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ERIC Number: EJ984418
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Pages: 29
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
A Civilization of Explorers
Duchesne, Ricardo
Academic Questions, v25 n1 p65-93 Mar 2012
The claim that there were "surprising similarities" between the West and the more advanced regions of Asia as late as 1800-1830, and that the Industrial Revolution was the one transformation that set Europe apart from Asia is central to the arguments of multicultural historians such as Kenneth Pomeranz, Bin Wong, Jack Goldstone, John Hobson, and Peer Vries. These historians theorize the "rise of the West" as if it were only a question of explaining the onset of mechanized industry, the use of inorganic sources of energy, and the overcoming of Malthusian limits to growth. One critical argument of the author's book, "The Uniqueness of Western Civilization," is that the divergence of the West cannot be abstracted from the developmental history of the Greek and Roman assemblies of citizens; the parliaments, municipal communes, universities, and estates of the medieval era; and the reading societies, representative institutions, journals, and newspapers of the Enlightenment. The rise of liberal democratic institutions was a defining characteristic of the West's uniqueness and its rise to supremacy. Another argument of "Uniqueness" is that it is not any particular renaissance, revolution, or liberal institution that marks out the West but its far higher levels of achievement in all the intellectual and artistic spheres of life. The author relied on Charles Murray's book, "Human Accomplishment: Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950," to make this argument. This is the first effort to quantify "as facts" the accomplishments of individuals and countries across the world in the arts and sciences by calculating the amount of space allocated to these individuals in reference works, encyclopedias, and dictionaries. In this essay, the author challenges Murray's restricted view of individual greatness. Murray pays no attention to accomplishments in other human endeavors such as warfare, voyages of discovery, and heroic leadership. Murray's achievements come only in the form of "great books" and "great ideas." In this respect, "Human Accomplishments" is akin to certain older-style Western Civilization textbooks in which the unfolding and embodiment of the ideas of reason and liberty are the central themes. (Contains 66 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Asia