The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of western culture were those of Mesopotamia ; the area of the Tigris—Euphrates river systemlargely corresponding to modern-day Iraqnortheastern Syriasoutheastern Turkey and southwestern Iran: What we think of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Agesthe Renaissanceand the Enlightenmentas well as Christian culture.
Worse, we are not even conscious of the fact. We insist on seeing the world through our Western prism. No other tradition or history or culture can compare. Ours is superior to all and others, in deviating from ours, are diminished as a consequence.
This speaks not of our wisdom but our ignorance, an expression not of our cosmopolitanism but our insularity and provincialism.
It is a consequence of being in the ascendant for at least two centuries, if not rather longer. Eurocentrism — or perhaps we should say western-centrism — has become our universal yardstick against which, in varying degrees, all others fail.
This mindset threatens to become our greatest handicap as we enter an era in which Europe will be progressively marginalised, the United States will experience irreversible decline, the emergent nations will become major actors and China will replace the United States as the dominant power.
In other words, those countries and cultures that we now look down upon will increasingly become the arbiters of the future.
How will we ever make sense of them if we refuse to understand them in anything other than our own Western terms?
How will they view us if we continue to look down upon their culture and polities as inferior to our own? Which brings us to China. We choose to see China overwhelmingly in a context calibrated according to Western values: No doubt you could add a few more to that list.
I am not arguing that such issues do not matter — they do — but our insistence on judging China in our own terms diverts us from a far more important task: If we fail to do that then, quite simply, we will never understand it. That is why mainstream Western commentary on China over the last three or more decades has singularly failed to get China right, from predicting the imminent downfall of the regime after Tiananmen Square and the likely break-up of the country, to the constant insistence ever since that the economic growth could not possibly last and that the regime would be unable to sustain itself.
Virtually no-one predicted what has happened; phenomenal economic growth for over thirty years and a regime that has been hugely successful and which now enjoys greater legitimacy and prestige than at any time since the reform period began in Our western-centric value-judgements about China must no longer be allowed to act as a substitute for understanding the country in its own terms.
This is no easy task. China is profoundly different from the West in the most basic of ways. Perhaps the most basic difference is that it is not a nation-state in the European sense of the term.
Indeed, it has only described itself as such since around Anyone who knows anything about China is aware that it is a lot older than that. China, as we know it today, dates back to BC, in some respects much earlier.
That date marked the end of the Warring States period, the victory of the Qin, and the birth of the Qin Empire whose borders embraced a considerable slice of what is today the eastern half of China and by far its most populous part.
For over two millennia, the Chinese thought of themselves as a civilization rather than a nation. The most fundamental defining features of China today, and which give the Chinese their sense of identity, emanate not from the last century when China has called itself a nation-state but from the previous two millennia when it can be best described as a civilization-state: The implications are profound: Although China describes itself today as a nation-state, it remains essentially a civilization-state in terms of history, culture, identity and ways of thinking.
China, as a civilization-state, has two main characteristics. Firstly, there is its exceptional longevity, dating back to even before the break-up of the Roman Empire.
Secondly, the sheer scale of China — both geographic and demographic — means that it embraces a huge diversity. Contrary to the Western belief that China is highly centralised, in fact in many respects the opposite is the case: It is simply too large.
The implications in terms of the way the Chinese think are profound. In Hong Kong was handed over to China by the British. The Chinese constitutional proposal was summed up in the phrase: Barely anyone in the West gave this maxim much thought or indeed credence; the assumption was that Hong Kong would soon become like the rest of China.
This was entirely wrong. The political and legal structure of Hong Kong remains as different now from the rest of China as in The reason we did not take the Chinese seriously is that the West is characterised by a nation-state mentality, hence when Germany was unified in it was done solely and exclusively on the basis of the Federal Republic; the DDR in effect disappeared.One approved course from either Arts/Humanities or Social Sciences which must focus on a western culture and civilization.
The Western Culture and Civilization requirements may also be satisfied by approved /level courses. Although China describes itself today as a nation-state, it remains essentially a civilization-state in terms of history, culture, identity and ways of thinking.
China’s geological structure is that of a civilization-state; the nation-state accounts for little more than the top soil. Western civilization traces its roots back to Europe and the initiativeblog.com is linked to the Roman Empire and with Medieval Western Christendom which emerged from the Middle Ages to experience such transformative episodes as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, scientific revolution, and the development of liberal democracy.
Others proposed suggestions for what a Western Civilization requirement might look like at Stanford. One student wrote, “the more I think about it, the more I warm to the idea of learning more about Western civilization.” Right now, there is no Western Civilization survey course offered in the main course catalogue.
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin.
Western Civilization. People in Europe or the United States are likely to hear others talking about Western culture. What does this mean? Are we talking about the American West, with its cowboys.