July 30, 2008

Why the West is the West

In my last blog, I mentioned that one reason for Western excellence in the Arts and Sciences is the “wide Bell Curve” among males, that is, our capacity to be geniuses and jackasses, mathematicians and morons etc. Needless to say this is only part of the story:   

It was a theology that empowered the individual acting as an individual as no other philosophy or religion had ever done before. The potentially revolutionary message was realized more completely in one part of Christendom, the Catholic West, than in the Orthodox East. The crucial difference was that Roman Catholicism developed a philosophical and artistic humanism typified, and to a great degree engendered, by Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274). Aquinas made the case, eventually adopted by the Church, that human intelligence is a gift from God, and that to apply human intelligence to understanding the world is not an affront to God but is pleasing to him.

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