The Earth before History: Man's Origin and the Origin of Life

The Earth before History: Man's Origin and the Origin of Life

The Earth before History: Man's Origin and the Origin of Life

The Earth before History: Man's Origin and the Origin of Life

Excerpt

Two circumstances, quite different in nature, make the present time particularly favourable for the writing of a Universal History: on the one hand, the development of historical studies, and, on the other, the growth of world-conditions in which all countries share.

For almost a century now an ever increasing number of students--anthropologists, historians, archæologists--have been extending, with commendable patience, their researches along all lines and into the most remote corners of man's past. The tremendous mass of detailed knowledge thus accumulated was bound eventually to force upon scholars the necessity for some kind of synthesis, and this need has made itself felt most imperatively in a desire for some co-ordinating point of view from which it would be possible to dominate Time.

Yet the work of the historians, no matter how impartial it may appear, does not merely respond to internal laws but is also subject to external influences to a certain extent. If, for instance, any particular trait may be regarded as characteristic of our present epoch it is the human solidarity encountered all over the earth. Our planet seems to have shrunk in size through the rapidity of communication and civilized nations have developed such intimate relations either between one another or through intensive colonization, with less developed peoples, that, as in an organism, everything seems to be inter-connected. To-day we have a world-politics, a world-economics, a world-civilization. This visible spatial and temporal unity in human groups invites us to reflect upon the role which the universal factor has played from the beginnings of time.

Thus, apart from the works devoted to facts and individuals, to countries, peoples, and successive epochs, we have the Earth and Humanity left as objects that must be studied.

In Germany, during the years preceding the war, the study of universal history flourished--under the name of "Weltge . . .

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