Ohio History Journal

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For more than a score of years I have been giving a course

at Kenyon College on the "Intellectual History of Europe." It

has been a combination of James Harvey Robinson's course and

of the reading of the greatest books dealt with in that course. As

I have brought it up to date, added here, or diminished there, I

have sought to avoid the panoramic and encyclopedic, and have

tried to lead my students to a fuller understanding of the more

important intellectual tendencies by long evenings spent in the

discussion of some twenty-odd great books. The students take

their turns at leading the discussion, and I am appealed to only

in case of disagreement or ignorance. The method has worked

well, the results depending on the ability of successive groups

of students.

Some time ago, I became curious to learn more than has

been published about how what is known as intellectual history

came into existence. This paper is a partial report.

All the world knows that from time to time men have asked

the Past to reveal its secrets and their questions have varied in

the same way as their interests have varied.  If there were

records extant to throw light on their novel inquiries, they have

been successful in producing "new histories."  So it was that

St. Augustine and Orosius sought for a "new history" in the

fifth century and Francois Marie Arouet in the eighteenth. The

latter accompanied his questions with brave words. To his old

tutor, the Abbe d'Olivet, Voltaire likened himself to a painter

collecting materials of all kinds. Battles and revolutions, con-

quest and defeat, common to all ages, were to give ground to the

arts and intellectual progress on his great canvas of the age of

Louis XIV. He intimated a lack of materials for his venture by

concluding: "So, my dear Abbe, if you know of any source from