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The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals [Hardcover]

William D. Gairdner
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Book Description

Aug. 21 2008
Current dogma holds that all cultures and moral values are conditional, nothing human is innate, and Einstein proved that the whole universe is 'relative'. Challenging this position, William Gairdner argues that relativism is not only logically and morally self-defeating but that progress in scientific and intellectual disciplines has actually strengthened the case for absolutes, universals, and constants of nature and human nature. Gairdner refutes the popular belief in cultural relativism by showing that there are hundreds of well-established cross-cultural 'human universals'. He then discusses the many universals found in physics - as well as Einstein's personal regret at how his work was misinterpreted by the public's eagerness to promote relativism.Gairdner also gives a lively account of the many universals of human biology, including the controversial topic of universal gender differences or 'brain sex'. He then looks at universal concepts of both natural and international law, and ends by discussing language theory.He shows how philosophers from Nietzsche to Derrida have misused linguistic concepts to justify their relativism, even though a sustained and successful effort by serious scientists and philosophers of language has revealed myriad universals of human language, ranging from language acquisition, to word-order, to 'Universal Grammar'. From ethics to Einstein, culture to biology, law to language, "The Book of Absolutes" makes complex topics accessible to a broad audience and demonstrates that there are plenty of certainties, even in our postmodern world.

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"A brilliant analysis of the chief intellectual pathology of the modern age. Writing with wit and erudition, William Gairdner goes to the heart of the defining spiritual malaise of our time, showing (among much else) that relativism and tyranny, far from being opposing forces, actually collude to undermine genuine freedom. The Book of Absolutes is sure to emerge as a modern classic of political and moral maturity." -- Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher, The New Criterion, and Art Critic for National Review

About the Author

William D. Gairdner is a best-selling author, businessman, and independent scholar . His most recent books are Canada's Founding Debates and The Trouble with Democracy.

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gairdner's Most Important Work to Date Feb. 22 2009
Format:Hardcover
William D. Gairdner, Ph. D., is usually described as a "best-selling Canadian conservative author". The phrase is arresting: of the possible partial combinations of these four words, most are so improbable that the complete catena almost defies belief. It is rare enough to be a best-selling writer in Canada (especially of non-fiction); no less rare to be a Canadian writer of conservative opinion; rarest of all to be a Canadian writer of conservative opinion whose books consistently make the best-seller lists.

But Gairdner is all of these things, and more. As the author of ten major works and counting (including The Trouble with Canada, The War Against the Family, and The Trouble with Democracy), he has almost single-handedly laid the philosophical and theoretical foundation that this country's tenuous conservative political movement has hitherto so conspicuously lacked. Even so, such is his erudition and amplitude of mind, that to think of Gairdner as merely a political philosopher is on the order of thinking of Milton as a pamphleteer, or Plutarch a biographer.

With Oh, Oh, Canada and The Book of Absolutes, Gairdner now adds two more tomes to an already impressive opus.

In The Book of Absolutes, Gairdner trains his sights on the philosophy of relativism, the intellectual (more accurately, anti-intellectual) matrix out of which many of the most odorous orthodoxies of the day have arisen. The palaver of relativism (epistemological, moral, or cultural) can now be heard practically everywhere, from the public square to the private cocktail party. Everyone knows that truth and right, like beauty, exist "only in the eye of the beholder". (That there is no absolute truth is the only truth we dare to affirm with absolute certitude.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Gairdner using ordinary and sometimes not so ordinary language explains how relativism started and became the bane of society today and is retreating with the acceptance(finally again) of Natural Law.
His common sense approach and clear and concise explanation of how relativism is disputed by reknown literary scholars is refreshing and his critique through out the book is nothing but sensible and correct. Excellent read and a wonderful resource for the future student understanding of Natural Law!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! May 3 2014
By Mikofox
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
William D. Gairdner will be remembered as one of the great thinkers of our age. If we only had people like him in Canadian/World politics.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gairdner's Most Important Work to Date Feb. 20 2009
By H. Price - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
William D. Gairdner, Ph. D., is usually described as a "best-selling Canadian conservative author". The phrase is arresting: of the possible partial combinations of these four words, most are so improbable that the complete catena almost defies belief. It is rare enough to be a best-selling writer in Canada (especially of non-fiction); no less rare to be a Canadian writer of conservative opinion; rarest of all to be a Canadian writer of conservative opinion whose books consistently make the best-seller lists.

But Gairdner is all of these things, and more. As the author of ten major works and counting (including The Trouble with Canada, The War Against the Family, and The Trouble with Democracy), he has almost single-handedly laid the philosophical and theoretical foundation that this country's tenuous conservative political movement has hitherto so conspicuously lacked. Even so, such is his erudition and amplitude of mind, that to think of Gairdner as merely a political philosopher is on the order of thinking of Milton as a pamphleteer, or Plutarch a biographer.

With Oh, Oh, Canada and The Book of Absolutes, Gairdner now adds two more tomes to an already impressive opus.

In The Book of Absolutes, Gairdner trains his sights on the philosophy of relativism, the intellectual (more accurately, anti-intellectual) matrix out of which many of the most odorous orthodoxies of the day have arisen. The palaver of relativism (epistemological, moral, or cultural) can now be heard practically everywhere, from the public square to the private cocktail party. Everyone knows that truth and right, like beauty, exist "only in the eye of the beholder". (That there is no absolute truth is the only truth we dare to affirm with absolute certitude.)

Such views are now worn as badges of their proponents' tolerance and open-mindedness. Today, it is just plain impolite to challenge another person's or culture's beliefs, regardless of their merits. Moreover, any acknowledgment of absolutes of right and wrong, or of innate and immutable factors within our universal human nature, all too inconveniently limits our choices and desires. It is not surprising, then, that relativism has been given such a free ride.

Gairdner provides his readers with an admirably objective survey of relativist thought from Protagoras to Post-modernism, whose arguments, in such diverse disciplines as philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, biology, physics, and quantum theory, he nonetheless manages to make broadly accessible. (That he has been able to render coherent the prose of the deconstructionsists Foucault and Derrida is something for which he will earn the undying gratitude of the multitudes.)

Along the way, Gairdner exposes the grossly political motivation behind the research of such pioneers of the new "science" of anthropology as Franz Boas, and the risible myths of primitive innocence confabulated by the likes of Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. And we learn that Einstein, though popularly supposed to have proven that "everything in the universe is relative", was, on his own part, persuaded that he had only demonstrated the universal and objectively knowable constants of nature. It is a little known irony that Einstein came to bitterly resent the misappropriation of his work by the demagogues of moral and cultural relativism.

Gairdner is at his best in bringing such ironies to gestation, especially as they emerge from the self-refuting logic of relativist theory itself. How would the relativist respond, one wonders, to Gairdner's point that the very declaration that all assertions of truth are relative can only mean that this assertion too is relative, and valid only for those who assert it? Or that just because differing perspectives produce conflicting "narratives" of reality (of the proverbial crime scene, for example) doesn't negate the fact that something definite and real has happened, and that its truth is ultimately unitary, however difficult to discover.

The most tragic irony is that relativism condemns us all to muteness and quietism in the face of evil. The anthropologists whose theories arose from a high-minded aversion to imperialist European illusions of racial and cultural superiority, were ultimately disqualified from criticizing those very illusions by their own insistence that all cultural practices are equal and equally valid from the internal viewpoint of the culture itself (the only viewpoint permissible). For what can one say about Nazism, for instance, save that it was subjectively "valid" for the German people who believed in its truth at the time? The inevitable logic of relativism is to declare all cultural practices, from head-hunting and cannibalism to slavery and tyranny, "morally infallible" and "beyond criticism". What's more, by denying the validity of universal moral norms of freedom and right, relativism at the same time leaves the individual defenceless against the depredations of the totalitarian state.

The main burden of Gairdner's book is, more happily, to show that there exist, in fact, any number of demonstrable universal and abiding patterns, ideas, and truths that transcend and unify all historical epochs and cultures across the world: in mathematics, theology, myth, morality, and law; and that current studies in biology, psychology, and theoretical physics are uncovering new constants of human and physical nature every day.

The Book of Absolutes is probably Gairdner's most important work to date, not that this former Olympic decathlete shows any signs of slowing down. Not since Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind has a book come along that furnishes so many insights into the morbid mentality of a civilization that has lost confidence in its certainties and itself, or that more clearly points the way up from despair. For conservative resistors, at any rate, it's nice to see tradition and truth in the role of accuser, rather than accused, for a change.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Corrupting Effects of Relativism April 6 2010
By Charles F. Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Gairdner's wide-ranging book is both important for our time and highly readable. He makes it clear that relativism is a particularly modern disease that has come to infect many aspects of life and thought in the modern world, especially and increasingly over the past hundred years. In contrast to this modern predicament, Gairdner makes a strong and persuasive case for the existence of absolutes or universal truths and constants by examination of ancient and modern evidence in many areas of human life and cultures, nature, physics, mathematics, cosmology, biology, sexuality, morals, natural law, and language. His central thesis is that "all of nature, all human experience, cultures, moral systems, and all sciences, from the softest to the hardest - while they are repositories of sometimes countless differences . . . are characterized by the existence of a very large number of absolutes without which the subjects themselves could not be meaningfully discussed in the first place" [xiv]. His extensive lists and discussions of these universal truths take first place in the book, and should convince anyone not blinded by relativism or prejudice. A second aspect of his approach, as extensively treated as the first, is an incisive, critical case against the currently prevailing orthodoxy of relativism. Perhaps no better critique of the self-contradictions and failures of relativism is available today.
What is the extent and influence of relativism today? Gairdner emphasizes "its current omnipresence." He states, rightly I think, "that relativist orthodoxy in many shapes and forms is more or less pervasive in almost all educational and intellectual departments, disciplines, and spheres of influence." "It is almost everywhere believed, defended and promoted, however unsubtly" [21]. Not only many intellectuals but the man in the street now hold such views: "No absolutes. No universals. No constants, either of nature or of human nature" [xiv]. The "idea that everything is relative, invented, and therefore permeated with a controlling motive led at once to a new form of analytical suspicion directed at every aspect of human activity from poetry to politics. All social phenomena, in particular, would become targeted as explicit or implicit power structures justifying one or another form of moral, social, political, or economic control" [19].
Various forms of relativism have been developing since the seventeenth century. Hobbes pioneered moral relativism in the seventeenth. By 1859 J. S. Mill's views in On Liberty put forward a new moral standard of "liberty" that has become "the most powerful and popular `moral' guideline cited by ordinary people in the West today," with the slogan "do your own thing, just don't harm me" [15]. "Moral relativism is the most common form of relativism we encounter in daily life ..., clearly a defiantly secular position that assumes there is no transcendent reality or moral viewpoint in the whole universe" [27]. Historical relativism, influentially developed by Hegel and Marx in the nineteenth century, is "the claim that all truth changes over time because it is relative to its moment in history" [25]. Cultural relativism, advanced by Boas, Mead and Benedict in best-selling books since the early twentieth century, takes "the surprising view that one culture is as good as another, that there may be such things as good-better-best within a culture or civilization but not between them." This situation in our time represents a revolutionary shift in history, because "no traditional culture in history except our own has ever had a belief in anything resembling a cultural relativism that denies all foundational truth" [43]. Cultural relativism has led to the corrosive influences of "multiculturalism" and "political correctness." Linguistic relativism has been extensively developed and promoted during the twentieth century by Wittgenstein and more recent postmodernists such as Derrida and Foucault, based on views that "language games" or "texts" have no real ground or connection to an "external world" or to any "transcendent absolute." Gairdner suggests that a general motive for "denying the crucial place of absolutes in life is, at bottom, simply anti-authoritarian and self-serving" [xv].
Gairdner presents brief but perceptive analyses of influential modern thinkers from the seventeenth century onward who have made such prevailing relativism increasingly possible in the twentieth century, following World War I, the decades between the world wars, and especially since the hippie generation of the 1960s. Hobbes developed moral relativism out of his mechanistic materialism in which individuals and societies are seen as machines in motion. Morality is reduced to the "good" of human appetite or desire, and "evil" to the object of hate and aversion. Hobbes flatly declared that good and evil "are ever used with relation to the person that useth them; there being nothing simply and absolutely so; nor any common rule of Good and Evill" [12]. Isaac Newton's seventeenth-century science and philosophy of nature was clearly modern in key respects, but it still emphasized an orderly cosmos controlled by universal laws, the product of intelligent design. Such a universe "could only proceed from the council and domination of an intelligent and powerful Being." "But," as Gairdner writes, "we have utterly rejected his theological reasoning for their existence." While there is significant movement among some scientists in the direction of the "G-word," the "general direction of today's scientific community and, therefore of the public mind - and certainly of public education ... has run strongly against this idea. We increasingly describe ourselves in defiantly materialist, atheistic, and therefore, relativistic terms, and these three concepts form the underpinning of our thoroughly modern orthodoxy." In such views the universe no longer has a point, and "when there is no point to anything, relativism rules" [10-11].
Many European relativists "rejected entirely, or sought to reshape as entirely, the whole Western tradition." Since the early nineteenth century Hegel has been highly influential in these ways. He boosted relativism with his view of history as "an ever-evolving process that cannot be understood or evaluated at all except through the context of particular historical periods." There is "no God's-eye view of anything." By the late nineteenth century Nietzsche went much further: he "surely ranks as the most tormented and explicitly angry relativist. He lambasted Western traditions root and branch, particularly Christianity .... The West, he cried, originally made a huge mistake falling for Plato's theory about absolutes that exist in some world of higher ideals and perfect Forms. This was a terrible, life-denying concept that ruined Western civilization, mostly by producing Christianity, which he deeply disrespected as `a poor man's Platonism' . . ." Nietzsche came to the radically relativist conclusions that "religion is obviously a lie" and "there are no absolutes"; "there is only human `Will'"; "there are no facts, only interpretations" [15-16]. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American philosopher and psychologist William James developed his philosophy of pragmatism, asserting that "Man" is at the center of things, and "ideas and actions of the good must be judged only in terms of their practical worldly consequences, for there is no higher external standard." Another American pragmatist, John Dewey, subsequently influenced American education heavily throughout the twentieth century with his similar views that "man alone with his evolving experience is the measure of the evolving universe. There is no other truth." He sought to convince philosophers to stop searching for ultimate meanings, final truths, and absolutes [17].
In twentieth-century linguistic philosophy, Austrian-British philosopher Wittgenstein promoted a linguistic relativism in works of the 1920s, 1950s, and later, that have been enormously influential. His views are of the type claiming "truth is something that is created by, is reflected by, and according to some, is even a product of language." He "spoke famously not of reality or truth but of how moral and philosophical statements are factually meaningless." The work of philosophers is a kind of verbal "game" and the games do not "refer to anything real in the external world" [25-26].
Heidegger was "in many ways more radical" than Nietzsche, who influenced him. He was "as deeply opposed to Western philosophy because from the beginning it called for a rationalistic distancing from direct physical experience of this world in order to evaluate and judge it rather than to live it. He insisted that all truth must be subjective because no one can step outside existence in order to judge it: we can live it only from within." In a post-Nietzschean world where "God is dead," Heidegger claimed we have been "thrown" into existence. And like Nietzsche, he found our choice to be between brute nihilism and creating "a new world of higher values" in which the focus would be on "process, becoming, and questioning rather than on the old Greek virtues of reason, harmony, and idealism." For him as for Nietzsche this meant "all claims to absolute truth must be challenged and uncovered as stratagems for moral and political control." New ideals must be imposed on "an otherwise meaningless world." Nazi officials loved this. Heidegger had a deep mistrust of all universal concepts, interpreting them as powerful but meaningless abstractions, a means of tyranny, and the loss of authentic existence as "being-in-the-world," or "life as it is lived." Several of his concepts were adapted and pressed further by postmodern followers, especially his criticism of the Western "metaphysics of presence," the belief "that a permanent and absolute truth more real and more valuable than ordinary experience is `present' in key concepts and ideals." For Heidegger "there can be no transcendent, objective, or universal truth worth speaking about" [244-47].
In powerful chapters on relativism in language theory in recent decades, Gairdner gives an analysis of two major forms of language analysis--structuralism and poststructuralism. He indicates that while structuralism still gave prominence to positive, objective, and universal features of language, subsequent, more revolutionary poststructuralism seized on certain negative features of signs to claim that since all signifiers are arbitrary, so are the things they supposedly signify [221-331]. The early father of structural linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure, held that while a linguistic sign, considered in the separate terms of its signifier and signified has negative implications, a sign considered as a whole has a positive and objective function referring to an objective world [230]. Noam Chomsky, in his 1957 book, Syntactic Structures, emphasized, as Gairdner writes, the existence of "a deep and universal structuring of language" [228]. And in 1969, Levi-Strauss argued, as Gairdner says, "that beneath the surface differences of peoples and tribes of the world there exist certain archetypal, or universal, themes, customs, and social patterns." Poststructuralism came as a "powerful retaliation" against such universal claims, presenting its own "very cynical form of linguistic relativism," spreading far and wide, and morphing into "a diffuse sociopolitical and aesthetic movement called `postmodernism.'" This "`linguistic turn' in Western intellectual life . . . got us all marching, once more, down the road to relativism" [229]. Cultural relativists have long held the notion that "language shapes reality, and because each language is different, then reality must also be different for each language community" [231]. "Poststructuralists took `the linguistic turn' down the road to a relativism more extreme than any previously known" [233].
Jacques Derrida, an Algerian-French Jew heavily influenced by Heidegger and Nietzsche, became the kingpin of post-structuralism/postmodernism in the late twentieth century. In a famous early conference speech in 1966 he used Heidegger's concept of the "metaphysics of presence" to attack traditional Western beliefs and thought, including the recent one of "structure." In Derrida's view, the notion was as arbitrary and deplorable as other supposed forms of "metaphysical presence - like `Reason,' or `Forms,' or `God.'" In language and thought, for Derrida, both terms of the sign, the signifier and signified, carried a negative sense: "neither term has a fixed reality in itself." Gairdner emphasizes that this was a misunderstanding of Saussure, for whom the whole sign was a positive term. The result of Derrida's view of sign, signifier, and signified was "an endless polyvalence of words." There can never be any fixed, universal, or absolute concepts. Thus, language and "reality" are seen as "an ever-changing river of experience." Gairdner finds it "incredible," "hardly believable," and "irresponsible," that "Derrida and so many others just as eager for philosophical supports for relativism took this radical and quite incorrect notion of endless sign generation as gospel and used it to undermine human confidence in language and the existence of the real world to which it refers." The view helped promote not only "semantic indeterminacy," but "cultural and moral relativism." And it promised "a new ground for a radical critique of Western capitalism, technology, science, philosophy - indeed, of an entire civilization." For Derrida, much like Nietzsche and Heidegger, Western philosophy's quest for "a transcendental signified," an origin or center external to, more true, or superior to immediate experience, simply involved stories or "narratives" invented by intellectuals and power-mongers to persuade and capture followers. All such narratives are only "convenient fictions serving intellectual and political power, and over them all there is visible what he rather cheekily derided as `the ultimate fiction of God.'" Echoing Nietzsche, Derrida believed there is "nothing foundational outside itself; everything is in the flowing river of existence" [249-52].
In contrast to such views, with their pervasive sense of multiplicity, fragmentation, and uncertainty, Gairdner emphasizes that universals constitute a higher, overarching relatedness that makes possible the real identity and meaning of particular things and individuals, and of existence. A seemingly endless number of particular things makes up the ground-level of our experience, but they are only knowable and have relationship and meaning through a higher level of universals, a transcendent realm. What then is the source and origin of all these universals that spread over and enfold the particulars of life and knowledge, giving them and life real identity and meaning? Where did universals come from? If universals exist, as Gairdner's wide-ranging catalogue and description of them seems to prove, they surely must have an absolute, supremely transcendent source and ground. Newton's discovery of the universal law of gravity indicates "traces in matter of an intelligence" and a "transcendent reality" [76]. Einstein's theories of "relativity," which have been widely misinterpreted and popularized as promoting all sorts of relativism, actually reveal "universal constants of nature" that suggest an ultimate mind at work [79-89]. But what is it? Can universals exist without an ultimate source and ground as their origin and support? Gairdner's evocative but indeterminate allusions to any such ultimate ground, sprinkled through the book, are brief and varied, offering no resolution to these questions.
Gairdner's compilations of universal truths and constants are in large part derived from scientific and scholarly directions that show new interest and knowledge of universals despite the prevailing culture of relativism. He also appeals to the traditions of "the world's great religions," perennial philosophy, Taoism, Plato and Aristotle, Christ, Judeo-Christian tradition, Greco-Christian tradition, Hebrew thought, Judaism, and Islam [56, 71-4, 212-216, 269-72, 329-30]. However, there are no doubt more differences among these sources than there are common features. A significant number of common or universal truths can be found among them, which is his point, but considered as a group they do not reveal one common, absolutely transcendent source and ground, such as theology's "First Cause of all things," in contrast to science's "universe without a cause" [116]. In this sense they often stand in opposition in key ways. But neither these differences, nor the topics of modern relativization of religion, especially the relativization of Christianity and the figure of Christ (for example, by John Hick), are not significantly dealt with.
What is the ultimate unity, cause, and ground? Gairdner states "I don't know much about God. Certainly not enough to say what God is and, if He exists, what God can or cannot do" [127], and he makes no special use of the rich and abundant material on God, God's nature, acts, revelation, truth, and laws in the Bible. While Gairdner states that "[a]ll forms of traditional natural law point to God as their ultimate source," he takes the position that "the natural law as I am going to outline it here is considered to exist in itself and is discoverable by human reason whether or not we want to bother determining its ultimate source." "[A]lthough some kind of faith may be required to explain how it is possible for a universal law of this or any other kind to exist unless it has an author, what the law is may be understood by right reason in its practical manifestations alone" [164, 180-81]. His approach allows relativists, liberals, and undecided readers breathing room to consider the reality of the many universal truths and constants presented, and even to think beyond them, without pinning them down to one religious or philosophical ultimate. On the other hand, since he does not directly and substantially address the key question of the ultimate origin of universals, he leaves the most basic question unanswered: how can any unchanging universal truths exist without an ultimate, unchanging source?
The great value of the book is that it reveals a great number of actual universal truths, constants, and their functions, all of which extreme modern relativism seeks to deny. Equally valuable is the devastating critique of relativism, which shows its inconsistencies, self-contradictions, and ultimate failure as a credible philosophical, religious, and intellectual belief. Throughout the book Gairdner provides ample argument and evidence that relativism "is a seriously flawed worldview" [21]. The book draws a penetrating picture of the distorting and corrupting effects of relativism on modern society, governments, knowledge, universities, and intellectual life, ranging through fields of ethics, biology, physics, philosophy, cultural anthropology, law, natural law, sexuality, and linguistics. This dark picture is countered by the positive discussions of the many universal truths Gairdner has assembled.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely a great book! Oct. 30 2008
By Steve W. Claflin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Gairdner's book is what we all need to read and know - that morals, right and wrong, and society's norms are absolute and not a majority vote of today. The book is thought provoking and necessary to read over and over. Its almost like going to Church - in that I need to be reminded and encouraged as to what is good and absolute in the world today.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Relativity of Relativism and Other Topics Made Accessible June 7 2014
By The Inquirer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bill Gairdner is one of those rare writers who has the ability to take a complex subject, condense it into almost poetic prose, and keep your attention long enough to read the 400+ page tome. I have read several chapters individually over the years, they were so good, I had to return and read the book in its entirety. Hands down, this is the best book written in defense of absolutes. Whether you agree or not does not really matter, since this book will, at the very least, present a thorough case for absolutes in nature and morality. As a side note, a previous reviewer stated that Gairdner supports the theory of Creation. While this may be true, it is misleading. What Gairdner, in fact, supports is the idea that the cosmos was "created" by God, something many physicists themselves belief. Here is a direct quote from the book regarding this subject:
"In preparation for Cosmos, Bios, Theos (1992), the editors sent a handful of questions, including one asking for 'thoughts on the concept of God and on the existence of God,' to sixty scientists of international reputation, among whom were two dozen Nobel Prize winners. The answers were surprising: the physicists were far more likely to say that nature and the universe are here for a reason and by design (many believe they were created by God) than those in the biological sciences, whose answers were grounded in...bottomless materialism that has served as a creation myth for secular science since the nineteenth century. This is interesting in itself, as it is physics that underlies biology, not the other way around, atoms and all the smaller particles being far more fundamental than cells and genes" (p. 78). To say, as one of the previous reviewers had, that Gairdner is basing his book and argument on faith instead of reason is (a) not fair (since Gairdner is primarily citing scientists and scholarly sources) and (b) the reviewer appears to be ignorant of developments in logic since Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica; Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem demonstrated that all logical systems are incomplete and are all grounded in unprovable axioms (the implication being that even absolute truths, like mathematical ones, are grounded in...faith - that is, faith in the unprovable axiom). There is no dichotomy between faith and reason - the reviewer must be politely corrected and permanently ignored (since we are living in a post-Gödelian world!).
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More religious than rational April 25 2014
By Guilherme D. Faria - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some interesting points on the search for absolutes and how the relativistic view took hold of anthropology in the 20th century and the dangers of this kind of view.
Unfortunately, after an interesting start, the book gradually takes a very conservative stance on some subjects.

I stopped reading when he implied that Creationism is a reasonable theory.
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