I am Perplexed
E.F. Schumacher’s A Guide for the Perplexed was written in an age where theology and namely God have been taken off from a pedestal and set aside for other things to become kingdoms. In this text Schumacher attempts to show Christianity as the foundation of life and its principles for understanding, knowing yourself, and knowing God. Schumacher is able to accomplish this through taking the arguments for faith and Gods existence and breaking them down and explaining the accuracies from the “levels of being” to the “Four Fields of Knowledge”. He also encounters several theories and beliefs as to why to disprove Christianity, namely God. He uses several methods and themes throughout the text but I have chosen three of which to analyze.
The first is the reoccurring theme of Science. Science and Faith can go hand in hand, however most do not see it this way. The past one hundred and fifty years science has taken over the minds of the masses as being the truth to all questions. Schumacher puts it well as a shift from “science from understanding to science for manipulation”. (104) Science from understanding “saw man in the image of God” and “was directed primarily towards the sovereign good, i.e., the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, knowledge that would bring happiness and salvation.”(54) Science for manipulation was the complete opposite. It seen man as “…nothing but an accidental product of evolution, a higher animal, a social animal…”(55) The problem that arises with this is the use of scientific reason to manipulate everything so that “I” have the power. This way a person can find his kingdoms within himself without looking towards a higher being. Schumacher tries to break this down with the understanding of the “levels of being”. This is a hierarchal structure of beings starting from the lowest (matter) to the highest (God). If I am to use Schumacher’s method to demonstrate the meaning in this I would use the letter “M” as matter. Rocks have no consciousness and no life just “M”. If I move a step higher into the levels I would come to plants. Plants have “M”, but also contain an additional “X” which represents life. A step higher moves to animals. Animals have matter “M”, they have life “X” and they also have something that rocks and plants do not; they have “Y” consciousness. Now at the highest position that is seen with the senses is Human Beings. Humans have matter “M”, they have life “X”, they have consciousness “Y”, but finally they have something that puts humans as the highest being according to our senses, they have “Z” self-awareness. Other than matter, the rest of these attributes cannot have closures in science and that is precisely why the humanities are less respected than the material sciences which only focus on matter. In fact most material sciences have success in studying the human body and what makes the human body function. This material science however does not cover the topic on “what makes a human a human?” With this, science tries to come to the ideological closure that humans and animals are alike as a complex system of arranged molecules and focus little attention to our invisible traits that all humans share. “To say that life is nothing but a property of certain peculiar combinations of atoms is like saying that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is nothing but a property of a peculiar combination of letters.” (19) Because human beings do not operate under instinct like animals there needs to be that recognization of what sets apart humans from animals. There are two different types of traits that humans share that are the visible and the invisible. The visible traits are those which are picked up by the human senses such as the way a person speaks or his gestures. The invisible traits are those which are not picked up by our senses and are difficult for science to prove. These traits include emotional pain, sympathy, happiness, etc. Human beings have the power of self awareness and this...
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