Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

Multicultural Origins of Civilization

Beginning a debate on the multicultural origins of our civilization with "Rodney":

>> European culture created most, perhaps all, (who can say for sure) of the important social and political ideas which modern industrial societies use to organize and operate their societies, including those which allow you to protest and express your particular point of view. <<

"All"? Hardly. Most of our ideas originally came from the Middle East (Mesopotamia and Palestine) and Egypt, which were decidedly non-European cultures. Then they were influenced by everything from Mongol invasions to the long Arabic stewardship of culture to the unprecedented contact with the New World.

For a modern example, consider the concept of total quality management. Originated by American Edward Deming, it was adopted by American business only after the Japanese proved its worthiness over several decades. So much for Newt Gingrich's contention (in his book To Renew America) that quality control is a defining American characteristic. Not even close. (If anything, our defining characteristic is "make a quick buck at any cost.")

>> The thesis of your first paragraph is incorrect. <<

Don't think so. Are you literally claiming "all" our cultural concepts came from Europe? If so, then I have to provide only one to contradict your thesis and prove mine is correct. Nothing could be easier.

>> But I doubt I can prove it to your satisfaction. <<

I doubt it, too. It's tough to prove a valid thesis invalid.

>> What I would ask you to do is to find any written information which supports your contention. <<

Let's start with a few basics:

Government...Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Art...Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Architecture...Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Monotheism...Egypt (Akhnaton) and the Israelites.
The rule of law...Hammurabi.
Literature...Gilgamesh and Sumerian myths.
Judeo-Christian ethics...from the land formerly known as Judea and Samaria.

The cradle of Western civilization
Don't take my word for it. Confirming what I said is this article from the Denver Post, 1/26/03:

Historians and archaeologists agree that the cradle of Western civilization is the Fertile Crescent, or the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers known as Mesopotamia. It covered modern-day Iraq. Virtually all of the requisites for Western civilization were developed in the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia, beginning in 8000 to 6000 B.C. They spread north to Greece, west to Rome and on to what became the British Isles, as well as east to the Orient.

Although Mesopotamia was credited for centuries with producing the first writing system, scholars have concluded that writing and other innovations in science and the arts were being developed independently in ancient times in China, India, Central America and Egypt.

Among the firsts:

Cultivation of grains (8000 B.C.)
Writing (cuneiform) (3200 B.C.)
Wheeled vehicles (3200-3100 B.C.)
Dividing the day into 24 hours
Irrigation techniques, canals, dams
Domestication of livestock
Metal working
City building
Urban plumbing
Legal system (The Code of Hammarubi)
Preservation of literature ("The Epic of Gilgamesh")
Medical writings (2100 B.C.)
Cobblestone streets
Laws regarding liability of surgeons (1700 B.C.)
Measuring and surveying instruments
Bleaching and dying of fabrics

Those are some extremely large biggies right there. I don't think I need go further to prove that the most significant aspects of our culture came from non-European sources. But I will.

Sources for Greek ideas
>> Writings from non-Greek sources which antedate the political and social thinking of Greeks, and which suggest that the Greeks derived their ideas from them, will be necessary to establish their copyright to these ideas. <<

We continue with quotes from two sources. First, from the editors of The Traditions of the Western World: Volume 1, Antiquity through the Early Modern Period:

The principal sources of the traditions of the Western world are two—Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman or Classical.

Beginning in the sixth century B.C., and on through the fourth, Greek-speaking thinkers became interested in the substance of Near Eastern myth.

Let me reiterate that Judaism and Christianity are not European in origin. And Greco-Roman culture borrowed partly from earlier, non-European civilizations. If we were to quantify this, it would add up to perhaps 75% of our ideas (or "most") coming originally from non-European sources, just as I said.

Next, from Man's Past and Present: A Global History by L.S. Stavrianos, on the Classical Age:

The classical Greek civilization was not pristinely original. Like all civilizations, it borrowed heavily from what had gone on before, in this case the Middle Eastern civilizations. But what the Greeks borrowed, whether art forms from Egypt or mathematics and astronomy from Mesopotamia, they stamped with the distinctive quality of their minds.

And on the Hellenistic Age:

In view of these trends in philosophy and religion [toward mysticism and otherworldliness], it is surprising to note that more progress was achieved in science in the Hellenistic Age than in any other period prior to the seventeenth century. This was due in part to the economic opportunities afforded by Alexander's conquests. The greatly expanded markets provided incentive to improve technology in order to increase output. Also the continual wars amongst the succession states, and between them and outside powers, created a demand for more complex war engines. Equally stimulating was the direct contact between Greek science and that of the Middle East—not only of Mesopotamia and Egypt, but also, to a certain extent, of India. Finally, the Macedonian rulers of the Hellenistic states, brought up in the aura of the prestige of Greek learning, generously supported scientific research. This was particularly true in Egypt, where the Alexandria Museum and Library constituted in effect the first state-supported research institute in history. All these factors explain the galaxy of outstanding scientists during these centuries—Euclid in geometry, Hipparchus and Aistarchus in astronomy, Eratosthenes in geography, and Galen in medicine.

In conclusion, the historical significance of the Hellenistic Age is that it brought the East and West together, breaking the separate molds that had formed through history. Men now for the first time thought of the entire civilized world as a unit—a ecumene. At first the Greeks and Macedonians went to the East as conquerors and rulers, and imposed a pattern of Hellenization. But in the process they themselves were changed, so that the resulting Hellenistic civilization was an amalgam rather than a transplantation. And in the long run the religions of the East made their way West and contributed substantially to the transformation of the Roman Empire and medieval Europe.

Both of these sources, I should add, are my original Occidental College textbooks, so they must be right. So when you say

>> European culture created most, perhaps all, (who can say for sure) of the important social and political ideas <<

I say "borrowed, modified, and adapted" maybe, but not necessarily "created."

Sumerian myths => Euro-Christian philosophy
Do you want actual quotes from pre-Greek sources, as opposed to quotes about pre-Greek sources? Sorry, I threw my Gilgamesh out because it was too depressing. But consider the following from Mythologies of the Ancient World by Samuel Noah Kramer, another Oxy text. In a section on the mythology of Sumer and Akkad, Kramer writes:

Another Enki myth tells of an intricate and as yet somewhat obscure tale which involves the paradise-land Dilmun, perhaps to be identified with ancient India. Very briefly sketched, the plot of this Sumerian "paradise" myth, which treats of gods, not humans, runs thus:

Dilmun is a land that is "pure," "clean," and "bright," a "land of the living," which knows neither sickness or death....Although our myth deals with a divine rather than a human paradise, it has numerous parallels with the Biblical paradise story.

Needless to say, the original concept of Dilmun and similar analogues led to the concepts of the Christian Heaven and Hell, the "shining city on the hill," Utopia, the perfectability of life, even the American Dream. I'm completely serious. These ideas are not universal in nature; they're distinctly Western. Confucianism has no real afterlife or heaven; Hindus believe in ever-cycling reincarnation in different forms; Buddhists seek to eliminate individual achievement and self and merge with Nirvana. That people should strive to the max to achieve their heavenly rewards is a Western ideal that derives from ancient Mesopotamia, not from Europe.

Moreover, let's consider the main example you seem to be pointing toward: democracy. Sure, the Greeks were instrumental in its development...and then it was largely subsumed by a millennium or two of some of the most abject, tyrannical kings, emperors, and popes ever. From the Magna Carta to the French Revolution, European civilization fought tooth and nail against democracy, not for it.

Indeed, some historians claim the influence of the New World, with its free space and free-thinking inhabitants, was critical in the development of "natural" or "individual" rights. Consider it an extension of Turner's Frontier Thesis: that interaction with any undiscovered country leads to new modes of thought.


The debate continues (5/30/96)....
>> Thus, governments that Sumeria and Egypt developed may be considered as a logical extensions of what humans had always done: organized hierarchically. <<

Whether government was an inevitable outgrowth of increasing population is irrelevant. You said most or all of our ideas are European in origin. No, they're not. The most fundamental ones, from government to religion, originated in the Near East and elsewhere.

>> I have always favored the Jews' claim; and certainly Akanaton's theological notions had no significant impact on Egypt compared to the ideas of Moses and Abraham. <<

The Greeks certainly weren't monotheistic. Whether the Jews or Egyptians were responsible for monotheism, the origin isn't European, again proving my point.

>> But he was indeed an early codifier of law. But "his" laws were likely derived from the rules of earlier Sumerian societies (For which there are fragments of writings indicating earlier codifiers). <<

I mentioned earlier Sumerian laws in Greek Lies, Historic Truth. Whether Hammurabi originated these laws or not, they weren't European.

Hammurabi and Moses:  the law-givers
>> In regard to political rights, Hammurabi's laws were qualitatively different from those that emerged from Greece in that his laws did not advance the political rights of ordinary people (As did those, for example, of Clisthenes which essentially created Athenian democracy). <<

And the Greek laws didn't promote true democracy as we know it today, as my last message to you suggested. Leading Greek philosophers such as Plato and Socrates were elitists, not populists. They favored rule by a small meritocracy, not by the masses.

Competing strains of Greek thought may explain why Rome began as a republic, not a democracy, and ended as a dictatorship. After Rome fell, Greek belief was lost or subsumed during the Dark Age centuries. It only gradually surfaced in England and elsewhere, where it merged with Anglo-Saxon traditions that favored liberty and justice.

So Greece was one major step on the path to democracy, but not the sole or original source. And democracy is only one part of the American experience, not all of it. Again, your thesis fails, unless you'd care to limit yourself strictly to democratic ideas, as I suggested in my first response.

>> In both cases they deal with the notions of justice and fairness and both were "laws." But Hammurabi's laws were devoid of democratic notions. <<

So? Plenty of laws deal with maintaining property rights, resolving disputes, etc. Really, if you meant all our democratic ideas when you said all our ideas, you should've specified it.

>> In my reading I failed to encounter a single modern social concept (If you find one let me know), and as such, they have had essentially no impact on modern legal traditions. <<

The eye-for-an-eye concept still predominates our thinking on capital punishment. You can trace it all the way from Sumer to San Quentin. In fact, many legal concepts are engraved in the codes of the Sumerians, the Hittites, and the Israelites. Besides the whole idea of punishment, restitution (paying fines to aggrieved parties) is a huge area that developed long before Greece civilization.

Democracy, equality, and individualism
>> The ideas and laws that Greeks created regarding democracy, equality and fairness for all individuals (whatever the Greeks shortcomings may have been) are the basis for our present jurisprudence, not the Hammurabi Code. <<

No, many of those ideas (if not laws) came from the non-European Judeo-Christian ethic of honoring individuals and declaring them equal before God. In a new book, The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice That Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law, Alan Dershowitz lays out the connection. As a book reviewer (LA Times, 12/3/00) put it:

All of Leviticus, for example, and much of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are law codes....[I]t is in the most compelling tales of the Bible that Dershowitz looks for and finds not only the roots of Western jurisprudence but the very spark that ignites the passion for justice that is the burning heart of the Bible.

To reiterate: the Old Testament Bible is a major source of law and justice that predates Greek civilization.

>> The Judeo-Christian ethic is important in our European tradition <<

Then 'nuff said. Its origin is non-European, proving my point and disproving yours.

>> I would point out that nearly all of those portions that deal with human interrelationships were discussed and debated by Greek philosophers three centuries before the NT [New Testament] was written. <<

I'm sure they were discussed and debated by philosophers everywhere, including the non-Europeans who originated them when the Greeks were only scrabbling barbarians. When the Bible was written is largely irrelevant. When its events and ideas occurred is what matters.

>> Rob your list is well known to me, but it doesn't cause me to alter what I asserted. <<

I can't imagine how that's possible, since all you've shown is that maybe one part of our American culture, democracy, is European in derivation. Your statement that most or all of our ideas are European remains patently false.

"All social and political ideas"?
>> Here is what I wrote: "European culture created most, perhaps all, (who can say for sure) of the important social and political ideas which modern industrial societies use to organize and operate their societies <<

>> Rob, nowhere in there is anything in what I wrote which could be construed as claiming credit by the European intellectual tradition (EIT) for the origins of agriculture, literature, monotheism, the notion laws or of writing laws down <<

You just contradicted yourself, above. The only item you could possibly argue isn't a "social or political idea" is agriculture. The rest clearly are. As the most obvious example, all of religion—an area you continue to slight—is a social construct for organizing and operating society. Without organized religion, everyone would have a belief system of their own.

>> So by my lights, I have sharply modified to the point of rejection your list of "firsts" in three crucial social spheres. <<

Check your lights for a dim bulb. <g> The only thing you've modified is your own unsupportable claims.

>> Continuing to stick to what I wrote, I challenge you to find in any culture prior to the Greeks and their political successors the Romans and then Europeans any words or phrases embedded in a coherent work which indicate the seminal concepts "democracy," and "equality," and "individualism" (construed here to mean focus of the society on the rights and well-being of the individuals), are not Greek in origin. <<

Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king.

Ecclesiastes, 4:13

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

Isaiah 11:6

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew, 5:5

Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Matthew 19:30

Really, you need to give me tougher challenges. The philosophy that all men are created in God's image and are equal before him, regardless of their strength or wealth, echoes throughout the Bible. That "all men are created equal" follows closely from this philosophy.

The Church as a democratic force
As Christianity developed during the Middle Ages, some theologians expounded the concept of equality. For instance:

St. Augustine says in the first book of his Christian doctrine: "He who tries to rule over men—who are by nature equal to him—acts with intolerable pride."

Let kings and princes fear lest the higher they are raised above their fellows in this life, the deeper they may be plunged in everlasting fire.

[L]et them be obedient and ever mindful of the blessed Gregory's declaration...: "When a man disdains to be the equal of his fellow men, he becomes like an apostate angel."

[L]et them embrace justice and maintain it by preserving to everyone his right.

Pope Gregory VII, letter to Hermann of Metz, March 15, 1081

Of course, these theologians were hardly democrats. They believed the Church should rule, not the state. But the point is, they recognized limits to the power of manmade government. They believed people literally had God-given rights.

And to reiterate, these men based their positions on the Bible. We can trace their views back to Genesis, where humans were created equal as well as pure. Adam and Eve were partners, and only after the Fall did some men become masters over others.

So the older parts of the Bible—i.e., the Jewish Torah—influenced the Greeks. The Greeks in turn influenced the Judeo-Roman culture of Jesus's time. Greek and non-Greek influences intertwined, as influences usually do. Ultimately, they all stemmed from non-European sources in the Near East.

The limits of civilization
I take it you're redefining your original claim to limit it to democracy, equality, and individualism? Good. Because as I've said, we organize and operate our society by many concepts other than these. Examples include family, community, charity, compassion, honor, respect, tradition, responsibility, fairness, justice, law, religion, philosophy, economics, art, education, and technology.

Even your more limited argument is badly lacking. Any structured society has inequalities of wealth, creating classes of people and limiting equality. The Greeks had citizens, resident aliens, and slaves, among others. And any structured society imposes laws on its people, instilling conformity and limiting individualism. Any of a thousand "barbaric" tribes was more equal and individualistic than Greek society was.

Think about it. The Pilgrims supposedly left Europe for the New World because they couldn't pray the way they wanted to. The American colonists supposed rebelled because they weren't represented equally in the British government. Both groups spurned Europe precisely because it was lacking in equality and individualism. They wanted to be free—as free as the Indians they met in America.

Or consider the French Revolution, the true start of revolutionary fervor in Europe. In 1789 French peasants overthrew an establishment consisting of 140,000 to 340,000 nobles who paid no taxes and administered arbitrary justice on their land. Does that sound like democracy to you? The continental version of liberty, equality, and brotherhood didn't flow naturally from European roots; it was a radical departure from the established order.

For more on the subject, see Indians Gave Us Enlightenment.

Let's recap: The Bible speaks extensively of people's moral equivalency and individual rights and responsibilities. Most Near Eastern civilizations developed laws under which people received a measure of justice. Democracy and republicanism flared briefly in the Mediterranean before being snuffed and forgotten for millennia. If we examined all the indigenous tribes of history, as we have our Native Americans, we'd find their societies were more democratic, equal, and individualistic than any great civilization's.

So much for democracy, equality, and individualism. Really, you should limit yourself to democracy, period. Because democracy, not "all of the social and political ideas," is the only instance where you seem to have a case.

>> These are the basic social and political concepts by which modern industrial societies organize and operate their societies......as I contended in my posting to conversations. <<

No, they're some of the concepts, not all of them. Read de Tocqueville for a fuller listing of the components that make up the American paradigm.

Besides, China, the USSR, and the Soviet bloc countries (the latter all European, by the way) managed to run "modern industrial societies" without democracy, equality, or individualism. And one might argue that the highly socialized states of Western Europe managed to operate with equality at the expense of individualism. So even in Europe, your thesis fails.

The scientific method
>> And I challenge you to find for me any culture(s) which employs in its intellectual operations the skeptical, rationally analytical, hypothesis-testing characteristics derived largely from the Greeks and the EIT <<

People in every culture around the world develop hypotheses, test them, and analyze the results to refine their hypotheses. What is a child's touching something hot and getting burned but an example of the scientific method? What you're talking about is organized schools that practiced and codified the scientific method, not the scientific method per se.

People in cultures around the world learned to predict the seasons; to measure the progress of the sun, moon, and planets; and to keep calendars at least as good as those in the West. All these required developing and testing hypotheses. For instance, if the Egyptians hadn't correctly hypothesized when the Nile would flood each year, their crops would've failed and they would've starved.

Even if you limited me to modern cultures, as you may have intended, you'd lose your challenge. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India, Israel...where are these characteristics not practiced these days? Nowadays developed countries of the West and East use science and technology universally.

But all this is beside the point. The widespread practice of these characteristics doesn't prove their origin. I quoted Stavrianos as saying the Greek methods were influenced by other sources in the Hellenistic era—for instance, the scholarly tradition in Alexandria.

More important, these methods were lost during the Middle Ages and preserved only by Islamic culture. You're kidding yourself if you think Christian monks, virtually the only scholars in Europe for a thousand years, ran laboratories in their monasteries. Superstitious, fearful, and irrational, Western civilization progressed despite a lack of scientific inquiry.

See the NY Times book review of The Victory of Reason for more on the subject.

>> The EIT reached a sufficient critical mass in the past four or five centuries sufficient to allow it to create modern astronomy, the calculus, quantum physics, theory of relativity, bacterial culture, immunization, the concept and elucidation of the genetic code, modern molecular biology to name but a few of its advances <<

And ozone depletion, deforestation, drug-resistant insects and bacteria, toxic waste, nuclear weapons, two world wars, the Holocaust, mass murder, systemic violence, spiritual malaise, suicide, etc., to name a few more of its advances. But we're talking two different things here: sources and outcomes. Whatever the outcomes are, you haven't shown where they ultimately came from.

If you want to change the subject, please do. But don't pretend your new subject is the same as the old one.

By the way, the Arabs invented the concept of zero; the Chinese the compass, gunpowder, and printing; and the Maya's astronomy was as advanced as the Europeans' of the time. The Amerindians used farming techniques unrivaled until the agricultural revolution. But I thought we were talking about political and social ideas, not scientific and technological ones. See how far you've digressed from your original claim?

Art and literature
>> a vast, and to my way of thinking unequaled, repository of art and literature. <<

Sure, given your Eurocentric bias. I doubt the people of China or India would agree that their millennia of artistic achievements are inferior. Can you say the Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal, or the pyramids? What about the Bhagavad Gita, Kabuki theater, or the myriad myths and stories of indigenous people?

I noted the origins of Western literature in Greek Lies, Historic Truth. Read it if you're curious. And try to remember we're arguing where things originated, not which examples were best.

>> Any other culture's claims to a equivalent intellectual tradition <<

Now you're really stepping far afield from your original thesis. Are you claiming the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, et al. don't have an intellectual tradition because they haven't devoted themselves to amassing obscene wealth, developing manipulative media, and creating weapons of mass destruction? Amazing!

Why don't you compare how many written documents China and Europe had before the advent of the Gutenberg press? Or how many schools? Wanna bet on the outcome? For a more recent example, did you know the Chinese had 8,171 teachers per thousand compared to our 2,280, according to 1986 statistics? How do you explain that?

>> must be able to point to its accomplishments to prove that such a tradition is embedded in their culture. All cultures except the EIT fail this test. <<

Survival is the ultimate accomplishment, and by that standard, ancient Egypt (or perhaps China) is the big winner. The United States and United Kingdom will have to last about ten times as long as they have so far to even begin to match that record.

Where's the evidence?
>> For copyright claims for a particular set of intellectual ideas, there must be written data to back up the claim. <<

Yes, you clearly are arguing for a particular set of intellectual ideas. And you're clearly ignoring other intellectual ideas that contradict your thesis. Which has been my point all along.

>> This is the key test: No written documentation, then such claims must be viewed with the greatest skepticism (Undocumented claims usually use the words "influenced by"). Writing was widely used in Asia Minor by 1500 BC. <<

Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge, but confer with the ignorant man as with the learned.

Ptahhotep, "The Maxims of Ptahhotep" [circa 2350 BC]

There you go...a Jeffersonian faith in the abilities of the common man, approximately 4,125 years before ol' Tom's time. A later collection of Egyptian maxims, the precepts of Amenemopet, "served to some extent as a model for the writer of the Biblical Book of Proverbs," writes Professor Sabatino Moscati in The Face of the Ancient Orient. The Bible offers many quotes about the wisdom of children and humble men. The Greeks weren't the first to exalt the lowly commoner over the mighty king.

And consider the following:

Be a craftsman in speech, so that thou mayest be strong, for the tongue is a sword to [a man], and speech is more valorous than any fighting.

Instruction for King Meri-Ka-Re [circa 2200-2050 BC]

This appreciation for strong, effective speech predates the First Amendment by almost 4,000 years. Indeed, Edward Bulwer-Lytton's claim that "the pen is mightier than the sword" (Richelieu, 1839) seems a direct steal from the Egyptians.

I'm not up on my Mesopotamian literature and philosophy, so I can't document their beliefs too well. But Mesopotamia and the other antecedent cultures are far older than the Greeks of 700-600 BC. To expect much of their thinking to have survived this long is ridiculous. The Indo-Europeans, in particular, were nomadic horsemen. I'm pretty sure they didn't carry around their beliefs on heavy stone tablets.

And let's note for the nth time that the only reason we have as much of Greek thought as we do is because it was preserved by the Hellenistic cultures in Alexandria and elsewhere. To put it bluntly, Alexander the Great conquered the world he knew, subjugated its people (without sharing Greek "democracy," of course), and left pieces of his culture behind.

In short, the Greek culture was derived from other cultures and ultimately diffused into other cultures. Its very survival was due to its non-democratic (i.e., imperialist) tendencies.

Natural rights from God
>> If the Greeks borrowed their intellectual concepts, even in part, from other cultures, where are the records indicating they did so? <<

The Bible is one huge record of non-European thought. Again, ideas such as "The meek shall inherit the earth" (Psalms 37:11) are fundamentally egalitarian in nature. Jesus said everyone was equal before God, which included women, slaves, and others not accorded the vote in Greek "democracy." So our ideals of democracy, equality, and individualism are a fusion of European and non-European thought, just as I've said.

>> But in the intellectual sphere, their contributions were unique and stunning... <<

Unique and stunning, perhaps, but not brand-new or original.

>> But it was Greek ideas and their subsequent adoption by European intellectuals <<

As influenced by everything from the Judeo-Christian ethos to the concept of natural rights embodied in the aboriginal people of the world. As I wrote in Democracy Rocks—with Indian Help, European thinkers were strongly influenced by the egalitarian and democratic nature of the natives they met. The very name, "natural" rights, implies these rights come from nature, not from civilization.

>> My own viewpoint is that Greek culture was the dominant culture. <<

I have no doubt that is your viewpoint. <g> Too bad you haven't justified it.

Greek culture is one influence among any. In America, you might argue it dominates in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states. In the South, you might argue an African/French culture dominates. In the West, you might argue a Spanish/Native/libertarian culture dominates.

But even if Greek culture were the dominant culture everywhere, that wasn't your thesis. Your thesis, again, was that all our important social and political ideas are European in origin. No, the most important ones weren't Greek or even European, as I've shown.

>> And nowhere in what you wrote is there a contrary bit of evidence to contradict my general thesis. <<

Well, there's plenty to contradict it in this message, if you missed it last time around. Sorry to burst your bubble.

>> Your other points I must address at another time, although at first look they would not seem to contradict my basic position. <<

Look again. Now that you've (apparently) changed your "basic position," maybe you'll find more of a leg to stand on. You started by saying "all of the important social and political ideas" were European. You've backed so far away from it I doubt you even remember your original claim.

To reiterate, most of our cultural ideas did not originate in ancient Greece. They certainly didn't originate in the rest of Europe later. From religion to ethics to government, our culture has older, non-Western origins.

Western civilization in the Stereotype of the Month contest
Modern society is "objectively" superior to Stone Age culture
Berliner:  Western civ. is "the objectively superior culture"

More on Western civilization
Civilization = failed experiment?
The downside of "civilization"
Diamond blames the victim
Blame it on rationalism

More on the accomplishments of non-Western civilizations
'Earliest writing' found in China
China had first complex machines

More on the accomplishments of indigenous civilizations
Pagan Roots of the Bible
Ten Lies About Indigenous Science
Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford
100 Amazing Indian Discoveries
Inca built better bridges
Sequoyah was the first

Related links
Greek lies, historic truth
This ain't no party:  a Columbus Day rant
Democracy rocks—with Indian help
Native vs. non-Native Americans:  a summary

Readers respond
"[F]irst Britain and then America have ... prevailed in every major military conflict (except when they fought each other) since the Glorious Revolution of 1688."
"Of the 320 'greatest inventions' of all time, only 27 were not invented by Western Civilization."
"It IS 'Western Civilization' that ... transformed a very, very unfortunate 8 armed human being monstrosity into a smiling little girl who will walk, and play."

* More opinions *
  Join our Native/pop culture blog and comment
  Sign up to receive our FREE newsletter via e-mail
  See the latest Native American stereotypes in the media
  Political and social developments ripped from the headlines

. . .

Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.

Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.