Social Thought: From Hammurabi to Comte

Social Thought: From Hammurabi to Comte

Social Thought: From Hammurabi to Comte

Social Thought: From Hammurabi to Comte

Excerpt

This volume, designed primarily as a textbook, offers a brief survey of social thought from Hammurabi to Comte. The former ruled over Babylonia in the seventeenth century B.C., and the latter attempted in nineteenth-century France to enthrone positivism in the intellectual world.

Hammurabi and Comte were separated by more than 3600 years. During that time many civilizations emerged and developed, and some of them decayed. The Chinese and the Hindus discovered ways of life that have been followed by millions upon millions of people. The Greeks and the Romans stated principles that still guide many other millions in their relations with one another. With a Hebrew heritage, Christians rallied around a faith that sustained medieval Europe and today undergirds life with meaning for a large portion of mankind. The Arabs emerged from their tents, built an empire, which disintegrated, and founded a religion, which endured. Finally, with the tools of science at their disposal, men of diverse nations worked together to fashion the modern world.

It is obvious that a book of ordinary length can contain only a part of the social ideas that appeared during the long period between Hammurabi and Comte. Many of those ideas, however, had little influence on the course of human events. By concentration on ideas that lived and developed, the problem of choice has been considerably reduced. The material for this book, then, has been taken from the solid body of living ideas that constitute an important part of the intellectual heritage of mankind.

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