English and Modern Languages


Master of Arts (MA)


Carl Curtis


Crystal Palace, Dostoevsky, Lewis, Naturalism, Philosophy, Science


Cultural History | English Language and Literature | European History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Intellectual History | Literature in English, British Isles | Philosophy | Philosophy of Science | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Though the nineteenth-century Victorian belief that science alone could provide utopia for man weakened in the epistemological uncertainty of the postmodern era, this belief still continues today. In order to understand our current scientific milieu--and the dangers of propagating scientism--we must first trace the rise of scientism in the nineteenth-century. Though removed, Fyodor Dostoevsky, in Notes From Underground (1864), and C.S. Lewis, in That Hideous Strength (1965), are united in their critiques of scientism as a conceptual framework for human residency. For Dostoevsky, the Crystal Palace of London's Great Exhibition (1862) embodied the nineteenth-century goal to found utopia through the means of scientific progress. Though the Crystal Palace offers this hope for man, Dostoevsky shows that palace's monological design is ultimately uninhabitable for humans, who are dialogical beings. Writing a century later, Lewis explores the implications of scientism within the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (otherwise known as the N.I.C.E.), which offers the same conceptual framework as the Crystal Palace. Like Dostoevsky, Lewis exposes the monological myth of scientism and both present hearty critiques of scientism as a way of life for man. They use satire, exaggeration, and wit to show the absurdity of a conceptual framework built on the foundations of a naturalistic philosophy of science.