From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present

By Jacques Barzun

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Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500.In this account, Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaisance and Reformation down to the present in th Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty...

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May 15th 2001 by Harper Perennial

(first published January 1st 2000)

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Quotes From "From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present"

"Let us face a pluralistic world in which there are no universal churches, no single remedy for all diseases, no one way to teach or write or sing, no magic diet, no world poets, and no chosen races, but only the wretched and wonderfully diversified human race."
"The book, like the bicycle, is a perfect form."
"It is a noteworthy feature of 20C culture that for the first time in over a thousand years its educated class is not expected to be at least bilingual."
"Except among those whose education has been in the minimalist style, it is understood that hasty moral judgments about people in the past are a form of injustice."
"... in fact any good mind properly taught can think like Euclid and like Walt Whitman. The Renaissance, as we saw, was full of such minds, equally competent as poet and as engineers. The modern notion of "the two cultures," incompatible under one skull, comes solely from the proliferation of specialties in science; but these also divide scientists into groups that do not understand one another, the cause being the sheer mass of detail and the diverse terminologies. In essence the human mind remains one, not 2 or 60 different organs."
"[...] the state is not immoral but amoral; half of it exists outside morality"
"The motives behind scientism are culturally significant. They have been mixed, as usual: genuine curiosity in search of truth; the rage for certainty and for unity; and the snobbish desire to earn the label scientist when that became a high social and intellectual rank. But these efforts, even though vain, have not been without harm, to the inventors and to the world at large. The "findings" have inspired policies affecting daily life that were enforced with the same absolute assurance as earlier ones based on religion. At the same time, the workers in the realm of intuition, the gifted finessers - artists, moralists, philosophers, historians, political theorists, and theologians - were either diverted from their proper task, while others were looking on them with disdain as dabblers in the suburbs of Truth."
"Bad writing, it is easily verified, has never kept scholarship from being published."

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