Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Should We Study the HIstory of Western Civilization?

Because, as OLS mega-hero and famed Yale Classics Professor Donald Kagan explains:
But the value of studying the Western experience goes far beyond the needs of Americans. No fair-minded person can deny that, whatever its other characteristics, the West has created institutions of government and law that provide unprecedented freedom for its people and a body of natural scientific knowledge and technological achievement that together make possible a level of health and material prosperity undreamed of in earlier times and unknown outside the West and the areas it has influenced. I think V. S. Naipaul, born in Trinidad of Indian parents, is right to speak of the modern world as “our universal civilization” shaped chiefly by the West. Most people around the world who know of them want to benefit from the achievements of Western science and technology. Increasingly, they also want to participate in its political freedom. The evidence suggests, moreover, that a society cannot achieve the full benefits of Western science and technology without a commitment to reason and objectivity as essential to knowledge and to the political freedom that sustains it and helps it move forward. The primacy of reason and the pursuit of objectivity, therefore, both characteristic of the Western experience, seem to be essential for the achievement of the desired goals anywhere in the world.
This is an absolute must-read article; whatever you do, take the time to sit down and read this article, and do so with your thinking cap on.  Kagan is an American treasure and this article is small sample of why that is so -- read it, and be better for it.