Page 6, 2nd December 1949

2nd December 1949
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd December 1949 — The Truth About Natural

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The Truth About Natural


The Power and Limits of Science, by E. F. Caldin. (Chapman and Hall. 12s. 6d.).

Reviewed by PROFESSOR SHERWOOD TAYLOR R. E. F. Caldin, who is a scientist and a philosopher, has written a book which will be of the greatest value to those who wish to put natural science in its proper place in human thought and human life. Most of us have. indeed. fairly correct opinions concerning the power and limits of science. but should be hard put to it to give good reasons for them. The author has done this for us.

He begins with a study of the method and scope of physics, with which he includes chemistry. Some of us would like to have heard more about biology. for it is the biological sciences which are today the hope of those who wish to substitute science for ethics and metaphysics. None the less the principles of science are seen at their clearest in physics and what is said of physics can. without much difficulty, be applied to biology. In this section of the book we find excellent sections in determinism. causality and the uncertainty principle. which will serve to correct the erroneous ideas about them which everywhere prevail.

The second section of the work is philosophical. and. though it is not exactly bedside reading, it gives a view of the foundations of scientific thought which will appeal to Catho

lics. Mr. Caldin follows the great realist tradition of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas: a tradition which fits remarkably well with the "common-sense " views that are generally held by those who are in closest contact with things. The question of the real existence of order in nature is admirably treated. The apparent apriorism of Eddington is made in telligible, and metaphysics is established as a necessary preliminary of science. The whole of the philosophical section is. of course. controversial and could be extended almost without limit if every theory were to be dealt with. but the survey given is in fact a very fair one.

The final section on the applications of science, is not less interesting. Here the question of the possibility of arriving at a scientific ethic is discussed. The author concludes that science provides none of the general principles of the good life but that it can be integrated into the good life for scientists, by reason of its rational spirit and the discipline of the will. It can tell us the means to certain ends and the effect of mt.taM actions, but has no relevance to the more fundamental questions of moral philosophy. In the succeeding chapter science is distinguished from technology and its value in education is discussed.

The book is a piece of. Catholic thinking in the great tradition. There is in it an interesting discussion concerning the cosmological argument for the existence of a First Cause: but generally its purpose is not directly apologetic. It seeks to destroy error and display the truth concerning natural science, which is, perhaps, the most effective of longterm action for the restoration of Christianity in the civilised world,

pUBLICATION of Four Years of

Struggle of the Church in Hungary (Longmans, Green & Co. 5s.) will not help Cardinal Mindszcnty. But it will help those who read it the better to understand the lessons of the four years which ended with the Cardinal going, a broken man, to jail. And that, one imagines, is as much as the Cardinal himself would ask.

The book is based on documents published by order of Cardinal Mindszenty-pastorals, letters, newspaper reports, which are more or less left to speak for themselves. We see the Cardinal standing uncompromisingly throughout against the mounting attack on the school, the family, and of course, the Church; speaking out fearlessly each time freedom and justice are threatened.

But we also see that he did not oppose the regime as such until by its works it had proved itself evil and aimed at the things which the Church holds to be most sacred. Thus in an article published on September 23, 1945, he said: "The modern watchword is democracy and the will of the people. We do not care whether it is Western democracy or the Eastern version, but what we want is the integration and consolidation of the people of God."

This book will be read with profit by all those who are trying to understand the struggle in Eastern Europe. And for all those who speak or write on the subject it is a " must."

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