Christian humanism in a technocratic world
Alan Jacobs's biography of T.S. Eliot, Simone Weil, W.H. Auden, Jacques Maritain, and C.S. Lewis
Near the end of his wondrous tapestry of Jacques Maritain, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, and Simone Weil, Alan Jacobs quotes an extended passage from Eliot written during World War II. Eliot opines that Europe’s declining cultural health was rooted in the pressures of modern industrialism, a system by which “we become mechanized in mind, and consequently attempt to provide solutions in terms of engineering, for problems which are essentially problems of life.”
Jacobs walks us through the interwoven paths by which Maritain, Eliot, Lewis, Auden, and Weil find an alternative solution to the problems of life—a call for a renewed Christian humanism. The questions they raise in 1943 are critical. What does an education in the humanities have to contribute to our technocratic world? Does a Christian approach to the humanities, in particular, have anything to add? If so, what is the best mechanism for making a societal transformation?
Eliot’s quote, while reflective of the time to which he bore witness, is eerily applicable to our own age. We tend to crave technological solutions to the problems of life.