The intellectual history of Western civilization is often a pictured as a constant struggle, conflict, or tension between “Western rationalism and “Eastern Mysticism”, between humanism and spiritualism. In this case then we have to understand what a civilization is and the root and stem of it. The accomplishment of a civilization may be seen in its expression of literature art and past history. A civilization is reflected in its society, there are guidelines that assist in its day to day running. This is further enhanced by well crafted rules or laws that are laid down for people. These rules are crafted by powers that be; power meaning that it can boarder on the extremities of coercion or simply authority that has been granted the light of day. The result of this is usually an identical pattern of behavior among the people. The resultant is a defined code of practices for different classes of people or gender; these are the basic ingredients of a given civilization (Markie 60-74). The mirror of any civilization is in the light of expression of its populace in the light of literature works, art and history. In the ancient Mesopotamia the code of Hammurabi was used to govern the people. It reflected various beliefs in virtues such as assisting of the weak; it did not shy away from reflecting its beliefs.
It was in Babylon where we see organized religion, the first form of writing and the beginnings of literature and even agriculture. This helped in the pursuit of knowledge and economic order within a structured government. In fact it has always been perceived that it was in Mesopotamia that man came to being. Credit is given to Mesopotamia as the major cradle of most of today’s religions and practices. It has emerged that Abraham the father of Judaism, Christianity and to a greater extent Islam decent was in ancient Mesopotamia. Various agricultural practices present today have been traced back to Mesopotamia.
In ancient Egypt, civilization was reflected in Literature and Art. A lot of literary works were engraved on the wall s of temples, tombs, obelisks, monuments and even written on papyrus. They formed the basis of many literary pieces of other subsequent civilizations. A perfect example of a piece of Egyptian work that has been the basis to most religions to-date is The Hall of Judgment after death where one is sentenced to death or eternal life in regards to how they had lived in their past world. This belief inculcated social responsibility among the Egyptians and is considered the best principal of unity among the people in the precept of Westernism. In the Ancient Levant, there was diversity among the people. This did not prevent them from ascribing to one common knowledge and allegiance to their land. Perhaps the most notable of their literature text would be the Jewish mosaic code and the present day bible that explains about the extensiveness of this vast land. Various stories in the bible explain the change of an independent land to a Babylonian conquest then eventually to a Roman conquest. In the ancient Greek Minoan culture, the people worshipped a mother goddess whose symbol, apiece of art, was a double-bladed axe, and called a labrys. It was a symbol of unity of a people who were bound by religion. Mycenaean through the discovery of writing on clay tablets denoted their culture as a people who loved industry, war, commerce and agriculture.
In the Great Roman Empire, cords of events were written down explaining the events of the empire. We get to know the shifting of authority and the existence of Senate and Emperor Roles in theses records (Bury 46-50). It has also been noted that there was change in the reign of Constantine who declared his support for Christianity as a rule of law to be followed in the Roman Empire. His main aim was to create National cohesion among his subjects. It was in this reign that political theology was coined to bind the church to the Christian emperor. The emergence of Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire signaled a transit of ideas from one place to another. In the middle ages and late middle ages, there was the conquering of most of the vast disintegrated land by Barbarians in present day Western Europe that blended their culture with what was already there (Jones 40). We also see most of the East and Africa being over run by Islamic crusades; an indicator of a rise of a new civilization and the beginning of another.
In the Renaissance period, which began in Italy and spread to other states, we see man not as driven for conquest in war but rather in understanding the world around him. It was in this great age that we see the emergence of great inventors like Leonardo Da Vinci who was a gifted painter and artist too. It should be noted that most of the concepts (Math and Astronomy) being identified can be traced back to Ancient Mesopotamia and into the Greek civilizations. This noted, we can therefore say that the intellectual history of Western civilization is often a picture of a constant struggle, conflict, or tension between “Western rationalism and “Eastern Mysticism”, between humanism and spiritualism. Most of the ideals in the Western civilization have root from the principles of past civilizations most notably Christianity. Western rationalism is predominantly blended with Eastern mysticism to bring out the desired effect. It is with approach that Western civilization is still regarded as an ever metamorphosizing machine, everyday with new concepts to boost its agenda and growth.
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