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Later Greek philosophers started with questions somewhat different from those of their predecessors. Instead of asking about the nature of the universe, they first concerned themselves with the nature of man, how he can know, and what he should do. These questions ultimately led them back to the earlier ones, but now with a different perspective. This change in emphasis came as the life of the independent city-state was drawing to its unhappy close and as it seemed that men were being cast adrift on uncharted seas. Three great figures dominate this period of ~ Greek philosophy by virtue of their attempts to find new moorings for the human life: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. By common consent these names are foremost in the history of philosophy. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.