Western Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 561 quotes )
Western man has tried for too many centuries to fool himself that he lives in a rational world. No. There's a story about a man who, while walking along the street, was almost hit on the head and killed by an enormous falling beam. This was his moment of realization that he did not live in a rational world but a world in which men's lives can be cut off by a random blow on the head, and the discovery shook him so deeply that he was impelled to leave his wife and children, who were the major part of his old, rational world. My own response to the wild unpredictability of the universe has been to write stories, to play the piano, to read, listen to music, look at paintings - not that the world may become explainable and reasonable but that I may rejoice in the freedom which unaccountability gives us.
Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo: not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are offered, without respect to their human consequences.
Yong is the outer manifestation of something. Ti is the underlying essence. Technology is a yong associated with a particular ti that is ... Western, and completely alien to us [the Chinese]. For centuries, since the time of the Opium Wars, we have struggled to absorb the yong of technology without importing the Western ti. But it has been impossible. Just as our ancestors could not open our ports to the West without accepting the poison of opium, we could not open our lives to Western technology without taking in the Western ideas, which have been as a plague on our society. The result has been centuries of chaos.
If there is such a thing as being conditioned by climate and geography, and I think there is, it is the West that has conditioned me. It has the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and in art. If there is a western speech, I speak it; if there is a western character or personality, I am some variant of it; if there is a western culture in the small-c , anthropological sense, I have not escaped it. It has to have shaped me. I may even have contributed to it in minor ways, for culture is a pyramid to which each of us brings a stone.
Consider that in 1800 Western powers claimed 55 percent but actually held approximately 35 percent of the earth's surface, and that by 1874 the proportion was 67 percent, a rate of increase of 83,000 square miles per year. By 1914, the annual rate had risen to an astonishing 240,000 square miles [per year], and Europe held a grand total of roughly 85 percent of the earth as colonies, protectorates, dependencies, dominions, and commonwealths. No other associated set of colonies in history was as large, none so totally dominated, none so unequal in power to the Western metropolis." Culture and Imperialism, pg. 8
In the pragmatist, streetwise climate of advanced postmodern capitalism, with its scepticism of big pictures and grand narratives, its hard-nosed disenchantment with the metaphysical, 'life' is one among a whole series of discredited totalities. We are invited to think small rather than big? ironically, at just the point when some of those out to destroy Western civilization are doing exactly the opposite. In the conflict between Western capitalism and radical Islam, a paucity of belief squares up to an excess of it. The West finds itself faced with a full-blooded metaphysical onslaught at just the historical point that it has, so to speak, philosophically disarmed. As far as belief goes, postmodernism prefers to travel light: it has beliefs, to be sure, but it does not have faith.
So many indigenous people have said to me that the fundamental difference between Western and indigenous ways of being is that even the most open-minded westerners generally view listening to the natural world as a metaphor, as opposed to the way the world really is. Trees and rocks and rivers really do have things to say to us.
I now want to examine a second major feature of Western civilization that derives from Christianity. This is what philosopher Charles Taylor calls the 'affirmation of ordinary life.' It is the simple idea that ordinary people are fallible, and yet these fallible people matter. In this view, society should organize itself in order to meet their everyday concerns, which are elevated into a kind of spiritual framework. The nuclear family, the idea of limited government, the Western concept of the rule of law, and our culture's high emphasis on the relief of suffering all derive from this basic Christian understanding of the dignity of fallible human beings.