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 |2021-03-04T16:45:59-06:00May 29th, 2016|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 [...]

Chaos: The Gestating Principle of Civilization

By |2020-01-08T13:20:12-06:00November 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. [...]

Ruled by Imagination

By |2020-01-08T13:21:00-06:00October 21st, 2015|Categories: Family, Featured, Imagination, Morality, Quotation, Will Durant|

Morals are soon endowed with religious sanctions because mystery and supernaturalism lend a weight that can never attach to things empirically known and genetically understood; men are more easily ruled by imagination than by science. — Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, Volume 1.56 […]

Why Do We Love Plato?

By |2019-10-30T12:32:53-05:00July 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 |2019-10-30T14:16:07-05:00September 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 |2019-04-04T10:39:18-05:00November 7th, 2012|Categories: Family, Featured, Rome, Will Durant, Wisdom|

Will Durant 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 |2020-11-04T15:33:33-06:00May 17th, 2012|Categories: Character, 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 [...]


By |2019-04-04T10:39:30-05:00May 16th, 2012|Categories: Civilization, Family, Featured, Quotation, Will Durant, Wisdom|

Will Durant “Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation. Four elements constitute it: economic provision, political organization, moral tradition, and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts. It begins where chaos and insecurity end. For when fear is overcome, curiosity and constructiveness are free, and man passes by natural impulse towards the understanding [...]

This I Believe

By |2019-04-04T10:39:32-05:00February 27th, 2012|Categories: Family, Featured, Quotation, Will Durant, Wisdom|

Will Durant I find in the Universe so many forms of order, organization, system, law and adjustment of means to ends, that I believe in a cosmic intelligence and I conceive God as the life, mind, order and law of the world. I do not understand my God, and I find in nature [...]

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