Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

Excerpt

It's a wise child that knows its own father. And it is a wise father that has more than the faintest idea where we all began, and why we behave as we do. Here we are, frightened in a complicated world of machinery and war, each of us depending on all the rest of us. Somehow we came to be human. And somehow we came to be civilized. But how? We think of ourselves as the creatures the earth was made for--something quite apart from other animals. And then we take a closer look, and are amazed to find ourselves so like the animals, in our bodies and our needs, that we almost pinch ourselves to be sure we are human after all.

History tells us little enough: king reigned before king and then, five or six thousand years ago, no more kings are remembered, and no word comes straight down to us to say how men arranged their affairs in the remoter past. But we may look about or dig for other kinds of information about our whole complicated, untidy existence of today, and perceive something of the outlines of its beginnings, its development and its relations to our own animal nature. For the story of man is a nature story.

This is not an easy thing to understand, and never has been. Many primitive people have some story about a Maker, who simply baked up the first man like a cake, and then showed him what to do. And even our own philosophers have usually tried to explain man's relation to nature in man's own terms, not nature's. We think of Mother Nature without too great respect. She is somebody else's mother, not ours.

Now of course having a life strikingly different from the rest of nature is the essence of being human. That is the obvious part.

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