Lancelot Law Whyte was a Scottish philosopher, theoretical physicist, historian of science, and financier.
This searching examination of human development provides new perspectives on the moral, political, scientific, emotional, and intellectual divisions of our time. A physicist by profession, Whyte looked beyond the boundaries of specialization for creative ways to approach the basic problem facing modern Western civilization: Why are we so competent technically and yet unable to order our own affairs, socially and personally? He takes the reader with him on a journey that is nothing less than a new interpretation of the general development of human consciousness.
Whyte addresses the problems of despair and fanatical religious or political reactions that arise from despair. He begins with the basic problem of nihilism, or the tendency toward pessimism and self/other destruction that faces us at this point in human development. Rejecting all forms of religious sectarianism as separating God from the individual and people from each other, he discerns, as well a fundamental disunity and incompleteness among the sciences that render then incapable of supplying a guide to social order. Whyte sees the universe as an arena of conflict between tendencies toward order and disorder with the former dominating and containing the latter. In place of science and traditional religion, Whyte draws upon what he sees as the unconscious tradition, a genius of the community, shared in degrees by all its members, that points mankind toward a better way of living.