1966: Revisiting a Significant Past Overview of Western Man

Food for thought; talking and thinking points.

The following quotes are excerpted from the conclusion of my 1st year u History textbook, The Western Heritage—-second edition, a truly admirable, noble accomplishment by Stewart C. Easton. Enjoy and ponder!

“Almost none of the writers and philosophers of stature in [the 20th] century have been optimistic about the condition of man.”

“To them material progress is meaningless.”

(On moral improvement from the 19th to the 20th centuries) “The present epoch has witnessed an awareness on the part of human beings that they are indeed ‘their brother’s keepers’.”

“Today in Western civilization almost everyone seeks to be loved and appreciated, and is willing to love and appreciate in turn according to the best of his abilities.”

“The modern parent really cares whether his children have a good opinion of him.”

“”He regards his child as having a personality, a moral being of his own.”

“The businessman wants his customers to like him, to call him by his first name; he does not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and he expects them to have a care for his feelings.”

“Rich nations feel they have an obligation to help others less fortunate.”

“Slavery has been legally abolished for a century and a half.”

“”It is socially respectable today for a man to detest tyranny and discrimination, and socially disreputable to approve them.”

“It seems to this historian that man has acquired his freedom and self-consciousness, but that he does not as yet know what to do with them.”

“But [man] is not happy; in part because of the worries attendant on his economic and social position, but also in very large part because of a lack of a sense of direction, a certain emptiness of soul.”

“Sociologists inform us that the majority of men are inclined to estimate themselves by the criterion of the approval by others, that their very choice of actions is dependent upon their presumed effect on other men. The ‘inner-directed’ men, we are told, are becoming rarer, and may perhaps even become extinct.”

“But it remains true that, if the human being finds time to reflect in the midst of the twentieth-century world, he knows, from his own personal knowledge, that he is an individual separate from others, that he is born alone, lives alone, and dies alone; that if he is stripped of all his worldly good and his whole civilization is destroyed around him, there are inner resources on which he can draw for his survival. All those things told him by scientists and sociologists are mere spinnings of thoughts, in comparison with the intuited reality.”

I generally find most of Easton’s opinions still relevant or true today. There are exceptions, of course; slavery for one. I am sure you will have an opinion yourself on each of these quotations by Easton.

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