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The Philosophy of History

 

"It will reveal to them that history is not merely a vague and distant subject that should be left to a few absentminded professors who live obscure lives in the bowels of our libraries. On the contrary, it is the most vital and necessary study to which a citizen who means well by his fellowmen and the community at large can ever hope to devote himself. For the purpose of history is to give meaning to that which otherwise would make no sense. And sense is the basis for that reasonable and decently human life for which we are fighting."  From: Every Man A Historian, by Hendrik Willem van Loon, American historian and author (The Rotarian, May, 1944)

 

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Paul Harris

Rotarians

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It should be safe to assume that much of the knowledge, particularly scientific, was discovered during the 20th century. But, it also arguably could be said that most of the "great ideas" and philosophies of our world came long before. Much of what we have today came from the minds of discoverers with classical training in the arts, humanities and philosophy. Rotary is one such example. What we call Rotary was the inspiration of one man, Paul Harris. However, by his own admission, the ideas he had were not new.

 

 

 

"Little which is worthwhile comes without effort. It could not be appreciated if it were so to come. Rotary was not the result of a stroke of genius; in fact, there is little if anything, even original about it. There is wisdom in the expression, 'There is nothing new under the sun.'"

Paul P. Harris, Page 73 "This Rotarian Age" 1935

 

The most urgent need at the present stage in the development of Rotary is not "more clubs" nor "larger clubs" ; it is the evolution of a truer and stronger philosophy.
 
It is not only necessary to the permanency of the success of Rotary that its philosophy be idealized and standardized. It must also be practicalized and trued."
Paul P. Harris, November 1911

 

This section will highlight the "ideas" that made Rotary great and trace the origins of some.

 

Paul Harris has already written the finest possible work about his own life "The Founder of Rotary" and "My Road to Rotary." Also, the story of how Rotary began, how it succeeded and its future could not be told better than in his book "This Rotarian Age."

 

Ches Perry, Rotary's first secretary, was challenged by founder Harris: "Perry, what do you consider to be the philosophy of Rotary?" Read Perry's January 1912 article in the National Rotarian. Also a section of papers of Paul's

 

Also, the second president of Rotary comments on the need for philosophy in an article in 1951 Harris, in 1915, then wrote of his regret that Rotary had yet to create its philosophy. This had not happened by the centennial of Rotary.

 

This section, then, may hold the keys to understanding Paul Harris' vision and our future. Through the writings of Paul Harris and all the presidents of Rotary International come the threads of the Rotary Philosophy. Though much of it starts with a brilliant young attorney the road leads on to today.

 

We also focus here on writings of the world's great minds as quoted by leaders of Rotary to learn more about the frame of reference of our early  and contemporary leaders.

 

Is this a monument to Paul Harris? No! One has only to read his work to judge for yourself his humility, foibles and failings. Here we only seek to elevate great ideas that have relevance today.

 

You'll get a good orientation to the Rotary philosophy section of this department on the philosophy section main page. From this page, you can explore other work by Harris, other Rotarians and many great minds of the ages.

 

Jack M. B. Selway,

1 January 2004,

Founder Rotary Global History Fellowship


 

 

RGHF members, who have been invited to this page, may register.

 

If a DGE/N/D joins prior to their year, they will have more exposure to Rotary's Global History by their service year.

This will be beneficial to all concerned.

*Based on paid members, subscribers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, mobile app users, History Library users, web pages, and articles about Rotary's Global History

 

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