THE BETTERMENT OF MAN: A Rational History of Western Civilization by G. L. Owen

THE BETTERMENT OF MAN: A Rational History of Western Civilization

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this brief history of the west from Mesopotamia to the moon, Owen tries to show how ""via the persistent application of reason to human affairs,"" we have passed to the ""daylight of civilization."" Only daylight, because though nature has been controlled and equality has been approached, peace has never been achieved. This failure Owen attributes to the inability of our Roman (or cultural) tradition to fully win out over our Germanic (or nationalistic) one. Generalizations like the above abound, and they serve, ironically, to make this book, in its praise of reason, too rational: hunger in Mesopotamia five thousand years ago led to domestication of animals, which led to social organization and the dawn of civilization; the decline of church unity in the late fourteenth century led men to initiate a revival of the classical heritage. Were there not other factors? Owen avoids them, and history takes on the rigidity of a linear step-step-step. A good book clearly examining and praising the achievements of the western mind is surely needed today, but Owen's is too thin and simplified to be that work.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam