Editor's comment

Professor Randall's book originally published in 1926 has had many editions and is still actively selling in paperback. It is the seminal survey of the development of modern intellectual ideas. As the title of Chapter 1 states, it is "The Coming of Age of the Western Peoples."

The book describes the change in world-views from the medieval through the Renaissance to the Age of Reason and the mechanistic world of Newton and on to the mid-twentieth century.


Randall,Jr., John Herman, The Making of the Modern Mind, 1990 Columbia University Press, New York [950 words] [abstract– 140 words]—Spinoza: a worldview too modern for its time

Baruch Spinoza [1632-1677] Randall writes of Spinoza that he understood the universe was infinite and that he believed it was the domain inexorableunstoppable mechanical law. Spinoza was among the first to grasp and thoroughly understand the significance of Newton’s mathematical world. He found in this scientific world-view a source of awe and an object of selfless devotion.

By rationally extending the consequences of science, Spinoza found above him only the power and order of the universe and, for him, that was worthy of the name God. As far as his mind could penetrate into the vast unknown all he could see was a universe governed by mathematical law.

Randall says that in Spinoza's world-view, “Gone is the wise and loving Father, to whom man can appeal in prayer; irretrievably gone is the great Friend behind the world who cares.” Gone too is every vestige of purpose and final cause. He believes that Spinoza “anticipated the real religion of the next age.”