Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Cultural Continuity of the West

Aristotle at Mont Saint-Michel. This is book review is a must-read. It says:
Long before the late Eduard Said invented “Orientalism” to exalt Arab culture and Islamic society at the expense of the West, bien-pensants like Voltaire inclined to express their rebellion against the dwindling vestiges of Christendom by representing Europeans as bigots or clowns and raising up exotic foreigners – Voltaire himself wrote about Turks and Persians of the Muslim fold – to be the fonts of wisdom and models of refined life in their tracts and stories. The sultan and dervish look with amused tolerance on the gaucheries of the European rubes. The rubes swing their elbows and knock over the pottery. It was the Eighteenth-Century philosophes and illuminati who coined the pejorative term Dark Ages to refer to the centuries immediately following the collapse of the Roman imperial administration in the West under pressure of the Gothic assertions of the Fifth Century. Liberal discourse often casually extends the same term to apply it to all of medieval European civilization up to the Renaissance. Specialist historians have, however, long since demonstrated that no such absolute discontinuity as the term Dark Ages insinuates ever existed, which means that the Enlightenment version of history is at least partly wrong. And yet the usual story retains its currency, as an item in a kind of liberal folklore.


xavier said...

Maria Elena:
You brought up a pet peeve of mine. Why people fawn over Voltaire is something I've never understood. I don't like him. You know that he publically sucked up to Fredrick the Great extolling how wonderful Prussia was while privately he despaired of the country.
In any, Volatire and the boys wanted to replace the ancien régime with their own rule.

Volt«ire was the first intellectual along with the others to begin the dynamiting of Western culture


elena maria vidal said...

Although I appreciate Voltaire's works such as "Candide," he was definitely one of the people responsible for sowing the seeds of Revolution and especially the attack on the Church.

Steve Hayes said...

And it was their soul-mates who dreamed up the term "Byzantine" for the later Roman empire.

Linda said...

I think history will look upon the 20th century as a dark age, brought to us by two anti-Chrisian ideologies, Nazism and communism. And, while Voltaire wanted to appear to be above religion, which he regarded as superstition, he was involved in the occult.