I’m glad to see the edifice of Western Civilization hoist on its own petard. Not to say there isn’t such a thing, just as there is an Eastern Civilization, or Middle Eastern one, etc. But what are these things?

The concept of Civilizations was an important tool in defining history as an academic discipline. One needs a large foot in the lower division academic game if one is going to survive. Graduate students in history need somewhere to go and the creation of Western Civilization was an excellent requirement that could support academic careers in diverse histories with funding assured for generations. It has petered out a little sooner than expected but we are living in an entirely new world.

The unfortunate discovery that lumping together the diverse lines of European development into Western Civilization left out most of the planet and most of humanity was corrected by jumping directly to World Civilizations. This began to replace Western Civilization in American Universities as a first year requirement in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Without a hint of empirical research but the tried and true application of inductive logic suggests (a useful bolt hole) that the folks lauding Christianity as the moral backbone of Western Civilization as a stand in for all of civilization were educated before the arrival of World Civilizations.

This also does not pretend the religious traditions arising in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern World (speaking of Civilizations requires capitalization) along with the entire early hodgepodge of ideas did not influence general conceptions of morality. While the words used and some of the more brutal and, immoral, ideas came from the late neolithic to early iron age period religions, the more basic and universal principles are generally understood now to be the product of evolutionary ethics stemming from the small group social nature of our primate line.

And, if we poke our noses outside of the Western Civilization hut, we discover these same evolutionary ethical principles evolving in similar ways where ever our type of primates have settled. This suggests that the focus on Western Civilization and its primary religious traditions is not a profound discovery but a product of failing to look elsewhere.

I would recommend a few years of serious study of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove to counter this set of misconceptions. This should inform them of the problems of authoritarian court life and narrow views that are not subject to open criticism. Everything improves with intelligent discussion, song and poetry plus a good bit of rice wine.

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Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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