A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future - download pdf or read online

By Charles Van Doren

ISBN-10: 0345373162

ISBN-13: 9780345373168

A one-voume connection with the background of principles that could be a compendium of every thing that humankind has idea, invented, created, thought of, and perfected from the start of civilization into the twenty-first century. enormous in its scope, and but completely available, A historical past of information covers not just the entire nice theories and discoveries of the human race, but additionally explores the social stipulations, political climates, and person women and men of genius that introduced rules to fruition all through history.
"Crystal transparent and concise...Explains how humankind received to understand what it knows."
Clifton Fadiman
Selected by way of the Book-of-the-Month membership and the historical past booklet membership

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Additional info for A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future

Example text

In writing, the difference is expressed by the five vowels, a, e, i, o, and u. In writing, the difference is unambiguous. ) Written Chinese employs thousands of different signs to transcribe its thousands of different sounds, each having a different meaning. English has as many different sounds as Chinese, and probably more words and meanings, but only twenty_-six signs are needed to write all the words in the language. Such efficiency takes the breath away. Scholars disagree about whether the Phoenician alphabet was in fact a real alphabet, since it contained no signs for vowel sounds.

It is true that oral tradition carried mankind a long way. The earliest empires were built without writing; great art, even great poetry, was produced by men who did not know the art of writing. Homer himself, the first and in some ways still the greatest poet, was nonliterate. Most of the world was nonliterate in his time (around 1 000 Be) . Even where men had learned to write, as i n Mesopotamia, i n Egypt, in China, they used the wonderful new skill only to keep records. They did not see writing as an incomparable way to think better.

Scholars disagree about whether the Phoenician alphabet was in fact a real alphabet, since it contained no signs for vowel sounds. In that case the Greek alphabet was the first in history. There is credit enough to go around. The Greek invention is no less astounding because it built on a prior invention. The Inca failed to discover the art of writing. They also failed to understand the underlying principles of the tools they used. They made particular tools to accomplish particular tasks, but the abstract idea of a lever, for example, escaped them.

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A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future by Charles Van Doren

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