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Narrative, Religion and Science: Fundamentalism versus Irony, 1700-1999 Paperback – 28 Mar 2002


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Review

'… a discussion which is brisk, jargon-free and splendidly readable.' The Times Literary Supplement

'Written with wit and verve … It is the best kind of popular cultural thinking, helping the educated lay person to hold together a range of 'stories' from the last three hundred years of the cultural history of the West … this is an attractive and stimulating book' Theology

Book Description

An increasing number of contemporary scientists, philosophers and theologians downplay their professional authority and describe their work as simply 'telling stories about the world'. Yet story telling is neither innocent nor empty-handed. Register, rhetoric and imagery are manipulative, and irony emerges as the natural mode of our modern fragmented culture.

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We have so far been using the word 'narrative' as if it had a clear and agreed meaning, but this is, of course, not so. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mastered irony 7 Dec 2007
By Matthew Hisrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I would agree with the editorial reviews above, especially with regard to the book's wide range and readability. For those interested in Kierkegaard, it is worth noting that he provides a helpful comparison between SK and Richard Rorty on the issue of irony. As the title suggests, Prickett sees the world in terms of ironists and fundamentalists, and ends up placing SK in the former camp and Rorty in the latter. According to Prickett, Rorty is guilty of developing what he labels a "closed system" with "no external reality-check." He therefore finds SK's approach of "mastered irony" far more helpful. This discussion is carried on in Brad Frazier's work, and while Frazier comes to similar conclusions he is less dismissive of Rorty's contributions.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
encapsulation of the quandary 9 Jan 2013
By W. Jamison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Terrific encapsulation of the quandary associated with postmodernism and the conviction that grand narratives are no longer believable by the educated elite (defined as those who no longer believe in grand narratives). This confronts the view that narratives structure human knowledge so even the narrative that there are no believable narratives is a grand narrative itself.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Ill-informed 28 Feb 2013
By David Auerbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
A depressingly fluffy book that quotes from a lot of secondary sources in an attempt to reduce science's hegemony over religion and the humanities. There are plenty of holes to poke in scientific method and rhetoric (see Quine, Lakatos, Popper, Kitcher), but Prickett hasn't done too much research. The standard suspects are quoted: Derrida, Ong, Kuhn, Pinker, Polanyi, Rorty. Prickett wants to use Rortyan irony to show that science doesn't trump religion and we can have a happy pluralism that accommodates religion and science without privileging either one.

The result is sloppy. I gave up when I reached this sentence: "Gödel's theorem would predict that it is impossible to give a satisfactorily comprehensive definition of language because we are attempting to use language to define language." (He says that Gödel was responding to "Tarki"--it's Tarski, as Cambridge's proofreader should have noticed.) Gödel's theorems deal with formal systems, and they say nothing about the colossal mess that is language, nor is it about "definitions." This sort of inexact analogizing plagues the scientific aspects of the book.

Prickett seems much more comfortable when talking about aesthetics and theology. The sections on John Henry Newman read nicely, and he clearly looks up to C.S. Lewis as something of an inspiration. But these sections do very little to advance his thesis. At any rate, the result is foreordained: religion (Christianity, specifically--no room for Buddhists or Hindus here) is still viable! Maybe, but this book doesn't help the case.
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