Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Walker Percy's Twentieth Century Thomism Part 4

"Social and Political Science"

Walker Percy was a broad thinker. He was also a very deep thinker. I like to think of Walker Percy as a Christian Humanist. He spoke on many contemporary issues from a Christian world-view. Percy definitely had a Catholic mind, referring to Father Schall's book on the Catholic mind. Not alot has been written on Percy's view on social and political science. In some of Lawler's writings he has compared Percy with Alexis de Tocqueville. It is easy to recognize Lawler's respect for Tocqueville.

Lawler in this section ties in Percy's thought with his arguments against "pop Cartesianism." He says it is really scientism. Lawler notes, ""The pop Cartesianism of the Americans is really scientism, the 'elevation' of a theory that does account scientifically for nonhuman nature into 'an all-enveloping ideology'." Lawler claims that the ideology of scientism is basically "a project for eradicating human nature in the name of science's truth" (92). One can even say it is a reductionism. Whatever that is not explained by science doesn't exist or doesn't matter.

Percy talks much about the Sovereign Wayfarer and one of the early analysis of his work was entitled, The Sovereign Wayfarer. There is alot that is included in this term. One thing is refers is the layman deferring to the knowledge of the experts. Lawler writes: "Laymen tend to surrender their personal sovereignty, their own judgments about their personal experiences, to the scientists' allegedly impersonal authority" (92).

Percy often notes how modern humans felt more alone in the modern, technological world. This is ironic because with the growth of modern science, it is assumed that they would be more at home. Lawler states, "Despite all the expert emphasis on human relations or getting along with others, loneliness remains 'the twentieth-century disease" (93). Is this true still in the modern era of social media? I believe it is.

Lawler also speaks of our therapeutic culture. Percy was good at addressing important issues through questions. He often asked, why do people feel bad in good environments, and why do people feel good in bad environments? There is a common thought we need to cure all anxieties and discomfort through drugs or "through a change in environmental stimuli" (93). Percy would not agree with this. We need to stop putting band aids on these symptoms and look at the core issues. Percy thought that Americans believed "or or told to believe by experts who they hope will provide answers for all the mysteries of human life" (93). A good thing about Percy's writing is that all mysteries or not answered. Life is meant to be lived with mystery. Science does not, cannot and will not answer all of life's questions.

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