“The Age of Reason Begins” is a thought-provoking book written by the eminent historian Will Durant. Published in 1961 as part of the larger series “The Story of Civilization,” this volume meticulously delves into the historical period spanning from 1558 to 1648, a time of monumental shifts in philosophy, science, politics, and religion. Durant’s insightful analysis provides readers with a deep understanding of how the Age of Enlightenment laid the foundation for the modern world.
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In “The Age of Reason Begins,” Will Durant presents a comprehensive account of the transformative 90-year span, focusing on the ideas, events, and individuals that shaped the intellectual landscape of the time. Durant skillfully navigates through the lives of influential thinkers like Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and Johannes Kepler, who challenged traditional beliefs with groundbreaking scientific discoveries and rational thought. The book also explores the political and religious upheavals, including the Thirty Years’ War, that reshaped the geopolitical map of Europe. Durant’s narrative brilliantly captures the tension between tradition and innovation, faith and reason, offering readers a vivid portrayal of a crucial phase in human history.
Critics and readers alike have hailed “The Age of Reason Begins” for its erudition and engaging storytelling. The book’s meticulous research and eloquent prose have been praised as a testament to Durant’s expertise as a historian. Readers appreciate how Durant effortlessly weaves together the diverse threads of intellectual, scientific, and political developments, making a complex era accessible and intriguing. The narrative’s ability to transport readers to the past while shedding light on contemporary issues has earned it a place as an enduring masterpiece of historical literature.
“The mind cannot long rest except in evidence, and every reasoning, considering, inferring soul must sooner or later come to evidence as its foundation and ultimate test.”
“The Age of Reason begins with the realization that we can understand the universe without understanding our purpose in it.”
“The future will be determined by the balance of interests, not of ideals.”
“Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition.”
“Man has been a slave to the superstitions he has created; but for that reason he is more a slave to them than to anything else in life.”
Q : Is prior knowledge of history necessary to understand the book?
A : While some background knowledge of the period could enhance your experience, Durant skillfully provides context and explanations, making the book accessible to both history enthusiasts and newcomers.
Q : Does the book focus solely on Europe?
A : Primarily, yes. The book primarily examines European developments, but it does touch upon interactions with other cultures and the global implications of these changes.
Q : Is the book heavily academic?
A : While it is well-researched, Durant’s writing is engaging and approachable, making historical concepts and events understandable for a wide range of readers.
Q : Does Durant offer his own opinions on the era?
A : Durant’s writing style is objective and analytical. While he presents the ideas and events, he doesn’t overtly inject his own opinions, allowing readers to form their own conclusions.
Q : How does this book relate to the rest of “The Story of Civilization” series?
A : “The Age of Reason Begins” is part of a larger series that covers the history of civilization from its earliest origins to modern times. Each volume can be read independently, but together they provide a comprehensive understanding of human history.
“The Age of Reason Begins” by Will Durant is a captivating exploration of a pivotal epoch in human history. Durant’s meticulous research, eloquent prose, and insightful analysis make this book a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand the origins of modern thought, science, and politics. As we reflect on the past, Durant’s work encourages us to contemplate the enduring struggle between tradition and progress, a theme that continues to shape our world today.