Archive for July 21st, 2015

A history of civilization shares the presumptuousness of every philosophical enterprise:  it offers the ridiculous spectacle of a fragment expounding the whole.  Like philosophy, such a venture has no rational excuse, and is at best but a brave stupidity; but let us hope that, like philosophy, it will always lure some rash spirits into its fatal depths.
     —    Will Durant
From the Preface to the first volume to his series:  “The Story Of Civilization: I – Our Oriental Heritage
I want to know what were the steps by which men passed from barbarism to civilization.
     —    Voltaire
[Several years ago, I purchased the book series “The Story Of Civilization” by Will (and Ariel) Durant.  I first heard about the series perhaps forty years ago, when I was first thinking (and hoping) to “become” educated and cultured by reading great books and listening to classical music.  I found the books on sale at a used book store and picked them up as a promise to myself.  Since then, they’ve been sitting on my shelf calling to me…  Recently, I pulled down the first volume and started glancing through it.  Okay, I actually started to read it.
There are twelve volumes in the series and with one exception each is at least 1,000 pages.  When I looked the series up on line, one reviewer said any serious reader should expect to spend five years of his life reading these in their entirety, because anything less would fail to give them the consideration and justice they deserved.  Talk about your intimidating review!!
I doubt if I’ll finish them in five years.  I doubt if I’ll be able to find the time to give them the consideration they probably deserve.  But if I start now, who can say…
Fortunately, I do not feel foolish enough to set a goal of understanding all of human history or even to remember most of the 12,000+ pages related in this series.  I only hope to understand a little better how I got here (in this time and place) and what my minor role is in this great river of history.     —    kmab]
On This Day In:
2014 To Be Greatly Good
2013 Limited Capacity
2012 Two Ear Ticklers
2011 To Avail The Nation

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