Durant Will 1885 - 1981 (96)

Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.


The story

of philosophy

William (Will) Durant, (5 Νοεμβρίου 1885-7 November 1981 ) was an American philosopher, historian and writer, best known for writing , along with his wife Ariel, the “History of civilization”. He was born in Massachusetts, United States of French-Canadian parents who had immigrated to the United States from Quebec. In 1905, Will became a socialist and in 1907 graduated from the college of New Jersey and worked as a journalist for the Evening Journal. In 1911 he became the principal of Ferrer Modern School, an advanced school intended to educate the working-classes; he also taught there. In this school he fell in love with and married a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl Ida Kaufman, whom he later nicknamed "Ariel". They had one daughter and adopted a son. In 1913, he resigned from his position as a teacher and began lecturing in a Presbyterian church, the material of these lectures became the starting point for writing later the history of civilization.

In 1917 while working on a doctorate in philosophy at Columbia University, he wrote his first book, Philosophy and the Social Problem, discussing the idea that philosophy had not grown because it avoided the actual problems of society. He received his doctorate that same year from Columbia, became an instructor at the university and began to write the "History of Philosophy". The book was published as a series of small booklets for workers but it was so popular that in 1926, republished in hardback and became a best seller, giving Durant the financial independence to travel many times around the world and write the 11 volumes of “History of civilization”. The first ten volumes were published between the years 1935-1965 and the eleventh (The Age of Napoleon) in 1975. Their aim was to create a "biography" of the Western world, not just wars and politics but with the grandeur and villainy of times, the culture, arts, religion, philosophy, everyday life. Much of the story describes the living conditions of ordinary people during the 25 centuries covered by this book.

Throughout his career Durant made several speeches, wrote more books on history and philosophy, fought for equal wages for women, for fairer working conditions, started a movement against racial intolerance, calling it Declaration of interdependence. In 1968 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and in 1977 with the Medal of Freedom.

In 1981 he was admitted to hospital in Los Angeles. Ariel stopped eating because of sorrow and died on October 25. They tried to keep it hidden from Will who was still in hospital, but he learned it from television, he died on November 7, at the age of 96. He was buried next to Ariel at Westwood Village Cemetery in Los Angeles. He left behind notes for the twelfth volume of his work (The Age of Darwin) and a blueprint for the thirteenth volume (The Age of Einstein) that was moving History of Civilization until 1945.