Read history because people who have no knowledge of their origin and traditions become rootless and nomads.
“...they are able to forgive themselves, as a wise man once said, for being human. That is knowing that life is hard and virtue rare, they keep the ancient faith that it is better to love than to hate, to live fully even if imperfectly.”
A HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE covers not only all the great philosophies of humans but also reconnoitres the societal conditions; it highlights those who masterminded thoughts to completion through the course of history. It explains 'how humankind got to know what it knows.'
Van Doren discourses on Egyptian civilisation and its help to future other civilisations, Indus Valley civilisation, ancient China, Mesopotamia, the Incans and Aztecs, Islam, Buddhism, Sumerian and Babylonian mathematics.
Van Doren deliberates how the invasions of the Huns broke through the Great Wall of China and started a sequence of events that would lead to the obliteration of the Roman Empire.
Van Doren converses about the Arab Muslims' interaction with Greek culture, and how they developed noted mathematicians, astronomers, and physicists, and sustained the work of collating and construing Greek scientific thought started earlier than the fall of Rome.
Van Doren confers upon Avicenna, the significant Muslim philosopher-scientist, and Averroes, the Arabic philosopher and observer, as two of the prodigious medieval thinkers whose thought had huge consequences for mankind for eras.
Van Doren treatises the invasions of Kipchaks and Mongols, and their strange relation to the Black Death. The Chinese finding of the paper, as well as the Arabian discovery of paper. Kublai Khan and the Yuan dynasty and the superior Mongolian empire.
Fascinatingly, from Van Doren we learn why China's contributions to world thought are so small over a five-hundred-year period, after Ming emperors foster arrogances of antiforeign conservativism, in which science declines, trade becomes inert, and maritime discoveries are disregarded or forgotten, and the country later becomes subjugated by nations that value the contradictory properties.
Van Doren clarifies things like the Chinese invention of gunpowder, the incalculable effect Chinese porcelains had on Western palates.
Van Doren elucidates the long history of African slavery. He dwells into the interactions between Europeans and China and India, why the East was considered so enigmatic and legendary. Van Doren engraves about the twentieth-century theocracy in Iran, the early theocracy of Egypt, and widespread philosophies that are shared by virtually everybody.