Final messages of wisdom from a well-known scholar.
Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were hints that Durant, author of the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, was writing a compilation of personal thoughts on a variety of topics. Yet no one had seen the manuscript, and after Durant’s death in 1981, the topic was dropped. It was only by chance that the manuscript was found, when his granddaughter moved and discovered the piece in a box. In the preface, which was written at the age of 95, Durant writes, “Please do not expect any new system of philosophy, nor any world-shaking cogitations; these will be human confessions, not divine revelations; they are micro- or mini-essays whose only dignity lies in their subjects rather than in their profundity or their size.” Those are modest words for a man who explores the profundity of being human, whether that means examining an infant's first moments of life, why religion has such a strong influence in so many people's lives or why racism is still prevalent in the United States. Durant also meditates on world governments and why we grow more conservative as we age, offers his opinions on sex and morality, and sings “a hymn in praise of women.” While some of the thoughts are dated due to the time in which they were written, or might seem a bit extreme—e.g., the idea to “make parentage a privilege and not a right. No one has the right to bring a child into the community without having passed tests of physical and mental fitness to breed”—his philosophical views are eye-opening and offer readers a chance to re-examine their own feelings regarding the human race and what it has and has not managed to accomplish in its short stint on Earth.
Short but persuasive commentaries on a diversity of topics from a respected scholar of humanity.