The Civilized Man - by F. McEachran - PDF ebook (1930)

The Civilized Man

The Civilized Man

So many books have appeared of late with the titles progress, civilization, culture, that the addition of another on a similar topic would seem to need some apology on the part of the author and an assurance that it brings something new to the subject. 

Yet as it is obvious that no one would write a book without being convinced that he had something to say, a conviction of this kind must be accepted as the author’s apology, and judgment on the genuine or spurious character of his conviction deferred to the only possible test, which is the reading of it. 

The attitude of the author, like that of Anaxagoras in old-time, may be described fairly accurately in the sentence: ‘All things being together in confusion, reason came and sorted them out,’ and although I myself lay no claim to have succeeded in doing the sorting out, I do hope to prove that there is still confusion and that some sort of sorting out is necessary. 

With regard to my choice of a title, ‘The Civilized Man’, I am aware that it contains the seed of much controversy and that even its most prominent term ‘man’ will be subjected to a searching criticism on the part of the naturalist sceptic. 

Yet the problem of what constitutes man is not really a new problem, nor a very difficult one, and it has only become a thorny problem of late owing to the rise of modern biological science and of a one-sided school of scientific naturalism. To a Hebrew or a Greek, or to a European of the Middle Ages, there was little doubt on the subject, and to their minds man was a quite definite entity. He was distinct from the species of nature by a wide and inseparable gulf, and at the same time linked up in some way, not easily explained, to a being higher than himself, on whom he depended for one part, at least, of his being. He was ‘A little lower than the angels according to one definition of the Hebrew sort, and in Greek phrase, according to a line of Pindar, he was of the same race as Zeus 

Such quotations are taken at random and will require some qualification as we proceed further, but they will for the moment serve as illustrations. There was, of course, a great difference between the Hebrew and the Greek attitude toward the higher being set above man, and the deep piety of the Hebrews as contrasted with the comparative worldliness of the Greeks has been a subject for comment too often to need mention. 

But what is the same in both Greek and Hebrew^ is the ideal of a human being, one and the same everywhere, and together with it three results or conclusions which follow from it: the idea of man as a being cut off from the lower species of nature, the belief in a power beyond man, and the belief that man to a large extent carves out his own destiny, all of which are really part and parcel of the same underlying belief in the human ideal. 

The last of these was expressed by Heraclitus in a famous phrase: (the character is the destiny of man), and is practically equivalent to a confession of belief in free will. This, in brief, is what I mean when I speak of ‘man’, and in spite of the prevailing philosophy of today, I hope to give some evidence that it is an ideal of humanity that fits in with the facts of human life more completely than any other theory.

the book details :
  • Author: F. McEachran
  • Publication date: 1930

  • Download 12.6 MB

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