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As we have seen, philosophy was one of the major contributions of Greek Civilization. It was the Greeks who gave it its first major impetus as well as its name, "the love of learning." This very phrase embodies the most important aspects of their contribution to the West: the love of the best or most excellent; the search for something beyond a description of immediate experience; and the attempt to grasp, in some comprehensive fashion, both the actual and the ideal, both the given and the possible. In order to accomplish this task philosophy has, as we have seen, traditionally included the following major subdivisions: epistemology, the study of how we know; logic, the study of how we think; ethics, the study of how we act; aesthetics, the study of what we enjoy; and metaphysics, the study of what is real. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XXII: Philosophical 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.