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It is to that end that Critical Theory is critical. It means to reveal how contemporary capitalist society, in its economy and its culture and in their interplay, deceives and dominates. Critical Theory so defined involves philosophy in several ways. To begin to explain that third point: Horkheimer and company little specified the rational society they sought and little defended the norms by which they indicted contemporary society.

With Marx, they held that one should not legislate for what should be the free creation of the future. With Hegel, they held that, anyway, knowledge is conditioned by its time and place. They held also, and again in Hegelian fashion, that there are norms that exist largely unactualized within capitalism — norms of justice and freedom and so forth — which suffice to indict capitalism. Philosophy, especially post-Kantian German Idealism, had tried to overcome various types of alienation. But only the achievement of a truly free society could actually do that, according to Critical Theory.

Note lastly here that, at least after , Critical Theory denied both that ostensibly Marxist regimes were such and that emancipation was anywhere nearly at hand. There is a sense in which philosophy looms larger or even larger in the next phase of the first generation of Critical Theory.

For, this phase of the movement the 'critique of instrumental reason' phase propounded that which we might call with a nod to Lyotard a very! Adorno and Horkheimer are the principle figures of this phase, and their co-authored Dialectic of Enlightenment its main text. To disenchant the world is to render it calculable. The Dialectic traces disenchantment from the historical Enlightenment back to the proto-rationality of myth and forward to modern industrial capitalism to its economy, psychology, society, politics, and even to its philosophies.

Here is the parallel idea in the Dialectic. Enlightenment has reverted to myth, in that the calculated world of contemporary capitalism is ruled, as the mythic world was ruled, by impersonal and brutish forces. Adorno and Horkheimer elaborate via the idea of instrumental reason although, actually, the preferred term in Dialectic of Enlightenment — and in Horkheimer's Eclipse of Reason , something of a popularization of the Dialectic — is 'subjective reason'. Disenchantment produces a merely instrumental reason in that it pushes choice among ends outside of the purview of rationality. That said, the result — Horkheimer and Adorno argue — is a kind of instrumentalization of ends.

Ends get replaced, as a kind of default, by things previously regarded merely instrumentally. Thus, at least or especially by the time of contemporary capitalism, life comes to be governed by such means-become-ends as profit, technical expertise, systematization, distraction, and self-preservation. Do these ideas really amount to Critical Theory? Perhaps they are too abstract to count as interdisciplinary. Worse: they might seem to exclude any orientation towards emancipation. True, commentators show that Adorno offered more practical guidance than was previously thought; also, first-generation Critical Theory, including the critique of instrumental reason, did inspire the s student movement.

However: while Marcuse responded to that movement with some enthusiasm, Adorno and Horkheimer did not. Perhaps they could not. They write xvi :. We have no doubt—and herein lies our petitio principii —that freedom in society is inseparable from enlightenment thinking. We believe we have perceived with equal clarity, however, that the very concept of that thinking, no less than the concrete historical forms, the institutions of society with which it is intertwined, already contains the germ of the regression.

Habermas is a principal source of the criticisms of Adorno and Horkheimer just presented. Nonetheless, or exactly because he thinks that his predecessors have failed to make good upon the conception, Habermas pursues Critical Theory as Horkheimer defined it, which is to say, as broad, interdisciplinary, critical, and emancipatory social theory.

The central thesis of the critique of functionalist reason is that the system has colonized the lifeworld. In order to understand the thesis, one needs to understand not only the notions of system, lifeworld, and colonization but also the notion of communicative action and — this being the most philosophical notion of the ensemble — the notion of communicative rationality. Communicative action is action that issues from communicative rationality.

The lifeworld comprises those areas of life that exhibit communicative action or, we shall see, which could and perhaps should exhibit it. The areas at issue include the family, education, and the public sphere. A system is a social domain wherein action is determined by more or less autonomous or instrumental procedures rather than by communicative rationality. Habermas counts markets and bureaucracies as among the most significant systems. So the thesis that the lifeworld has been colonized by the system is the following claim.

The extension of bureaucracy and markets into areas such as the family, education, and the public sphere prevent those spheres from being governed by free and open discussion. Habermas uses his colonization thesis to explain alienation, social instability, and the impoverishment of democracy. He maintains, further, that even systems cannot function if colonization proceeds beyond a certain point. The thinking runs thus. Part of the way in which systems undermine communicative action is by depleting resources social, cultural and psychological necessary for such action.

But systems themselves depend upon those resources. Still: Habermas makes it relatively clear that the colonization thesis is meant not only as descriptive but also as normative. For consider the following. How far does Habermas warrant the normativity, which is to say, show that colonization is bad? It is hard to be in favour of self-undermining societies. But some degree of? But Habermas does have the following argument for the badness of colonization. Habermas a: and Habermas respectively. For it is central both to his philosophy of language or to his so-called universal pragmatics and to his ethics.

To put the second of those points more accurately: the idea of a communicative telos is central to his respective conceptions of both ethics and morality. Habermas understands morality to be a matter of norms that are mainly norms of justice and which are in all cases universally-binding. Ethics , by contrast, is a matter of values, where those values: express what is good for some individual or some group; have no authority beyond the individual or group concerned; and are trumped by morality when they conflict with it. Habermas has a principle, derived from the linguistic, communicative telo s mentioned above, which he applies to both normal norms and ethical values.

To wit: a norm or value is acceptable only if all those affected by it could accept it in reasonable — rational and uncoerced — discourse. Note, too, that in the twenty-first century Habermas has turned his attention to 1 that which religion can contribute to the public discourse of secular states and 2 bioethics. Habermas connects postmetaphysical thinking to something else too. Habermas detects the philosophy of consciousness in Descartes, in German Idealism, and in much other philosophy besides. Seemingly a philosophy counts as a philosophy of consciousness, for Habermas, just in case it holds this: the human subject apprehends the world in an essentially individual and non-linguistic way.

Habermasian postmetaphysical thinking has been charged both with retaining objectionable metaphysical elements and with abandoning too many of philosophy's aspirations. The second criticism is most associated with Karl-Otto Apel, who nonetheless has co-operated with Habermas in developing discourse ethics. On the first criticism, see for instance Geuss 94f. Habermas has been charged, also, with making Critical Theory uncritical. The idea here is this. In allowing that it is alright for some markets and bureaucracies to be systems, Habermas allows too much.

This issue is an instance of the so-called normativity problem in Critical Theory, on which see Freyenhagen ; Finlayson For an affirmative answer, see Geuss Adorno has been the principal target for such criticisms and Adorno did defend his style; see Joll Yet Habermas, too, is very hard to interpret. Philosophy is co-extensive with metaphysics in that all philosophy since Plato involves such a project of grounding. Now Heidegger himself holds that beings das Seiende have a dependence upon being das Sein. Indeed, being is identical to no being or being s or property or cause of any being s whatsoever.

But what, then, is being?

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We might as do Young and Philipse use 'being', uncapitalized, to refer to the first of these sense and 'Being' capitalized to refer to the other. Where both senses are in play, as sometimes they seem to be in Heidegger's writing, this article resorts sometimes to the German das Sein.

Note, however, that this distinction between two senses of Heideggerian Sein is interpretatively controversial. In the first and as it were lowercase sense, being is what Heidegger calls sometimes a 'way of revealing'. One wants specification of all this. We shall see that Heidegger provides some. Nevertheless, it may be a mistake to seek an exact specification of the ideas at issue. For Heidegger may not really mean das Sein in either sense to explain anything.

He may mean instead to stress the mysteriousness of the fact that beings are accessible to us in the form that they are and, indeed, at all. That said, sometimes Heidegger gives a longer list of epochs, in which list the epochs correlate with metaphysical systems. It is important that this history, and indeed the simpler tripartite scheme, does not mean to be a history merely of conceptions of being. It means to be also a history of being itself , i. Heidegger allows also for some ontological heterogeneity within epochs, too. All Heidegger ff. Some of this conception is actually fairly straightforward.

The Thing the bridge , persons, and numerous other phenomena all stand in relations of mutual determination, i. But in modernity ontological variety is diminished, according to Heidegger. In modernity Things become mere objects. Indeed subsequently objects themselves, together with human beings, become mere resources. A resource or 'standing-reserve'; the German is Bestand is something that, unlike an object, is determined wholly by a network of purposes into which we place it.

That metaphysics, which tends towards seeing man as the measure of all things, is in fact metaphysics as such, according to Heidegger. For anthropocentrism is incipient in the very beginnings of philosophy, blossoms in various later philosophers including Descartes and Kant, and reaches its apogee in Nietzsche, the extremity of whose anthropocentrism is the end of metaphysics. And that end reflects the reign of resources. More on this mitigation shortly. What though is wrong with the real being revealed as resource? Some such forgetfulness is nigh inevitable.

We are interested in beings as they present themselves to us. So we overlook the conditions of that presentation, namely, being and Being. But Enframing represents a more thoroughgoing form of forgetfulness. Such nihilism sounds bearable. But Heidegger lays much at its door: an impoverishment of culture; a deep kind of homelessness; the devaluation of the highest values see Young ch. The thinking at issue is a kind of thoughtful questioning. Whatever its object, thinking always involves recognition that it is das Sein , albeit in some interplay with humanity, which determines how beings are.

Indeed, Heideggerian thinking involves wonder and gratitude in the face of das Sein. A small amount of it actually consists of poems. A related objection is that, though Heidegger claimed to leave theology alone, what he produced was an incoherent reworking of religion Haar ; Philipse Structuralism was an international trend in linguistics, literary theory, anthropology, political theory, and other disciplines.

It sought to explain phenomena sounds, tropes, behaviors, norms, beliefs. The post-structuralists applied this structural priority to philosophy. They are post -structuralists less because they came after structuralism and more because, in appropriating structuralism, they distanced themselves from the determinism and scientism it often involved Dews 1—4. But attention is restricted to the best known and most controversial of the post-structuralists, namely, Jacques Derrida.

The notion of text here is a broad one. It extends from written texts to conceptions, discourses, and even practices. Nevertheless, Derrida's early work concentrates upon actual texts and, more often than not, philosophical ones. That in turn is for two reasons each of which should become clearer below. First, the nature of deconstruction varies with that which is deconstructed.

Second, there is a sense in which texts deconstruct themselves. Nonetheless: deconstruction, as a practice, reveals such alleged self-deconstruction; and that practice does have a degree of regularity. The practice of deconstruction has several stages. Moreover, it is presumed that in each case a single text is, at least centrally, at issue. Within or via such commentary, the focus is upon metaphysical oppositions.

The next step in deconstruction is to show that the text undermines its own metaphysical oppositions. Here is a common way in which Derrida tries to establish the point. He tries to show that a privileged term essentially depends upon, or shares some crucial feature s with, its supposed subordinate.

Husserl distinguishes mental life, which he holds to be inherently intentional inherently characterized by aboutness from language, which is intentional only via contingent association with such states. Thereby Husserl privileges the mental over the linguistic. Or so Derrida argues Derrida, section 4. A further strategy involves the notion of undecidability see Derrida, section 5. A third stage or aspect of deconstruction is, one can say, less negative or more productive and Derrida himself calls this the productive moment of deconstruction.

Derrida argues, initially, as follows. Speech — and even thought, understood as a kind of inner speech — shares with writing features that have often been used to present writing as only a poor descendent of speech. Those features include being variously interpretable and being derivative of something else. But there is more. Arche-writing establishes or reveals a limit to any kind of expression a limit, namely, to the semantic transparency, and the self-sufficiency, of expressions.

Other deconstructions proceed similarly. What is the status of these conditions? That encourages this idea: here we have an account not just of concepts but of things or phenomena. Yet Derrida himself does not quite say that. He denies that we can make any simple distinction between text and world, between conceptual system and phenomena. Nor does Derrida think that, by providing such notions as arche-writing, he himself wholly evades the metaphysics of presence. Derrida retained the foregoing views, which he had developed by the end of the s. But there were developments of metaphilosophical significance.

On some of these topics, see Derrida, section 7. Despite his views about the difficulty of escaping metaphysics, and despite his evident belief in the critical and exploratory value of philosophy, Derrida has been attacked for undermining philosophy. Habermas provides an instance of the criticism.


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Habermas argued that Derrida erases the distinction between philosophy and literature. But the result, Habermas thinks, is an effacement of the differences between literature and philosophy. Derrida objected to being called unargumentative. Subsequently, Habermas and Derrida underwent something of a rapprochement. There might be a sense in which Derrida is too rigorous. One might reject that view. Something Levinas said apropos Derrida serves as a response.

The following anxiety might persist. Note that, in the case of many of the items that follow, the date given for a text is not the date of its first publication. Nicholas Joll Email: joll. Metaphilosophy What is philosophy? Introduction The main topic of the article is the Western metaphilosophy of the last hundred years or so. Some Pre-Twentieth Century Metaphilosophy Socrates believed that the unexamined life — the unphilosophical life — was not worth living Plato , Apology , 38a. Explicit and Implicit Metaphilosophy Explicit metaphilosophy is metaphilosophy pursued as a subfield of, or attendant field to, philosophy.

The Classification of Metaphilosophies — and the Treatment that Follows One way of classifying metaphilosophy would be by the aim that a given metaphilosophy attributes to philosophy. The particular placing of some individual philosophers within the schema is problematic. The case of the so-called later Wittgenstein is particularly moot. Should he have his own category? The delineation of the traditions themselves is controversial. The notions of the Analytic and the Continental are particularly vexed. The difficulties here start with the fact that here a geographical category is juxtaposed to a more thematic or doctrinal one Williams Moreover, some philosophers deny that Analytic philosophy has any substantial existence Preston ; see also Rorty a: ; and some assert the same of Continental philosophy Glendinning 13 and ff.

Even only within contemporary Western history, there are significant approaches to philosophy that seem to at least somewhat warrant their own categories. This article does not examine those approaches. Analytic Metaphilosophy a. The Tractatus maintains the following. Logical Positivism We witness the spirit of the scientific world-conception penetrating in growing measure the forms of personal and public life, in education, upbringing, architecture, and the shaping of economic and social life according to rational principles.

In Theories of Justice itself, distributive justice was the topic. History of Philosophy For a long time, most analytic philosophers held that the history of philosophy had little to do with doing philosophy. Revisionary metaphysics attempts the impossible, namely, to depart from the fundamental features of our conceptual scheme. The first point shows the influence of Wittgenstein. So does the third, although it is also as Strawson may have recognized somewhat Heideggerian. Naturalism including Experimentalism and Its Challenge to Intuitions Kripke and especially Quine helped to create, particularly in the United States, a new orthodoxy within Analytic philosophy.

Pragmatism, Neopragmatism, and Post-Analytic Philosophy a. Pragmatism The original or classical pragmatists are the North Americans C. Continental Metaphilosophy a. Phenomenology and Related Currents i. Existential Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Existentialism Husserl hoped to found a unified and collaborative movement. One encounters values within the world indeed, one encounters them bound up with facts ; but nothing rationally compels decision between values. They write xvi : We have no doubt—and herein lies our petitio principii —that freedom in society is inseparable from enlightenment thinking.

Habermas Habermas is a principal source of the criticisms of Adorno and Horkheimer just presented. Derrida's Post-Structuralism Structuralism was an international trend in linguistics, literary theory, anthropology, political theory, and other disciplines. References and Further Reading Note that, in the case of many of the items that follow, the date given for a text is not the date of its first publication. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, Edited by Mary Geach and Luke Gormally.

The Analytic Turn. Good on, especially, the notions of analysis in early Analytic philosophy and on the historical precedents of those notions. Beauchamp, Tom L. Bernstein, Richard J. Cambridge MA and Cambridge. An account of the influence and importance of pragmatism. Stocksfield: Acumen. Clarke, Stanley G. London and New York: Verso. Graham Birchill and Hugh Tomlinson. Less of an introduction to metaphilosophy than its title might suggest. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Not introductory. An influential but very short definition of metaphilosophy. Tries to clarify and evaluate some of Habermas' thinking on religion.

London and New York: Continuum. Prinz, Jesse J. Knobe and S. Nichols eds. Experimental Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Urmson, J. London: Oxford University Press. Rescher, Nicholas Philosophical Dialectics. An Essay on Metaphilosophy. Centres upon the notion of philosophical progress. Contains numerous, occasionally gross typographical errors. Rorty, Richard ed. Second edition. A useful study of s to s Analytic metaphilosophy. Rorty, Richard, Schneewind, Jerome B. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sorell, Tom, and Rogers, C. Oxford and New York: Oxford. Nicholas Bunnin and E. Tsui-James, pp. Oxford: Blackwell. Treats, among other things, these notions: conceptual truth; intuitions; thought experiments. Third edition. Burtt, E. Campbell and B. Hunter eds. Moral Epistemology Naturalized , Supple. Logical Positivism. Cavell, Stanley The Claim of Reason. Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy.

Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cohen, G. Reprinted in Hardcastle, Gary L. Copi, Irving M. Freeman, Samuel Rawls. Oxford and New York: Routledge. Gellner, Ernest Words and Things. An Examination of, and an Attack on, Linguistic Philosophy. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Glock, Hans-Johann ed. Hacker, P. Hutchinson, Brian G. Kripke, Saul A Naming and Necessity. Revised and Enlarged edition. Lance, M. Copp, ed. Loux, Michael J Metaphysics. A Contemporary Introduction , second ed. Routledge: London and New York. Second ed. McDowell, John Mind and World. McMahon, Jennifer A. New York and London: Routledge.

Moore, G. Moore Selected Writings , London: Routledge, , ed. New York: Humanities Press. From lectures given in and Second and revised edition, containing some other writings by Moore.

New York: Garland Publishing, An English translation of the manifesto issued by the Vienna Circle in Orenstein, Alex W. Chesham, UK: Acumen. Pitkin, Hanna Wittgenstein and Justice. Berkeley and London: University of California Press. Quine, W. New York: Columbia University Press. New edition.

Harvard: Harvard University Press. Rawls, John a A Theory of Justice. Revised edition. Rawls, John b Collected Papers ed. Samuel Freeman. London and New York: Routledge. Russell, Bertrand My Philosophical Development. Schilpp, P. Schilpp, Paul Arthur ed. Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press. Sellars, Wilfred Science, Perception and Reality.

London: Methuen. Strawson, Peter Analysis and Metaphysics. An Introduction to Philosophy. Weinberg, Jonathan M. Williams, Bernard Moral Luck. Wittgenstein, Ludwig Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Pears and B. Routledge: London. Blackwell: Oxford. Wittgenstein, Ludwig Philosophical Investigations. Malden MA and Oxford: Blackwell. Smith ed. Reading McDowell. On Mind and World. Pragmatism and Neopragmatism Brandom, Robert B. Alexander eds. Indiana University Press. New York: Dover Publications. Peirce, C. Hartshorne, P. Weiss Vols. Burks Vols. Rorty, Richard Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Rorty, Richard a Consequences of Pragmatism Essays: — Philosophical Papers, Volume 1.

Rorty, Richard Achieving Our Country. Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America. Rorty, Richard Philosophy as Cultural Politics. Philosophical Papers, Volume 4. Talisse, Robert B. Continuum: London and New York. Good and useful. Continental Philosophy Adorno, Theodor W. London and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, ; trans. Knut Tarnowski and Frederic Will. Adorno, Theodor W. Philosophical Fragments. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Edmund Jephcott. Dahrendorf, J. Habermas, H. Pilot, and K. Adey and D. Frisby, London: Heinemann Educational Books. Documents from debates between Popperians who were not, in fact, positivists in any strict sense and the Frankfurt School.

Accessible and helpful, yet perhaps somewhat superficial. Caputo, John D Demythologizing Heidegger. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. New York: Fordam University Press. Edited and with a commentary by John D. Carmen, Taylor, and B. Hansen eds. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Cerbone, David Understanding Phenomenology. A good introduction to phenomenology. Cooper, David Existentialism. A Reconstruction 2 nd ed.

Davis, Colin Levinas. An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity. Not only introduces Levinas but also mounts a strong challenge to him. Derrida, Jacques Of Grammatology. Derrida, Jacques Positions. London: Althone. Alan Bass. Three relatively early interviews with Derrida. Relatively accessible. Derrida, Jacques Limited Inc. Includes an Afterword wherein Derrida answers questions put to him by Gerald Graff. Derrida, Jacques Writing and Difference. London: Routledge. Derrida, Jacques Points. Peggy Kamuf et al. Dews, Peter Logics of Disintegration.

Post-stucturalist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory. Essays on Contemporary European Philosophy. London and New York: Verso, Diprose, Rosalyn and Reynolds, Jack eds. Dubiel, Daniel Theory and Politics. Studies in the Development of Critical Theory. Edgar, Andrew Habermas. The Key Concepts. London and New York. Evans, J. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Theodor Adorno: Key Concepts.

Frederick Lawrence. Geuss, Raymond Philosophy and Real Politics. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Ratio 14 3 — Haar, Michel Heidegger and the Essence of Man. McNeill, William. McCarthy, Thomas. Jeremy Shapiro. Cambridge: Polity Press in association with Blackwell Publishers. One of Habermas' more accessible — and more polemical — works. Peter Dews. A good place to start with Habermas. Oxford: Polity Press. William Mark Hohengarten. Philosophical Essays. Cambridge and Malden Ma. Ciaran Cronin. Heidegger, Martin Being and Time.

John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Heidegger, Martin Discourse on Thinking. A translation of Gelassenheit. John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund. Heidegger, Martin Poetry, Language, Thought. Albert Hofstadter. Bloomington and Indianapolis: University of Indiana Press. Revised ed. Close in its doctrines to Being and Time , but often considerably more accessible. Heidegger, Martin Nietzsche , 4 volumes. New York: HarperCollins. David Farrell Krell.

Heidegger, Martin Basic Writings. Revised and expanded edition. Heidegger, Martin The End of Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Joan Stambaugh. Held, David Introduction to Critical Theory. Broad-brush and fairly accessible account of first-generation Critical Theory and of the relatively early Habermas. London and New York: Continuum, Horkheimer, Max Eclipse of Reason. New York: Continuum. Husserl, Edmund Ideas. General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Boyce Gibson. Kluwer have produced a newer and more accurate version of this book; but the Boyce Gibson version is slightly more readable.

Lee Hardy. David Carr. Husserl, Edmund Cartesian Meditations. An Introduction to Phenomenology. Dorian Cairns. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Johnson, Christopher Derrida. The Scene of Writing. New York: Routledge. Good, short, and orientated around Derrida's Of Grammatology. Unusually clear. Levinas, Emmanuel Proper Names. Marcuse, Herbert One-Dimensional Man. A classic work of first-generation Critical Theory. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Phenomenology of Perception. Colin Smith. Mulhall, Stephen Heidegger and Being and Time.

Outhwaite, William Habermas. A Critical Introduction. Pattison, George The Later Heidegger. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. A large, serious, and very controversial work that sets out to understand, but also to demolish much of, Heidegger. Glendinning - which defends Heidegger. Polt, Richard Heidegger: An Introduction. London: UCL Press. Superb introduction, but light on the later Heidegger.

Hazel E. Sartre, Jean-Paul Being and Nothingness. As Europeans discovered the wider world, old concepts adapted. The area that had formerly been considered the Orient "the East" became the Near East as the interests of the European powers interfered with Meiji Japan and Qing China for the first time in the 19th century.

The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of Western culture were those of Mesopotamia ; the area of the Tigris—Euphrates river system , largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq , northeastern Syria , southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran : the cradle of civilization.

The Greeks contrasted themselves with both their Eastern neighbours such as the Trojans in Iliad as well as their Western neighbours who they considered barbarians. What is thought of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Ages , the Renaissance , and the Enlightenment , as well as Christian culture.

While the concept of a "West" did not exist until the emergence of the Roman Republic, the roots of the concept can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Since Homeric literature the Trojan Wars , through the accounts of the Persian Wars of Greeks against Persians by Herodotus , and right up until the time of Alexander the Great , there was a paradigm of a contrast between Greeks and other civilizations. Greeks felt they were the most civilized and saw themselves in the formulation of Aristotle as something between the advanced civilisations of the Near East who they viewed as soft and slavish and the wild barbarians of most of Europe to the west.

Alexander's conquests led to the emergence of a Hellenistic civilization , representing a synthesis of Greek and Near-Eastern cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Following the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, the concept of a "West" arose, as there was a cultural divide between the Greek East and Latin West. The "Greek" East was generally wealthier and more advanced than the "Latin" West.

With the exception of Italia , the wealthiest provinces of the Roman Empire were in the East, particularly Roman Egypt which was the wealthiest Roman province outside of Italia. For about five hundred years, the Roman Empire maintained the Greek East and consolidated a Latin West, but an East—West division remained, reflected in many cultural norms of the two areas, including language.

Eventually, the empire became increasingly split into a Western and Eastern part, reviving old ideas of a contrast between an advanced East, and a rugged West. In the Roman world, one could speak of three main directions: North Celtic tribal states and Parthians , the East lux ex oriente , and finally the South Quid novi ex Africa? From the time of Alexander the Great the Hellenistic period , Greek civilization came in contact with Jewish civilization.

Christianity would eventually emerge from the syncretism of Hellenic culture , Roman culture , and Second Temple Judaism , gradually spreading across the Roman Empire and eclipsing its antecedents and influences. Roman culture also mixed with Celtic , Germanic , and Slavic cultures, which slowly became integrated into Western culture: starting mainly with their acceptance of Christianity. In a narrow sense, the Medieval West referred specifically to the Catholic "Latin" West, also called "Frankish" during Charlemagne 's reign, in contrast to the Orthodox East, where Greek remained the language of the Byzantine Empire.

In its broadest sense, the Medieval West refers to the whole of Christendom , [1] [54] including both the Catholic West and the Orthodox East. After the fall of Rome , much of Greco-Roman art, literature, science and even technology were all but lost in the western part of the old empire. However, this would become the centre of a new West. Europe fell into political anarchy, with many warring kingdoms and principalities. Under the Frankish kings, it eventually, and partially, reunified, and the anarchy evolved into feudalism.

Much of the basis of the post-Roman cultural world had been set before the fall of the Empire , mainly through the integration and reshaping of Roman ideas through Christian thought. The Greek and Roman paganism had been completely replaced by Christianity around the 4th and 5th centuries, since it became the official State religion following the baptism of emperor Constantine I. Orthodox Christian Christianity and the Nicene Creed served as a unifying force in Christian parts of Europe, and in some respects replaced or competed with the secular authorities.

The Jewish Christian tradition out of which it had emerged was all but extinguished, and antisemitism became increasingly entrenched or even integral to Christendom. The Church founded many cathedrals , universities , monasteries and seminaries , some of which continue to exist today. After the fall of the Roman Empire , many of the classical Greek texts were translated into Arabic and preserved in the medieval Islamic world.

The Greek classics along with Arabic science , philosophy and technology were transmitted to Western Europe and translated into Latin , sparking the Renaissance of the 12th century and 13th century. Medieval Christianity is credited with creating the first modern universities. Historian Paul Legutko of Stanford University said the Catholic Church is "at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws, and institutions which constitute what we call Western civilization.

In a broader sense, the Middle Ages , with its fertile encounter between Greek philosophical reasoning and Levantine monotheism was not confined to the West but also stretched into the old East. The philosophy and science of Classical Greece was largely forgotten in Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, other than in isolated monastic enclaves notably in Ireland, which had become Christian but was never conquered by Rome.

Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis Roman civil law code was created in the East in his capital of Constantinople, [61] and that city maintained trade and intermittent political control over outposts such as Venice in the West for centuries. Classical Greek learning was also subsumed, preserved and elaborated in the rising Eastern world, which gradually supplanted Roman-Byzantine control as a dominant cultural-political force.

Thus, much of the learning of classical antiquity was slowly reintroduced to European civilization in the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The rediscovery of the Justinian Code in Western Europe early in the 10th century rekindled a passion for the discipline of law, which crossed many of the re-forming boundaries between East and West.

In the Catholic or Frankish west, Roman law became the foundation on which all legal concepts and systems were based. Its influence is found in all Western legal systems, although in different manners and to different extents. The study of canon law , the legal system of the Catholic Church, fused with that of Roman law to form the basis of the refounding of Western legal scholarship.

During the Reformation and Enlightenment, the ideas of civil rights , equality before the law , procedural justice , and democracy as the ideal form of society began to be institutionalized as principles forming the basis of modern Western culture, particularly in Protestant regions. In the 14th century, starting from Italy and then spreading throughout Europe, [62] there was a massive artistic, architectural, scientific and philosophical revival, as a result of the Christian revival of Greek philosophy, and the long Christian medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities.

In the following century, this process was further enhanced by an exodus of Greek Christian priests and scholars to Italian cities such as Venice after the end of the Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople. From Late Antiquity , through the Middle Ages , and onwards, while Eastern Europe was shaped by the Orthodox Church , Southern and Central Europe were increasingly stabilized by the Catholic Church which, as Roman imperial governance faded from view, was the only consistent force in Western Europe.

Until the Age of Enlightenment, [65] Christian culture took over as the predominant force in Western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science for many years. From the late 15th century to the 17th century, Western culture began to spread to other parts of the world through explorers and missionaries during the Age of Discovery , and by imperialists from the 17th century to the early 20th century.

During the Great Divergence , a term coined by Samuel Huntington [72] the Western world overcame pre-modern growth constraints and emerged during the 19th century as the most powerful and wealthy world civilization of the time, eclipsing Qing China , Mughal India , Tokugawa Japan , and the Ottoman Empire. The process was accompanied and reinforced by the Age of Discovery and continued into the modern period.

Scholars have proposed a wide variety of theories to explain why the Great Divergence happened, including lack of government intervention, geography, colonialism, and customary traditions. Coming into the modern era , the historical understanding of the East—West contrast—as the opposition of Christendom to its geographical neighbors—began to weaken. As religion became less important, and Europeans came into increasing contact with far away peoples, the old concept of Western culture began a slow evolution towards what it is today. The Age of Discovery faded into the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, during which cultural and intellectual forces in Western Europe emphasized reason, analysis, and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority.

It challenged the authority of institutions that were deeply rooted in society, such as the Catholic Church ; there was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism. Upon learning about enlightened views, some rulers met with intellectuals and tried to apply their reforms, such as allowing for toleration, or accepting multiple religions, in what became known as enlightened absolutism.

New ideas and beliefs spread around Europe and were fostered by an increase in literacy due to a departure from solely religious texts. The Dictionnaire philosophique Philosophical Dictionary, and Letters on the English written by Voltaire spread the ideals of the Enlightenment.


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Coinciding with the Age of Enlightenment was the scientific revolution , spearheaded by Newton. This included the emergence of modern science , during which developments in mathematics , physics , astronomy , biology including human anatomy and chemistry transformed views of society and nature. The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about to sometime between and This included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power , the increasing use of steam power , and the development of machine tools.

The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between and , when technological and economic progress continued with the increasing adoption of steam transport steam-powered railways, boats, and ships , the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of machinery in steam-powered factories. What is distinctive of European art is that it comments on so many levels-religious, humanistic, satirical, metaphysical, and the purely physical.

Some cultural and artistic modalities are characteristically Western in origin and form. While dance, music, visual art, story-telling, and architecture are human universals, they are expressed in the West in certain characteristic ways. In Western dance, music, plays and other arts, the performers are only very infrequently masked. There are essentially no taboos against depicting a god, or other religious figures, in a representational fashion.

European art pays deep tribute to human suffering. In music, Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern Western musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church, [97] and an enormous body of religious music has been composed for it through the ages. This led directly to the emergence and development of European classical music, and its many derivatives. The Baroque style, which encompassed music, art, and architecture, was particularly encouraged by the post-Reformation Catholic Church as such forms offered a means of religious expression that was stirring and emotional, intended to stimulate religious fervor.

The symphony , concerto , sonata , opera , and oratorio have their origins in Italy. Many musical instruments developed in the West have come to see widespread use all over the world; among them are the violin , piano , pipe organ , saxophone , trombone , clarinet , accordion , and the theremin.

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In turn, most European instruments have roots in earlier Eastern instruments that were adopted from the medieval Islamic world. Johann Sebastian Bach , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Ludwig van Beethoven , Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky , Jan van Eyck , among other renaissance painters, made great advances in oil painting , and perspective drawings and paintings had their earliest practitioners in Florence.

Depictions of the nude human male and female in photography , painting, and sculpture are frequently considered to have special artistic merit. Realistic portraiture is especially valued. Photography, and the motion picture as both a technology and basis for entirely new art forms were also developed in the West. Restoration of a fresco from an Ancient Roman villa bedroom, circa BC, dimensions of the room: The ballet is a distinctively Western form of performance dance.

The polka , the square dance , and the Irish step dance are very well known Western forms of folk dance. Greek and Roman theatre are considered the antecedents of modern theatre , and forms such as medieval theatre , passion plays , morality plays , and commedia dell'arte are considered highly influential. Elizabethan theatre , with such luminaries as William Shakespeare , Christopher Marlowe , and Ben Jonson , is considered one of the most formative and important eras for modern drama.

The soap opera , a popular culture dramatic form, originated in the United States first on radio in the s, then a couple of decades later on television. The music video was also developed in the West in the middle of the 20th century. Musical theatre was developed in the West in the 19th and 20th Centuries, from music hall , comic opera , and Vaudeville ; with significant contributions from the Jewish diaspora , African-Americans , and other marginalized peoples. While epic literary works in verse such as the Mahabharata and Homer's Iliad are ancient and occurred worldwide, the prose novel as a distinct form of storytelling, with developed, consistent human characters and, typically, some connected overall plot although both of these characteristics have sometimes been modified and played with in later times , was popularized by the West [] in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Of course, extended prose fiction had existed much earlier; both novels of adventure and romance in the Hellenistic world and in Heian Japan. Both Petronius ' Satyricon c. The novel, which made its appearance in the 18th century, is an essentially European creation. Chinese and Japanese literature contain some works that may be thought of as novels, but only the European novel is couched in terms of a personal analysis of personal dilemmas.

As in its artistic tradition, European literature pays deep tribute to human suffering. The validity of reason was postulated in both Christian philosophy and the Greco-Roman classics.

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Christianity laid a stress on the inward aspects of actions and on motives, notions that were foreign to the ancient world. This subjectivity, which grew out of the Christian belief that man could achieve a personal union with God , resisted all challenges and made itself the fulcrum on which all literary exposition turned, including the 20thst century novels. Tragedy , from its ritually and mythologically inspired Greek origins to modern forms where struggle and downfall are often rooted in psychological or social, rather than mythical, motives, is also widely considered a specifically European creation and can be seen as a forerunner of some aspects of both the novel and of classical opera.

Important Western architectural motifs include the Doric , Corinthian , and Ionic columns, and the Romanesque , Gothic , Baroque , and Victorian styles are still widely recognised, and used even today, in the West. Much of Western architecture emphasizes repetition of simple motifs, straight lines and expansive, undecorated planes. A modern ubiquitous architectural form that emphasizes this characteristic is the skyscraper , their modern equivalent first developed in New York, London, and Chicago.

The predecessor of the skyscraper can be found in the medieval towers erected in Bologna. Stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, completed in , mostly constructed between and Saint Basil's Cathedral , built from to , in the Red Square Moscow , with its extraordinary onion-shaped domes , painted in bright colors. A notable feature of Western culture is its strong emphasis and focus on innovation and invention through science and technology, and its ability to generate new processes, materials and material artifacts with its roots dating back to the Ancient Greeks.

The scientific method as "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses" was fashioned by the 17th-century Italian Galileo Galilei , [] [] with roots in the work of medieval scholars such as the 11th-century Iraqi physicist Ibn al-Haytham [] [] and the 13th-century English friar Roger Bacon. The Western world has been the leading force in the technological and scientific disciplines in modern history.

According to the Dictionary of Scientific Biography DoSB sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies , 81 percent of the most significant scientists and mathematicians come from Europe compared to 76 percent in the Human Accomplishment set, numbers that rise to 94 and 91 percent respectively when the United States and Canada are included. Add in Russia and the Netherlands , and 80 percent of all significant figures are accounted for.

The West is credited with the development of the steam engine and adapting its use into factories , and for the generation of electric power. Communication devices and systems including the telegraph , the telephone , radio , television , communications and navigation satellites , mobile phone , and the Internet were all invented by Westerners. Ubiquitous materials including aluminum , clear glass , synthetic rubber , synthetic diamond and the plastics polyethylene , polypropylene , polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene were discovered and developed or invented in the West.

Iron and steel ships, bridges and skyscrapers first appeared in the West. Nitrogen fixation and petrochemicals were invented by Westerners.

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Most of the elements were discovered and named in the West, as well as the contemporary atomic theories to explain them. The transistor , integrated circuit , memory chip, and computer were all first seen in the West. The ship's chronometer , the screw propeller , the locomotive , bicycle , automobile , and airplane were all invented in the West. Eyeglasses , the telescope , the microscope and electron microscope , all the varieties of chromatography , protein and DNA sequencing , computerised tomography , nuclear magnetic resonance , x-rays , and light, ultraviolet and infrared spectroscopy , were all first developed and applied in Western laboratories, hospitals and factories.

In medicine, the pure antibiotics were created in the West. The method of preventing Rh disease , the treatment of diabetes , and the germ theory of disease were discovered by Westerners. The eradication of smallpox , was led by a Westerner, Donald Henderson. Radiography , computed tomography , positron emission tomography and medical ultrasonography are important diagnostic tools developed in the West.

Other important diagnostic tools of clinical chemistry , including the methods of spectrophotometry , electrophoresis and immunoassay , were first devised by Westerners. So were the stethoscope , the electrocardiograph , and the endoscope. Vitamins , hormonal contraception , hormones , insulin , beta blockers and ACE inhibitors , along with a host of other medically proven drugs, were first utilized to treat disease in the West. The double-blind study and evidence-based medicine are critical scientific techniques widely used in the West for medical purposes.

In mathematics, calculus , statistics , logic , vectors , tensors and complex analysis , group theory and topology were developed by Westerners. In physics, the science of mechanics and quantum mechanics , relativity , thermodynamics , and statistical mechanics were all developed by Westerners. The discoveries and inventions by Westerners in electromagnetism include Coulomb's law , the first battery , the unity of electricity and magnetism , Biot—Savart law , Ohm's Law , and Maxwell's equations The atom , nucleus , electron , neutron and proton were all unveiled by Westerners.

In business, economics, and finance, double entry bookkeeping , credit cards , and the charge card were all first used in the West. Westerners are also known for their explorations of the globe and outer space. The first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth was by Westerners, as well as the first journey to the South Pole , and the first Moon landing The roots of modern-day Western mass media can be traced back to the late 15th century, when printing presses began to operate throughout Western Europe. The emergence of news media in the 17th century has to be seen in close connection with the spread of the printing press , from which the publishing press derives its name.

In the 16th century, a decrease in the preeminence of Latin in its literary use, along with the impact of economic change, the "discoveries" arising from trade and travel, navigation to the "new" world , science and arts and the development of increasingly rapid communications through print led to a rising corpus of vernacular media content in Western Europe. After the launch of the satellite Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in , satellite transmission technology was dramatically realised, with the U.

The first digital broadcast satellite DBS system began transmitting in America in Beginning in the s, the Internet has contributed to a tremendous increase in the accessibility of Western media content. Departing from media offered in bundled content packages magazines , CDs , television and radio slots , the Internet has primarily offered unbundled content items articles , audio and video files. The native religions of Europe were polytheistic but not homogenous — however, they were similar insofar as they were predominantly Indo-European in origin.

Roman religion was similar to but not the same as Hellenic religion — likewise for indigenous Germanic polytheism , Celtic polytheism and Slavic polytheism.

Western culture, for at least the last years, has been considered nearly synonymous with Christian culture. Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Western Christian culture , and many of the population of the Western hemisphere could broadly be described as cultural Christians. The notion of " Europe " and the " Western World " has been intimately connected with the concept of " Christianity and Christendom "; many even attribute Christianity as the link that created a unified European identity.

As in other areas, the Jewish diaspora and Judaism exist in the Western world. Non-European groups, and Jews in particular, have been subjected to intense racism , ethnic and religious hatred , xenophobia , discrimination , and persecution in the West. Throughout the Western world there are increasing numbers of people who seek to revive the indigenous religions of their European ancestors; such groups include Germanic , Roman , Hellenic , Celtic , Slavic , and polytheistic reconstructionist movements. Likewise, Wicca , New Age spirituality and other neo-pagan belief systems enjoy notable minority support in Western states.

Since classical antiquity , sport has been an important facet of Western cultural expression. A wide range of sports were already established by the time of Ancient Greece and the military culture and the development of sports in Greece influenced one another considerably. Sports became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games , which in ancient times were held every four years in a small village in the Peloponnesus called Olympia. Baron Pierre de Coubertin , a Frenchman, instigated the modern revival of the Olympic movement.

The first modern Olympics were held at Athens in. The Romans built immense structures such as the Colisseum in Rome to house their festivals of sport. The Romans exhibited a passion for blood sports , such as the infamous Gladiatorial battles that pitted contestants against one another in a fight to the death. The Olympic Games revived many of the sports of Classical Antiquity —such as Greco-Roman wrestling , discus and javelin. The sport of bullfighting is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France, and some Latin American countries.

It traces its roots to prehistoric bull worship and sacrifice and is often linked to Rome , where many human-versus-animal events were held. Bullfighting spread from Spain to its American colonies, and in the 19th century to France, where it developed into a distinctive form in its own right. Jousting and hunting were popular sports in the Western Europe of the Middle Ages , and the aristocratic classes of Europe developed passions for leisure activities.

A great number of the popular global sports were first developed or codified in Europe. The modern game of golf originated in Scotland, where the first written record of golf is James II 's banning of the game in , as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. The Industrial Revolution that began in Britain in the 18th Century brought increased leisure time, leading to more time for citizens to attend and follow spectator sports, greater participation in athletic activities, and increased accessibility. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication.

The bat and ball sport of cricket was first played in England during the 16th century and was exported around the globe via the British Empire. A number of popular modern sports were devised or codified in Britain during the 19th Century and obtained global prominence—these include ping pong , modern tennis , association football , netball and rugby.

Football also known as soccer remains hugely popular in Europe, but has grown from its origins to be known as the world game.