Herbert J. Muller

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Herbert J. Muller (1905–1980) was an American historian, academic, government official and author. He was educated at Cornell University. He taught at Cornell, Purdue and Indiana University (1959-1980), served in the Department of State, the War Production Board, and frequently lectured abroad.

He is the author of The Uses of the Past, a sweeping inquiry into the lessons of history, focusing on Rome & Greece, Christianity & Judaism, the Byzantine empire, the Middle Ages, and Russia & China.

Far less brilliant, original, and versatile than the Greeks, the Romans were content to borrow most of their culture from them. They gave it their own practical bent, however, translating it into terms more suitable for universal use. They were able to transmit it to the barbaric West and thereby to lay the foundations of modern Europe. Then they systematized education, bequeathing the seven liberal arts to the Middle Ages. They adapted Greek philosophy to daily needs, applying it to government and recasting it into a philosophy of life available to men without high gifts. They developed the type of cultivated gentleman—the type of Cicero, Horace, and Pliny the Younger, who were less spontaneous and exciting than the Greeks but more moderate, urbane and sensible.... The practical sense of the Romans also led to some original contributions, notably their monumental architecture. While the Greeks stuck to their simple post and lintel, the Romans exploited the possibilities of the arch, the dome, and the vault to erect baths, palaces, amphitheaters, and government buildings.... Their architecture was more humanistic than the Greek in that it contributed much more to civic life.

— The Uses of the Past, ch. 7.

In 1973 Muller was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto II.[1]

Herbert Muller's two sons are Richard and John. His grandfather, Otto Muller, was the younger brother of Hermann J. Muller, the father of American geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller Jr. Great-grandfather Nicholas Muller came to the United States from Germany in 1848 and with his brother Karl founded the Muller Art Metal Works.[2]


  • "Freedom in the Modern World," Harper & Row, 1966.
  • "Freedom in the Western World: From the Dark Ages to the Rise of Democracy" Harper Colophon Books, 1964.
  • "The Children of Frankenstein: a Primer on Modern Technology and Human Values." Indiana University Press, 1970. ISBN 0-253-11175-7
  • "Science and Criticism: The Humanistic Tradition in Contemporary Thought." Yale University Press, 1943.
  • "The Loom of History." Mentor-Omega/NAL, New York, 1961
  • "Religion and Freedom in the Modern World", University of Chicago Press, 1963.
  • "The Uses of English," Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,
  • "The Uses of the Past: Profiles of Former Societies", Oxford University Press, 1952, reissued by Textbook Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-7581-6914-0
  • "Freedom in the Ancient World" Harper & Row, 1961
  • "Adlai Stevenson: A Study in Values," Harper & Row, 1967.
  • "The Spirit of Tragedy," Alfred A Knopf, 1956


  1. ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ Carlson, Genes, Radiation, and Society, pp 10-11.