The Social Thought of the Ancient Civilizations

The Social Thought of the Ancient Civilizations

The Social Thought of the Ancient Civilizations

The Social Thought of the Ancient Civilizations

Excerpt

It is the present author's belief that many of the so-called histories of thought have been seriously at fault as scientific presentations of the subject. Some writers, overzealous in the advancement of their field from the angle of their own bents and interests, have erred in using selected portions of the historical thought as a vehicle whereby they imposed their own upon the more or less unsuspecting reader; others have added such voluminous comments and interpretations of their own, often on the basis of very slender evidence, and read so many obviously unjustified meanings into the historical writings as seriously to subvert or disguise their real meaning; still others have tried to cover so much ground within the confines of a single book that their product was excessively piecemeal and over‐ selective, and in no sense a fair sampling of the thought of the writers of any given epoch. It is the purpose of this study to avoid these weaknesses as far as possible by confining it to the most significant writers or documents of the different ancient civilizations. The writer will indulge in almost no interpretation, will reduce comment to a minimum, and will be wary about theorizing or generalizing. Finally, he will as far as possible use factual material in the form of the actual statements — the documentary materials, archaeological and historical — and let them tell their own story in their own words, trusting that the reader is sufficiently orientated in the various social disciplines to appreciate the more apt, revealing, and pointed passages and to apprehend the significance of the embodied ideas. This has been consistently done, except in the case of the Biblical literature, available to everyone, and in certain ancient legal codes, where, in order to conserve space, quotations have frequently been omitted. The writer has considered his task to be mainly that of discovering, collecting, selecting, and organizing the material from these ancient civilizations that is pertinent to the . . .

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