- Western thought
Cornerstones in this tradition are:
Deductive reasoning:* Rule of law:* Monotheism
Western society may be thought of as following an evolution that began with the philosophers of
Athenssuch as Socrates, Platoand Aristotle. It continued through the Roman Empireand, with the addition of Christianity(which had its origins in the East), spread throughout Europe. During the colonial era, it became implanted in the Americasand in Australasia.
In the early
5th century, the Emperor Constantine the Greatestablished the city of Constantinopleas the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Eastern Empire included lands east of the Adriatic Seaand bordering on the Eastern Mediterraneanand parts of the Black Sea. These two divisions of the Eastern and Western Empires were reflected in the administration of the Christian Church, with Romeand Constantinopledebating and arguing over whether either city was the capital of Christianity (see Great Schism). As the eastern and western churches spread their influence, the line between "East" and "West" can be described as moving, but generally followed a cultural divide that was defined by the existence of the Byzantine empire and the fluctuating power and influence of the church in Rome. This cultural division was and is long lasting; it still existed during the Cold Waras the approximate western boundary of those countries that were allied with the Soviet Union.
There are ideals that some associate with the West, and there are many who consider Western values to be universally superior. For example, the author
Francis Fukuyamaargues that Western values are destined to triumph over the entire world.
However, there are many who question the meaning of the notion of Western values and point out that societies such as
Japanand the United Statesare very different. Furthermore, they point out that advocates of Western values are selective in what they include as Western; for example, they usually include concepts of freedom, democracy, and human rights, but not totalitarianism, which was first created in the West, or slavery, which reached massive levels in the West, and whose history in the West goes back millennia. Therefore by selecting what values are part of "Western values", one can tautologically show that they are superior, since any inferior values by definition are not Western. "See also: No true Scotsmanfallacy"
A different attack on the concept of Western values comes from those who advocate
Islamic values or Asian values. In this view, there are a coherent set of traits that define the West, but those traits are inferior and are usually associated with moral decline, greed, and decadence. Those who hold this view are concerned about the Westernizationof the rest of the world.
Since the countries in the "West" were generally those that explored and colonized outside of Europe, the term "Western" became, to some people, associated with European
colonialism. However, many others have established colonial rules, so it is not uniquely a Western phenomenon.
first =James L.
title =Rhetoric of Western Thought: From the Mediterranean World to the Global Setting
publisher =Kendall Hunt
pages =527 pages
id = ISBN:0787299677
first =Francis A.
title =How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture
publisher =Good News Publishers
pages =288 pages
id = ISBN:1581345364
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