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Escape from Reason: A Penetrating Analysis of Trends in Modern Thought

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  1,152 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Truth used to be based on reason. No more. What we feel is now the truest source of reality. Despite our obsession with the emotive and the experiential, we still face anxiety, despair, and purposelessness. How did we get here? And where do we find a remedy? In this modern classic, Francis A. Schaeffer traces trends in twentieth-century thought and unpacks how key ideas ha ...more
Paperback, 123 pages
Published December 6th 2006 by IVP Books (first published 1968)
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John
Schaeffer writes that man's desire for autonomous freedom began with Aquinas's theology which argued that though man fell in Eden, his intellect did not. This created a system in philosophy that argued that man's reason was autonomous--meaning free and independent of any constraint. This opened the door to later philosophers to build philosophic arguments independent of God. But the problem is that man's desire for autonomy cannot be reconciled to the constraining forces in this world. Through r ...more
Alex Szatmary
Aug 22, 2008 Alex Szatmary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book people, intellectuals, apologists
I love Schaeffer, the person, but I totally disagree with half of what he says. His review of the western intellectual history is quick and accessible, and his great insight in this book is to point to Aquinas' fault of placing reason "upstairs"--assuming that human reason is immune to the fall.

While, factually, Schaeffer, seems to present most thinkers accurately, he does not fully get modern philosophy. Yes, he gets the despair of modernity; however, his defense of Biblical Christianity as a r
...more
David
Escape from Reason is an easy book to read, which I liked. It was written for the common man or woman. This is the first book that I have read by Schaeffer and I like it for what it tries to do.

Schaeffer spends a majority of the book tracking how societies world view has been changing and who were some of the primary influences/people that caused this. He starts with Aquinas and proceeds from there. He covers, art, music, poetry and more.

The important part of this book is near the end when he ti
...more
Amy Edwards
This is a slender volume and in that way a quick overview of the history of philosophy with regard to God and man, grace and nature, freedom and nature, and the non-rational and the rational. First published in 1968 (the edition that I read), many of these ideas are incorporated into Schaffer's How Shall We Then Live? book, which was published later. To read this book now, however, in the context of an American culture that is rapidly aiming its fiercest attacks at Christians, is to read a proph ...more
H
Nov 11, 2009 H added it
Shelves: religion, philosophy
highly elucidating apologetics through a historical delineation of philosophy, existentialism, and art from Aquinas' time (the beginning of divorce between Grace and Nature) up to nihilism and the absurd.

recommended reading for anyone interested in why the last several generations have been part of a psychology of despair and where a lot of christianity today has gone wrong in representing itself. this is not a watered-down tract like most christian works, nor is it a guidebook to conversion. it
...more
Mark Ward
I have heard others cast doubt on the particulars of Schaeffer's analysis in sweeping books like these. I haven't read enough Aquinas, de Sade, Camus, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Foucault, Malraux, Heidegger, etc. to say. But Schaeffer's overall synthesis—his many different upper- and lower-story diagrams—seem right to me. If indeed he's right, the overall analysis, the big picture, may be more important than the particulars. It does seem as if Western man has done just what Schaeffer says: we've remov ...more
Douglas Wilson
Excellent. Also read in November 1980.
Tim Ponygroom
People tend to love this book or hate it. There are fans of every philosophy, and many fans not only cheer for their team, they boo the other teams. Instead of being for or against, I hope the reader sees this as a tour through some powerful ideas that have been important to Western cultural development. Any understanding we gain from this book improves our perspective. If nothing else, perspective is what this book is all about.

I read this while taking a college course in Psychology, but it wa
...more
Moses Operandi
Schaeffer creates a dichotomous framework for understanding the history of modern thought, and while it's hard to know for sure, I think he succeeds in creating something that is not a false dichotomy. It's quite a task to shoehorn all sorts of philosophies and movements into this framework, but I think he does it without doing interpretive violence. It's also short and would be interesting to high-school students as they begin to think about these things.

This quote is huge: "The logical end of
...more
Eric Kimsey
Schaeffer traces the fact/value thought dichotomy throughout the history of art, science, and philosophy. He make's a compelling case for his argument that we cannot possibly live with a system of thought that says that only science is objective and all belief is subjective. This schism destroys our society (we cannot possibly have law or morality of any kind) and decimates us personally (because our lives would be meaningless in this kind of system).

He shows the inconsistency of great thinkers
...more
Sioned
Read this a few years back, and it was SUCH an eye-opener in terms of how (atheistic) philosophical assumptions have changed over time, and how society has moved from the 'upper room'. (I think that was the term he used) Yep, this was a really thought-provoking read but only in the sense that it gave me even more reasons to back up my belief in how atheism, as a way of life and world-view, does not work, and has not over centuries in which it has changed and evolved at the same time that society ...more
Joel Carter
This is a great, short book that introduces the issues that accompany modern thought systems. Schaeffer is one of the most well-known Christian philosophers for good reason. He communicates clearly and has a gift for seeing the root of things. He sees behaviors and can identify the thought systems behind those behaviors. As a relative novice to this sort of stuff, some of what I read went over my head. But enough was clear and I definitely was edified. This book traces philosophical trends from ...more
Jim F.
Amazing! I first became aware of this book as a college student in the early 1980s. But until my Amazon account placed it in the "other books you might want to read" list, I never picked it up.

Escape from Reason was first published in 1968 but as I concluded my reading today, I thought that this book couldn't have spoken more strongly into the cultural times more then than it can today.

Admittedly, it was difficult to get my arms around some of Schaeffer's ideas and some of his examples are dated
...more
Candice
In this short, but powerful book, Schaeffer effectively analyzed the public/private split or the grace/nature split. He argued that, as the 20th century progressed, the split became more defined. This lead to the absolutizing of man and the escape to a non-rational world. Christianity appears to become more and more irrelevant because our society no longer seeks Truth based on reason, but on feeling. Schaeffer argued that, in order to effectively communicate the truth of Christianity, one must l ...more
Jeremy
Short, penetrating analysis of where we are at today in terms of western thinking. Francis Schaeffer traces thought analysis (a trend from philosophic thought to anti-philosophic thought) from Aquinas to the end of the 20th century almost prophetically. This book, though able to be read alone, really builds off of what he wrote in "The God Who is There." I would start there. It amazed me to see just how susceptible we are even in the church to this anti-philosophic, non-rational trend. Many have ...more
Hope
In Escape from Reason, Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) breaks down philosophy into the simplest terms. He begins with the 13th century ideas of Aquinas which separated the world into upper (grace, spiritual matters) and lower (nature, material) categories. He explains how subsequent philosphers used these distinctions to separate man completely from his Creator. This autonomy, instead of bringing freedom, brought chaos to every field of knowledge.

Escape from Reason was written
...more
David Sarkies
Mar 28, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians & Philosophers
Recommended to David by: My Dad
Shelves: christian
A rehash of Schaeffer's Earlier Works
11 August 2013

but test everything: hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil: 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Wow, it took me a grand total of four hours to read this book, which must be a record for me, or more probably it has got to do something with it being a short book covering much of the same ground that Schaeffer covered in his book The God Who is There, and also with me having read it before. However, the other thing is that now that I have
...more
David Haines
Schaeffer's book gives an amazing analysis of modern society, and Christians need to approach it. Furthermore, Schaeffer shows how the work of the existentialist philosophers such as Sartre and Heidegger have influenced our society, and indeed the Christian church more than what most people realize. One of the conclusions that the reader will inevitably draw, after reading this book, is that, in order to be able to successfully present the gospel, we need to truly understand our culture, however ...more
E
More like a booklet than a book. Lots of similarities with The God Who Is There. I don't really have much to say, except that it's incredible how fast philosophy has evolved in 50 years. Or should I say devolved. It's not that Schaeffer's outdated, it's just that a couple more chapters need to be written.

Let's move on.
Wade
This book, which was very popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s, is in some ways more written for it’s time than some of Schaeffer’s other works. But, there are a lot of themes in this book that are still very relevant today. He addresses the idea of what people feel over what is actually real, and how people allow their feelings to define truth for themselves and how irrational this is (which is still very relevant today). I think the thoughts he develops on autonomy are great: showing how al ...more
Daniel Silliman
"Christianity has the opportunity to say clearly that its answer has the very thing modern man has despaired of—the unity of thought. It provides a unified answer for the whole of life. True, man has to renounce his rationalism; but then, on the basis of what can be discussed, he has the possibility of recovering his rationality."
Chris Keswick
Educational, fairly short book about the history of philosophy and worldviews. Helps me understand thinking in today's culture and how it traces back to Aquinas' time. Schaeffer makes the important point that Christians need to understand the basis of the culture's way of thinking in order to communicate effectively about faith.
Brian Huddleston
A good analysis of the impact of changing thought patterns in society and its effects. I found his starting point at Aquinas to be an odd starting point, but every point afterwards flowed well and formed an inescapable conclusion that Christianity has the answers, modern philosophy does not.
Brad Kittle
Just re-read this book.. Recently I've read "Genesis Space and Time", "The God Who is There" and now "Escape From Reason". These books really flow together as a whole. I believe every Christian would benefit from reading Schaeffer. I don't believe our Christian diet should be wholly apologetical in nature; but we must root ourselves in the reality that the Bible is real history and real Truth rooted in space/time events. Modern man does not believe this and has left Christianity and Truth itself ...more
Peter N.
A fantastic introduction to modern thought, especially why man is driven to despair and a personal God who speaks and sent His Son to die for us in space and time is the answer. Too brief in some spots, but overall a good primer.
Richard Minor
Schaeffer tracks how our society lost the understanding of "true truth" and true freedom to get us where we are in our present day. This book clearly tracks what happened in history and lays out the proper Christian response.
Iain Hamill
I fully agree with the conclusion that Christians need to strive to share the Gospel in timely and relevant ways without changing its substance. This involves engaging with the philosophical ideas of the age we live in but should arguably involve more regular rebasing to the Bible than pure appeals to logic? (With 1 Cor 1:20, 3:19, etc in mind) I appreciate this was more of an introduction though!
Sean
I really appreciate the work of Francis Schaeffer and this book is no different. This little book is an academic text which proposes the Christian worldview as the only one that can satisfy the hunger and needs of modern peoples. He sets out to show Reason's disconnect and Rationalisms ultimate fall, beginning with Kant and then tracing thought forms into the time of the book (1968). I found it helpful in articulating rationalisms decline, and understanding that lineage, while also seeing his pr ...more
Kurt Blake
My favorite Schaeffer book. A must read for college bound teens
Frank
Francis Schaeffer's 1968 analysis of the twentieth century world view. Schaeffer traces developments in art and philosophy from Aquinas and the Rennaissance through to modern times.

Looking at reader's reviews on Amazon, the greatest number rate if a 5, and a significant minority rate it a 1. It's that kind of book. While I tend to agree with the overall thesis, I'm dubious about Schaeffer's reading of some of the key thinkers he refers to (Aquinas and Kiekegaard, among others). I shall revisit t
...more
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Francis August Schaeffer was an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor. He is most famous for his writings and his establishment of the L'Abri community in Switzerland. Opposed to theological modernism, Schaeffer promoted a more historic Protestant faith and a presuppositional approach to Christian apologetics which he believed would answer the questions of ...more
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How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture The God Who Is There A Christian Manifesto True Spirituality: How to Live for Jesus Moment by Moment He Is There and He Is Not Silent

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“People today are trying to hang on to the dignity of man, but they do not know how to, because they have lost the truth that man is made in the image of God. . . . We are watching our culture put into effect the fact that when you tell men long enough that they are machines, it soon begins to show in their actions. You see it in our whole culture -- in the theater of cruelty, in the violence in the streets, in the death of man in art and life.” 11 likes
“We cannot deal with people like human beings, we cannot deal with them on the high level of true humanity, unless we really know their origin-who they are. God tells man who he is. God tells us that He created man in His image. So man is something wonderful.” 8 likes
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