04 March 2011

Excerpts from Jacques Barzun, "From Dawn to Decadence"

(Note: The excerpts below are related to issues outside of education; I will post education-related excerpts from From Dawn to Decadence on Wide Awake Minds, my education blog. You can find these here if you are interested.)


Here are a few excerpts from what I've read so far:

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In any art a new technical power leads to uses and ideas not suspected at first.
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Another singularity in Petrarch's life was that he climbed a high hill in southern France in order to admire the view. If it was done before him, it was not recorded. Nature had been endlessly discussed, but as a generality, not as this landscape.

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Inquisition as such, that is, apart from methods and severity of results, has remained a live institution. The many dictatorships of the 20th century have relied on it and in free countries it thrives ad hoc - hunting down German sympathizers during the First World War, interning Japanese-Americans during the second, and pursuing Communist fellow-travelers during the Cold War.
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"Heretics are given us so that we might not remain in infancy. They question, there is discussion, and definitions are arrived at to make an organized faith." -St. Augustine

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It takes hundreds of the gifted to make half a dozen of the great.