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The twentieth century has seen two major revolutions in our theories of physics concerning nature, and these have made us change many of our concepts about the terms in which nature can be described. The new theories born in these revolutions are the theory of relativity and of quantum mechanics. The biological sciences had their revolutions in the nineteenth century, and while remarkable progress has been made since, nothing comparable to that upheaval has occurred in this century. Of the two massive changes in the concepts of the physical sciences, we can discuss but one here. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XX: Meaning in the Physical Sciences. 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.