Western Civilization and Freedom of Thought

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    "THE scientific outlook and scientific power increasingly dominate our age," writes Mr. John Bowles in his recent book "The Unity of European History", and in words strongly reminiscent of those used by H. A. L. Fisher in "A History of Europe", Mr. Bowler continues : "but unless traditional humanist values can be adapted and preserved, tmrprogress of science will be empty and catastrophic. The study of the European past demonstrates the unity of Western culture, the values of the Christian and the Humanist tradition and the pernicious limitations of nationalism and class war. In the light of such knowledge, science can build a society which combines the power of modern technique with the spiritual depth of old experience." Mr. Bowles's political and cultural survey is written largely around a sentence of Mr. Winston Churchill's speech at The Hague Congress of Europe on May 7, 1948, as text : "We shall only save ourselves from the perils which draw near by forgetting the hatreds of the past, by letting national rancours and revenges die, by progressively effacing frontiers and barriers which aggravate and congeal our divisions, and by rejoicing together in that glorious treasure of literature, of romance, of ethics, of thought, and of toleration belonging to all, which is the true inheritance of Europe". To the scientific element in that inheritance Mr. Bowles possibly does less than justice, particularly to its cultural and political significance. Nevertheless, his book displays the vitality as well as the success of European civilization, and he shows clearly how much we have to learn from past ages as to the real nature of the dangers that threaten us to-day.

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    Western Civilization and Freedom of Thought. Nature 163, 701–703 (1949) doi:10.1038/163701a0

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