The Encyclopedia
Man as the Reference Point For All Study
Chapter 24

One consideration especially which we ought not to lose sight of, is that if we banish man, the thinking and contemplative being, from the surface of the earth, this pathetic and sublime spectacle of nature becomes a scene melancholy and dumb. Silence and night take possession of the universe. Everything is transformed into a vast solitude in which unobserved phenomena move in an obscure and secret manner. It is the presence of man that makes the existence of beings interesting. Can we propose anything better in the history of these beings than to submit ourselves to this consideration? Why should we not introduce man into our work, as he is placed in the universe? Why should we not make him a common center? . . .

This is what has determined us to find in the principal faculties of man the general division to which we have subordinated our work. . . . Man is the unique point to which we must refer everything, if we wish to interest and please amongst considerations the most arid and details the most dry. Abstract from my existence and the happiness of my fellow human beings, and the rest of nature is of no consequence.

From Franklin L. Baumer, Main Currents of Western Thought, 2nd ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1964.


W.W. Norton
RESOURCE: World Civilizations
Page created by Thomas Pearcy, Ph.D and Mary Dickson.
Direct questions or comments to Webmaster.
Last revised February 4, 1997
Copyright (c) 1997. W. W. Norton Publishing. All Rights Reserved