Morson, Gary Saul, and Morton Schapiro. Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2021. xix + 307 pages. Hardcover $29.95; Kindle $29.95..

AuthorQuest, Linda

Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro are professors at Northwestern University in such disparate fields as Slavic languages and literatures and Economics. The book is a seamless fusion of their learning, observation, analysis, and wisdom. They are experienced collaborators and we are their beneficiaries. Yes, this work emphatically belongs in Social Sciences--all-in, not halfout half-in. Yes, this is serious scholarship--although without a formal bibliography. It offers informative footnotes proximate to contents to which they refer--no need to riffle back and forth. And it has a supportive Index. The title states the problem, that fundamentalism is abounding, and that this is imperiling democracy. To hypothesize, fundamentalism and democracy are antithetical. This is testable. Is it falsifiable? It could be. Investigations are possible, are ethical, and are demonstrated in this book.

Fundamentalism finds shelter and protection in democracy, but not the reverse. Fundamentalism is easy to nurture. Democracy is difficult. Democracy requires ability to learn from experience and from opposing views. Its adherents have to endure complex questions that lack simple answers. Fundamentalism has no such requirements, and its habits are contagious from one field of fundamentalism to others. It stigmatizes democrats as "compromisers," worse than outright opponents. Morson and Schapiro assert that "what we need most is to understand and revitalize the dialogic spirit" (p. xvii). They offer their book as a contribution to that effort. They themselves demonstrate disciplinary border crossings (as does Pi Gamma Mu, the international social sciences honor society and this Review).

Another contribution of their book is an ethical alternative to experimenting on humans. It is aesthetically pleasing at the same time that it justifies integrity with reading selections and assignments. That is the technique of using great literature from the realist genre. Morson and Schapiro have professional standing and publication to legitimate doing so. We need not be scandalized by allusions to works by Jane Austen, Anton Chekhov, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Eliot, Arthur Koestler, George Orwell, Leo Tolstoy, Anthony Trollope. They are cited, as appropriate, and indexed, but their presence might explain the absence of a bibliography in this book.

Thus, two methods of scrutiny and presentation are synergized for this exploration of doctrines and...

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