There is no such thing as western civilization – Nov. 9, 2016 Guardian article


A Nov. 16, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Western civilisation is more than a myth.”



A Nov. 9, 2016 Guardian longread article is entitled:

“There is no such thing as western civilization: The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention.”

An excerpt reads:

In the year of Edward Burnett Tylor’s death, what we have been taught to call western civilisation stumbled into a death match with itself: the Allies and the Great Central Powers hurled bodies at each other, marching young men to their deaths in order to “defend civilisation”. The blood-soaked fields and gas-poisoned trenches would have shocked Tylor’s evolutionist, progressivist hopes, and confirmed Arnold’s worst fears about what civilisation really meant. Arnold and Tylor would have agreed, at least, on this: culture isn’t a box to check on the questionnaire of humanity; it is a process you join, a life lived with others.

Culture – like religion and nation and race – provides a source of identity for contemporary human beings. And, like all three, it can become a form of confinement, conceptual mistakes underwriting moral ones. Yet all of them can also give contours to our freedom. Social identities connect the small scale where we live our lives alongside our kith and kin with larger movements, causes, and concerns. They can make a wider world intelligible, alive, and urgent. They can expand our horizons to communities larger than the ones we personally inhabit. But our lives must make sense, too, at the largest of all scales. We live in an era in which our actions, in the realm of ideology as in the realm of technology, increasingly have global effects. When it comes to the compass of our concern and compassion, humanity as a whole is not too broad a horizon.



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *