View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • The Notre Dame is the crowning achievement of this first phase of European development. It is a great symbol of what Clark calls “the Great Thaw”. It is built, literally and figuratively, on top of the victory over what Clark calls ‘forces of barbarism’.
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Geerten Waling
  • How did it come to be that we live in a democratic rule of law – and the majority of the world population doesn’t? How did this happen? What does that say about our culture? And can we perhaps derive what a culture needs for democracy? What are the cultural conditions for a democracy to come into being and to function?
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Lars Benthin
  • “The truth is that the masses grew out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class. The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • “You might say it was a case of divide and rule – except that, paradoxically, it was by being divided themselves that Europeans were able to rule the world. In Europe small was beautiful because it meant competition – and competition not just between states, but also within states.”
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • “Unfortunately, the builders used “alternative” materials for some of the restoration giving the restored fortress wall and gate a ‘plastic’ look. Thus, the restoration of the Krakra Fortress has become notorious among Bulgaria’s archaeological restorations, with critics claiming that the EU money was likely embezzled by local politicians and/or construction entrepreneurs who used cheap plastic instead of proper materials.”
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • Although he sees much that is threatening, Clark seems to still be positive about this, our era. Almost fifty years later, it is hard to share some of his positive ideas, whereas some of the negatives aren’t as heavy on our mind as they were before the end of the Cold War. But Clark’s idea, that “it is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation,” is stronger than ever.
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • If Christianity is dead, and the Romantic Movement killed it, what, if anything, has replaced it as the prime civilising force in Europe? What has civilisation gained or lost in the process? Clark touches on this question in passing, when he criticises the 19th-century bourgeoisie, but then asks what the mocking Romantics could put in place of middle-class morality when “they themselves were still in search of a soul.” This is the hole left in Clark’s narrative, the hole in the French Revolution that it sought, in vain, to fill with a religion that never took root.
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • Clark, rather cleverly, sums up Rousseau’s philosophy in the sentence “I feel therefore I am,” calling it a “curious discovery to have been made in the middle of the Age of Reason.” He connects it to David Hume’s work, before noting how Rousseau’s beliefs were extended from nature to man. Rousseau believed that natural man was virtuous, a belief that soon came to be widely accepted. Clark mentions and quotes three detractors of the idea, but it is fair to say that the belief that nature is somehow virtuous, while man is not, is still popular.
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Vincent van den Born
  • Clark mentions a “sudden consciousness of feminine qualities,” of which he says

    “I think it absolutely essential to civilisation that the male and female principle be kept in balance. In eighteenth-century France, the influence of women was, on the whole, benevolent; and they were the creators of that curious institution of the eighteenth century, the salon.”

    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Robert Ossenblok
  • According to Norse mythology, the wickedness and evil in the world is created by Loki and his offspring. Who are his children? Well, there is Hel, Goddess of the underworld. Yes, the term ‘hell’ is indeed a pagan term absorbed into Christianity. Then there’s Fenrir, a massive wolf that will fight and kill Odin. And the great serpent Jǫrmungandr that is wrapped around the world – it would appear the Vikings knew very well the world was a globe. There is also Sleipnir, a mythical eight-legged horse that Odin rode on. This horse is perhaps Loki’s only child that is not some sort of representation of evil.
    View Post
    View Post
  • By: Richard Cunningham
  • Cicero, his Roman contemporary Cato the Younger, and his Roman philosophical successors, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, went some way to developing Latin Stoicism, which stood some distance from its Greek predecessor, tempered as it was with Roman values and martial culture, which in an imperial, militaristic power such as Rome, was quite different to that of the intellectual, comfortable lives of many Athenian Greek philosophers.
    View Post
    Page 1 of 3
    1 2 3