The making of humanity - PDF book by Robert Briffault

The making of humanity 

The making of humanity




Excerpt:

The intellectual revolution of the nineteenth century has transformed our conceptions of human history in much the same manner as the intellectual revolution of the seventeenth century changed our view of the cosmic universe. Like the Ptolemaic world, our notions concerning the career of our race were miserably stunted, dingy, and mean. 

The date 4004 B.C. was gravely accepted as the boundary of our retrospect; and long before reaching back to it the ' conventional fable ' of history which, like the primitive epic whence it evolved, was chiefly concerned with racial, dynastic, and religious edification, faded into pure legend and mythology

. As when awakening science crashed through the tinsel vaults of puerile cosmologies, discovering the sun-strewn in- finities amid which speeds our quivering earth-speck, so have the mists of legend lifted before her radiant progress, and it is given us to view the panorama of man's long and wonderful career in something of its natural perspective and proportion. 

Those ages once peopled with the myths and monsters of fable now showdown the vista of teeming nations our own culture in the making, Europa that is to be, borne on forked -prowed Cretan galleys that seam, from Nile-land and ocean shores to Italy and Spain, the midland sea; jingling donkey- caravans that bear from the Twin Rivers, through the realm of the pigtailed Hittite to the Eiixine and Phrygia, the freight of a culture that reaches back beyond Archbishop Usher's date of the creation of the world. 

Ten thousand years before it came westering to Sumer we see the Magdaenians decking with frescoes and inscriptions their temple -caves, and weirdly dancing their rites accoutred in the masks of beasts, prototypes of those which Attic maidens shall don at the shrine of Artemis Brauronia r and of those through whose brazen mouths shall be chanted the lapidary lines of Aeschylean choruses. Yet even that savage culture of the last ice age is but a mature fruit, the culmination of successive eras of slow; growth computed by hundreds of thousands of years. Beyond stretch aeons of time as unseizable to our imagination as are the distances of sidereal space. 

Transferred to the open vastness of those expanses the entire perspective, the meaning itself of history is changed. As| in the geocentric theory,, our view was not merely untrue; it was an accurate inversion of the truth. The career of mankind was currently conceived as one of continuous degeneration. Savages, instead of being regarded as surviving vestiges representing the condition of primitive humanity, were held to be the descendants of once noble and civilized races who had, by an inevitable law of human nature, lapsed into miserable degradation. 

The Past was the repository of virtue and lost wisdom; it stood exalted in proportion to its antiquity above the puny Present; and the, chief function of historical study was to hold up the excellences of our distant forbears as a paradigm to; a (waning age.

 It is only a matter of a generation or two since those quaint views became untenable, and the dust of the last rear-guard actions is hardly laid. In his great work on Primitive Culture Sir Edward Tylor devotes a lengthy chapter to the considerate and painstaking refutation of the ' theory of degeneration,' and he has in the course of it occasion to cite long and hot passages in its defence from distinguished contemporaries and indignant onslaughts on the hypothesis of progress. Tylor's book was published in 1871. 

One of the noblest ' and most fearless thinkers of 'the last century, Carlyle, feeling keen, as do all earnest and generous spirits, the faults and follies of the world about him, could perceive no higher aspiration to be set as an ideal before the Present than the emulation and imitation of the Past. And the past period which he selected as a model and exemplar was the thirteenth century! The notion of progress, of the " perfectibility of the species " was the butt of his most scornful sarcasm.


Some content:


Part I
The means and tasks of human
Evolution
I. Progress as fact and value
I. The discovery of man 
Ii. Change, evolution, progress . . . . 
Iii. Progress as value
Ii. Interpretations of history
I. Endogenous theories. Mind, race
Ii. Exogenous theories. Geographical and economic determinism.
Iii. Causation in progressive processes 
Iii. Rational thought, its origin and function
I. Man's adaptive variation
Ii. Rational thought as means of progress.
Iii. Adaptive character 
Iv. Progressive character 
Iv. Differences between human and organic evolution 
I. The bearer of human heredity. 
Ii. Humanity as an organism 
' v. Custom-thought and power-thought 
I. Custom-thought 
Ii. Power-thought.
Iii. The conflict 
Part ii
The genealogy of European
Civilization
I. The secret of the east .... 105
Ii. The Hellenic liberation . . . .117
Iii. Pax Romana . . . . . . . 14!
V iv. Barbarism and Byzantinism . . . .162
V. Dar al-hikmet (the home of science) . . .184
4 vi. The rebirth of Europe 203
Vii. The soi-disant renaissance . . . .222
Viii. Elements of Europe . . . 234
Part iii
Evolution of moral order
I. Moral law as 'law of nature
I. Meaning of the supremacy of ethics
Ii. Moral and material progress.
Iii. Power and justice...
Iv. The ' innate conscience ' of power.
Ii. The primary and secondary genesis of morality
I. Primary genesis of morality,
Ii. The secondary genesis of morality
Iii. The necessity of intellectual preparation


The book details :
  • Author: Robert Briffault
  • Publication date: 1919
  • Company: London, G. Allen & Unwin ltd

  • Download 20.3 MB

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