nihil novi sub sole

There is not much novelty in the view that man is full of fears; that all men have fallen short of grace of true knowledge and a perfect intention of the will, and that civil society is vain, forever at war with itself, and always subject to corruption. It is perhaps wiser and more profitable to remember that every age carries the burden of past history. One may notice certain dominant motives, or patterns of behaviour, or standards of excellence proper to this or that time. These motives have superseded other motives, these patterns of behaviour have taken the place of other patterns and modes of social organisation. Are they better or worse? What is the test to be applied to them? How can we measure their improvement or regression? The age immediately preceding our own was conditioned in all its actions by a vast period extending back into the centuries before any written records. Are we to condemn every generation except our own? Or are we to give the benefit of ‘extenuating circumstances’ to every age except the age into which our fathers and grandfathers were born?

– E.L. Woodward (1934)

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