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 "Two Books on Mankind",
a review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star, January xx, 1964,
of two books:
by Hartmut Bastian and D. H. Dalby.
Viking Press: New York, 1964
THE FIVE AGES OF MAN: The Psychology of Human History,
by Gerald Heard.
Julian Press: New York, 1964


"Two Books on Mankind"


By Hartmut Bastian.
(Viking Press; $6.95)

By Gerald Heard.
(Julian Press; $8.50)



   AND THEN CAME MAN is unpretentious and completely fascinating. It traces the story of geological and biological evolution from the origin of our earth over four billion years ago to the dawn of the first civilizations about ten thousand years ago. At that point social evolution became more important than biological change in the development of man. This book contains the minimum that any well-informed reader might wish to know about historical geology, paleontology, and human evolution. It is presented clearly, with 32 plates, 73 diagrams, and maps in the text, and 4 chronological tables to help the story along. Although the book is translated from a German version published in 1953, it has been brought up to date by Dr. D.H. Dalby and gives the state of our knowledge in this rapidly changing subject as of early 1963. The result is a model of popular science exposition.

   THE FIVE AGES OF MAN is Gerald Heard's forty-seventh book. It is at the opposite pole from Bastian’s volume and has all the weaknesses we have come to associate with work subsidized by the Bollinger Foundation. These faults include pretentiousness, wide and quite indiscriminate use of sources, a resolute determination to force the facts into some preconceived psychoanalytic pattern, and a flood of newly-invented words (often undefined) to season the unpalatable mixture.

   In the present case the mixture is worse than usual, for Mr. Heard can neither think nor write clearly and knows little history. Instead, untested theories are presented as historical facts. His theme is sensible enough and is based on the well-known fact that the human embryo in its development recapitulates the biological evolution of the human body. Parallel to this, according to Mr. Heard, the psychological development of the individual, from infancy, through adolescence, to maturity, reflects the stages of past human history. Each of the five stages, both in individual and in history, has its peculiar problems, attitudes, and psychosis. In itself, this hypothesis may have some merit, but it must be tested in the light of the real stages of both. Instead, this book forcibly imposes its five stages on both, in spite of the fact that both most obviously do not reflect the stages as Mr Heard formulates them.

   The weakness of the correlation can be seen in the third stage, that of "the ascetic, self-accusing “man”, according to Mr. Heard. This is supposed to be preceded by the stage of "the heroic, self-assertive man" and to be followed by that of the “humanic, self-sufficient man". We are asked to believe that the ascetic stage is found in history in our Middle Ages and in the individual’s life in his adolescence (as described in Gesell's YOUTH: THE YEARS FROM TEN TO SIXTEEN). Having been discouraged by Gesell’s earlier volumes up to the age of ten, I have not read this one on the later period; I can only say that if Gesell found that our adolescents are ascetic, he had better look again. As for Heard, he is both careless and ignorant. One example will show this. He believes that the movement toward medieval asceticism began in the sixth century B.C., which he identifies as the period of Confucius, Buddha, and Pythagoras, but he confesses that "It is difficult to trace the actual rise of asceticism and its intensification into mortification" (pp. 43-44). If Mr. Heard takes another look at that sixth century, he will find that historians have already identified the double source of Medieval asceticism in (a) the cosmic dualism of Zoroaster, which condemned all material objects as sinful and (b) the Hebrew acceptance of the desert prophets on their return from the Babylonian Captivity. Both of these are sixth century. If Mr. Heard makes any study of these two, he will find that their asceticism has nothing similar to the attitudes or behavior of adolescents in our society and is even more remote from those of teen-agers in other cultures.

 -- Carroll Quigley



Scan of original review



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