The Modern Mind - An Intellectual History of the 20th Century

How much do I want to read more? 7/10

Wow what a huge book, and what a huge project to write about the intellecutal life in the whole 20th century.
A lot of famous intellectual, writeers, painters, composer… All influencial ideas.
It requires a lot of time to read this. But you don't have to read it in one sitting.
A nice book for practicing speed reading.


around 1990, I read Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb. This book, which certainly deserved the Pulitzer Prize it won in 1988, contains in its first 300 pages an utterly gripping account of the early days of particle physics.
It made me realise that, given enough skill, the narrative approach can make even the driest and most difficult topics highly readable.

Our history would explore the great ideas that have shaped the twentieth century.
describing the characters – their mistakes and rivalries included.

‘… he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.’

—- Ecclesiastes

‘History makes one aware that there is no finality in human affairs; there is not a static perfection and an unimprovable wisdom to be achieved.’

—- Bertrand Russell

‘It may be a mistake to mix different wines, but old and new wisdom mix admirably.’

–- Bertolt Brecht


My aim in this book is, first and foremost, to shift the focus away from the events, away from politics, and to concentrate on the main intellectual ideas that have shaped our century.

various fields of inquiry, mathematics, anthropology, history, genetics and linguistics. the earth itself, its continents and oceans, the origins of life, the peopling of the globe.

in order to know what is new, you need to know what has gone before. Otherwise you risk just repeating earlier triumphs, going round in decorous circles.

PART ONE - FREUD TO WITTGENSTEIN - The Sense of a Beginning


The twentieth century was less than a week old when, on Saturday, 6 January, in Vienna, Austria, there appeared a review of a book that would totally revise the way man thought about himself.
"The Interpretation of Dreams" by Sigmund Freud.
Freud rightly considered The Interpretation of Dreams to be his most significant achievement.

It is in this book that the four fundamental building blocks of Freud’s theory about human nature first come together: the unconscious, repression, infantile sexuality (leading to the Oedipus complex), and the tripartite division of the mind into ego, the sense of self; superego, broadly speaking, the conscience; and id, the primal biological expression of the unconscious.