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Philosophers and theologians have not been alone during the present age of crisis in trying to solve, or at least to illuminate, the riddle of human existence. In their attempts to find meaning for the life of man, they have been joined by many historians who are convinced that it is also an essential part of their task to discover some clue to whatever destiny might be in store for the human species. As a result, the past quarter of a century has seen the appearance of a host of books, pamphlets, and articles devoted to the subject of meaning in history. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XXIV: Historical 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.