Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Our Oriental Heritage

By Will Durant

The first in Will Durant's massive Story of Civilization, an 11-volume set averaging almost 1000 pages each. A serious life work that took more than 70 years of thinking, researching and writing. A major inspiration and help from the beginning, his wife Ariel took more and more interest in this project and began being listed as a co-author after volume VI. This first volume begins with the establishment of civilization and continues from histories of ancient India, the Near and Far East up until modern times describing the evolutions of economics, politics, science, art, religion, morals, customs, and philosophy.

Quotes from Our Oriental Heritage

“A nation, like an individual, can be too sensible, too prosaically sane and unbearably right... an intellectual bureaucracy irksome and hostile to every free and creatively erring soul.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“A vigorous soldier-emperor, Huangdi, in a reign of a mere century, gave China the magnet and the wheel, appointed official historians, built the first brick structures in China, erected an observatory for the study of the stars, corrected the calendar, and redistributed the land.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Agriculture, while generating civilization, led not only to private property but to slavery. In purely hunting communities, slavery had been unknown”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Ancient civilizations were little isles in a sea of barbarism, prosperous settlements surrounded by hungry, envious and warlike hunters and herders”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Barbarism is always around civilization, amidst it and beneath it, ready to engulf it by arms, or mass migrations, or unchecked fertility. Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Despite much research, we cannot tell of what race the Sumerians were, nor by what route they entered Sumeria... a synthesis of rough beginnings and occasional but brilliant mastery... Here within the limits of our present understanding [we find] the first states and empires, the first irrigation, the first use of gold and silver, the first business contracts, the first credit system, the first code of law, the first extensive development of writing, the first libraries and schools, the first literature and poetry, the first cosmetics and jewelry, the first sculpture, the first palaces and temples... the first large scale sins of civilization: slavery, despotism, ecclesiasticism, and imperialistic war.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Dying, [Fu Xi] appointed as his successor [Shen Nung] who introduced agriculture, invented the wooden plow, established markets and trade, and developed the science of medicine from the curative value of plants.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Emperor Fu Xi—with the help of his enlightened Queen—taught his people marriage, music, writing, painting, fishing with nets, the domestication of animals, and the feeding of silkworms for the secretion of silk.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Greece did not begin civilization—it inherited far more civilization than it began; it was the spoiled heir of three millenniums of arts and sciences brought to its cities from the Near East... the real founders of European and American civilization.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“In some existing tribes and probably in the earliest human groups, the physiological role of the male in reproduction appears to have escaped notice quite as completely as among animals who rut and mate and breed with happy unconsciousness of cause and effect.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“In the end nothing is lost; for good or evil, every event has effects forever.”

Chapters:

Themes: Karma

Comments: Click to comment

“India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”

Chapters:

Themes: Hinduism

Comments: Click to comment

“It is almost a law of history that the same wealth that generates a civilization announces its decay. For wealth produces ease as well as art; it softens a people to the ways of luxury and peace, invites invasion from stronger arms and hungrier mouths.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Just as Shankara in 8th century India brought the scattered insights of the Upanishads into an intellectual system; and just as Aquinas in 13th century Europe wove Aristotle and St. Paul into the Scholastic philosophy; so Zhu Xi took the loose apothegms of Confucius and built upon them a system of philosophy strong enough to preserve for 7 centuries the Confucian leadership in Chinese political and intellectual life.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Kangxi gave China the most prosperous, peaceful, and enlightened reign in the nation's history.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“legend, which loves personalities more than ideas, attributes to a few individuals the laborious advances of many generations.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Marriage began as a form of the law of property, as a part of the institution of slavery.”

Chapters:

Themes: Marriage

Comments: Click to comment

“Most economic advances in early society were made by the woman rather than the man… she developed agriculture, made cotton cloth, developed sewing, weaving, basketry, pottery, woodworking, building, primitive trade, and slowly added man to her list of domesticated animals training him in those social dispositions which are the psychological basis and cement of civilization.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“No language has ever had a word for a virgin man.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“No man would believe them; and the people of Venice gave to the youngest and most garrulous of them the nickname 'Marco Millions,' because his tale was full of numbers so large and marvelous. Marco accepted this fate with good cheer, for they had brought back with them many precious stones that gave them such wealth”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Only in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Popular theologians took the misty doctrine of Lao Tzu and gradually transformed it into a religion. People flocked to it, built temples, supported its priesthood and poured into the new faith their inexhaustible superstitious lore. Lao Tzu was made a god... For a thousand years the Taoist faith had millions of adherents, converted many emperors, and fought long battle of intrigue to wrest from the Confucians the divine right to tax and spend.”

Chapters:

Themes: Taoism

Comments: Click to comment

“Powerful economic motives must have favored the evolution of marriage. In all probability... connected with the rising institution of property.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“The advance from the hoe to the plough put a premium upon physical strength and enabled the man to assert his supremacy leading to the sexual subordination of woman… mother-right yielded to father-right… The gods, who had been mostly feminine, became great bearded patriarchs… the man was lord, the woman was servant.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“The civilization of Babylonia was not as fruitful for humanity as Egypt’s, not as varied and profound as India’s not as subtle and mature as China’s. And yet is was from Babylonia, rather than from Egypt, that the roving Greeks brought to their city-states—and from there to Rome and ourselves—the foundations of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, grammar, lexicography, archeology, history, and philosophy… the civilization of the Land between the Rivers passed down into the cultural endowment of our race.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“the essential government of mankind remains in that most deep-rooted of all historic institutions, the family.”

Chapters:

Themes: Government Family

Comments: Click to comment

“The first real person in known history is not a conqueror or a king but an artist and a scientist — Imhotep, physician, architect and chief adviser of King Zoser”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“The first stage in the evolution of law is personal revenge... It appears in Roman and Mosaic Law, the Code of Hammurabi... and lurks behind most legal punishments even in our day. The second step was the substitution of damages for revenge.”

Chapters:

Themes: Law and Order

Comments: Click to comment

“The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“the majestic monotheism of the founder [Zarathustra] became - as in the case of Christianity - the polytheism of the people”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“The position of women in early societies was one of subjection verging upon slavery. Her periodic disability, her unfamiliarity with weapons, the biological absorption of her strength in carrying, nurturing, and rearing children, handicapped her in the war of the sexes and doomed her to a subordinate status”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“The success of Confucius was posthumous, but complete… after death had removed the possibility of his insisting upon its realization… and for 2000 years, the doctrine of Confucius moved and dominated the Chinese mind.”

Chapters:

Themes: Confucianism

Comments: Click to comment

“There are three things which are unfilial and the greatest of them is to have no posterity.”

Chapters:

Themes: Sex Family

Comments: Click to comment

“There is hardly an absurdity of the past that cannot be found flourishing somewhere in the present.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“They botch every natural process with theory; their ability to make speeches and multiply ideas is precisely the sign of their incapacity for action.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“This is the tragedy of almost every civilization—that its soul is in its faith, and seldom survives philosophy.”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“Through the Phoenicians, the Syrians and the Jews, through the Cretans, the Greeks and the Romans, what the civilization of Egypt accomplished at the very dawn of history has influence in every nation and every age... agriculture, metallurgy, industry and engineering; the apparent invention of glass and linen, of paper and ink, of the calendar and the clock, of geometry and the alphabet... of census and post... the first cry fro social justice, the first widespread monogamy, the first monotheism, the first essays in moral philosophy”

Chapters:

Comments: Click to comment

“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.”

Chapters:

Themes: Magic

Comments: Click to comment

Related Lineages (4 lineages)

Hindu

Taoist

Tibetan Vajrayana

Confucian

Quotes about Our Oriental Heritage (0 quotes)

Comments (0)