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Western Civilisation

Join Gab (@StFerdinandIII) Western Civilisation was and is superior to anything Islam has developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Raising the alarm about the fascism called Submission since 2000.  

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

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Part 2: The Gies' - Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel, Review

People power

by Ferdinand III


Some of the most interesting aspects of the Medieval Era, are the plethora of people who created and shaped it. These were all Christian. It is simply absurd and ignorant to state that Christianity is opposed to either science or innovation. The opposite is true of course. As a theology Christianity demands that you exercise your natural law rights, free-will, and rationality, given to you by a divine creator, who expects you to use your gifts. You create to satisfy both God and man and to make the world a better place. 'Social Justice' a pejorative today infused as it is with Marxist and Communist inanity and rhetoric, emanates from the Catholic Church's position that all humans are unique and must have a certain dignity in living. Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, house the homeless, aid the crippled – this is social justice. It has nothing to do with the grinning impersonal state engaging in redistribution and vote-buying.


Unlike the ancients, the Christian medieval world applauded the work of labour, merchants and practical people. Slave societies have the opposite culture, than those of a Christian society:


    Aristotle called the “banausic,” or utilitarian arts, “the industries that earn wages,” that “degrade the mind” and were unworthy of the free man. These arts might have practical value, Aristotle conceded, but “to dwell long upon them would be in poor taste.” Aristotle’s prejudice was sustained by most of the Greek and Roman philosophers and thinkers. Even Cicero, who extolled man’s ability to change his environment through technology, thought that “no workshop can have anything liberal about it.”


The Gies' present a long list of medievals who changed the real world, and who wedded their religion with science. Christian Europe by 1000 AD was a spectacularly more dynamic and wealthy place, than it had been under Roman control – certainly true for the average person who now had some form of social and upward mobility. Some notables include:


    Boethius, the last great Roman intellectual (c. 480–524), followed the classical tradition in devising an educational curriculum composed of the seven liberal arts, organized into the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), with no room for the vulgar “banausic” arts frowned on by Aristotle. Boethius’s elitist classification became the basis of the medieval educational system, but other contemporary writers included the crafts at least as secondary adjuncts.
    The Greek historian Cassiodorus (c. 490–c. 585) wrote enthusiastically about inventions used in the monastery that he had founded: the “cleverly built lamps,” the sundials and water clocks, the water-powered mills and the irrigation system, the Egyptian-invented papyrus—“the snowy entrails of a green herb, which keeps the sweet harvest of the mind, and restores it to the reader whenever he chooses to consult it.” Mechanics, he judged, was a wonderful art, “almost Nature’s comrade, opening her secrets, changing her manifestations, sporting with miracles.”
    Cistercians [amongst many Monkish orders and only one example], divested themselves of many of the sources of income exploited by the Benedictines and at the same time tried to restore the model of manual labor performed by the community itself. The order’s outstanding leader, Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), believed that work and contemplation must be kept in balance. The ideal monk was one who mastered “all the skills and jobs of the peasants”—carpentry, masonry, gardening, and weaving—as a means of bringing order to the universe and soul.
    The English Franciscan Roger Bacon (c. 1220–1292) carried the relationship a daring step further, awarding precedence to technology; in Bacon’s eyes the practical arts gave man a power over the natural world that theoretical science could never provide. Practical science, he speculated, had almost unlimited application and, like all other knowledge, was given to man “by one God, to one world, for one purpose,” as an aid to faith and remedy for the ills of the world.38 Thus the Church’s attitude toward technology, evolving from diverse sources over time—Adam’s Fall, the monastic experience, the classifications of knowledge—may be described as ambivalent, but on balance positive.
    Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464), cardinal, Church reformer, mathematician, and experimental scientist, who like Nicholas Oresme believed that the earth rotates on its axis every twenty-four hours. He too expressed skepticism of received wisdom: “All human knowledge is mere conjecture and man’s wisdom is to recognize his ignorance” (De docta ignorantia, On learned ignorance, 1440). His study of plant growth proved that plants take nourishment from the air, and that the air has weight. He also discovered a dozen lost comedies of the Roman playwright Plautus.
    Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472), sometimes described as the prototype of the Renaissance man. His range of talents included sculpture, poetry, mathematics, and cryptology; his fame rests chiefly on three classic studies: the dialogue treatise Della famiglia (On the family), the book Della pittura (On painting), and especially the ten-volume De re aedificatoria (On architecture), printed in 1485, covering a range of subject matter but centering on town planning. “Curious, greedy for knowledge, endeavoring to understand, to explain, and to generalize” (Bertrand Gille), he has often been compared with Leonardo in his breadth of his achievements....
    The Scientific Revolution of Galileo, Tycho, and Newton also profited from the intellectual and practical contributions of the Middle Ages, notably the invention of the convex lens. “In the Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,” says Derek de Solla Price, “the dominant influences were the craft tradition and the printed book.” Thus technology served science, foreshadowing a future full partnership of the two.


Hardly a list of illiterate losers. The Gies' list literally hundreds of medieval Christian men and women who changed history through innovation, promoted, financed, sustained and pushed by Christian culture. The entire corpus of great agricultural inventions, including this small sample: the horse-shoe, horse-collar, iron fan plough, the wheel-barrow, crop rotations, new species of crops, fertilizer compounds, and the use of water power, only occurred in the 8th to 10th centuries in Europe. Higher land productivity and greater food output allowed for a growing population. Skills became formally transmitted through guilds, families and a richer political-economy which allowed diversity of job skills, and innovations in material creation and real-world implementation.


Today for instance it is unlikely that a township anywhere in the Western world would have the skills, the culture, the expectations and the commitment to design, erect and finance a Gothic cathedral. Yet hundreds of such massive monuments exist in remote locations, entirely paid for by the locals of the time. Today we would not have the skills to build such structures, and would expect the state to both pay for it and construct it. The individual subsumed into the mass. In the medieval world, the opposite was present. The individual mattered, and mattered a great deal. Everyone has skills, and everyone can participate in the real world, building both to the joy of a higher power, and to satisfy the Christian quest for truth, beauty and human dignity.




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