Our Oriental Heritage Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
Our Oriental Heritage (The Story of Civilization, #1) Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant
2,040 ratings, 4.29 average rating, 225 reviews
Open Preview
Our Oriental Heritage Quotes Showing 1-30 of 98
“A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean. At its cradle (to repeat a thoughtful adage) religion stands, and philosophy accompanies it to the grave.
In the beginning of all cultures a strong religious faith conceals and softens the nature of things, and gives men courage to bear pain and hardship patiently; at every step the gods are with them, and will not let them perish, until they do. Even then a firm faith will explain that it was the sins of the people that turned their gods to an avenging wrath; evil does not destroy faith, but strengthens it. If victory comes, if war is forgotten in security and peace, then wealth grows; the life of the body gives way, in the dominant classes, to the life of the senses and the mind; toil and suffering are replaced by pleasure and ease; science weakens faith even while thought and comfort weaken virility and fortitude. At last men begin to doubt the gods; they mourn the tragedy of knowledge, and seek refuge in every passing delight.
Achilles is at the beginning, Epicurus at the end. After David comes Job, and after Job, Ecclesiastes.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“The institutions, conventions, customs and laws that make up the complex structure of a society are the work of a hundred centuries and a billion minds; and one mind must not expect to comprehend them in one lifetime, much less in twenty years.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“[N]o language has ever had a word for a virgin man.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“There is hardly an absurdity of the past that cannot be found flourishing somewhere in the present. Underneath all civilization, ancient or modern, moved and still moves a sea of magic, superstition and sorcery. Perhaps they will remain when the works of our reason have passed away.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“NOTHING should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India. Here is a vast peninsula of nearly two million square miles; two-thirds as large as the United States, and twenty times the size of its master, Great Britain; 320,000,000 souls, more than in all North and South America combined, or one-fifth of the population of the earth; an impressive continuity of development and civilization from Mohenjo-daro, 2900 B.C. or earlier, to Gandhi, Raman and Tagore; faiths compassing every stage from barbarous idolatry to the most subtle and spiritual pantheism; philosophers playing a thousand variations on one monistic theme from the Upanishads eight centuries before Christ to Shankara eight centuries after him; scientists developing astronomy three thousand years ago, and winning Nobel prizes in our own time; a democratic constitution of untraceable antiquity in the villages, and wise and beneficent rulers like Ashoka and Akbar in the capitals; minstrels singing great epics almost as old as Homer, and poets holding world audiences today; artists raising gigantic temples for Hindu gods from Tibet to Ceylon and from Cambodia to Java, or carving perfect palaces by the score for Mogul kings and queens—this is the India that patient scholarship is now opening up, like a new intellectual continent, to that Western mind which only yesterday thought civilization an exclusively European thing.I”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“This is the tragedy of almost every civilization—that its soul is in its faith, and seldom survives philosophy.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Civilizations are the generations of the racial soul. As family-rearing, and then writing, bound the generations together, handing down the lore of the dying to the young, so print and commerce and a thousand ways of communication may bind the civilizations together, and preserve for future cultures all that is of value for them in our own. Let us, before we die, gather up our heritage, and offer it to our children.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“The worst conceivable government would be by philosophers; they botch every natural process with theory; their ability to make speeches and multiply ideas is precisely the sign of their incapacity for action.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“There are not many things finer in our murderous species than this noble curiosity, this restless and reckless passion to understand.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“All science is a charted ignorance and belongs to Maya.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“A history of civilization shares the presumptuousness of every philosophical enterprise: it offers the ridiculous spectacle of a fragment expounding the whole. Like philosophy, such a venture has no rational excuse, and is at best but a brave stupidity; but let us hope that, like philosophy, it will always lure some rash spirits into its fatal depths.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Perhaps, in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all living things.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Art is the creation of beauty; it is the expression of thought or feeling
in a form that seems beautiful or sublime, and therefore arouses in us some reverberation of that primordial delight which woman gives to man, or man to woman.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Fear of death, wonder at the causes of chance events or unintelligible happenings, hope for divine aid and gratitude for good fortune, cooperated to generate religious belief.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Nearly all ancient peoples worshiped sex in some form and ritual, and not the lowest people but the highest expressed their worship most completely [...]. The sexual character and functions of primitive deities were held in high regard, not through any obscenity of mind, but through a passion for fertility in women and in the earth. Certain animals, like the bull and the snake, were worshiped as apparently possessing or symbolizing in a high degree the divine power of reproduction.
The snake in the story of Eden is doubtless a phallic symbol, representing sex as the origin of evil, suggesting sexual awakening as the beginning of the knowledge of good and evil, and perhaps insinuating a certain proverbial connection between mental innocence and bliss.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“The fount and breeding-place of the Semites was Arabia.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“حيث يغلو الطعام ترخص الحياة”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“What is beauty? why do we admire it? why do we endeavor to create it? [...]
[B]eauty is any quality by which an object or a form pleases a beholder. Primarily and originally the object does not please the beholder because it is beautiful, but rather he calls it beautiful because it pleases him. Any object that satisfies desire will seem beautiful: food is beautiful - Thai's is not beautiful - to a starving man.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“For what is philosophy but an art - one more attempt to give "significant form" to the chaos of experience?”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Men look to love and life for everything; they receive a little less than that; they imagine that they have received nothing: these are the three stages of the pessimist.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Three meals a day are a highly advanced institution. Savages gorge themselves or fast.”2 The wilder tribes among the American Indians considered it weak-kneed and unseemly to preserve food for the next day.3 The natives of Australia are incapable of any labor whose reward is not immediate; every Hottentot is a gentleman of leisure; and with the Bushmen of Africa it is always “either a feast or a famine.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“This is the secret of the political history of modern India. Weakened by division, it succumbed to invaders; impoverished by invaders, it lost all power of resistance, and took refuge in supernatural consolations; it argued that both mastery and slavery were superficial delusions, and concluded that freedom of the body or the nation was hardly worth defending in so brief a life. The bitter lesson that may be drawn from this tragedy is that eternal vigilance is the price of civilization. A nation must love peace, but keep its powder dry.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Custom gives the same stability to the group that heredity and instinct give to the species, and habit to the individual. It is the routine that keeps men sane; for if there were no grooves along which thought and action might move with unconscious ease, the mind would be perpetually hesitant, and would soon take refuge in lunacy.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Why is it that great men so often have mediocrities for their offspring? Is it because the gamble of the genes that produced them—the commingling of ancestral traits and biological possibilities—was but a chance, and could not be expected to recur? Or is it because the genius exhausts in thought and toil the force that might have gone to parentage, and leaves only his diluted blood to his heirs? Or is it that children decay under ease, and early good fortune deprives them of the stimulus to ambition and growth?”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“إن المدنية صنيعة أقلية من الناس أقاموا بناءها في أناه وأستمدوا جوهرها من حياة الترف، أما سواد الناس وغمارهم فلا يكاد يتغير منهم شي كلما مرت بهم ألف عام”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“...[A] poor priest, Chandi Das, was shocking Bengal by composing Dantean songs to a peasant Beatrice, ideal­izing her with romantic passion, exalting her as a symbol of divinity, and making his love an allegory of his desire for absorption in God; at the same time he inaugurated the use of Bengali as a literary language. "I have taken refuge at your feet, my beloved. When I do not see you my mind has no rest .... I cannot forget your grace and your charm,—and yet there is no desire in my heart." Excommunicated by his fellow Brahmans on the ground that he was scandalizing the public, he agreed to renounce his love, Rami, in a public ceremony of recantation; but when, in the course of this ritual, he saw Rami in the crowd, he withdrew his recanta­tion, and going up to her, bowed before her with hands joined in adora-
tion.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“The greatest task of morals is always sexual regulation; for the reproductive instinct creates problems not only within marriage, but before and after it, and threatens at any moment to disturb social order with its persistence, its intensity, its scorn of law, and its perversions.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“[S]hame is a child of custom rather than of nature.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage
“The story of the "bondage" in Egypt, of the use of the Jews as slaves in great construction enterprises, their rebellion and escape - or emigration - to Asia, has many internal signs of essential truth, mingled, of course, with supernatural interpolations customary in all the historical writings of the ancient East.”
Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage

« previous 1 3 4