Main Currents of Western Thought: Readings in Western European Intellectual History from the Middle Ages to the Present
"Baumer's collection maps better than any other with which we are familiar the seminal and distinguishing ideological climates in western civilization."--Seventeenth Century News
Many disciplines create books of readings by the dozens; it is a rare event when a reader helps to create a discipline. On its initial publication in 1952, Main Currents of Western Thought did just that.
In the years since its first appearance, Main Currents has remained unquestionably the leading reader in its field. The illuminating short essays that introduce sections and subsections are well known, but the continuing usefulness of any reader depends upon the quality of its selections. Franklin Le Van Baumer has sought out passages that best represent and illuminate the ideas and preoccupations of each age. He has found them in the works of the great, including Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Luther, Newton, Voltaire, Darwin, Whitehead, and Freud. But he has also discovered telling statements in writings less widely known: Ramón Lull on chivalry (13th century), Henry Peacham on "the complete gentleman" and Leonard Busher on religious liberty (both 17th century), Louis-René de la Chalotais on education (18th century), Samuel Smiles on "self-help" (19th century) and Virgil Gheorgiu on mechanization (20th century).
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