"A Judicious Analysis of Carrel’s Teachings",
A review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star, February 13, 1966,
of a book.
HOPE FOR OUR TIME: Alexis Carrel on Men and Society,
by Joseph T. Durkin,
S.J. Harper & Row: New York, 1966.
"A Judicious Analysis of Carrel’s Teachings"
February 13, 1966
A Judicious Analysis of Carrel’s Teachings
HOPE FOR OUR TIME: Alexis Carrel on Man and Society.
By Joseph T. Durkin,
Harper & Row. 199 pages. $4.95
"A prophet is not without honor, save
in his own country." And, we might add, "if he is ahead of his times."
Alexis Carrel, famous experimental surgeon at the Rockefeller Institute
and Nobel Prize-winner in 1912, published his popular volume, "Man, the
Unknown," more than 30 years ago. In spite of the fact that it was an
international bestseller, it did not win the approval of Carrel's
colleagues in the scientific world, because his message that man is a
spiritual, and not merely a material, being was too advanced a view for
those who were still in the nineteenth century's outlook that man was
only a physio-chemical mechanism.
Today, Carrel's friend, Teilhard de Chardin, who was a less
rigorous scientist and proclaimed a more extreme message in less lucid
language, is read and discussed in the highest intellectual circles.
Carrel's book was more widely read, in 1935-39, than any of Teilhard's
volumes, but it was acclaimed almost entirely by the popular and
unscientific world. On the other hand, Teilhard, appearing in a more
propitious age, won converts in those circles where Carrel had been
greeted with skepticism.
Now that the times have caught up, as it were, with Carrel's
theories, a re-examination of the man and his teachings is overdue. His
ides on scientific method, on psychical research, on religion, on the
nature of man and of the cosmos, and on the role of science and the
state in social reform to create a world which is at once more
scientific, more Christian, and closer to the real complexities of man's
nature, are much more welcome to the outlook of 1966 than they were to
the materialistic '20s or the distraught '30s.
There is no better way to begin such a re-evaluation of Carrel than
with this little volume, which places him, in all his complexity, in his
scientific and social environment. Like Father Durkin's other books,
this one combines careful scholarship with clear exposition. In addition
it has a quality which is essential to any re-examination of Carrel, a
tentative and judicious attitude and a lack of dogmatism, which is
precisely the temper with which this extraordinary man should be