The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Author: Will Durant, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Medal of Freedom / compiled and edited by John Little

What is your motivation for reading a book? Perhaps just like me, for a variety of reasons. But one thing is very clear, reading wide provides one of the bases for a wide perspective of life, business, and nations. Another thing close to that is travels and other forms of exposure.

So, the greatest minds and ideas of all time is not a business book per se, but it is largely an account of the civilization we see today, including that of business. It is Will Durant’s ranking of minds and ideas that have shaped civilisations. Of course, he does not expect everyone to agree with him, but he was very clear of his criteria. Particularly interesting are the chapters on “the ten greatest thinkers” and the “ten peaks of human progress”.

The criteria for the ten greatest thinkers are those who thoughts “have had an enduring influence upon mankind”. They are Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, and Charles Darwin.

The section on the ten peaks of progress makes one really think of how things have been taken for granted, because these things come ‘natural’ today. They are Speech, Fire, The Conquest of the Animals, Agriculture, Social Organisation, Morality, Tools, Science, Education, and Writing and Print.

Let me add that the book is not even as fascinating as the man. Will Durant lived between 1885 and 1981 and wrote two major books. That is not so much fascinating, right? Yes, but he wrote an eleven-volume book for 50 years – The Story of Civilization. Now, that is someone I think you should read.

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