The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951

Book Reviews

ciety, of which Franklin was a charter member, and, though in
England, was elected the first president, to publish these letters.
The editing and annotation, clearly a labor of love, of William
Greene Roelker, a direct descendant of Catharine, are excellent.
J. L. WALLER
Texas Western College
Progress and Power. By Carl Becker. New York (Alfred A.
Knopf), 1949. Pp. xlii+ 16.
This little book is based on three lectures delivered by Carl
Becker at Stanford University in 1935. The introduction, written
by Professor Leo Gershoy, one of Becker's favorite students and
closest friends, is itself a good review of the book, as well as an
appreciation of Becker's philosophy and his worth as a teacher
and scholar. Gershoy's judgment is that this book is "one of
Becker's most provocative books and certainly one of his most
beautifully written."
The nineteenth century social philosophers had formulated
the doctrine of progress, but in view of the sweep of totalitarian
dictatorships in the 1930's, Becker found it difficult to maintain
his faith in this doctrine. He raised the question, "May we still
believe in the progress of mankind? To answer this question he
proposed to take a long, sweeping view of human history from
Pithecanthropus erectus to Einstein, a period of 50o6,ooo years
which he divided into four subperiods.
The first period lasted 450,000 years during which man made
little progress because his instruments of power were limited to
a few hand tools. The second period of 50,000 years saw man
modifying his way of life by the use of fire and more diversified
tools and learning to live in groups, thus starting his develop-
ment as a political and social animal. The third period, roughly
the first five thousand years of recorded history, saw the inven-
tion of writing, the creation of great political structures, the
modification of social organizations, and progress in the useful
and fine arts. The implements of power that man had at the end
of this period were the same as at the beginning. His most nota-
ble efforts were devoted to creating more elaborate social struc-
tures and to formulating philosophical or religious doctrines.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101133/. Accessed August 1, 2015.