Man’s Outlook on History

Castalia Library has begun the serialization of Castalia History Book 4, STUDIES ON THE NAPOLEONIC WARS by Sir Charles Oman. It is truly an excellent work, as this excerpt should suffice to demonstrate.

The moment that man begins to think about something more than the passing trifles and troubles of his daily life, and starts, consciously or unconsciously, to make generalizations about himself and his neighbours, their ends and objects, their past and future, he has begun to look at things in perspective. And when he extends his survey so as to draw deductions from all that he knows about the past records of mankind, he is trying to look at the world in historical perspective. It may be that his survey extends over no greater space of time than a generation or two—“Tales of a Grandfather” may be the limit of his knowledge. Or, on the other hand, he may know—or may think that he knows—the whole history of mankind since the Creation—if he ties himself down to the idea of a Creation—down to the all-important present day. Such was the happy conviction of Orosius in A.D. 417, and of Mr. H. G. Wells in A.D. 1925. But whether his horizon of knowledge be long or short, whether it be a hundred years or a hundred aeons, the man who has started to generalize about his own position in universal history is constructing for himself an historical perspective.

What are the things that determine a man’s outlook on the past and the future?

It is with some difficulty that I restrain myself from essentially converting Castalia History into the Sir Charles Oman series. Although I can guarantee that there will be more Oman titles in the series. I think, at this point, that he has joined Eco, Tolkien, Aristotle, and Aquinas in my personal pantheon, surpassing Bury, Murakami, Lee, and Gibson in the second rank.

Note that the serialization begins with the Preface, and can be navigated through the NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons on the bottom of each post. And speaking of Man’s outlook on history, perhaps one might enjoy a look at the results of the test stamping for Castalia History Book 3, THE CAMBRIDGE MEDIEVAL HISTORY Volume 2: The Twelfth Century to the Renaissance, which is scheduled for binding today.