William JamesWillDurant (/dəˈrænt/; November 5, 1885 – November 7, 1981) was an American writer, historian, and philosopher. He became best known for his work The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife, Ariel Durant, and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for The Story of Philosophy (1926), described as “a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy”.[1]

He conceived of philosophy as total perspective or seeing things sub specie totius (a phrase inspired by Spinoza‘s sub specie aeternitatis, which roughly means “from the perspective of the eternal”).[2] He sought to unify and humanize the great body of historical knowledge, which had grown voluminous and become fragmented into esoteric specialties, and to vitalize it for contemporary application.[3]

The Durants were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

Books in order of publication by series:

  • 1917: Philosophy and the Social Problem New York: Macmillan.
  • 1924: A Guide to Spinoza [Little Blue Book, No. 520]. Girard, KA: Haldeman-Julius Company.
  • 1926: The Story of Philosophy. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1927: Transition. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1929: The Mansions of Philosophy. New York: Simon & Schuster. Later with slight revisions re-published as The Pleasures of Philosophy
  • 1930: The Case for India. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1931: A Program for America: New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1931: Adventures in Genius. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1931: Great Men of Literature, taken from Adventures in Genius. New York: Garden City Publishing Co.
  • 1933: The Tragedy of Russia: Impressions From a Brief Visit. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1936: The Foundations of Civilization. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1953: The Pleasures of Philosophy. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1968: (with Ariel Durant) The Lessons of History. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1970: (with Ariel Durant) Interpretations of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1977: (with Ariel Durant) A Dual Autobiography. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 2001: Heroes of History: A Brief History of Civilization from Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern Age. New York: Simon & Schuster. Actually copyrighted by John Little and the Estate of Will Durant.
  • 2002: The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 2003: An Invitation to Philosophy: Essays and Talks on the Love of Wisdom. Promethean Press.
  • 2008: Adventures in Philosophy. Promethean Press.
  • 2014: Fallen Leaves. Simon & Schuster.

The Story of Civilization

  • 1935: Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1939: The Life of Greece. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1944: Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1950: The Age of Faith. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1953: The Renaissance. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1957: The Reformation. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1961: (with Ariel Durant) The Age of Reason Begins. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1963: (with Ariel Durant) The Age of Louis XIV. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1965: (with Ariel Durant) The Age of Voltaire. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1967: (with Ariel Durant) Rousseau and Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • 1975: (with Ariel Durant) The Age of Napoleon. New York: Simon & Schuster.