On page 58 of Ideas Have Consequences, Richard M. Weaver makes the incredibly astute observation that, having been deprived by the relativists of ultimate, universal truth, modern man has retreated to a reliance on "facts." This reliance is directly attributable to the preceding centuries of scientism, in which man is not only encouraged to be myopic, but in many ways is forced to be by the cult of specialization.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of this observation is that Weaver's book was first published in 1948. We tend to think of the Internet, television news, and trivia games as the harbingers of factualism (as opposed to belief in universal truth), when in reality these are only consequences of the ideas which preceded them. Ideas, no less, that Weaver succeeds in tracing all the way back to the time of Plato.
Here's a bit of the progression: Science as an end in itself led to a naturalistic worldview, which in turn led to philosophical materialism, which in turn led to a rejection of universal truth and values, which in turn led to the rise of relativisim, which in turn led to the somewhat frantic grasp for facts as concrete and irrefutable, etc. This isn't a book about an abstract idea: it's a book about how abstract ideas manifest themselves in concrete realities, and the particulars of this cycle throughout Western history.
A quick glance at the blurbs on the back of this particular edition of Ideas Have Consequences may give you the impression that Weaver was an Enlightenment rationalist who, along with Rousseau, believed the solution to all of the world's problems is to be found in ignorance-negating education. The truth is far otherwise. Weaver brings his readers back again and again to the idea that a loss of belief in original sin, and the behaviour consequent such a rejection, is what is wrong with the world.
Though apparently never much more than a nominal Protestant, Weaver's ideas are nonetheless incredibly Christian. This book is both an historical survey and a philosophical essay intended to show how ideas in history have had, and will continue to have, consequences. Whether you read this book and weep, read it and shout "Amen!", or simply reject everything the man has to say, this is not a book thoughtful Christians can afford to ignore or dismiss.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?