03 July 2012

Hey Western Civilisation: What Makes You so Special?

An overwhelming number of the explorers in history have been European. The Concise Encyclopedia of Explorers lists a total of 274 explorers, of which only 15 are non-European, with none listed after the mid-fifteenth century.8 In the urge to explore new regions of the earth and map the nameless, we can detect, in a crystallized way, the “prime-symbol” of Western restlessness. We can also detect the Western mind’s desire – if I may borrow the language of Hegel – to expand its cognitive horizon, to “subdue the outer world to its ends with an energy which has ensured for it the mastery of the world.”9 _Ricardo Duchesne
Age of Exploration

Westerners and Europeans have been at the forefront of most of the important human discoveries and accomplishments in science, philosophy, technology, and the arts since around 800 BC.

It is asserted by historian Ricardo Duchesne that westerners have also been at the forefront of most important human global exploration and discovery (h/t Dennis Mangan).
IN HIS 2003 book, Human Accomplishment: Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950, Charles Murray argued that the great artistic and scientific accomplishments were overwhelmingly European. ”What the human species is today,” he wrote, “it owes in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just half a dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass.”

...The point I want to make, however, is that Murray pays no attention to accomplishments in other human endeavors such as leadership, exploration, and heroic deeds. The achievements he measures come only in the form of “great books” and “great ideas.” In this respect, Murray’s book is similar to certain older-style Western Civ textbooks where the progression of modern liberal ideals is the central theme. David Gress dubbed this type of historiography the “Grand Narrative.” By teaching Western history in terms of the realization of liberal democratic values, these texts “placed a burden of justification on the West … to explain how the reality differed from the ideal.’3 Gress called upon historians to do away with this idealized image of Western uniqueness and to emphasize the realities of Western geopolitical struggles and mercantile interests. Norman Davies, too, has criticized the way early Western civilization courses tended to “filter out anything that might appear mundane or repulsive.”4

MY VIEW IS that Europeans were not only exceptional in their literary endeavors, but also in their agonistic and expansionist behaviors. Their great books, including their liberal values, were themselves inseparably connected to their aristocratic ethos of competitive individualism. There is no need to concede to multicultural critics, as Davies does, “the sorry catalogue of wars, conflict, and persecutions that have dogged every stage of the [Western] tale.”5 The expansionist dispositions of Europeans as well as their literary and other achievements were similarly driven by an aggressive and individually felt desire for superlative and undemocratic recognition. _Richard Duchesne

It is neither fashionable nor politically correct to acknowledge the leadership of Euro - westerners in any important and beneficial activity. This is particularly true if one is claiming that there is something innate within Euro-westerners which allowed them to provide leadership in multiple areas of human accomplishment which have improved the overall human condition for large numbers of the world's inhabitants.

More politically correct scholars such as Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) have attempted to provide alternative explanations to the idea of western exceptionalism. But few such arguments are able to withstand any degree of scrutiny or critical examination. Which leaves us with the question: What is it about western civilisation which caused it to produce so many exceptional achievers across so many important human fields of study and achievement?

Historian Ricardo Duchesne is also the author of a well researched book on the same topic: The Uniqueness of Western Civilization.

Below is an audio interview with Duchesne, where he discusses his arguments regarding the uniqueness of western civilisation.

Interview w/ Ricardo Duchesne re his book: The Uniqueness of Western Civilization

And so, again, what makes Euro-westerners so special?

It has been claimed that ADHD is far more common among Europeans than in non-Europeans. It is likely that a number of other genetic clusters which influence behaviour are likely to have been divergent in European populations as opposed to non-European populations. As the tools of genetic study improve, we should better understand how different breeding populations diverged in unique ways.

As Duchesne points out, the particular aggressiveness of westerners creates a wide range of problems at the same time that it opens and exploits beneficial opportunities.

Other populations tend to be more aggressive than Europeans in terms of impulsive violent crime -- such as many African populations and a number of South American indigenous populations. But Europeans are more violent in this way than are East Asians. There is a gradient of sorts, in terms of homicide rates: Africans > Europeans > East Asians.

Curiously, a similar gradient of average male testosterone levels appears to exist, with higher levels in Africans, medium levels in Europeans, and lower levels in East Asian males.

Even more interestingly, an IQ gradient exists in the opposite direction, with East Asian average IQs > European average IQs > African average IQs. Taken together, this might suggest that exploration requires at least moderate IQ and moderate testosterone levels -- in combination with other gene clusters which may add particular strengths to an explorer's innate arsenal of grit, gumption, "g", and go-getiveness.

We should note, however, that "he who laughs last, laughs best." If Europeans (and East Asians) allow their numbers to decline below certain levels of influence, they risk being ultimately overwhelmed by more enthusiastic procreators who may unfortunately lack some of the more remarkable qualities of the higher achieving populations, on average.

More Reading: Invention of the Modern World (Alan Macfarlane's Focus on England's role) h/t HBD Chick

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Blogger Eric said...

I've been working on a follow-up to my article on the failure of Europe to economically and culturally integrate immigrants. It hinges on universal values, demonstrated by successful models of social programs from Germany, France, UK, Norway, Sweden and the US. It takes some points that I learned from my work in advertising in the international market.

The idea of limiting the population, whether by force or on the sly is nothing new though. Examples exist from South Africa, Australia, UK, ect...

World-famous microbiologist Sir Macfarlane Burnet, the Nobel prize winner revered as Australia's greatest medical research scientist, secretly urged the government to develop biological weapons for use against Indonesia and other "overpopulated" countries of South-East Asia.

Tuesday, 03 July, 2012  
Blogger Eric said...

The key is detecting fraud though, some of these programs have fudged their numbers for political brownie points.

Tuesday, 03 July, 2012  
Blogger drama said...

I think John Keegans book "a history of warfare" offers a good analysis of the development of different cultures in it's analysis of war

Tuesday, 03 July, 2012  
Blogger neil craig said...

Pr ot cpuld be that it had to happen somewhere and once it starts feedbacks push that culture forward fastest.

Look at the coincidence that the south sea islands were explored and settled between about 500 & 1500 AD without any link at all with European culture and that Cheng Ho's exploration fleet explored the Indian ocean in 1430 only a few decades before Vasco da Gama did the same from Portugal, with no real contact between the 2 cultures.

When you look at 6,000 years of written history and far more prehistory that would be a remarkable coincidence if some underlying factor were not driving most human cultures to some outbreak of exploration and invention about then.

On the other hand we still did come first.

Wednesday, 04 July, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

Charles Murray was a fool to claim Western Europe's emergence as what we refer to as Western Civilisation was a consequence of our own “great books” and “great ideas.”

How many of the vast Chinese, Indian, Persian and Babylonian libraries did he peruse? Near zero, I'll venture - about as much as the average Western European Caucasian today.

Declaring that Celtic blue-bottoms, Nordic berserkers and the Gothic barbarians had intellectual primacy over civilisations that existed and flourished while they were still dashing the heads of their enemies children against the rocks, is like declaring that hyenas formulated the principles of modern butchery.

The truth is more likely to be that the “great books” and “great ideas” to which Murray refers originated - thematically if not in content or prosaic style - elsewhere, and were merely developed and adapted into the bland, cursory and one-dimensional style favoured by the Latin peoples of Western Europe. This soul-less method of intellectual discourse dominates academia today.

Western Civilisation is characterised by the way it believes in its own greatness. It has a superiority complex. Yet much of what we call great is intellectually vain and morally futile. It's not hard to look back on Western Civilisation now and see it as massive sprint up the garden path. Ask most people from those other, older cultures and they'll tell you they hate the West and (not so) secretly yearn for its decline. Many Western Europeans are feeling this way also.

Why is this happening? Perhaps because it doesn't understand and can't handle in a spiritual sense many of the ideas it purports to have originated. It doesn't teach the truth of God in its discourse about STEM subjects, seeking instead to evacuate God entirely. In so doing, it stands for little but its own proliferation and sows within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

Consumerism, godlessnes, idol worship, feminism, usury. These are the five pillars of Western Civilisation. It has elevated to positions of great power the Pagan, Berserker and Barbarian with expensive pantsuits and useless Ivy League degrees - who seek, ever so civilly, to dash out the brains of their enemies children on a rock.

Great? Meh.

Wednesday, 04 July, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Not exactly convincing, coming from your peculiar perspective.

Theists -- such as Muslims -- tend to see the world in a "just so" manner, which is not at all consistent with a real and somewhat chaotic universe.

Islam had a "golden age," driven by a convergence of profound ideas from both East and West, along with a more intelligent human substrate than currently exists in modern Islamic nations.

There is no doubt that the west is in decline in many ways -- demographically, debt-wise, a cultural dumbing-down, etc.

Unfortunately, when one looks for wisdom outside the west, one is confronted largely by an even more rapid decay tending toward anarchy.

Your religion may be your own superiority complex in more ways than you comprehend. One must find whatever comfort one can in the face of despair.

Thursday, 05 July, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, one of the reasons people are obsessed with the failures of the West, is because most people do not know Arabic and Chinese, and, therefore, do not know about their flaws. Anyway, the NWO is far more advanced and powerful than either the West, the Islam or China.

Sunday, 08 July, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your response to my comment above was anticipated. Empiricists seem to claim the truth to be an element somewhere within only their own perspective and are generally disinclined to agree with any perspective that refers to God. It's a common response. Those who don't know God will simply not agree in God's truth, nor are they likely to understand.

Instead, the empiricist seems inclined to assume those individuals who do know God as morally superior - the guilty conscience tends to construct such motives - but the truth is closer to the opposite. God compels the true believer not to feel superior in any way but to seek to understand the depth of his own moral failings, and through honest self-examination convict the heart and mind of a need and the means to do better as an individual. The result, ironically, is that the culture as a whole does better and advances civilisation in precisely the way Murray describes.

This truly hopeful journey is the fabric of all successful civilisations. The rapid and hopeless decay towards anarchy is evident in all cultures that have rejected God, and the West is leading this charge. The decay of the West, combined with its superiority complex and political manipulation of the rest of the world has stirred up iniquity in every culture and in every possible way, either by consumer choice or by force.

Orwell was not writing about empiricism but religion, which is readily apparent to those who have studied his work.

Monday, 03 September, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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