What is the meaning of human search?

Crucified between two eternities – between a vanished past and an unknown future – we are constantly searching for the answer to where we are and where we are going. We are the heirs of the legacy left to us by science and art – the works of the great heroes of discovery and creation, those various Columbus, Leonard and Shakespeare. We are proud of what they have discovered and created. However, we are all searching.

We all want to figure out why. Man is an animal that asks questions. And while what we find, the belief that we have found the answer, can separate us and force us to forget that we are human, the search still connects us, makes us human, and allows us to stay that way.

Our culture had three great epochs of search. The first epoch was embodied in bold prophets and philosophers, who sought salvation or truth from God in heaven or from reason within each of us. Then came the age of searching under the auspices of the community, the age of striving for the realization of a civilization of the liberal spirit, and then, most recently, the age of social sciences, when it seems that man, facing the future, is ruled by the forces of history.

In our personal search, we use all these different types of search. We keep coming back to them, not so much because of the answers but because of the way they ask questions. In this long search, Western culture has shifted from the search for a goal or purpose to the search for causes – from the question of why to the question of how. Could our human experience therefore lose all meaning because of that? How, then, can we regain a sense of purpose and how can we refine it?

This story has no end, because we are still exploring our human race, moving within one eternal question of why. In fact, we realize that we have gone from searching for meaning to finding meaning in searching.

Dr. Daniel Joseph Borstin (1914-2004) was a prominent American historian, lawyer, university professor, and writer. He was awarded the title of Doctor of Literature at the University of Cambridge. He was educated at Harvard, Oxford and Yale.

He practiced law and was a member of the Inner Temple Association of London Lawyers. He also distinguished himself as a university professor. He taught American history for 25 years at the University of Chicago. In addition, he has lectured at many prestigious universities around the world: the University of Rome, the University of Geneva, the State University of Puerto Rico, the University of Kyoto, the University of Cambridge, and the Head of the Department of American History at the Sorbonne.

He served as director of the National Museum of History and Technology, as well as a senior historian at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Finally, he was a librarian at the Library of Congress.

He is the author of over 20 books, among which two trilogies stand out: Americans (for whose last volume he won the Pulitzer Prize) and a trilogy of intellectual history that includes the books The World of Discovery, The World of Creation and The World of Search. His literary works have been translated into many European languages, but also into Chinese and Japanese.

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