Towards the Wise Civilization

Towards the Wise Civilization

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-168-3.ch010

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The Simultaneous Growth And Decline Of Western Civilization

Today, Western civilization includes nations practicing Roman-Catholic and Protestant religions. Its roots are in the Classic civilization (Greek-Roman) and its formal beginning is associated with the rise of the Frankish Empire in 800 A.D. Western civilization has many branches or many alternative names, according to some authors. For example, it is also called “Atlantic.” Spengler (1928) uses the term “Faustian.” Coulborn (1959) calls it “European,” Koneczny (1962) calls it “Latin,” Danilevsky (1867, 1920) uses the term “Germano-Roman,” and Gobineau (1852, 1999) calls it “Germano-Roman.” Also some social scientists call it “Occidental” or “Euro-American,” while the majority of scientists calls it “Western,” since “Germano-Roman,” “Faustian,” and “European” seem to be synonymous (Wescott, 2000). Certainly, names of civilizations reflect the practice of applied popular terms in a given time period. Today, the term “Western” is well established and understood by many people the post-World War II. The next war, the Cold War, divided the world into three parts: “Western,” “Eastern,” and the “Rest.” This term was popularized by Toynbee (1939-1961, 1995) and Huntington (1993).

Western civilization is the force that rebuilt Europe after the fall of Rome (fifth century), which took place over the span of 900 years between the fifth and 14th centuries. The first 500 years of these nine centuries are called the Dark Ages. They are characterized by barbarian invaders, superstition, and the straggle for existence. However, Christianity was the force which made a strong effort to minimize that “darkness.” The Renaissance, or period of “rebirth” after the Dark Ages, began its mission in the 15th century. It hailed the rise of ideal form, found in the works of Michelangelo (1475-1564), Palladio (1508-1580), and Brunelleschi (1377-1446). However, the Renaissance was also a modern age of exploration and invention. Released from the Dark Ages, people began to rebuild and used science and nature to achieve a cultural rebirth. No Renaissance man exemplified the spirit of this era more than Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), scientist, innovator, and artist of world-renowned works such as the Mona Lisa. Also in this period, the role of Copernicus (1473-1543), Pomponazzi (1462-1525), Bruno (1548-1600), Descartes (1596-1650), and Bacon (1561-1626) was to advance civilization at odds with religion.

From the miraculous domed cathedral of Florence to urban palaces and rural villas, the Renaissance captured the new world view that spread from Italy throughout Europe—to English country houses, French chateaux, and German town halls. It chronicled the achievements of the period with its architectural styles, furnishings, fashions, art, designers, and notable buildings. During this time, “ideal” cities and real gardens were invented in the spirit of Leonardo and Michelangelo.

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