Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Who Put the West in Western Civilization? by Robert Royal

western civilization

Where did “Western” Civilization come from? The term does not refer to any simple geographical location and did not exist until relatively recently. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, G.K. Chesterton was the first to use the expression “Western man” only ninety years ago, in 1907. How the notion came into existence explains a good deal about what the West represents. For many people, the West simply means Western Europe and countries of Euro­pean origin such as the Americas, Austra­lia, and New Zealand. But the non-Euro­pean parts of the West, particularly America, have added to and altered the original cultural base. Much of what is characteristically American was forged against European influences, long before there was such a thing as opposition to “Euro centrism.” Yet we also undeniably remain an offshoot of Europe. In addition, Western ways are spreading to other parts of the globe. Paradoxes of this kind make it necessary to inquire more carefully into exactly what we mean by the West.
Whatever else it may mean, Western Civilization is the primary culture here and in Europe. Yet this simple statement has begun to raise all sorts of protests. Many individuals and groups dominant in our society identify Western Civilization with racism, slavery, imperialism, colo­nialism, sexism, environmental destruc­tion, and other equally repulsive traits. Even more troubling, they do so without much acquaintance with the rich, varied, open, and questing nature of what is best about the West—or a realistic appraisal of the likely alternatives. Most of these attacks depend upon moral or intellectual intui­tions that, elsewhere, have little, if any, importance. So anyone who thinks West­ern institutions to be of value finds himself at an odd, embattled crossroads. He may agree with the quite Western principles used to criticize some Western failing, but senses danger in the way such principles are blindly turned against their very source.
Read More: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/08/who-put-west-western-civilization-timeless-robert-royal.html

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