Story of Civilization Volume I: The Conditions of Civilization

This post is a part of my series on The Story of Civilization by Will Durant.

Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation…when fear is overcome, curiosity and constructiveness are free, and man passes by natural impulse towards understanding and embellishment of life.

The first form of culture is agriculture.

I suspect this won’t be the first time this happens, but here I’m reminded of Bastiat’s The Law. Once man is set free to understand and embellish life, who deserves the right to interrupt this productive freedom? Government should exist only to protect this freedom, not actively try to provide it. If this freedom needs to be actively ‘provided’, there’s a deeper problem not being addressed.

Why else wouldn’t a man actively work to better his own life? Man is innately enterprising. We instinctively worked to civilize ourselves before the letters in IPO even existed.

Man differs from beast only by education, which may be defined as the technique of transmitting civilization.

I like this definition of education, particularly because it suggests a distinction we often forget: education is different from training. Training is about specific methods to achieve specific ends: teaching what’s known. Education is about enlightenment: learning about what could be.

I firmly believe that if schools made changes to reflect this distinction, many problems would disappear overnight. Proper training and enlightenment would render a more motivated and capable workforce (i.e., workers companies could actually use), and that would lead to a more productive economy and happier lives. But I dream…I mean, digress.

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