In The Adventure of the Human Intellect, fourteen scholars, led by editor Kurt A. Raatlaub, engage with the themes of that nearly seventy-year-old volume to bring its ideas into the twenty-first century. His work offers a new approach to an old debate about the beginnings of intellectual history and rational thinking, bringing to bear modern theoretical approaches, up-to-date evidence, and the results of recent scholarship. The work is broader in scope than the 1946 original, including discussion of civilizations from both the Old and New Worlds. It examines the worldviews of ten ancient or early societies, reconstructed from their own texts, concerning the place of human beings in society and state, in nature and cosmos, in space and time, in life and death, and in relation to those in power and the world of the divine, and illuminates a wide array of responses to particular environments, circumstances, and challenges. The Adventure of the Human Intellect focuses on ancient responses to widely differing conditions, as they manifest in social practices and cultural products, and in which relationships between religion, science, cosmology, and politics are permeable. Comprehensive, nuanced, and contemporary, this volume brings together leading specialists in the field to explore the very beginnings of intellectual history from a twenty-first century perspective.
Kurt A. Raaflaub is the David Herlihy University Professor and Professor of Classics and History Emeritus at Brown University.