A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future

A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future

Charles Van Doren

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0345373162

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A one-voume reference to the history of ideas that is a compendium of everything that humankind has thought, invented, created, considered, and perfected from the beginning of civilization into the twenty-first century. Massive in its scope, and yet totally accessible, A HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE covers not only all the great theories and discoveries of the human race, but also explores the social conditions, political climates, and individual men and women of genius that brought ideas to fruition throughout history.
"Crystal clear and concise...Explains how humankind got to know what it knows."
Clifton Fadiman
Selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club

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suffering. The second noble truth holds that all this difficulty and pain is caused by man's selfish desire. The third holds that there can be found emancipation and freedom-Nirvana. The fourth noble truth, the Noble Eightfold Path, is the way to this liberation. In a sense Buddhism is not a religion, for it worships no god. But this primarily ethical doctrine soon spread far and wide, partly because of the fervent speculation which it everywhere engendered, partly because of its revolutionary

preferred drink, and barley bread was the staple of the diet. Epicurus had studied under Democritus as a young man, and he was consequently a confirmed atomist. He wrote thirty-seven books on nature, or physics, in which he advanced the atomist doctrine. Hardly any of his works survive. He also wrote tender letters to his friends, some of which do exist, in which he urged upon them a life of simplicity, ease, and moral rectitude. In later centuries, Epicurus's "happiness" came to be interpreted

little season." The prospect of a world i n which the Devil prospered proved terrifying, even if only for a little while. Life seemed bad enough during these thousand years, even with the Devil bound in the bottomless pit. How The Middle Ages: The Great Experiment Ill much worse might life be once the Devil was allowed to do his malicious deeds unimpeded? And how long, or short, was "the little season" after which Christ would return to judge the quick and the dead? Hundreds of thousands of

from one teacher to another and rioting in the streets over logical points and questions of scriptural interpretation. Abelard threw himself into these controversies, partly for the excitement of it. He also took a few private pupils, including Heloise (c. l 098-l l 64), the brilliant and beautiful seventeen-year-old niece of Canon Fulbert ( c.960-l 028) of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Abelard seduced Heloise, or perhaps Heloise seduced Abelard; they had a son, and later they were

deliciously attractive daughter; the foolish father born to be tricked out of his jewel; the sly servant pulling all the strings-all of them posed in mock-familial situations that imitated real life. Shakespeare, inheriting these figures, turned them into real men and women in his incomparable comedies. Apart from the mandatory lovers, who more often than not make fun of love itself, these plays contain pairs of fathers and daughters so true and real they possess the power to break the heart. And

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