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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Curtis White Narrator: Jonathan Hoga Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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One of our most brilliant social critics—and the author of the bestselling The Middle Mind—presents a scathing critique of the “delusions” of science alongside a rousing defense of the role of art and philosophy in our culture.

The so-called new atheists, most famously Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, made a splash in the new millennium. They told the evangelical and the liberal believer that they must give up religion and submit to science.

More recently, neuroscientists and their fans in the media have delivered a variation on this message: the mapping of the human brain will soon be completed, and we will know what we are and how we should act. Their faith is that the scientific method provides the best understanding not only of the physical world but also of art, culture, economics, and anything left over. The message is nearly the same as that of the new atheists: submit to science.

In short, the rich philosophical debates of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have been nearly totally abandoned, argues Curtis White. An atheist himself, White fears what this new turn toward “scientism” will do to our culture if allowed to flourish without challenge. After all, is creativity really just chemicals in the brain? Is it wrong to ponder “Why is there something instead of nothing?” or “What is our purpose on Earth?” These were some of the original concerns of the Romantic movement, which pushed back against the dogmas of science in a nearly forgotten era.

In this brilliant multipart critique, White aims at a TED talk by a distinguished neuroscientist in which we are told that human thought is merely the product of our “connectome”—neural connections in the brain that are yet to be fully understood. He examines the ideas of a widely respected physicist who argues that a new understanding of the origins of the universe trumps all religious and philosophical inquiry and ends with an eloquent defense of the poetry and philosophy of Romanticism, which White believes our technology and science-obsessed world desperately needs to rediscover.

It’s the only way, he argues, that we can see our world clearly … and change it.

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Quotes & Awards

  • ”A symptomatic tour of the real sense of anxiety about the disenchantment of all those qualities that make us feel most alive and unique in the world.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[White’s] brisk take downs of Hitchens, Hawking, Krauss, Lehrer and others are sharp and necessary, wielding elementary logic against figures who should know better. [White shows] just how easily good science can shade into the self-aggrandizing ideology of scientism.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “An important and necessary book.”

    Philadelphia Review of Books

  • “A bracing and necessary critique by an able arguer.”

    Toronto Star

  • “There’s certainly a very real need to march on that citadel because the idea that there can be only one kind of truth has to be deeply damaging to the intellectual development of a culture.”


  • “[White’s] secular solution to the problem of corporatist science’s sanitizing of creativity and counterculture is an embrace of Romanticism, and he advises looking to the teachings of philosophers like Friedrich Schelling and scientists like Morse Peckham and Jacob Bronowski for ‘what science is mostly clueless about: how we ought to live’…White’s argument is worth consideration.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “White makes a passionate case for the Romanticist view that recognizes mysteries inexplicable through science and without pinning them to the actions of a god. With some broad generalizations and extensive use of challenging quotes from philosophers he admires, White’s book requires readers to be ready to put in some serious intellectual effort.”

    Library Journal

  • “A witty critique of scientific overreach that celebrates the totality of human achievement.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Those who listen to White’s book will find themselves thinking about science in unexpected ways. The author makes the case that science has succeeded in defining reality but has become a system of dogma that is limiting a freer exploration of ideas. Jonathan Hogan narrates with a largely professorial tone that reflects White’s enthusiasm. Even if listeners haven’t considered the relationships between the free market, the Industrial Revolution, the humanities, and other topics, Hogan keeps things interesting. As White quotes figures such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and writer Christopher Hitchens, Hogan’s intonations reflect the loftiness of their comments. At times, the ideas are esoteric, but listeners will find far-reaching new thoughts on a range of subjects.”


  • A Toronto Star Book of Note
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About the Author
Author Curtis White

Curtis White is the author of the novels Memories of My Father Watching TV and Requiem. A widely acclaimed essayist, he has had work appear in Harper’s Magazine, Context, Lapham’s Quarterly, Orion, and Playboy. His book The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don’t Think for Themselves was an international bestseller in 2003.