The story of man’s continuing quest to understand his world
Daniel J. Boorstin
|Throughout history, from the time of Socrates to our own modern age, the human race has sought the answers to fundamental questions of life: Who are we? Why are we here?
Boorstin says our Western culture has seen three grand epics of Seeking. First there was the heroic way of prophets and philosophers — men like Moses or Job or Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as those in the communities of the early church universities and the Protestant Reformation — seeking salvation or truth from the god above or the reason within each of us.
Then came an age of communal seeking, with people like Thucydides and Thomas More and Machiavelli and Voltaire pursuing civilization and the liberal spirit.
Finally, there was an age of the social sciences, when man seemed ruled by the forces of history. Here are the absorbing stories of exceptional men such as Marx, Spengler, and Toynbee, Carlyle and Emerson, and Malraux, Bergson, and Einstein.
These great thinkers still have the power to speak to us, not always so much for their answers as for their way of asking the questions that never cease either to intrigue or to obsess us.