Civlization and Europe!

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Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 09:52 am
Europe in the current era is believe to be the center of birth to civilization in a modernistic manner if not the origin of civilization. I am very helpless in history and issues concerning that. I was interested in known how civilized was Europe in the medieval era, that is between 950 and 1400! Compared to the rest of the world how was it state!

I believe Europe was more civilized at the time of Roman and Greek Empires than the Medieval era in terms of arts and literature's but in terms of technology I believe naturally they were more advance due to time! Europe face a massive set back due to Black death and .....

TO be honest I need to know about this since I am going to argue with my Serbian friend who is arguing against me so I need to beat his ass on this topic but I do not have a faint idea about history specially at that era so please help me out or give me any link that I can study. I cant face losing the debate even if it is just a friendly competition between me and him lol!
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 10:05 am
@ltdaleadergt,
First off: no one alive knows everything (not even about history). You might both be arguing a different point and both be right for different timeperiods or different regions of for different groups/people.

Secondly:

Europe was more technologically advanced during Roman times than during the dark ages. Europe was artistically more colourfull during the dark ages due to the lack of central organisation. The diversity is really quite fascinating. Nowadays most differences are being swept away by mainstream media unfortunately.

I would like to point out that not Europe, but the middle east has always been most advanced in technology, state structures and often art too. It is the cradle of mankind you know. The (confirmed) oldest cities are in Persia(what now is Iraq/Iran)/India. There are rumours of old Incan cities, sunken cities and old sphinxes, but those are very controversial.

Now, to get to your question:
Do you want a philosophical history or something more like the history of wars?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 01:30 pm
@Arjen,
Quote:
I was interested in known how civilized was Europe in the medieval era, that is between 950 and 1400! Compared to the rest of the world how was it state!


Fairly backwards. When Europeans reached the Holy Land on the First Crusade, they were shocked by the quality of life to be found in Islamic cities.

Rome had great cities, urbanization. When the western Empire fell, this order and urbanization was almost entirely wiped away. Invading Germanic tribes, particularly the Franks, filled this power vacuum. By 950, we had France and Germany emerge, though they were both tumultuous feudal states.

By 1400, Europe had 'caught up' so to speak in many respects. Of course, plague was a major set back, but by 1400, the Renaissance was beginning in Italy, and would soon spread through the rest of Europe.

Quote:
Europe was more technologically advanced during Roman times than during the dark ages. Europe was artistically more colourfull during the dark ages due to the lack of central organisation. The diversity is really quite fascinating. Nowadays most differences are being swept away by mainstream media unfortunately.


Yes, Europe was far behind technologically during the Dark Ages. But art, too, suffered during the Dark Ages. I'm not sure what you mean by more colorful, but European art did not fully recover, like European technology and civics, until the Renaissance began in Italy.

Quote:
I would like to point out that not Europe, but the middle east has always been most advanced in technology, state structures and often art too.


This depends on the period. For the most part, you are right. However, there are periods where Indian states, and even Chinese states, were more advanced that middle eastern states. Some of this has to do with the middle east being almost constantly assaulted by barbarians.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 01:39 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:

Yes, Europe was far behind technologically during the Dark Ages. But art, too, suffered during the Dark Ages. I'm not sure what you mean by more colorful, but European art did not fully recover, like European technology and civics, until the Renaissance began in Italy.

I was pointing towards the diversity of cultures and the mingling of cultures in arts. That was far more colourfull in the middle-ages. It was a colourfull period, if not as rich as the roman era.


Didymos Thomas wrote:

This depends on the period. For the most part, you are right. However, there are periods where Indian states, and even Chinese states, were more advanced that middle eastern states. Some of this has to do with the middle east being almost constantly assaulted by barbarians.

You make a good point. I guess it also depends on what one calls technologically advanced. The Chinese were first to invent gunpowder for instance. However I think that overall speaking the middle-east has always been a few steps ahead of China. Then again, I am no genius when it comes to history. The reason I have for stating the above is that I do not know of any period until the opium wars where China had a chance to really build a society after the warring states period.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 05:30 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
Quote:
I was pointing towards the diversity of cultures and the mingling of cultures in arts. That was far more colourfull in the middle-ages. It was a colourfull period, if not as rich as the roman era.
Until the Renaissance, that's exactly what Catholic Europe lacks - culture, or more accurately, refined culture. Barbarians filled the power vacuum created by the fall of the western Roman Empire. The Pope required the aid of the Franks to twice remove the Lombards from Italy, from Charlemagne and his father before him.

Discussion of literature or art in medieval Europe prior to the Renaissance basically amounts to a discussion about how Europe began to catch up with the rest of the world. Not to say Europe lacked art or culture, there are always counter-examples, this is history. But as a general summary, we can say Europe was far behind the rest of the world.

The only exception to Europe's general backwardness would be, as far as I can tell, military progress. Crusaders, after all, were able to take Jerusalem from a much more developed culture. They came up with some great amphibious warfare tactics.

There was an interesting mix of culture. Post-Imperial society and barbarians of all sorts coming together in generally a very brutal fashion. Any time cultures mix we can say the mix was colorful. However, when we look at the cultures in question, we see why the resulting culture, medieval Europe, is aptly described as backwards. The post-Imperial Roman culture had been deteriorating for centuries, and had finally completely unraveled. The barbarians... well, they were barbarians. The mix does not result in a culture that is exactly advanced - or even on the same playing field as other prominent cultures, like the Islamic world, or China.

This backwards culture is my cultural heritage. I'm half Scottish - and they were some of the last people to enter the Renaissance. Talk about backwards. Despite their lack of development, the culture of medieval Europe is none the less interesting and relevant - worth studying. But when we talk about art, or literature, or science, medieval Europe simply isn't the central vein. In the west, the delusion that medieval Europe was the hot bed of art and intellectual progress is easy to adopt because our culture is directly derived from medieval Europe. And because, ever since the Renaissance, the west has been the dominant cultural force around the globe.

Quote:
You make a good point. I guess it also depends on what one calls technologically advanced. The Chinese were first to invent gunpowder for instance. However I think that overall speaking the middle-east has always been a few steps ahead of China. Then again, I am no genius when it comes to history. The reason I have for stating the above is that I do not know of any period until the opium wars where China had a chance to really build a society after the warring states period.
Alexander conquered Persia in the 330's BCE, and the middle east would be ruled by Europeans until the decline of Roman authority. The Byzantines still held Egypt until the early 600's CE, and managed to hold onto various parts of Mesopotamia and Syria until Manzikert in 1071.

China certainly had periods of disarray while Europeans dominated the middle east, but much of that time also saw great cultural blossoming in the east. During this time, Buddhism was introduced into China. That alone spawned a great deal of art and literature. A great deal was happening in China, it all depends on what date you chose for the comparison.
 
ltdaleadergt
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 11:36 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:


Now, to get to your question:
Do you want a philosophical history or something more like the history of wars?

Just in terms of how civilized they were! The issue that I have is what and how do we define a civilized human at that time! I guess civilization is time dependent!
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 01:50 am
@ltdaleadergt,
@ daleader:
Remember that truth is in the eye of the beholder. The question isn't just how do we define things, but also from what angle does one look at history to see these definitions come to life so to speak. In my opinion civilization is a really special thing which exists with freedom of the people who then choose to work together. That means that at this moment in the world no civilization can be found; but slavery.

Here are some links to get started:
History of Europe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
History of Europe: Antique and Medieval atlas, year 1100 to year 2000
Dark Ages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I would also advise to look for something which in Dutch is called "Grote Volksverhuizing". I do not know and cannot find and English translation of the name. It is a period in which a horse riding people came from the steppes and were so fierce in their conquest and seach for fertile lands that many peoples moved and strated looking for new lands as well. This created a chain reaction, making large amounts of people move through Europe searching for new lands. A large number of countries were absolved and new ones formed.

Anyway, start from there and maybe you find things you like. There is a lot to know so don't think either of you can be "right" when the other would be "wrong". Most likely both will make valuable points.

@ Didymos Thomas:
I do not agree on your "definition" of valuable art. You seem to think that only what people call "civilised" cultures provide "valuable" artforms. And, most strangely, that it was the christian church who stimulated that. In my opinion you could not be more wrong. I do appreciate your viewpoint though and I know a lot of people think the same things. I disagree with most of your thoughts in this and I know better than some of your thoughts in this.

My oinion on art and culture is that when allowed to evolve freely most diverse and colourfull expressions sprout out of the ground. At the end of the Roman empire suppressed cultures from all over Europe came sprouting from the ground again, singing their own songs and creating their own sculptures, paintings and such. When new cultures came in from the east even more influences were added and cultures began to mix into something new. That was the moment when the catholic church stepped in. Because of the chaos and uncertainty it was easy to gather followers and small strongholds from which to start converting the whole of Europe. When certain groups of people prooved "unconvertable" they were executed; genocide was frequently used. This suppressed a lot of art and culture untill a certain "darkness" had encovered the souls of the "saved". The curch went much further then anyone can imagine I think: burning and banning of books, executing of pagans and heithens with their sacriligious symbols and ways (read: art and culture). The church managed to ban out enlightened thought untill the seveteenth century by these tactics. After that the people had gained enough of a base with science to be able to denounce the church because it had been feeding them lies for centuries and therefore could flourish again.

Strengthwise I think you have a point and the christian church indeed is very important. But I know better than to think thatthe church has advanced science, art, culture or philosophy for that matter. The inquisition should tell you enough.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 03:39 am
@ltdaleadergt,
Quote:
Just in terms of how civilized they were! The issue that I have is what and how do we define a civilized human at that time! I guess civilization is time dependent!


Then we can say that between 950 and 1400 Europe began to climb to the cultural level of other advanced cultures of the period. During the Renaissance, Europe began to surpass the rest of the world.

Civilization is simply a society that is settled. Agriculture and the resulting cities are the hallmark of civilization. When we talk about how civilized a group is, we usually look at their learning and urban development.

Quote:
In my opinion civilization is a really special thing which exists with freedom of the people who then choose to work together. That means that at this moment in the world no civilization can be found; but slavery.


I hate to tell you this, but your definition of civilization does not reflect the way the word is used, especially by historians.

Quote:
I do not agree on your "definition" of valuable art.


Odd, considering I did not give one.

Quote:
You seem to think that only what people call "civilised" cultures provide "valuable" artforms.


Absolutey not. Did I not claim that European culture of the time is worth studying, and relevant?

Uncivilized people can produce great art. Again, this is history and we can always find counter examples, but we can generally say that the more civilized a people, the greater their achievements in the arts.

Also, valuable is your word, not mine.

Quote:
And, most strangely, that it was the christian church who stimulated that.


Yes, the Catholic Church is responsible for most of the art in Europe prior to the Renaissance. Before the Renaissance, the Church was just about the only group with enough money to fund the arts and learning.

Though, various nobles would also contribute. Charlemagne established many monasteries, which were the center of European learning during this time, and his example was followed by future European monarchs.

Quote:
In my opinion you could not be more wrong. I do appreciate your viewpoint though and I know a lot of people think the same things. I disagree with most of your thoughts in this and I know better than some of your thoughts in this.


That's fine, you're free to disagree, but I think in the process you will allow yourself to be confused about the actual history.

But I welcome your criticism and invite you to show me why I'm wrong.

Quote:
My oinion on art and culture is that when allowed to evolve freely most diverse and colourfull expressions sprout out of the ground. At the end of the Roman empire suppressed cultures from all over Europe came sprouting from the ground again, singing their own songs and creating their own sculptures, paintings and such.


The problem is that the songs were war chants, there was little painting and fewer sculptures from these suppressed people. The Franks were not great artisans for their time. Nor were the Britons. Nor were any of the Germanic tribes like the Lombards and Burgundians who invaded those Roman lands.

Quote:
When new cultures came in from the east even more influences were added and cultures began to mix into something new.


Sure, they began to mix into something new. But just because there was something new does not mean that something new was on the same level of the rest of the world. This new culture rising out of the ashes of Rome and barbarian invaders was simply backwards compared to the civilizations in the middle east, India and China.

Quote:
That was the moment when the catholic church stepped in. Because of the chaos and uncertainty it was easy to gather followers and small strongholds from which to start converting the whole of Europe.


What exactly are you suggesting? The Christian conversion of Europe began with the Romans. The Catholic Church gained prominence because Pope Leo bribed Attila to spare Rome, and ran the greatest PR campaign of the period in Rome trumpeting his success at convincing the barbarians to leave (as Leo did not mention the bribe to the Romans).

The conversion of Germanic kings to Catholicism, as they were already Christian, was largely political. Arianism had been declared heretical, the Roman Church was the most powerful Church in the area, and Christianity was the most dominant religion.

They didn't gather followers and form strongholds so much as they wheeled and dealed in smoked filled rooms for power, and sometimes for survival.

Quote:
When certain groups of people prooved "unconvertable" they were executed; genocide was frequently used. This suppressed a lot of art and culture untill a certain "darkness" had encovered the souls of the "saved". The curch went much further then anyone can imagine I think: burning and banning of books, executing of pagans and heithens with their sacriligious symbols and ways (read: art and culture). The church managed to ban out enlightened thought untill the seveteenth century by these tactics. After that the people had gained enough of a base with science to be able to denounce the church because it had been feeding them lies for centuries and therefore could flourish again.


As much as the Catholic Church did to repress views and ideals and cultures which they thought to be dangerous to the Church's power and authority, to characterize these targets of abuse as enlightened is misleading. Galileo was an example of enlightened thought being suppressed, but that was, you guessed it, the Renaissance.

The Church suppressed cultures that were comparatively backwards. The culture promoted by the Church was comparatively backwards.

Quote:
Strengthwise I think you have a point and the christian church indeed is very important. But I know better than to think thatthe church has advanced science, art, culture or philosophy for that matter. The inquisition should tell you enough.


The Church didn't do any of things, nor did I say the Church did any such thing. My representation of history has been accurate thus far.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 05:44 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas, I am going to try debating with you one more time. If you don't change the way you debate I am going to stop. You do not read my arguments and you deny having made your own. On top of that you seem to enjoy namecalling. Those things I do not appreciate in discussions. I was pointing something out to an inquisitive mind, you see. Namely the fact that mainstream history (and anything mainstream) is not correct. All you do is quote mainstream history as is anyones right to do. It is incorrect in the sense that it does not reflect history as took place. One can easily read up on this seeing as there is a large opposition in Europe. Is there also opposition to any mainstream in America? Not politically, that is for sure, and politics dictate schoollessons. I do not care about your position in this, but the arguments you make are for one thing flawed, sometimes untrue and for another thing you do not address the points I do make. The most important of which is that there are several views on this, of which you are voicing the mainstream opinion. The reason that it is mainstream is beacause it is being taught in schools and "the main-stream" believes it to be true. The problem with "main-stream" is that these people are not the brightest of the bunch; but merely mediocre (not that there is anything wrong with that). I, for one, have a problem believing mediocre books over the books of specialists. That is my take on this. When zooming in on situations one sees different things takeing place than what is being taught in schools. In schools only the general "emotion" of an era is being taught, or so it seems.

I know I am no specialist, but I know a thing or two. They do not necessarily reflect you or your opinions. However they do contradict some. Here are some things I have to say to nuance your voiced words for our interested poster daleader:

- I know I am not following most other historians when saying
Quote:

In my opinion civilization is a really special thing which exists with freedom of the people who then choose to work together. That means that at this moment in the world no civilization can be found; but slavery.

It was ment to nuance a remark and place it within a different context. It was ment to show that one's civilization is anothers repression and destruction.
- When examining the facts of the history of Europe (as far as we know any facts) it is clear to see that it is the Chirstian Church who suppresses, murders, destroys any culture not sanctioned by the church. Throughout the dark ages the Christian Church has committed several genocides (well documented ones, no less). The inquisition suppressed a lot of opinions. I could name a long list of philosophers who died by their hands and an even longer list of works that were not or posthumously published. Try to remeber that the "free" cultures all had music, paintings, sculptures and whatnots of their own. That is the colourfullness I was speaking of. The "darkness" of the drak ages is the christion church by almost all accounts (the other accounts are servents of this church).
- After the great movement of peoples from the steppes which moved a lot of peoples in Europe more different cultures than ever before were present in Europe. These cultures also had great things to offer. Most of them were swept away by christian doctrine over the years.
- I think the most important point I was making is that scientific development or urban sizes are no standard for culture; nor for civilization. America for instance is quite technologically advanced and has great urban locations; but no culture. I, personally, rank America among the lowest forms of civilizations ever to have existed. This is an opinion and no fact. It refelcts the way I view things. All values reflect the way things are viewed and not the way things are. I hope no Amreicans will take offense at my opinion. I am nuanced enough to value certain specific Americans regardless of the country they were born in.

There are also a few things I would like to set straight concerning Didymos' post:

- You may not have given any firm definitions, but I am sure you handle a set of ideas as definition. A few (of many examples):
Quote:

Yes, Europe was far behind technologically during the Dark Ages. But art, too, suffered during the Dark Ages. I'm not sure what you mean by more colorful, but European art did not fully recover, like European technology and civics, until the Renaissance began in Italy.

Quote:

Until the Renaissance, that's exactly what Catholic Europe lacks - culture, or more accurately, refined culture. Barbarians filled the power vacuum created by the fall of the western Roman Empire.

Quote:

The only exception to Europe's general backwardness would be, as far as I can tell, military progress.

I do not really care how you explain this to yourself. It doesn't add up with this remark:
Quote:

Odd, considering I did not give one.

Although I must admit that you have not given any explanation of words as "backwards" or "barbaric". If it is the same as mainstream then I must come to the conclusion that it means something along the lines of "different".
-
Quote:

Uncivilized people can produce great art. Again, this is history and we can always find counter examples, but we can generally say that the more civilized a people, the greater their achievements in the arts.

I would like to point out that "greatness" in art for instance has no bearing on the level of any other kind of the society whence it came. I bet you know this.
-
Didy wrote:

Also, valuable is your word, not mine.

Didies quote of Arjen wrote:

And, most strangely, that it was the christian church who stimulated that.

Didy wrote:

Yes, the Catholic Church is responsible for most of the art in Europe prior to the Renaissance. Before the Renaissance, the Church was just about the only group with enough money to fund the arts and learning.

Complete quote of Arjen wrote:

I do not agree on your "definition" of valuable art. You seem to think that only what people call "civilised" cultures provide "valuable" artforms. And, most strangely, that it was the christian church who stimulated that. In my opinion you could not be more wrong.

I do not appreciate Hermeneutics. These people use their "goals" to allow themselves to reshape real meanings to fit their own selfish bills.
-
Quote:

The problem is that the songs were war chants, there was little painting and fewer sculptures from these suppressed people. The Franks were not great artisans for their time. Nor were the Britons. Nor were any of the Germanic tribes like the Lombards and Burgundians who invaded those Roman lands.

If you would study the cultures you name as examples you would find that they also worshipped Freya for instance and that the reality of the matter is that these tribes became warlike because of the threat Rome posed. It s also the explanation why this part of their culture is overstudied. Besides that I would like to note that it is not your place to value any culture by your standards. Again, by my standards America is one of the most lousy cultures I know of.The point of this remark is to show that it is not what happens in a culture, but what it means to the culture. The height of a culture can only be measured in their own standards. I am going to skip further judgements on your part concerning the value of certain qualities of cultures. Everything that needs be said is said by now. If you have questions feel free to ask, if you feel your opinion is for some reason valuable as a statistic feel free to voice it. I will no longer respond to the sort of comments as quoted above.
- The Christian Church did, in fact, create religious strongholds to spread the word of the Lord. The pope placed into position more than one King to accomplish this. Feel free to read up on the churches "colourfull" history if you disagree. Oh, did you ever think to consider that we just may mean the same thing so nicely set apart in this quote?
Quote:

They didn't gather followers and form strongholds so much as they wheeled and dealed in smoked filled rooms for power, and sometimes for survival.

- The reason I used the word "enlightenment" is because of the historical period in Europe called "The Enlightenment". Apart from that I am also saying that the Christian Church preached (and still does) pretty backward ideas. There is a reason why it is called the "dark ages", mind. That reason is the Christian Church repressing any and all unsanctioned art or science in my opinion.
- If you are willing to deny that you have propagating the benefits of the church and the "refined" selves, go right ahead. If you wish to make the difference between saying the church being a boon for art, science, culture, etc and saying it was more refined than some other cultures, and helped the people of those cultures along by conversion and through the churches research centres (religious institutions), go right ahead. I think you should take a look at what exactly you have been responding to and in what level you say what you mean to say. I think you mean to say in your last few sentences that the church only has forwarded "better" art, cluture, etc....which proves my points. To illustrate the above point further perhaps it would be a good idea for you to study the information available on the arrival of the "great cultural Christian Church" in America. See how the Church has distributed their "refined" art and ideas to the native Americans. I bet there is a lot of literature on that available in America; which is pretty refined with its two political parties writing the history books.

Look Didymos, I am a nice guy and for people who like to learn or are enthousiastic I am willing to go quite far. I am going to report a number of posts from your hand though. The primary reason for that is your hermeneutics. Apart from that I think you should take a look at exactly what you are saying and how you are saying that. If you would not profess to be writing "facts" things would be a different matter altogether. I hope we can, in later discussions, get to a more realistic discussion. I think this is easily done if you do not profess to actually know any facts. After all: any thoughts voiced are just that: thoughts voiced. Thoughts can be very different about the same subject and both be true.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 06:52 am
@ltdaleadergt,
Quote:
Didymos Thomas, I am going to try debating with you one more time. If you don't change the way you debate I am going to stop. You do not read my arguments and you deny having made your own. On top of that you seem to enjoy namecalling.


Give one example of "namecalling" in this thread?

As for not reading your arguments, you know better, How could I respond to them if I do not read them? If you think I have misunderstood you, show me where, and we can talk about it. Similarly, if I deny saying something I have, call me out on it.

But, hey, if you prefer not to discuss this subject or any other with me, I'm not exactly going to be bothered by your choice.

Quote:
I was pointing something out to an inquisitive mind, you see. Namely the fact that mainstream history (and anything mainstream) is not correct.


Mainstream history, as you call it, can be incorrect. But to categorically reject 'mainstream' history does not seem sensible to me. But if you feel up to the task, I would love to look over your evaluation of the period based on source documents and archaeological evidence. Again, just point to a mistaken claim and correct it. Simple, really.

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All you do is quote mainstream history as is anyones right to do. It is incorrect in the sense that it does not reflect history as took place.


You might be right, but so far, you haven't given me any reason to think so.

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One can easily read up on this seeing as there is a large opposition in Europe. Is there also opposition to any mainstream in America?


Sure. Revisionist history is popular, and always has been popular. In the states, we see this with Civil War history from both Confederate and Union sympathizers. My favorite example are probably Kissinger's hallucinogenic accounts of Nixon's presidency.

And I will be the first to admit that when you have dissenting voices in the way history is taught, there are probably errors to be found. But small misunderstandings do not translate to the whole of the account being inaccurate.

When we take the matter to something as broad as comparing the cultural advancement of various world civilizations from 950-1400, even if we do not know everything about the period, we can still compare the civilizations to the best of our knowledge. And when we do, I think the obvious conclusion is that Europe was behind civilizations like the middle east.

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I do not care about your position in this, but the arguments you make are for one thing flawed, sometimes untrue and for another thing you do not address the points I do make.


If you don't care, don't investigate by carrying on the discussion. If you decide you do care, by all means let's keep this going.

As for untrue statements, point them out.

As for ignoring your points, I don't think I have, but, again, point this out when I do.

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The most important of which is that there are several views on this, of which you are voicing the mainstream opinion.


Sure, people can disagree on anything. That's why we talk about it. Maybe on this issue I do advocate the 'mainstream' opinion, none the less, it's my opinion and I back that opinion with history. You may think my account of history is wrong, that's fine, correct me. But saying 'oh, you're mainstream' doesn't do anything to shake the foundations of my mainstream opinion.

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The reason that it is mainstream is beacause it is being taught in schools and "the main-stream" believes it to be true. The problem with "main-stream" is that these people are not the brightest of the bunch; but merely mediocre (not that there is anything wrong with that). I, for one, have a problem believing mediocre books over the books of specialists.


Who are "these people"? People being taught in school?

If you honestly want to argue that certain books are mediocre because they are widely read and respected, you'll have a hard time convincing me, or anyone else.

But let's not waste time debating, let's have an example. I contend that Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" is an excellent text; certainly not a mediocre book. The book covers the life of a French noble in the middle ages. Or is this too mainstream?

Quote:
It was ment to nuance a remark and place it within a different context. It was ment to show that one's civilization is anothers repression and destruction.


And I would agree with you when you say that the civilization of one group is the repression and destruction of another. The British and the Mongols are probably the most vivid two examples.

Quote:
- When examining the facts of the history of Europe (as far as we know any facts) it is clear to see that it is the Chirstian Church who suppresses, murders, destroys any culture not sanctioned by the church. Throughout the dark ages the Christian Church has committed several genocides (well documented ones, no less). The inquisition suppressed a lot of opinions. I could name a long list of philosophers who died by their hands and an even longer list of works that were not or posthumously published. Try to remeber that the "free" cultures all had music, paintings, sculptures and whatnots of their own. That is the colourfullness I was speaking of. The "darkness" of the drak ages is the christion church by almost all accounts (the other accounts are servents of this church).


And I would absolutely agree with your claims about the Church.
However, I'm not sure what "free" people you speak of. Maybe you mean the people living in violent tribal societies. To the point, though, while the Europeans had painting and music and sculpture, when we compare these European arts to arts of the rest of the world of the same period, we find European examples to be more archaic, less developed.

The "darkness" of the Dark Ages has several factors. One is, as you say, the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church perpetuated the backwardness of Europe. But the fall of Rome, and the barbarian and Germanic invasions are what wiped out the advanced Rome culture to make way for the newer, less refined culture, which the Church would stifle for centuries.

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- After the great movement of peoples from the steppes which moved a lot of peoples in Europe more different cultures than ever before were present in Europe. These cultures also had great things to offer. Most of them were swept away by christian doctrine over the years.


Sure they had great things to offer, all cultures, even the most primitive, have great things to offer. However, this does not change the fact that Europe was culturally backwards compared to the middle east.

Quote:
- I think the most important point I was making is that scientific development or urban sizes are no standard for culture; nor for civilization. America for instance is quite technologically advanced and has great urban locations; but no culture. I, personally, rank America among the lowest forms of civilizations ever to have existed. This is an opinion and no fact. It refelcts the way I view things. All values reflect the way things are viewed and not the way things are. I hope no Amreicans will take offense at my opinion. I am nuanced enough to value certain specific Americans regardless of the country they were born in.


You may be surprised to hear that I too share your low opinion of western consumer culture, best exemplified by the US.

However, my comments were directed at daleader's questions about Europe as compared to the rest of the world. As I see no reason to bog him down in my personal view of civilization, I compared Europe to the rest of the world using fairly standard notions of civilization and what it is to progress as a society.

However, issues of civility aside, there is no doubt that the rest of the world was more developed than Europe. Even with our critical view of America, we could not honestly argue that America is not generally more developed than the rest of the world.

Quote:
- You may not have given any firm definitions, but I am sure you handle a set of ideas as definition. A few (of many examples):


I'm not sure what the following examples were supposed to prove. They were straightforward facts. European Dark Ages art was not as refined as art of the same period in the middle east. Nor was European technology. Europe caught up with the rest of the world, so to speak, with the Renaissance.

None of these statements of historical fact add up to a definition of "valuable art".

Notice that I did not claim that Europe's lack of advancement meant their art was of no value. Notice that I even blatantly stated that studying medieval Europe is valuable and worthwhile.

Quote:
Although I must admit that you have not given any explanation of words as "backwards" or "barbaric". If it is the same as mainstream then I must come to the conclusion that it means something along the lines of "different".


Well, yes, backwards would be different from not-backwards, and barbaric would be different from not-barbaric.

Backwards referring to the general state of Europe being artistically, scientifically, and technologically behind the rest of the world.

Barbaric being uncivilized, especially by the lack of writing and literature. Not to say that no barbarians could read, but that the culture did not promote literacy, nor have any real literary body to speak of.

Quote:
I would like to point out that "greatness" in art for instance has no bearing on the level of any other kind of the society whence it came. I bet you know this.


You're trying to find something to argue about when we agree. Didn't I already say we can always find counter examples? Sheesh.

Quote:
I do not appreciate Hermeneutics. These people use their "goals" to allow themselves to reshape real meanings to fit their own selfish bills.


Cool? Seriously, where did this come from?

Quote:
If you would study the cultures you name as examples you would find that they also worshipped Freya for instance and that the reality of the matter is that these tribes became warlike because of the threat Rome posed. It s also the explanation why this part of their culture is overstudied.


So your objection is that they were warlike? Yeah, I agree, they were warlike, but this does not suddenly make their art the most advanced and well developed in the world.

Quote:
Besides that I would like to note that it is not your place to value any culture by your standards.


I shouldn't value cultures by my standards?

Quote:
The point of this remark is to show that it is not what happens in a culture, but what it means to the culture. The height of a culture can only be measured in their own standards.


The whole point of the thread was to compare European culture of a certain period to the rest of the world.

Quote:
- The Christian Church did, in fact, create religious strongholds to spread the word of the Lord. The pope placed into position more than one King to accomplish this. Feel free to read up on the churches "colourfull" history if you disagree. Oh, did you ever think to consider that we just may mean the same thing so nicely set apart in this quote?


That's why I asked you to clarify your remarks. Given my other comments about the original "stronghold" statement, I'm not sure why the rest of this condesending statement was necessary. Or did I not mention that the spread of Catholic Christianity was political?

Honestly, here is something we agree on and you arrogantly suggest I "go read up".

Quote:
- The reason I used the word "enlightenment" is because of the historical period in Europe called "The Enlightenment". Apart from that I am also saying that the Christian Church preached (and still does) pretty backward ideas. There is a reason why it is called the "dark ages", mind. That reason is the Christian Church repressing any and all unsanctioned art or science in my opinion.


So, how were the Germanic tribes enlightened before the Catholic Chruch took hold?

We agree on the Chruch's role in devastating European thought, but the notion that people in Europe were "enlightened" in some Age of Enlightenment sense is silly - we are talking about people who didn't even have a literary history.

Quote:
If you wish to make the difference between saying the church being a boon for art, science, culture, etc and saying it was more refined than some other cultures, and helped the people of those cultures along by conversion and through the churches research centres (religious institutions), go right ahead.


I haven't, though. The Church was terrible, for art science and the rest. However, the Church was also responsible for much of medieval Europe's art science and the rest. That medieval Europe's art science and the rest was backwards, then, should come as no surprise.

I hope you have fun reporting my posts
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 07:19 am
@ltdaleadergt,
Didy, I am indeed going to stop discussing things with you. The amount of twisted quotes and motives is unspeakable. You eventwist your own remarks about. I think the worst of it was when you "misunderstood" my argument on mainstream. The reason it is mainstream is becuase nothing to difficult is in there. That has the result of things generally being not true.

I hope you have a nice time with this sort of discussions with others. I would like to stick to to point by actually reading what another has to say. I also like it when the other sticks to the prior comments. Anyway, I hope any future encouters will be different.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 07:58 am
@ltdaleadergt,
I don't see the trouble. My claim was simple, from 950-1400, Europe was generally not as advanced as the middle east, or China. I provided historical context, and despite a squabble about the role of the Catholic Church, we agreed that Europe had a "dark age" - so at least there you agree with me that Europe fell behind the rest of the world following the collapse of Rome.

Despite what you say, I responded to your comments. I've directly responded to the vast majority of your text in this thread. Meanwhile, you have done little more than tell me that I'm wrong because my viewpoint is what you call "mainstream". Somehow you have decided that my view is wrong because the history I tell here follows the general consensus of historians, yet 1+1=2 is correct even though mathematicians agree on it.

You keep saying I twist this and that, but you've yet to dispute my account of history with an account to your liking. If Europe was more developed than the middle east during this period, say so, and explain why.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 08:55 am
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
the middle east has always been most advanced in technology, state structures and often art too.
That was certainly true during the 'dark ages' and early middle ages. Muslim scientists and philosophers had advanced astronomy, navigation, mathematics, philosophy, and medicine to levels not seen in Europe until 500 years later. Calculus was invented at least twice independently by Muslim mathematicians centuries before Liebniz and Newton ever lived. The advances made in European technology, science, math, and philosophy happened in large part because of cross-fertilization with Muslims, especially in the Crusades, in the reconquest of Spain, and mostly in the mercantile world of the mediterranean.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 09:51 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
That was certainly true during the 'dark ages' and early middle ages. Muslim scientists and philosophers had advanced astronomy, navigation, mathematics, philosophy, and medicine to levels not seen in Europe until 500 years later. Calculus was invented at least twice independently by Muslim mathematicians centuries before Liebniz and Newton ever lived. The advances made in European technology, science, math, and philosophy happened in large part because of cross-fertilization with Muslims, especially in the Crusades, in the reconquest of Spain, and mostly in the mercantile world of the mediterranean.

So true. Would you, by any chance, know the two names of the two independent inventors of calculus; or know any links towards their theories or something? Come to think of it: do you know the name of any middle-east philosopher from said time period? I'd be very interested to know. In school we only discuss the western philosophies (much to my regret).

@ Didy:
The thing of it is that you were responding to some of my remakrs. You thought they ment something else than what I did mean with them. Since then I have been trying to get back on track. I also pointed out what you were doing however and that made you spiral out of your ego. I maybe should not have made the remarks on account of your reasonings, but I figured you might learn something from the way I look at things. No harm done otherwise.

I did at no point say that Europe fell behind in any way. I do not think so either. I did say that there was a period in Europe which people call "the dark ages". The point I was trying to make was that there is no realistic value for saying someone "fell behind", was more or less refined or anything like that. Different things will surface due to different "stimulations". All things have different values from different viewpoints. What I did say is that the "dark ages" was a colourfull period where a lot a different things surfaced and disappeared. The disappearing was due to a common factor unfortunately. The main thought in this (diversity and the inability to judge) have been unaddressed by you. That is why I said you did not address any of my points.

The reason I brought out the mediocre is because I am well aware that the sings I say are contradicted by a lot of history books and other points can be well argued. However only the "main-stream" books would claim a certain "truth" which is one of its kind. (<-- That might explain my position on the kind of book). I hope you understand of this that I was saying this because I knew you would not agree with me and that just that fact was the entire reason for saying it. We were trying to illustrate something to an eager mind, remember?

Well, lets bury the hatchet and be done with it. Or else I will throw down the gauntlet and wait untill you pick it up.

Smile
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 10:58 am
@ltdaleadergt,
Here are some Islamic mathematicians who invented parts of calculus.

Al-Karaji - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ibn al-Haytham - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Omar Khayyám - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sharaf al-Dīn al-Tūsī - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The most famous medieval Islamic philosophers were probably Avicenna and Averoes. They were both highly influenced by Aristotle, and in turn ended up being hugely influential to Aquinas. Avicenna lived in the 10th century and Averoes lived in the 12th century.

Avicenna - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Averroes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In addition there was prolific Jewish philosophy in Muslim lands during this time period, especially in the great centers of Islamic learning like Baghdad, Damascus, and Cordoba. The most famous are Maimonides, Judah Ha-Levi, and Shlomo ibn Gabirol. Maimonides was deeply influenced by Aristotle, and Gabirol was deeply influenced by Plato.

Solomon ibn Gabirol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Maimonides - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yehuda Halevi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

All of them pre-dated Scholasticism in Europe -- most European philosophy at the time centered around mysticism (Meister Eckhart, etc) -- as did most European Jewish philosophy (Kaballah).
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 04:33 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
Thanks Aedes, I was looking for some information on both middle-eastern philosophies and alternative forms of calculus.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 3 May, 2008 04:50 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
Quote:
The thing of it is that you were responding to some of my remakrs. You thought they ment something else than what I did mean with them. Since then I have been trying to get back on track. I also pointed out what you were doing however and that made you spiral out of your ego. I maybe should not have made the remarks on account of your reasonings, but I figured you might learn something from the way I look at things. No harm done otherwise.


You accused me of making incorrect statements, and I then defended my claims. Why on earth you think my ego is influenced by some anonymous poster on an online forum is beyond me - I hope that you are not as sensitive as you incorrectly assume me to be.

As for your point of view, I have always welcomed your views. However, when your view boils down to you thinking I'm incorrect because my claims coincide with noted historians, I really cannot take that argument too seriously. If you will notice, when you actually address some historical matter, I respond with history - our brief discussion about China, for example.

When people misunderstand you, you might try saying something to the effect of 'I think you've misunderstood me, let me clarify my remarks...' and then proceed to do so in a reasonable way that does not include talking down and condescending remarks.

That said, my own condescending remarks were probably not helpful themselves. So I suppose we both share some fault, here.

Quote:
I did at no point say that Europe fell behind in any way. I do not think so either. The point I was trying to make was that there is no realistic value for saying someone "fell behind", was more or less refined or anything like that.


That was easy enough, huh? See, this we can discuss.

Of course, I disagree with you.

You agree that the middle east was more advanced that Europe. So why is it incorrect to rephrase the statement the otherway around - Europe fell behind the middle east. Under Roman authority, Europe was more advanced. With the fall of Rome, Europe entered a dark ages in which it was technologically less advanced, intellectually less advanced and artistically less refined that the middle east.

If we look at art, we might say that cubism is more refined than early Egyptian painting, and we would be accurate in this claim. Similarly, we can compare the art in Europe after the fall of Rome to art in the rest of the world, and when we do, what we discover is that European art was not as refined as Chinese art of the period, or Byzantine art for that matter.

You may want to contest the consensus among historians, and that's fine, I'd love to carry on the discussion as history is of a particular interest to me. However, if you are going to say that Europe did not fall behind cultures in the middle east and China, it would certainly help your case if you provided examples showing Europe to be just as developed as these other cultures.

Would you further explain what you mean by "realistic value"? My comparison of Europe to these other cultures is not to demean or trivialize European culture, quite the opposite really. I happen to be a big fan of much of that "backwards" European culture.

Quote:
Different things will surface due to different "stimulations". All things have different values from different viewpoints.


Sure, but notice I do not criticize the value of European art or culture, I even stated to insure clarity that I find European art and culture from the time in question to be greatly valuable. Sorry if anything else I said was misleading. Because you are right, we all have different view points, and no one can say that the Minoan frescoes are of less value than, say, da Vinci's paintings. What we can say, however, is that da Vinci's work was more refined. I'll happily elaborate on this particular example, if you like.

Quote:
What I did say is that the "dark ages" was a colourfull period where a lot a different things surfaced and disappeared. The disappearing was due to a common factor unfortunately. The main thought in this (diversity and the inability to judge) have been unaddressed by you. That is why I said you did not address any of my points.


Sure, every period, every culture, can be called colorful, and the dark ages are no exception.
As for diversity, this I champion. We both agreed on the terrible influence of the Catholic Church, which was basically that the Church systematically stamped out diversity. A shame. This is one reason why European art was less sophisticated.
As for judging, I think you misunderstood my judgments. Again, I am not trivializing any culture, I pointed out that despite being less refined, European culture of the period is still of great value, worth studying. But there are ways we can judge, and comparing artistic refinement, technological development, and intellectual progress are some examples of judgments we can make. For example, we can say that the Islamic world was far more advanced than Europe of the time with respect to science. We can make the same investigation regarding art.

Quote:
The reason I brought out the mediocre is because I am well aware that the sings I say are contradicted by a lot of history books and other points can be well argued. However only the "main-stream" books would claim a certain "truth" which is one of its kind. (<-- That might explain my position on the kind of book). I hope you understand of this that I was saying this because I knew you would not agree with me and that just that fact was the entire reason for saying it. We were trying to illustrate something to an eager mind, remember?


Then I suggest you not make the assumption that the people you find here are ignorant. We can disagree all day long, but unless you have an intimate knowledge about my educational history, you really cannot comment on the literature of which I am familiar. Again, I bring up Tuchman's work.

I'm all about different perspectives in history. Which is why I hoped that instead of saying I'm wrong because of mediocre books, you would say I'm wrong because of this or that bit of historical information.

Quote:
Well, lets bury the hatchet and be done with it. Or else I will throw down the gauntlet and wait untill you pick it up.


I don't like weapons, and I already have a pair of gloves - plus, summer is drawing near, so I don't really need any gloves. Thanks, though. But, seriously, joking aside, don't get so worked up, this isn't a competition. I have no issues with you, so if you have some issues with me, I hope you can work them out. If there is something I can do to help, let me know.
 
yebiga
 
Reply Thu 15 May, 2008 01:05 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Ancient Athens and pre-christian Rome were arguably more enlightened than we are today. 17 centuries of Christian ideology has permanently infected our minds.

Of course, we have exceeded all expectations technologically but that just goes to prove the point. The technological advances all occured once Christian ideology exited the laboratory.

Sadly, to date it has been impossible to erase Christian ideology from any aspect of our day to day lives. Every time you think the knot is untied, look again, you will find you have refastened it. It looks different perhaps but on closer inspection it is ever the same.

A rose, or as in this case a thorn, by any other name.

The Christian ideology, by whatever name, is an attempt to replace human distinction with its own divine distinction. To help validate this process the Christian mind will intrepret all human activity, not to its liking, as depraved.

Ever they will find lepers and pharisees: villains and demons, management and unions, men and women, white and black, able and disabled. Whatever the achievement they will unearth exploitation, whatever the celebration they will find oppression. No matter how innocent you are guilty. No matter how happy they will have you ashamed.

The Christian may forgive themselves and they will forgive the wretched but never the powerful, noble, proud, or virtuous.

Of course in the dark ages, the ideology was in its full bloom. It deliberately attempted to obliterate civilisation because a christian is not of this world; the end was ever nigh and prepare yea the way for the lord.

We may have survived the worst of it, but the battle to defeat this anti-life ideology is a long way from over.
 
 

 
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