The conversion of the emperor Constantine to Christianity in 368 AD brought a transformation to Christianity and to western civilization, the effects of which we still feel today. Previously, the Roman empire had absorbed and sustained the Greek intellectual tradition which, in the astronomy of Ptolemy, the medicine of Galen and the philosophy of Plotinus, reached new heights. Constantine turned Rome from the relatively open, tolerant and pluralistic civilisation of the Hellenistic world, towards a culture that was based on the rule of fixed authority. The century after Constantine's conversion saw the development of an alliance between church and state which stifled freedom of thought and the tradition of Greek rationalism which was intrinsic to it. The churches enjoyed enormous patronage and exemptions from tax, and in return allowed the emperors to take on the definition and enforcement of an increasingly narrow religious orthodoxy. This book explores how the European mind was closed by the revolution of the fourth century. It looks at the rise of the 'divine' monarch, the struggle as Christianity painfully separated itself from Judaism, the conflict between faith and reason, and the problems in finding any kind of rational basis for Christian theology. In these centuries, a turning-point for Western civilisation, we see the development of Christian anti-Semitism, the origins of the opposition of religion and science and the roots of Christianity's discomfort with sex, issues which haunt the Christian churches to this day. The Closing of the Western Mind is a major work of history. Wide-ranging and ambitious, its central theme is the relationship between the two wellsprings of our civilisation, the Judaeo-Christian and the Greco-Roman, and how the tensions between them have created the culture in which we continue to live, think and believe.
A sweeping narrative of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The Fall of the Roman Empire has been a best-selling subject since the 18th century. Since then, over 200 very diverse reasons have been advocated for the collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire. Until very recently, the academic view embarrassedly downplayed the violence and destruction, in an attempt to provide a more urbane account of late antiquity: barbarian invasions were mistakenly described as the movement of peoples. It was all painfully tame and civilised. But now Adrian Goldsworthy comes forward with his trademark combination of clear narrative, common sense, and a thorough mastery of the sources. In telling the story from start to finish, he rescues the era from the diffident and mealy-mouthed: this is a red-blooded account of aggressive barbarian attacks, palace coups, scheming courtiers and corrupt emperors who set the bar for excess. It is 'old fashioned history' in the best sense: an accessible narrative with colourful characters whose story reveals the true reasons for the fall of Rome.
This volume in the highly respected Cambridge History of Science series is devoted to the history of science in the Middle Ages from the North Atlantic to the Indus Valley. Medieval science was once universally dismissed as non-existent - and sometimes it still is. This volume reveals the diversity of goals, contexts and accomplishments in the study of nature during the Middle Ages. Organized by topic and culture, its essays by distinguished scholars offer the most comprehensive and up-to-date history of medieval science currently available. Intended to provide a balanced and inclusive treatment of the medieval world, contributors consider scientific learning and advancement in the cultures associated with the Arabic, Greek, Latin and Hebrew languages. Scientists, historians and other curious readers will all gain a new appreciation for the study of nature during an era that is often misunderstood.
For its last eighty years, the Western Roman Empire was ruled by emperors who were unable to provide the leadership demanded by the crisis the Empire faced throughout this period. Power was exercised instead by the commanders of the Western armies, the magisteri militum or Masters of the Soldiers, four of whom stood out – Stilicho, Constantius, Aetius and Ricimer. Challenged by barbarian invasions, constantly diminishing resources, and indifference and sometimes hostility from the imperial court, the Senate and the Roman people, these men prolonged the existence of the Empire in the West beyond what would otherwise have been its natural span. This book tells the story of the collapse of the Western Empire, as seen through the lives of these individuals, a collapse that ended more than political and military structures, that encompassed the end of an ancient pagan culture and the inception of the age of Christianity.
The last sixty years have witnessed a virtual explosion of interest in how modern science and traditional Christianity intersect. This new rapprochement with science has irrevocably altered how we think of God. It constitutes a foundation from which we cannot retreat, but from which we also cannot move forward until we examine the presumptions on which it is based. For the first time, Richard Coleman interprets in a clear and meaningful way the themes and practitioners that make this rapprochement different, and what it has achieved. But this book is more than description--it is an inquiry into whether Christian theology has lost its authentic voice by its singular focus on accommodating modern science.
Recent books by, among others, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have thrust atheism firmly into the popular, media, and academic spotlight. This so-called New Atheism is arguably the most striking development in western socio-religious culture of the past decade or more. As such, it has spurred fertile (and often heated) discussions both within, and between, a diverse range of disciplines. Yet atheism, and the New Atheism, are by no means co-extensive. Interesting though it indeed is, the New Atheism is a single, historically and culturally specific manifestation of positive atheism (the that there is/are no God/s), which is itself but one form of a far deeper, broader, and more significant global phenomenon. The Oxford Handbook of Atheism is a pioneering edited volume, exploring atheism—understood in the broad sense of 'an absence of belief in the existence of a God or gods'—in all the richness and diversity of its historical and contemporary expressions. Bringing together an international team of established and emerging scholars, it probes the varied manifestations and implications of unbelief from an array of disciplinary perspectives (philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, demography, psychology, natural sciences, gender and sexuality studies, literary criticism, film studies, musicology) and in a range of global contexts (Western Europe, North America, post-communist Europe, the Islamic world, Japan, India). Both surveying and synthesizing previous work, and presenting the major fruits of innovative recent research, the handbook is set to be a landmark text for the study of atheism.
This volume presents evidence of the extent and effects of intercultural contacts across Europe and the Mediterranean rim, opening up a new understanding of early medieval civilisation and its continuing influence in both Western and Eastern cultures today. From the perspectives of textual transmission, cultural memory, religion, art and cultural traditions, this work explores the central question of how ideas travelled in the medieval world, challenging the conventional notion of insular communities in the Middle Ages. Despite the schism between East and West that took hold after the thirteenth century this volume reveals a rich and extensive cultural exchange and demonstrates that transmission of ideas and culture across borders began much earlier than the Crusades. It contributes to new perspectives on medieval cities, Christian Europe's history with the Byzantine and Islamic Mediterranean, the landscape of power and the power-plays of the medieval Church, and the way in which cross-cultural transmission affected all of these areas.
In recent years, the relations between science and religion have been the object of renewed attention. Developments in physics, biology and the neurosciences have reinvigorated discussions about the nature of life and ultimate reality. At the same time, the growth of anti-evolutionary and intelligent design movements has led many to the view that science and religion are necessarily in conflict. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the relations between science and religion, with contributions from historians, philosophers, scientists and theologians. It explores the impact of religion on the origins and development of science, religious reactions to Darwinism, and the link between science and secularization. It also offers in-depth discussions of contemporary issues, with perspectives from cosmology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and bioethics. The volume is rounded out with philosophical reflections on the connections between atheism and science, the nature of scientific and religious knowledge, and divine action and human freedom.
A thought-provoking comparative take on two seminal thinkers in Christian history In this book -- the first volume in the Kierkegaard as a Christian Thinker series -- Lee Barrett offers a novel comparative interpretation of early church father Augustine and nineteenth-century philosopher-theologian Soren Kierkegaard. Though these two intellectual giants have been paired by historians of Western culture, the exact nature of their similarities and differences has never before been probed in detail. Barrett demonstrates that on many essential theological levels Augustine and Kierkegaard were more convergent than divergent. Most significantly, their parallels point to a distinctive understanding of the Christian life as a passion for self-giving love. Approaching Kierkegaard through the lens of Augustine, Barrett argues, enables the theme of desire for fulfillment in God to be seen as much more central to Kierkegaard's thought than previously imagined.
Egypt, Greece and Rome is regarded as one of the best general histories of the ancient world. It is written for the general reader and the student coming to the subject for the first time and provides a reliable and highly accessible point of entry to the period. The volume begins with the early civilizations of Sumer (modern Iraq) and continues through to the Islamic invasions and the birth of modern Europe after the collapse of the western Roman empire. The book ranges beyond political history to cover philosophy, art and literature. A wide range of maps, illustrations and photographs complements the text. The second edition incorporates new chapters on the ancient Mediterranean and the Ancient Near East, as well as extended coverage of Egypt.
This is a powerful and a thrilling narrative history revealing the roots of modern science in the medieval world. The adjective 'medieval' has become a synonym for brutality and uncivilized behavior. Yet without the work of medieval scholars there could have been no Galileo, no Newton and no Scientific Revolution. In "God's Philosophers", James Hannam debunks many of the myths about the Middle Ages, showing that medieval people did not think the earth is flat, nor did Columbus 'prove' that it is a sphere; the Inquisition burnt nobody for their science nor was Copernicus afraid of persecution; no Pope tried to ban human dissection or the number zero. "God's Philosophers" is a celebration of the forgotten scientific achievements of the Middle Ages - advances which were often made thanks to, rather than in spite of, the influence of Christianity and Islam. Decisive progress was also made in technology: spectacles and the mechanical clock, for instance, were both invented in thirteenth-century Europe. Charting an epic journey through six centuries of history, "God's Philosophers" brings back to light the discoveries of neglected geniuses like John Buridan, Nicole Oresme and Thomas Bradwardine, as well as putting into context the contributions of more familiar figures like Roger Bacon, William of Ockham and Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Political and social commentators regularly bemoan the decline of morality in the modern world. They claim that the norms and values that held society together in the past are rapidly eroding, to be replaced by permissiveness and empty hedonism. But as Edward Rubin demonstrates in this powerful account of moral transformations, these prophets of doom are missing the point. Morality is not diminishing; instead, a new morality, centered on an ethos of human self-fulfillment, is arising to replace the old one. As Rubin explains, changes in morality have gone hand in hand with changes in the prevailing mode of governance throughout the course of Western history. During the Early Middle Ages, a moral system based on honor gradually developed. In a dangerous world where state power was declining, people relied on bonds of personal loyalty that were secured by generosity to their followers and violence against their enemies. That moral order, exemplified in the early feudal system and in sagas like The Song of Roland, The Song of the Cid, and the Arthurian legends has faded, but its remnants exist today in criminal organizations like the Mafia and in the rap music of the urban ghettos. When state power began to revive in the High Middle Ages through the efforts of the European monarchies, and Christianity became more institutionally effective and more spiritually intense, a new morality emerged. Described by Rubin as the morality of higher purposes, it demanded that people devote their personal efforts to achieving salvation and their social efforts to serving the emerging nation-states. It insisted on social hierarchy, confined women to subordinate roles, restricted sex to procreation, centered child-rearing on moral inculcation, and countenanced slavery and the marriage of pre-teenage girls to older men. Our modern era, which began in the late 18th century, has seen the gradual erosion of this morality of higher purposes and the rise of a new morality of self-fulfillment, one that encourages individuals to pursue the most meaningful and rewarding life-path. Far from being permissive or a moral abdication, it demands that people respect each other's choices, that sex be mutually enjoyable, that public positions be allocated according to merit, and that society provide all its members with their minimum needs so that they have the opportunity to fulfill themselves. Where people once served the state, the state now functions to serve the people. The clash between this ascending morality and the declining morality of higher purposes is the primary driver of contemporary political and cultural conflict. A sweeping, big-idea book in the vein of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History, Charles Taylor's The Secular Age, and Richard Sennett's The Fall of Public Man, Edward Rubin's new volume promises to reshape our understanding of morality, its relationship to government, and its role in shaping the emerging world of High Modernity.
A history of the conflict between East and West, from the struggles between the Greeks and the Persians in classical antiquity, through the wars between Islam and Christendom in the Crusades, to the modern clash of European Enlightenment and then colonialism with the Islamic societies of the East, culminating in the continuing tensions of the twenty-first century.
Krone der Schöpfung? Vor 100 000 Jahren war der Homo sapiens noch ein unbedeutendes Tier, das unauffällig in einem abgelegenen Winkel des afrikanischen Kontinents lebte. Unsere Vorfahren teilten sich den Planeten mit mindestens fünf weiteren menschlichen Spezies, und die Rolle, die sie im Ökosystem spielten, war nicht größer als die von Gorillas, Libellen oder Quallen. Vor 70 000 Jahren dann vollzog sich ein mysteriöser und rascher Wandel mit dem Homo sapiens, und es war vor allem die Beschaffenheit seines Gehirns, die ihn zum Herren des Planeten und zum Schrecken des Ökosystems werden ließ. Bis heute hat sich diese Vorherrschaft stetig zugespitzt: Der Mensch hat die Fähigkeit zu schöpferischem und zu zerstörerischem Handeln wie kein anderes Lebewesen. Anschaulich, unterhaltsam und stellenweise hochkomisch zeichnet Yuval Harari die Geschichte des Menschen nach und zeigt alle großen, aber auch alle ambivalenten Momente unserer Menschwerdung.
In The Death and Life of Great American Cities durchleuchtet Jane Jacobs 1961 die fragwürdigen Methoden der Stadtplanung und Stadtsanierung in Amerika, der "New Yorker" nannte es das unkonventionellste und provozierendste Buch über Städtebau seit langem. Die deutsche Ausgabe wurde schnell auch im deutschsprachigem Raum zu einer viel gelesenen und diskutierten Lektüre. Sie ist jetzt wieder in einem Nachdruck zugänglich, mit einem Vorwort von Gerd Albers (1993), das nach der Aktualität dieser Streitschrift fragt.
This monograph is a radical rethinking of key intellectual currents in environmental history. It is an account of the West's attidudes and behaviors towards Nature and the consequences of "development" and "moderization".