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Forum LockedEuropean way to world primacy.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: European way to world primacy.
    Posted: 28-May-2009 at 08:30

Who else here around is interested in this problem: Europes, and in particular Western Europes way from just one place among others on this planet at about 1500, its rise to domination, political, cultural, technological, scientific and military in the following centuries, first finished in the 20.century? It included a lot of murdering, enslavement, but on the other hand there is very little sign anything like our "modern world" would have excisted by now. Some peoples have studied "special european factors", like religious and cultural (christian or even protestant "ethics"), other geographical factors (here obviously J.Diamond, with some interesting ideas, though I have a strong sense there is many additional geographical/environmental factors to those Diamond prefer). How much if any (as at least I think) insight can such studies of "external" (to humans) factors offer?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 14:58
European contributions are mainly in physics, calculus and engineering, but also in though, literature, music, religious and political ideas.
If Europe hadn't had that boom of expansion, conquests and inventions the more likely is that China, India or others had done the same inventions, instead.
There is nothing magical in Europe's golden age. It was just a moment of glory where Europe had the monopoly of development, a demographic surplus and force. A moment that's gone.


Edited by pinguin - 28-May-2009 at 15:00
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 19:00
Originally posted by pinguin

European contributions are mainly in physics, calculus and engineering, but also in though, literature, music, religious and political ideas.
If Europe hadn't had that boom of expansion, conquests and inventions the more likely is that China, India or others had done the same inventions, instead.
There is nothing magical in Europe's golden age. It was just a moment of glory where Europe had the monopoly of development, a demographic surplus and force. A moment that's gone.
None of us seems to want any supernatural explanations. It is allso imaginable that in the very long run any part of humanity could have initiated a scientific Technological civilisation - even more so in some respects than the present. We may object though: Let us take the situation the year 1409: It is hard to see any sign any of the regions You mention, or any other non-european were approaching some "road to modernity" - there was no obvious reason they should do so for foreseeable future (say, millenia). Even when we remember the chinese expeditions to southeast Asia and Africa in the following decades, we should allso have in mind they stopped! allso remember there is nothing "magic" about the last five centuries, not even about the third millenium,  so for those fond of alternative history one in which the civilisations 2009 were much like 1409 seems plausible!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 19:15

Well, if you visit any department of physics, mathematics or computing in any American university, or if you search for papers, you will notice that MOST scientists today are Chinese, Indians or at least non-Europeans.

So, I bet the next millenia arrived too early... LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 19:40
Originally posted by pinguin

Well, if you visit any department of physics, mathematics or computing in any American university, or if you search for papers, you will notice that MOST scientists today are Chinese, Indians or at least non-Europeans.

So, I bet the next millenia arrived too early... LOL
that is not the issue from my point of view!
I bet whatever their place of origin is, what in the broad sense may be labelled "western tradition" is indispensable part of what they are doing.You may have some point though, if You say that much that was exclusively "western" may today be "global". That is today, and beyond what at least I would call "early modern" even with a stretch!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 19:48

Define well what you mean by "westerner". Don't forget that Pytagoras, the first "western" mathematician was half Phoenician, and Euclides was an egyptian mathematician... LOL

With respect to "Magna Europa", I believed the dream of glory had ended in the ruins of WWII



Edited by pinguin - 28-May-2009 at 19:49
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 20:06
Originally posted by pinguin

Define well what you mean by "westerner". Don't forget that Pytagoras, the first "western" mathematician was half Phoenician, and Euclides was an egyptian mathematician... LOL

With respect to "Magna Europa", I believed the dream of glory had ended in the ruins of WWII

It strikes me both the people You here mention do not belong to the discuused period at all! In this specific context neither Pytagoras nor the second World War is what I had in mind! But I agree if You say that what is "western" may be hard to define for all ages, and that there may even be some questions for any particular age. I just see no need for such eternal definitions here (it may be not that important if say, Iceman or neanderthalers were "westerners" or not in this particular context).
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 20:14
Europe was a crazy, brilliant, prejudiced and downright savage place in the early modern period (I take it we're talking 1450-1750 sorta period?)

On the one hand, huge advances in government administration, philosophy, politics, individualism, literature, science, ethics, and so on and forth.

On the other hand, huge inequality, frequent wars, frivolity, stupidity, bigotry, heartlessness, religious intolerance and bloodshed, hatred, and maybe worst of all, nationalism.

Its a bit silly to judge history from a 21st century morality, but there is few who can look at this period of European history and not be both stunned and amazed by the giant leaps in the arts and sciences, but horrified by the colonialism, slavery and brutal wars.

I would agree with Pinguin that WWI brought the 'European Dream' crashing down to reality. WWII might have finished the job off. We'll probably need another war to cop ourselves on and admit the future is in the far east, not some crusty English or French university Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 21:23
Originally posted by Parnell

Europe was a crazy, brilliant, prejudiced and downright savage place in the early modern period (I take it we're talking 1450-1750 sorta period?)

On the one hand, huge advances in government administration, philosophy, politics, individualism, literature, science, ethics, and so on and forth.

On the other hand, huge inequality, frequent wars, frivolity, stupidity, bigotry, heartlessness, religious intolerance and bloodshed, hatred, and maybe worst of all, nationalism.

Its a bit silly to judge history from a 21st century morality, but there is few who can look at this period of European history and not be both stunned and amazed by the giant leaps in the arts and sciences, but horrified by the colonialism, slavery and brutal wars.

I would agree with Pinguin that WWI brought the 'European Dream' crashing down to reality. WWII might have finished the job off. We'll probably need another war to cop ourselves on and admit the future is in the far east, not some crusty English or French university Wink
  I definately would not place the era of nationalism before 1750! Rather an era of territorial dynastic rivalry. It may be somewhat ironic but this era (yes, today and the years immediately before) may in some sense be the "dream era" in another sense, since it may be the first a bit over half century in the history of the region where people lives comparatively comfortable lives, without very many dying in wars, epidemics or living with gravely insufficient food and other basics (it is stille relative). On the other hand it may not be a leading region in those fields You mention any more(all this though is a digression from the early modern era).
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 23:20
I should have said Nationalism had it roots then. (Formation of the nation states, national identity et. all)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 17:34
Parnell, I think you have to name those huge leaps in government administration, science, politics and ethics during that period, because I just plain don't see them.  The inequality, wars, stupidity, bloodshed and religious intolerance, yes. But it seems to me that most of the advances in the areas you say took place then, in fact by far took place in the modern era. There were some advances but not all that dramatic. Improvements in medicine--nil. Representative government--nil. Rights of the individual--nil.

As far as why Europe was able to dominate, it's the same reason, in my opinion, that the Mongols dominated a large part of the world (ignored by most of us of a European tradition) earlier. Military conquest--pure and simple.  Sometimes the greediest prevail.

Originally posted by Parnell

Europe was a crazy, brilliant, prejudiced and downright savage place in the early modern period (I take it we're talking 1450-1750 sorta period?)

On the one hand, huge advances in government administration, philosophy, politics, individualism, literature, science, ethics, and so on and forth.

On the other hand, huge inequality, frequent wars, frivolity, stupidity, bigotry, heartlessness, religious intolerance and bloodshed, hatred, and maybe worst of all, nationalism.

Its a bit silly to judge history from a 21st century morality, but there is few who can look at this period of European history and not be both stunned and amazed by the giant leaps in the arts and sciences, but horrified by the colonialism, slavery and brutal wars.

I would agree with Pinguin that WWI brought the 'European Dream' crashing down to reality. WWII might have finished the job off. We'll probably need another war to cop ourselves on and admit the future is in the far east, not some crusty English or French university Wink


Edited by JRScotia - 29-May-2009 at 17:38
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Post Options Post Options   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 18:58
One must wonder what is meant by "world domination" and just exactly when was the moment! Of course, there is also quite a tinge of cultural chauvinsm when in it comes to elucidating the type of power exercised to merit the label. Can one truly speak of European domination in the 16th century and if so how then does one classify the Ottoman Empire? Even during times that we would now call periods of "primitive" communication, the world exhibited a surprising degree of "connectiveness and exhange" not only in ideas but also in technology. For example, today we tend to identify "mass production" with the Europe of the 19th century, nevertheless, the essential wherewithals for such economic activity was underway in China long before in enterprises such a porcelain making. If one scours the Archivo de Indias, one encounters lengthy legislation against the "importation" of silks (aside from traditional sumptuary laws), since their import was having a negative impact on domestic textiles! One has to understand that events in the 19th century that paralleled the growing militarization of Europe can not be thrust into prior centuries, specially in other areas of the globe where military traditions had also forged cohesive states.
 
As another poster indicated "it's a bit silly to judge history from a 21st century morality", but then it is also a bit silly to ascribe colonialism, slavery, and brutal wars as an unique European phenomenon. Just exactly how did the Ming and Qing dynasts consolidate their position on the Asian continent or for that matter what was the nature of Islamic trade in the Indian Ocean in the 16th through 18th centuries?


Edited by drgonzaga - 29-May-2009 at 18:59
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 20:26

It strikes me that this question about the "morality" of european expansion - the questions about their wrongdoings or rightdoings - do belong to an "area" of history separated from the question about its background and in particular the questions wether geographical and environmental factors were important or not. Ethics and morality are important issues, and I think the "external factors" are too. I find it "risky" to discuss both. At least one then should be carefull about when to discuss the one or the other, and if there is seen some distant relationship to be aware excactly what that supposed relationship are about.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 23:03
Why are you so surprised?
As a Latin American, descendent mainly of Europeans, I agree absolutely with the general image about the European expansiòn we have here.
The invasion was not only immoral, but it was a genocide. The colonial crimes of Europe are endless: killings, explotation, robbing (metals, lands), subjugation, you name it.
Even more. The development of Europe, the industrial revolution for instance, was based in the cash flow generated by silver, suggar, tobacco, slave trade, saling of opium, etc.
 
That's the hard truth.
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 00:30
Originally posted by pinguin

Why are you so surprised?
As a Latin American, descendent mainly of Europeans, I agree absolutely with the general image about the European expansiòn we have here.
The invasion was not only immoral, but it was a genocide. The colonial crimes of Europe are endless: killings, explotation, robbing (metals, lands), subjugation, you name it.
Even more. The development of Europe, the industrial revolution for instance, was based in the cash flow generated by silver, suggar, tobacco, slave trade, saling of opium, etc.
 
That's the hard truth.
I will not deny that it seems to be an important part of the story, though not only european empires,but empires (and most expansionist events) in general are based on violence of some sort. Still, this does not give us many clues to why questions (though perhaps there will never be a fully answer). Neither does it give more than some part of the answer how the modern world came into being at all (why things not essentially continued more as it had allways done much longer).
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 05:14
If you ask me, our modern world is the effect of the accumulation of knowledge in the form of sciences, technology, arts, history and general know how. That's has been a continuing on since prehistory to these days, and haven't stopped at all.
Europe was just an step into the development of manking. Today we are in a global society, thanks to the ambition of Europe, that allowed that escenary become real.
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 08:10
Originally posted by pinguin

If you ask me, our modern world is the effect of the accumulation of knowledge in the form of sciences, technology, arts, history and general know how. That's has been a continuing on since prehistory to these days, and haven't stopped at all.
Europe was just an step into the development of manking. Today we are in a global society, thanks to the ambition of Europe, that allowed that escenary become real.
Excactly that idea of "automatic" continuing "accumulation" and  "progress" an all times and places should be doubted, investigated, discussed and perhaps at least not as easily accepted as is often done (by You, it seems, and others). Should I make a guess we would come closer to truth if we accepted there has been a lot of such "processes" going on. Sometimes periods of accellerating "accumulation" in one ore several of the fields You mention, sometimes great leaps - some times leaps the other way - loosing some parts of the "heritage". I agree that there must have been a lot of ambitions in parts of european societies but not that this in any way fully solve the questions.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 08:39
Originally posted by JRScotia

There were some advances but not all that dramatic. Improvements in medicine--nil. Representative government--nil. Rights of the individual--nil.


This is actually totally untrue. A few examples will suffice.

Immunisation was implemented during this period, resulting in smallpox vaccinations. That alone is a large improvement, never mind all the others.

Didn't the Dutch republic spawn during this period? It was no modern liberal democratic state, but by the standards of the time it was a dramatic improvement over most forms of government so far as democracy is concerned.

The Bill of Rights in England also was a very substantial improvement over previous standards of individual rights.

As far as why Europe was able to dominate, it's the same reason, in my opinion, that the Mongols dominated a large part of the world (ignored by most of us of a European tradition) earlier. Military conquest--pure and simple.  Sometimes the greediest prevail.


Military might was a product of other factors within the European territories (technological innovation, advances in the organisation of the nation state, economic organisation and management). The successful European empires did not succeed due to a simple greedy->military might->domination formula. This is a vast oversimplification, and is untenable.
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 20:44

Simple explanations may sometimes be recommendable, but in this case I find the "greediness tesis" a poor one - because.1: It is a big question whether europeans at large are more or less "greedy" than peoples from other parts of the world. 2: but if it is so, it does not explain their succes very well - after all not all greedy ones get what they want! 3:In addition it leaves us with more questions (if we for a moment accept it´s true):what makes this difference in greediness? So we find this "answer" is not an answer after all, but rather some "I don´t care why".

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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 23:23
Originally posted by fantasus

...Excactly that idea of "automatic" continuing "accumulation" and  "progress" an all times and places should be doubted, investigated, discussed and perhaps at least not as easily accepted as is often done (by You, it seems, and others). Should I make a guess we would come closer to truth if we accepted there has been a lot of such "processes" going on. Sometimes periods of accellerating "accumulation" in one ore several of the fields You mention, sometimes great leaps - some times leaps the other way - loosing some parts of the "heritage". I agree that there must have been a lot of ambitions in parts of european societies but not that this in any way fully solve the questions.
 
Progress can only be measured with precision in terms of advancements in science and technology. There you simply count the number of discoveries, theories, medical procedures and inventions, and there you go; you have an objective way to  of it.
In arts is a bit tricky. What is progress in arts? Going to barroque to reaggetton, or from Da Vinci to Picasso, doesn't mean very much a progress to me at all. In any case you can measure progress when somebody invents perpective or the art of fugue.
In social order, you can measure progress when you observe codified laws, democracy or other advancements, but that's hardly easy to judge. Less in fuzzy topics like religion and theology.
 
Now, if we are talking about "those" kind of progress, Europe has contributed quite a bit. However, that continent shouldn't forget the root of Europe are in places like the Middle East and Egypt, and that include an ethic system and religion from ancient Israel: Christianism. Also a large part of the rough material that fueled Renascence, the Age of Discovery, the Scientific and Industrial Revolution, and even the Age of Reason, are based in developments from outside Europe: from India, China and the Muslim Middle Age.
 
Europe has its moment of glory (and misery, too) from 1492 to 1939. Today the European age is over. Welcome to Globalisation.
 
 
 
 
 
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

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