A history of the mental growth PDF book - by John Hittell

A history of the mental growth of mankind in ancient times 

A history of the mental growth of mankind in ancient times
A history of the mental growth of mankind in ancient times

A good record of the mental growth of mankind would comprehend all the highly important lessons of human experience, and would be the most valuable of all histories; but as it would be precious, so it is difficult of composition. Many authors have undertaken it; many others may undertake it before one produces a work worthy of the subject; and as failure may help to clear the track for success, I venture to offer my contribution in this matter to the public. According to my conception of the history of culture, it should give solutions to such queries as these: Is man the direct product of natural evolution or of supernatural creation? Are all men descendants of one primary human stock? 

Were the first men black, yellow, or white? In what part of the earth and in what geological period did they make their appearance? Is the intellectual development of man a necessary result of his nature in such an environment as that in which he exists and has existed in historical times? Has his progress been continuous? Has it shown itself in all the departments of life? Has it been governed exclusively by natural causes and uniform law? Has it always been beneficent? 

What are its main branches? How has each of them advanced in different ages and countries? How has each of them affected the general welfare? Into what categories should we divide the mental growth of mankind for the purpose of getting the clear- est and most correct conceptions of its advances? What are the most important branches of industry? 

How did the arts of kindling fire, cooking and preserving food, chipping stone into edge tools, shaping spears, bows, and arrows, tanning leather, weaving cloth, burn- ing pottery, plaiting baskets, building huts and boats, tilling the land, domesticating herbivorous animals, smelting, casting, and forging metals, how did these arts begin and advance? How did edge tools of stone, bronze, and iron become characteristic features of certain stages in human culture? How, when, and where did the great inventions have their origin and development, and what influence did they exert on human society? How, and to what extent, has the productive power of industry increased? Has the increase added to the comfort of man and to what extent? Has any one of the main branches of the industry ever made much progress without stimulating many of the others? 

Do increasing wealth, abundant machinery, and cheap transportation contribute to the greatest good of the greatest number? What were the social customs of the earliest times and how did they change into those of the present age? How did phrases of salutation and forms of obeisance and prostration begin? Was dress first used for ornament, for comfort, or for the gratification of modesty and what changes has it undergone? What matrimonial system existed among the earliest men?

 Did promiscuity ever prevail extensively? When, where, and how did polygyny, polyandry, and monogamy begin and spread? Is the articulate speech of natural or supernatural origin? 

Were its first forms simple or complex? How have words been changed in length and in inflexion? What relations do figurative bear to literal meanings, and abstract to concrete terms in the various conditions of speech? 

What are the main classes of language, and how have they arisen? What are the causes of simplicity and complexity in grammatical construction? How did the art of writing begin? How did it advance from signs for ideas to others for words, for syllables, and for letters? How did printing commence, and how has it grown? How was education, by the aid of books, established? 

What are its main branches? How has it been affected by general progress? What nations have taken the lead in it? What places in it have been occupied in various centuries, by law, medicine, surgery, physical science, engineering, mathematics, metaphysical philosophy, theology, philology, history, ethnology, and ancient and modern literature? When religion first appeared on the earth, was it a complete system of supernatural revelation, needing no modification in creed or discipline to adapt it to the wants of men in all ages and countries? 

Or, like other branches of culture, did it appear at first in mere rudiments, and did it grow gradually into many complex and highly differentiated forms? How did low savages come to adopt the belief that the spirits of their relatives continue to live after the death of the body, with the same needs, passions, and occupations as in the corporeal life, demanding offerings to preserve their favour? How did this belief lead to the erection of shelters over graves, and to the construction of temples, to the establishment of periodical sacrifices, and to the installation and endowment of priests, and how did the divine ancestor of a family become the partial god of a tribe, and then of a nation, and finally the impartial god of all mankind? What are the main features of the leading religious systems of past and present times, and what are and have been their influences on mankind? 

Have all men accepted the same ideas of ethical obligation? Have they believed that slavery, retaliation, despotic government, the superior political privilege of a small class, torture, and* religious persecution were right and if various ethical theories have prevailed in different times and countries, have the differences been marked by continuous improvement? Have they been affected, and in what manner, by the changes in industrial and political conditions? Is our moral code the product of intuitive perception, or of experience guided by reason? 

 What nations have excelled in war, and how did they attain superiority? What influence have they exerted on the world? What were the main characteristics of their military systems? How has military art been changed by the introduction of metallic weapons, gun- powder, and other developments in the industrial arts? How did political organization begin and advance from the small group without a chief, to the tribe with a chief, to the kingdom with a hereditary sovereign, to the city with an aristocratic government, and to the nation which grants equal civil and political rights to all its adult male residents born on its soil? What have been the main steps in the development of constitutional, civil, criminal, international, and parliamentary law? 

What have been the most important contributions to culture, and to what ages, continents, and races are we indebted for them? What do we owe to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Chaldeans, Hindoos, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs, Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Portuguese, Germans, Hollanders, Scandinavians, Slavs, English, Scotch, and Americans?

What geographical conditions are most favourable to culture, and in what countries has it reached its highest developments? Is it because of inherent capacity or of peculiar environment that different peoples have excelled in certain departments of culture? If, at the age of five years, a thousand Athenian boys had been adopted in Spartan families, trained in the Spartan system, and in every manner treated as if they had been the children of their foster parents, would they have acquired the Spartan characteristics? If an equal number of Spartan boys had been brought up in Athens as the children of Athenian parents, would they have grown to be like the native Athenians? 

Is one Euraryan nationality more competent than the others, to excel, in either the fine arts, poetry, science, philosophy, industry, polity or war? Has the Celt any natural fitness for free government? Is he superior to the Teuton in delicacy of sentiment? Are the nations of Southern Europe superior to those of the North in artistic genius? Are those of the North superior in mental and physical energy? To these questions, which have never been answered satisfactorily, I shall offer replies, which, however weak they may be in many points, will yet, I hope, contribute a little to the stock of historical truth. I shall try to throw light on human nature as it is, by showing something of what it has been and to trace in the remote past the origins of some of our present institutions.

 I believe that continuous progress has prevailed throughout the past; and that the irrepressible progressiveness of humanity is one of the great facts, or laws in nature, deserving to be classed with the inherence of force in matter, the definiteness of chemical proportions, cosmic evolution, biological evolution, the conservation of energy, and the invaluable correlation of the physical and psychical forces.

I. Savagism. [2d ed.]--II. Heathen barbarism.--III. Judea and Greece.--IV. Rome and early Christianity

 book details :

  • Author: John Shertzer Hittell
  • Publication date 1893
  • Company: New York: H. Holt & Co

  • Download Volume 1  - Savagism

    Download Volume 2 Heathen barbarism

    Download Volume 3   Judea and Greece

    Download Volume 4  Rome and early Christianity

    John Shertzer Hittell was an American author, historian, and journalist of the United States during the Golden Age of Free Thought. Hittell wrote on a wide variety of topics including history, mining, Christianity, Pantheism, phrenology, morality, and politics.

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