In the course of this enquiry I found that much more had been done than I had been aware of, when I first published the Essay. The poverty and misery arising from a too rapid increase of population had been distinctly seen, and the most violent remedies proposed, so long ago as the times of Plato and Aristotle. And of late years the subject has been treated in such a manner by some of the French Economists; occasionally by Montesquieu, and, among our own writers, by Dr. Franklin, Sir James Stewart, Mr. Arthur Young, and Mr. Townsend, as to create a natural surprise that it had not excited more of the public attention.
The religious traditions of humankind are shown here as circles, each containing a commonly used symbol of that tradition. But this visual image of separate boundaried circles—graphically convenient as it is—is highly misleading, for every religious tradition has grown through the ages in dialogue and historical interaction with others. Christians, Jews, and Muslims have been part of one another’s histories, have shared not only villages and cities, but ideas of God and divine revelation. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, and Sikhs have shared a common cultural milieu in India, while in East Asia the Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian traditions are not only part of common cultures, but are also part of the complex religious inheritance of families and individuals whose lives are shaped by all three religions. Read full essay »