Tuesday, 23 October 2018
On Western Civilisation
One of the themes in Blood on the Stone is the new epistemology, emerging and spreading in the early modern period, based on scientific methods. First when seeking to understand the natural world, and then in other spheres including both law enforcement and political systems, authority was increasingly sought by rigorous observation to gather data, which was then processed by reason - rather than through appeals to scholastic knowledge, especially Church teaching.
Such was the 'scientific revolution', which enabled the technological advances of the next century or more - advances that, in turn, underpinned the industrial revolution. The political reforms brought in its wake bequeathed the liberal democracy that is a hallmark of developed western countries today. It is not unknown for cheerleaders of the above to detect an unbroken lineage from classical Athens and Rome - a set of claims and values denoted by the phrase, 'Western Civilisation'.
And it is under that banner that a privately-funded foundation is seeking to partner with the University of Sydney to offer a new undergraduate degree course. The proposal has occasioned considerable disquiet... See my take on it, here: