Out of Chaos

(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 18)

Out of Chaos is a monumental study, its avowed aim being a comprehensive view of human knowledge. Beginning with a survey of the basic principles underlying the physical universe, the origin of life and its evolutionary path, the author sets the scene for an account of the parallel development of human thought. Viewing the mind as the faculty for ordering the universe in a normative way, just as the natural law directs the physical world, the author surveys the basic fabric and function of the principal civilizations together with the principal creations of the mind—literature, history, science, art, music, and social construction.

One might wonder, especially in this era of specialization, how a survey of this kind could be written by a single individual, or at least, if such a work were written, how it could possibly be a successful synthesis of so many elements. Fortunately, Louis J. Halle is equal to the task. Author of more than sixteen works in politics, his studies in philosophy and natural history convinced him at an early age that wisdom consists of a holistic vision; Out of Chaos is the fruit of a lifetime dedicated to the pursuit of this ideal. Halle’s vision of the interconnectedness of all things is powerfully expressed with extreme clarity and succinctness in approximately one hundred chapters, which display the scholarliness of a work of science while they are conveyed in the natural, readable prose of a novel.

Despite Halle’s fascinating survey of the cultures and civilizations of mankind in the latter half of the book, and his recognition of the uniqueness of the human mind, he never deviates from his basic assumption that all human knowledge and all physical phenomena are to be explained in terms of evolutionary theory. According to this perspective—perhaps the one most commonly accepted by modern man—the higher forms of life, and the mind itself, have one common origin and destiny. The essential graph on which we can plot what is taking place is essentially that which is marked out by science along a single time-space continuum. This continuum was first incompletely defined by Isaac Newton and more recently corrected by modern mathematical physics and the theory of relativity. Given the assurance of the scale that science outlines for us, we can hope that evolution will continue to motivate a forward progress from chaos to order, even when we take into account the fluctuations caused by human interference. For the mind itself is a principle for order, and in the long run it too learns from experience to select order over chaos.

The vision here is a remarkably faithful projection of scientific knowledge and the meaning of the world and is a continuation of that spirit which motivated the mathematicians Descartes and Husserl, along with Hegel and others, to seek thorough understanding of the world through rational knowledge. But the structure stands only if we accept that the world is fundamentally a rational structure and that mind dominates over body in man, so...

(The entire section is 1244 words.)


(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 18)

Booklist. LXXIII, April 1, 1977, p. 1126.

Kirkus Reviews. XLV, March 1, 1977, p. 260.

Library Journal. CII, April 1, 1977, p. 814.

New York Times Book Review. April 24, 1977, p. 10.

Publisher’s Weekly. CCXI, February 7, 1977, p. 87.