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

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  1,560 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
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 have shaped our society. Wide-ranging in his analysis, Schaeffer examines philosophy, science, art and popular culture to identify dualism, fragmentation and the decline of reason. Schaeffer's work takes on a ...more
Paperback, 123 pages
Published January 6th 2007 by IVP Books (first published 1968)
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Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Amy Edwards
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 11, 2009 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
Mark Jr.
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Julio  Padilla Mozo
Pobre Tomas de Aquino, Schaeffer se manda con todo contra él, pero cabe rescatar la línea apologética de Schaeffer para tal acción.

El Libro muestra muchas cosas que como cristianos descartamos, sin embargo hay mucha terminología nueva que se aprenderá.
Dave Symmonds
May 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book may be better than my 2 star rating, but I just really struggled to get into it. It started off strong, but by the end I just wanted it to be over.
My goal in reading this was to see how society went from an almost purely mystical and somewhat unified paradigm of reality to our current rational, post modern existentialism. I guess it sort of did that, but certainly took the scenic route. I spent a lot of time googling to try and make sense of things that once I did understand them I di
David Sarkies
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  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
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal
It was interesting.
Nikhil Gupta
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Check Visit:

Francis Schaeffer has been widely recognized as one of the twentieth century’s greatest Christian apologists. Francis August Schaeffer (1912-1984) was an American Christian theologian, philosopher, apologist, and Presbyterian pastor, as well as the founder of the L'Abri community in Switzerland.
In this book Schaeffer has two noble aims; first to analyze the evolution of philosophy from the Christian Middle-Ages up to the Atheist existentialism
Dec 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I will probably give it more stars later once I process it. This one will make you think.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book, written in the mid-1960s, explains the fears of conservative Christians as clearly and logically as any I have seen. The key assumption is that without Christianity as its starting point, the whole of western civilization in its current form, with its human rights, its rational science, its ability to reason with others, would (i) not have existed in the first place and (2) is in danger of unraveling. The reason for the first cause and effect is that without a Christian assumption tha ...more
Feb 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Schaeffer is incredibly difficult to pin down. He has been described as a (compassionate, inconsistent and modified) presuppositionalist , an inconsistent empiricist and a verificationist– this is, I suspect, because he is more an evangelist and apologist than an academic philosopher. Schaeffer's books have been incredibly influential, not least his trilogy of which Escape from Reason (EfR) is the second part – the first being The God Who is There and the final part He is There and He is not Sil ...more
Eric Kimsey
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Moses Operandi
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Jim F.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
An Te
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is insightful in large measure. It is the first book of his that j have read. Considering its modest size, it packs a tour de force of ideas and survey large swathes of philosophical and cultural movements. However, I dock it a star as I feel it may mislead, particularly those not fully acquainted with some of the esoteric ideas, that may lead to confusion and misunderstandings later down the line.

There is truly nothing quite like reading a philosophy or history of philosophy degree a
Joel Carter
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not what I'd hoped for. Too high in the ivory tower for me. More so, quite a stretch to attribute the origin of postmodern ethos to an alleged a flaw debating the question of fallen intellect in Thomas Aquinas's teachings. Too many giant leaps that could be otherwise explained.

The back cover reads: "Schaeffer's work takes on a newfound relevance today in his prescient anticipation of the contemporary postmodern ethos. His critique demonstrates Christianity's promise for a new century, one in as
John Wise
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, top-10
Top 5. The most helpful book I have read explaining the big-picture overview of thought from Thomas Aquinas to the modern day. If you want to know how we got to our current ideological state today, read this book. Particularly helpful was his explanation that many modern scientists are *naturalist philosphers* unaware of their own philosophy.

"So if you are driving along the street and see someone in the pouring rain, you stop your car, pick him up and give him a lift. It is absurd. What does it
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: apologetics
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
Brad Kittle
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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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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“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.” 24 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.” 12 likes
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