The Philosophy of History

“It will reveal to them that history is not merely a vague and distant subject that should be left to a few absentminded professors who live obscure lives in the bowels of our libraries. On the contrary, it is the most vital and necessary study to which a citizen who means well by his fellowmen and the community at large can ever hope to devote himself. For the purpose of history is to give meaning to that which otherwise would make no sense. And sense is the basis for that reasonable and decently human life for which we are fighting.” From: Every Man A Historian, by Hendrik Willem van Loon, American historian and author (The Rotarian, May, 1944)

It should be safe to assume that much of the knowledge, particularly scientific, was discovered during the 20th century. But, it also arguably could be said that most of the “great ideas” and philosophies of our world came long before. Much of what we have today came from the minds of discoverers with classical training in the arts, humanities and philosophy. Rotary is one such example. What we call Rotary was the inspiration of one man, Paul Harris. However, by his own admission, the ideas he had were not new.

“Little which is worthwhile comes without effort. It could not be appreciated if it were so to come. Rotary was not the result of a stroke of genius; in fact, there is little if anything, even original about it. There is wisdom in the expression, ‘There is nothing new under the sun.'”

Paul P. Harris, Page 73 “This Rotarian Age” 1935