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Any analysis of the contemporary world which is to be valid must begin with the individual's own local situation and immediate problems. How far it ranges in space and time beyond this depends on the capacity, imagination, and intellectual staying power of those who begin such a quest. Because this book is written for students in the United States it will take this country as the platform from which to launch its analysis. This is not to imply that the European emphasis which has characterized our work thus far is now irrelevant. It is rather to face the fact that Americans are today in a position where they cannot avoid providing their own interpretation of the present state of Western Civilization. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XIX: An Analysis of the Contemporary World's Search for Meaning. 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.