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:


In any art a new technical power leads to uses and ideas not suspected at first.
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.

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.

"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

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