William James Durant (November 5, 1885 – November 7, 1981) was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for “The Story of Civilization,” 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for “The Story of Philosophy,” written in 1926, which one observer described as “a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy.”

An Ode to Great Books and a Beautiful Library

By |2021-04-24T17:30:14-05:00April 24th, 2021|Categories: Books, Essential, Featured, Libraries, Timeless Essays, W. Winston Elliott III, Will Durant, Wisdom|

“If I were rich I would have many books, and I would pamper myself with bindings bright to the eye and soft to the touch, in paper generously opaque, and type such as men designed when printing was very young. I would dress my gods in leather and gold, and burn candles of worship before [...]

What Is Wisdom?

By |2021-04-07T10:04:19-05:00April 3rd, 2021|Categories: Essential, Family, Featured, Will Durant, Wisdom|

    To the philosopher, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine. — Emerson      What is wisdom? I feel like a droplet of spray which proudly poised for a moment on the crest of a wave, undertakes to analyze the sea. Ideally, wisdom is total [...]

Chaos: The Gestating Principle of Civilization

By |2021-03-21T11:58:54-05:00November 25th, 2015|Categories: Civilization, Family, Featured, Quotation, Will Durant|

A certain tension between religion and society marks the higher stages of every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seem so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. [...]

Why Do We Love Plato?

By |2021-03-21T09:19:09-05:00July 15th, 2015|Categories: Books, Family, Featured, Plato, Quotation, Will Durant|

Why do we love Plato? Because Plato himself was a lover: lover of comrades, lover of the intoxication of dialectical revelry, passionate seeker of the elusive reality behind thoughts and things. We love him for his unstinted energy, for the wild nomadic play of his fancy, for the joy which he found in life in [...]

History: The Miracles of Memory and Tradition

By |2021-04-09T16:05:44-05:00September 3rd, 2013|Categories: Family, Featured, History, Quotation, Will Durant, Wisdom|

The very excess of our present paganism may warrant some hope that it will not long endure; for usually excess generates its opposite. One of the most regular sequences in history is that a period of pagan license is followed by an age of puritan restraint and moral discipline. So the moral decay of ancient [...]

The Fall of Rome

By |2021-03-21T11:33:06-05:00November 7th, 2012|Categories: Family, Featured, Rome, Will Durant, Wisdom|

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential cause of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.—Caesar and Christ […]

The Map of Human Character

By |2021-05-29T20:11:35-05:00May 17th, 2012|Categories: Character, Essential, Family, Featured, History, Will Durant, Wisdom|

Because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. “History” said Henry Ford, “is bunk.” As one who has written history [...]

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