligible minority, tolerated even in its effrontery.
ELLS WORTH FARIS
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO