survive — not only for its tragedies, millions dead from itsngreat wars and the Holocaust, but for its spectacularnscientific advances, from the study of subatomic particles tonthe exploration into the far reaches of the cosmos. The bestnof our time is marked by the truth and beauty of science asnsurely as the cathedral at Chartres is the high-water mark ofnthe 13th century.nBut what I wish to propose to you is this: that for a certainntype of educated denizen of this age it is only through, first,nthe love of the scientific method and, second, through itsnelevation and exhaustion as the ultimate method of knowingnthat he becomes open to other forms of knowing —nsciencing in the root sense of the word — and accordingly, atnleast I think so, to a new kind of revival of Westernnhumanism and the Judeo-Christian tradition — again, if wensurvive.nA large order. And of course I am not suggesting that onencannot be raised a believing Presbyterian, Jew, or Catholic,nor as an unbelieving humanist or simply as a passivenconsumer, and live happily ever after in one’s faith ornnonfaith without a second thought about the prevailingnscientism of the age.nNo, I am speaking of a rather more typical denizen of thenage who believes, as part of the very air he breathes, thatnnatural science has the truth, all the truth, and that thenrest—religion, humanism, art — are icing on the cognitivencake; attractive icing, yes, but icing nonetheless, which is tonsay, noncognitive icing, emotional icing.nNotice that I distinguish here between scientism as annall-pervading ideology and the scientific method as a validnmeans of investigating the mechanisms of phenomena.nBut please allow me, after the fashion of physicians, tonrelate a short history.nHere is a young man, a disciple and devotee of science,nwhose education has been thoroughly scientific, whonsettles on medicine as his vocation and chooses a medicalnschool famous for its scientific approach to medicine as thenstudy of the mechanism of disease.nThen, early on, his career is cut short by a serious,ndisabling, but nonfatal illness. What to do? In the end henreturns to the South and changes professions, decides tonbecome a writer—in the South at least, still an honorablenprofession.nBut how to go about it? The long and short of it: he writesntwo novels, one a bad imitation of Thomas Mann, the otherna worse imitation of Thomas Wolfe — which is very badnindeed. But no luck. Some kind words from publishers, butnno deal.nWhat to do now? To cut it even shorter: after muchncasting about and considerable depression if not despair, thenthought finally occurred to this fellow—by luck or bynprovidence — why not forget about other writers, howeverndistinguished, and go your own way? What was there tonlose? Wasn’t this what Newton, Darwin, and Freud hadndone in science?nAnd so it came to pass that he wrote a short novel innwhich he created a character, an amiable but slightlynbemused young man of a certain upper-class Southernnbackground, and set him down in Gentilly, a middle-classndistrict of New Orleans, in order to see what would happennto him. For he has given up on the usual verities — home,nfamily, church, country — and instead elects a solitarynexistence of selling stocks and bonds to the local burghers,nhiring a succession of lovely secretaries, and — going to thenmovies. He enjoys bad movies.nThe physician-novelist is not in the businessnof writing edifying tales. It is enough fornhim to have discovered and put his finger onnthe peculiar lesion of the age.nWhat happens to him is that in the very anxiety of hisndespair, cool as it is — indeed as the very consequence of hisndespair — it occurs to him that a search is possible, a searchnaltogether different from the scientific explorations mountednby scientists or by the most perceptive of psychoanalysts. Sonthe novel, almost by accident, became a narrative of thensearch, the quest. And so the novel, again almost bynaccident — or was it accident?—landed squarely in thenoldest tradition of Western letters: the pilgrim’s searchnoutside himself rather than the guru’s search within. All thisnhappened to the novelist and his character without thenslightest consciousness of a debt to St. Augustine or Dante.nIndeed, the character creates within himself and within thenconfines of a single weekend in New Orleans a microcosmnof the spiritual history of the West, from the Romannpatrician reading his Greek philosophers to the 13th centurynpilgrim who leaves home and takes to the road.nBut as a physician, perhaps I can give a more respectablenanalysis of this case history, after the fashion of professors innthe amphitheater discussing a case after the patient has beennwheeled out.nMy point is that the stance of the physician is appropriatenhere. For his stance is that of the diagnostician. A diagnosticiannis a person who stands toward another person in thenrelation of one who knows that something has gone wrongnwith the other. He, the physician-novelist, has a nose fornpathology.nIn his case, that of the physician-novelist, the pathologynhe discovers in his characters has afflicted the very societynthat surrounds him. It might be called scientism or, perhapsnmore accurately, what Whitehead called the MisplacednConcrete. What he. Whitehead, had in mind was not thentruth and beauty of the scientific method, but a certainnabstractedness and disorientation that follows upon thenelevation of science to an all-enveloping ideology. Onenlooks at an amoeba and sees it as an example of, a specimennof, a biological class. Very good. One looks at a fellownhuman being and sees him, her, as a typical example of ancertain sort of outgoing Midwesterner, or perhaps a recognizablenspecimen of a sardonic, backward-looking Southerner.nNot so good. For what one is missing is precisely thatnwhich makes this specimen human, his uniqueness.nSo what I have in mind here is the imperial decreenof scientism (not of science) to discredit other ways ofnknowing.nnnMAY 1989/11n