SUMMARY: Civilization needs morals as well as marriage, an institution that went a long way from the nationalization of women and the prevailing property-motivated polygamy, up to our current fashion of romantic monogamy.
SUMMARY: Even after the advent of the state, the family continues to be the basic political unit of society, but the woman, whose position was central to the family, becomes increasingly subordinate to man as agriculture and property develop.
SUMMARY: In the beginning, laws were customs, and man did not have individual rights, but with property, marriage and government, laws evolved, and the individual emerged.
SUMMARY: Man only associates with others for self-interest; it was war that stimulated a level of organization sufficient for the centralization of power into a government. The state is the result of conquest by force, of the substitution of kinship ties for domination, but is only maintained by the indoctrination of man, who allows himself to be indoctrinated — through family, church and school — to satisfy his interests.
SUMMARY: Agriculture has led to property, to inequality, to slavery, to industry, to class struggle, to the State; that is, to “civilization.”
SUMMARY: Beginning with the discovery of fire, man starts to build tools and produce more and more material goods and food, thus improving his living conditions. Initially, such improvement is given by the direct use of the goods; later, by the accumulation of wealth through the sale of surplus.
SUMMARY: The discovery of agriculture by women frees man from hunting by providing a dependable supply of food, while the domestication of animals improves his life — man learns the concept of time and, with it, meets anxiety and begins to be human.
SUMMARY: Every civilization has economic, political, moral and social elements, and depends on geological and geographical conditions for its existence. But what preserves civilization is its transmission to our children — and the technique of such transmission is education.
I “met” Will Durant when looking for a book that presented the history of philosophy in a concise and not-too-complex way. His first book (and big bestseller), “The Story of Philosophy“, gave me just that. “Reading” it from a masterfully narrated audiobook by Grover Gardner greatly boosted my enthusiasm. So much so that it was looking for other narrations by Grover – not books by Durant – that I came across his “The Story of Civilization“, and I was simply flabbergasted.
SUMMARY: What follows is a summary of Chapter 7 of “The Well-Educated Mind“, by Susan Wise Bauer, entitled “The Story of the Past: The Tales of Historians (and Politicians)”. All the content (but my final comment) is hers. The interested reader is well advised to buy her book for a full treatment on the liberal education we should all have.