Liberty Is Over

Durant, Will


  • Will Durant describes how his belief in Socialism was curtailed by a visit to Soviet Russia, and states his beliefs in virtures that promote the welfare of a group, in the finality of death, in the harm to security that anarchical liberty brings to society, in natural evolution, and in God as the creator of an ordered universe. Audio also contains an advertisement for "This I Believe" book, Volume ... read more
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dr. Will Durant, the distinguished American philosopher, was born in North Adams, Massachusetts. He is now engaged in writing the monumental Story of Civilization series, in eight parts. The Renaissance, the fifth volume of this series, was published in 1953. Will Durant took time out from his busy schedule to bring us his creed.
I find in the universe so many forms of order, organization, system, law, and adjustment of means to ends, that I believe in a cosmic intelligence,
and I conceive God as the life, mind, order, and law of the world.
I do not understand my God, and I find in nature and history many instances of apparent evil, disorder, cruelty, and aimlessness. But I realize that I see these with a very limited vision, and that they might appear quite otherwise from a cosmic point of view. How can an infinitesimal part of the universe understand the whole? We are drops of water trying to understand the sea.
I believe that I am the product of a natural evolution. The logic of evolution seems to compel determinism, but I cannot overcome my direct
consciousness of a limited freedom of will.
I believe that if I could see any form of matter from within, as I can see myself through introspection, I should find in all forms of matter something akin to what in ourselves is mind and freedom.
I define virtue as any quality that makes for survival, but as the survival of the group is more important than the survival of the average individual, the highest virtues are those that make for group survival--love, sympathy, kindliness, cooperation. If my life lived up to my ideals I would combine the
ethics of Confucius and Christ--the virtues of a developing individual with those of the member of a group.
I was a Socialist in my youth and sympathized with the Soviet regime until I visited Russia in 1932; what I saw there led me to deprecate the extension of that system to any other land. Experience and history have taught me the instinctive bases and economic necessity of competition and private property.
I am not so fanatical a worshiper of liberty as some of my radical or conservative friends. When liberty exceeds intelligence, it
begets chaos, which begets dictatorship. We have too much economic liberty in the later nineteenth century, due to our free land and our relative exemption from external danger. We have too much moral liberty today, due to increasing wealth and diminishing religious belief. The age of liberty is ending, under the pressure of external dangers; the freedom of the part varies with the security of the whole.
I do not resent the conflicts and difficulties of life. In my case, they have been far outweighed by good fortune, reasonable
health, loyal friends, and a happy family life. I have met so many good people that I have almost lost my faith in the wickedness of mankind.
I suspect that when I die I shall be dead. I would look upon endless existence as a curse--as did the Flying Dutchman and the Wandering Jew. Death is life's greatest invention, perpetually replacing the worn with the new. And after twenty volumes, it will be sweet to sleep.
Those were the personal beliefs of Will Durant. And here's news: a brand new This I Believe book with 100
new beliefs now at your bookstore. Of these 100 new beliefs, 80 are from living men and women from all walks of life, 20 are the beliefs of immortals, the 20 men and women selected from all history whose beliefs would most interest and help you. The world's leading biographer of each immortal has written his belief from his own writings and sayings, forward by Edward R. Murrow. For yourself and for a gift, get Volume Two, the new book This I Believe.