Dynamics of World History

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Overview

In scope and in vision Christopher Dawson's historiography ranks with the work of men like Spengler, Northrop, and Toynbee. Immensely learned and erudite, the scholarship of the British Catholic Dawson eventually earned him a professorship at Harvard University and widespread acknowledgment as one of the world's great historians. This book, assembled by John Mulloy with Dawson's cooperation, comprises Dawson's essential essays, providing the reader with an illuminating introduction to the sweep of his thought.Several major themes run through Dawson's work, including the interdependence of history and sociology; the need to go beyond nationalist history toward a history of the entire process of cultural development; the need to study not abstract Man but particular men in their local relations, including their relations with the land; a trenchant critique of urban industrialism, rootless cosmopolitanism, and bourgeois culture; and a firm conviction of the radically destructive character of cultural imperialism. But perhaps the most unique aspect of Dawson's historiography was its unequivocal insistence on the determinative importance of religion in shaping and sustaining civilizations. Religion, Dawson firmly believed, is the great creative force in any culture, and the loss of a society's historic religion therefore portends a process of social dissolution. For this reason Dawson concluded that Western society must find a way to revitalize its spiritual life if it is to avoid irreversible decay. Progress, the real religion of modernity, is insufficient to sustain cultural health. And an ahistorical, secularized Christianity is an oxymoron, a pseudo-religion only nominally related to the historical religion of the West. Dawson held that the hope of the present age lay in the reconciliation of the religious tradition of Christianity with the intellectual tradition of humanism and the new knowledge about man and nature provided by modern science. Dynamics of World History shows that though such a task may be difficult, it is not impossible.
About the Author

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) is widely regarded as one of the most important historians of the twentieth century. Dermot Quinn is Associate Professor of History at Seton Hall University.
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Editorial Reviews

Touchstone
…[T]his book, arguably the finest and most definitive summary of his thought, is recommended without the slightest reservation to historians, philosophers, artists, theologians, and lovers of letters.
Booknews
Harvard professor Dawson (1889-1970) was a major Catholic historian. His 1958 tome has fallen out of favor among historians at least partly because of its emphasis on the role of religion and spirituality in shaping and sustaining civilizations. Mulloy's preface to the first edition and introduction to the 1978 edition are augmented with a new introduction by Dermot Quinn (history, Seton Hall U.) Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882926787
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction by Dermot Quinn vii
Preface to the 1978 edition, by John J. Mulloy xxxi
Introduction to the 1958 edition, by John J. Mulloy xli
part one: Toward a Sociology of History
section i: The Sociological Foundations of History
1. The Sources of Culture Change 3
2. Sociology as a Science 13
3. Sociology and the Theory of Progress 35
4. Civilization and Morals 47
5. Progress and Decay in Ancient and Modern Civilization 57
6. Art and Society 71
7. Vitality or Standardization in Culture 79
8. Cultural Polarity and Religious Schism 85
9. Prevision in Religion 95
10. T. S. Eliot on the Meaning of Culture 109
section ii: The Movement of World History
1. Religion and the Life of Civilization 119
2. The Warrior Peoples and the Decline of the Archaic Civilization        137
3. The Origins of Classical Civilization 157
4. The Patriarchal Family in History 165
5. Stages in Mankind's Religious Experience 175
section iii: Urbanism and the Organic Nature of Culture
1. The Evolution of the Modern City 199
2. Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind 211
3. The World Crisis and the English Tradition 225
4. Bolshevism and the Bourgeoisie 237
part two: Conceptions of World History
section i: Christianity and the Meaning of History
1. The Christian View of History 245
2. History and the Christian Revelation 263
3. Christianity and Contradiction in History 275
4. The Kingdom of God and History 283
section ii: The Vision of the Historian
1. The Problem of Metahistory 303
2. St. Augustine and the City of God 311
3. Edward Gibbon and the Fall of Rome 341
4. Karl Marx and the Dialectic of History 369
5. H. G. Wells and the Outline of History 381
6. Oswald Spengler and the Life of Civilizations 389
7. Arnold Toynbee and the Study of History 405
8. Europe in Eclipse 419
Afterword by John J. Mulloy: Continuity and Development
in Christopher Dawson's Thought 427
Sources 483
Notes 487
Index 503
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