Inventing the individual has a long history

Here’s a book you might consider if you are interested in seeing the world in a different way: Inventing the Individual. It was brought to our attention by Roger on a previous post, who wrote in the comments:

Read Larry Siedentop’s ‘Inventing the Individual‘ and discover where the roots of the West really lie. Anyone fighting for our heritage should be familiar with this book’s thesis.

This is the description of the book found at Amazon.

Here, in a grand narrative spanning 1,800 years of European history, a distinguished political philosopher firmly rejects Western liberalism’s usual account of itself: its emergence in opposition to religion in the early modern era. Larry Siedentop argues instead that liberal thought is, in its underlying assumptions, the offspring of the Church. Beginning with a moral revolution in the first centuries CE, when notions about equality and human agency were first formulated by St. Paul, Siedentop follows these concepts in Christianity from Augustine to the philosophers and canon lawyers of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, and ends with their reemergence in secularism―another of Christianity’s gifts to the West.

Inventing the Individual tells how a new, equal social role, the individual, arose and gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe, and caste as the basis of social organization. Asking us to rethink the evolution of ideas on which Western societies and government are built, Siedentop contends that the core of what is now the West’s system of beliefs emerged earlier than we commonly think. The roots of liberalism―belief in individual freedom, in the fundamental moral equality of individuals, in a legal system based on equality, and in a representative form of government befitting a society of free people―all these were pioneered by Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages who drew on the moral revolution carried out by the early Church. These philosophers and canon lawyers, not the Renaissance humanists, laid the foundation for liberal democracy in the West.

And there is more here as well.

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42 Responses to Inventing the individual has a long history

  1. vicki

    Those interested in the origins of the importance of the individual and the legacy of Christianity may also want to read Peter Kurti’s work “Reason, Repentance & the Individual – Recovering the religious roots of Western Civilisation” available here: https://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2017/11/op160.pdf

    Serious study of this topic is also evident in the work relating to the early Christian Church by Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge from Macquarie University.

  2. Roger

    Thanks for picking my recommendation up and giving it wider circulation, Steve.

    Vicki, Siedentop & Kurti are mentioned together in Dyson Haydon’s PM Glynn lecture, which I also recommend.

  3. RobK

    Would not the individual have preceded society?

  4. mh

    I wonder if Iampeter will give it a go?

  5. vicki

    Thank you Roger for the reference to Dyson Heydon’s PM Glynn lecture.

    I read Dyson Heydon’s sustained examination of what he regards as the attempt by contemporary “elites” to silence Christians. In a discussion of the claim that the silencing does not constitute persecution as such, he refers to a finding in a case before a Court of Appeal in the United States, which has a great bearing on the Israel Folau case.

    Many would argue that Folau would not be in trouble if he did not air his believe on social media. But in rejecting a similar argument, the Judge opined that Christians in the Roman Empire could have avoided death in the arena had they remained silent…but it did not therefore follow that the Romans did not persecute Christian.

  6. Russ

    I first read about Siedentop in Greg Sheridan’s “ God is good for you: a defence of Christianity in troubled times”. This is also a book worth reading

  7. Chris M

    Interesting, thanks Steve.

    Also The book that made your World by philosopher Mangalwadi.

    Amazing how many Atheists have no idea that many of the core personal and property laws we in the West rely on to protect us each day are literally taken directly from the Old Testament.

  8. Tel

    Amazing how many Atheists have no idea that many of the core personal and property laws we in the West rely on to protect us each day are literally taken directly from the Old Testament.

    Amazing how the Roman Empire also had core personal and property laws, long before they ever saw an Old Testament. Hey, so did the Greek City States before that, so did the Phoenician Empire in 2500 BC.

    How about that? Those cunning Atheists can read as well.

  9. None

    Edwin Judge was a bit of a Trailblazer in his day and in the unique position of being a distinguished scholar of both Roman history and early Christianity. Which brings me to a second point, one that always makes me laugh in discussions like this. Inevitability somebody posits the idea that it was Romans vs Christian’s forgetting that Christians were Romans or Greeks or otherwise citizens of the Roman Empire (certainly 299s onwatds). It was in the late antique era that these Greco-Roman Christians transformed the classical heritage and melded it with Christian belief. They didn’t just wholeheartedly absorb their Graeco-Roman heritage but examined it critically and drew from the best of it while discarding the worst of it, you know things like buggering boys raping female slaves, and exposing children. You see discussions on individuality evening that hero which fans say late third century to about mud 7th or the rise of Islam.
    Heydon’s speech should be required reading for all high school students. Actually should be required reading for everyone who wants to become an Australian citizen. With test afterwards.

  10. None

    Edwin Judge was a bit of a Trailblazer in his day and in the unique position of being a distinguished scholar of both Roman history and early Christianity. Which brings me to a second point, one that always makes me laugh in discussions like this. Inevitability somebody posits the idea that it was Romans vs Christians forgetting that Christians were Romans or Greeks or otherwise citizens of the Roman Empire (certainly 200s onwatds). It was in the late antique era that these Greco-Roman Christians transformed the classical heritage and melded it with Christian belief. They didn’t just wholeheartedly absorb their Graeco-Roman heritage but examined it critically and drew from the best of it while discarding the worst of it, you know things like b*ggering boys, r*ping female slaves, and aborting and exposing children. You see discussions on individuality even in that era which spans say late third century to about mid 7th or the rise of Isl*m.
    Heydon’s speech should be required reading for all high school students. Actually should be required reading for everyone who wants to become an Australian citizen. With test afterwards.

  11. 2dogs

    Amazing how the Roman Empire also had core personal and property laws, long before they ever saw an Old Testament.

    Agreed.

    It was the Seven Sages that founded Western Civilisation. The Judeo-Christian ethos merely participated in its later development.

    All of the fundamentals of Western Civilisation are present in the Seven Sages – Thales providing Science, Solon providing Democracy, etc. Judeo-Christian beliefs did a lot to develop the ground work started by Bias and Pittacus.

  12. Notafan

    I have that book already. Recommended by someone I met last year, I’ve read the first couple of chapters.

    Very impressed.

  13. Notafan

    Are you sure those things are the ‘fundamentals’ of western civilization?

    The first chapter of the book discusses antiquity.

  14. Notafan

    Oh and I remember a J ish lady in Rome telling me the J ews were there before the Romans arrived.

  15. 2dogs

    Are you sure those things are the ‘fundamentals’ of western civilization?

    Science is a defining feature of western civilisation – a common, secular view of the nature of the universe that provides a strong boost to technological development.

    Other civilisations treated the nature of the universe as a religious question. It was unrelated to the work of artisans, from whom slower technological development occurred by improving their designs over time.

    Democracy was unknown before the ancient Greeks.

    Bias and Pittacus were heavily reworked by Christianity, then the Enlightenment. For example, Bias’ notion that “All men are evil” became the doctrine of original sin, then, in the enlightenment, the Hobbes v Rousseau debate about man in his natural state.

  16. Notafan

    I’m not convinced.

    What I am convinced of is that some people will never ever give Christianity credit for anything.

    Read the book.

  17. Petros

    I thought they were pagans, not atheists.

  18. Iampeter

    Christianity pioneered nothing and gave no gifts to the West. You don’t need to know any history, just use basic thinking skills, to figure out that a mystical and collectivist ideology did not lead to the rational and individualistic Western culture. Obviously.
    Christianity is the Wests single oldest enemy. Responsible for derailing our civilization for one and a half millennia, slaughtering millions of people, the worst per capita wars in Europe and anti-semitism.
    It’s ideas of suffering and death worship are not compatible with the Western love of life and prosperity.
    Nothing in Christianity leads to any recognition of individual rights. It is LITERALLY about sacrificing the individual for something greater. This is represented in its holiest symbol so it’s not possible to miss this. Even the most ignorant person can see this and there’s no excuse for trying to suggest otherwise or pushing historical revisionist texts like this. You may as well be engaging in holocaust denial, only on a much grander scale.

    Those trying to deny this and helping white wash the endless list of Christian crimes and atrocities are evil and want to destroy Western civilization from within.

  19. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    It was the Seven Sages that founded Western Civilisation. The Judeo-Christian ethos merely participated in its later development.

    I haven’t read the book under discussion, but it sounds as though it presents a useful re-working of some themes in Christianity that form part of the foundations of the West. However, the Greek, Roman and Joosh traditions should also be given honor, for they also backgrounded some of the Christian tradition as well as making their own independent inputs via their own heritage aspects and these aspects as recovered during the European Renaissance.

    Some people, me included, have also noted that in Britain and Scandinavia another set of individualist notions had arisen, as elaborated in the parliamentary (speaking via representatives) traditions of the Nordic ‘Thing’, which was carried to Britain by the Norse, Danish and Saxon components of the population, whenever they arrived, in both small and large numbers of different time periods.

    On the Isle of Man the Tynwald is still recognized as the oldest continuing parliament.

    The English Common Law is another great tradition much influenced by the northeners of Europe, who were also more inclined than the Mediterranean cultures to treat ordinary non-aristocratic men as individuals, albeit bonded to aristocrats by oaths of fealty. Earlier on, even primogeniture could be challenged regarding the inheritance of property and power. The ‘Round Table’ as an ideal, where none stood above others, was a northern invention. These northern cultures also gave some women a voice in the polity and to some extent in warfare, from Boudicca to Aethelflaed, and Aud the Deep-Minded (of Dublin and Iceland) through to Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and later Queens. The Romans noted that women were listened to more in Ancient Britain’s warrior cultures than in Rome.

  20. dover_beach

    Christianity pioneered nothing and gave no gifts to the West. You don’t need to know any history,

    IamMengele believes you can answer an historical question without any knowledge of history.

  21. max

    How the West Invented Individualism
    03/31/2015Roger McKinney

    business ethics in Morocco. He told me he spent a large part of his time thwarting the efforts of suppliers, customers, and employees to cheat him. The cleverness that went into dreaming up new ways to cheat him surprised me. He confirmed what Hamid had told me: cheating others is not considered unethical at all but a sign of an astute businessman. But cheating family members is immoral.
    Moroccan business ethics might be appalling to westerners, but ancient Greeks and Romans would have understood and applauded them
    Like Moroccans, ancient Greeks and Romans cared little for non-family members. Those “… outside the family circle were not deemed to share any attributes with those within. No common humanity was acknowledged, an attitude confirmed by the practice of enslavement.”
    Classical liberal individualism did not exist in the ancient world. Siedentop wrote, “Since the sixteenth century and the advent of the nation-state, people in the West have come to understand ‘society’ to mean an association of individuals.” For the ancient Romans and Greeks society consisted of a collection of extended families. The heads of the families, including family-based clans and tribes, held all the power and made all of the decisions. Only the heads of families could become citizens in the polis.
    Antiquity had no notion of the powers of the government being limited by the rights of individuals, even for family heads. “Citizens belonged to the city, body and soul.” Women, children, slaves and non-citizens held no rights and lived only at the pleasure of the family head.
    The ancients had no concept of the equality of man, either. Even for Plato and Aristotle, a natural hierarchy of humanity existed, much like the caste system of India. Some were born to rule, others to serve or fight. Submitting to the needs of the city as determined by the family heads was the only reason for existence and any person who failed to contribute to the cause could be legally killed — or worse — exiled. Politics and war became the noblest occupations while commerce was held in contempt.
    To grasp the impact of Siedentop’s thesis, readers need to place it alongside the works of Helmut Schoeck, Geert Hofstede, and Shalom H. Schwartz. Schoeck informs us that envy is the organizing principle of society and the enemy of individualism. Hofstede and Schwartz show that the distinguishing feature of the West today is the classical liberal individualism that the rest of the world not only does not share, but abhors. Within the West, the US stands out as an extreme outlier on individualism.
    Of course, to round out the topic people need to read Hayek’s essay, “Individualism: True and False” to understand how socialists created a pseudo-individualism that is for the most part a resurrection of ancient Greek and Roman collectivism.
    Classical liberal individualism does not exist in the modern world outside of the US and Europe, and it is dying here. The collectivist cultures of the rest of the world differ little from those of ancient Greece and Rome.

    https://mises.org/library/how-west-invented-individualism

  22. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    British and in general the northern traditions of individualism may also be obliquely linked back to the older religious system which rewarded honor on an individual basis (basically Indo-European, for which see Homeric valor), and which during the British conversion era (Roman and immediately post-Roman ‘Celtic’ Christianity, and later via St. Augustine, the Mediterranean version) tended to revert to individualistic heresies, such as Pelagianism. Pelagianism has been seen by many analysts as an early forerunner to Protestantism, declaring a direct and highly individual personal relationship between God and Man, eschewing the apparatus of priestly facilitation and leadership, assisted only by the soul-brotherhood of fellow believers to whom one confessed one’s sins.

  23. Parser

    I read it last year. I highly recommend it.
    For a more materialist (not in the Marxist sense) take on the West, try Ian Morris, ‘Why the West rules – for now: the patterns of history, and what they reveal about the future’, 2010. Morris is an archaeologist, so he takes a very long view.

  24. dover_beach

    Science is a defining feature of western civilisation – a common, secular view of the nature of the universe that provides a strong boost to technological development.

    No, it isn’t. To say such a thing would be to say that Western civilization didn’t emerge until some time in 16th/17th century, and only then because of your second conditional, not the first, because the first was a part of the tradition by the end of the first millennium, and certainly by the 13th century.

    Other civilisations treated the nature of the universe as a religious question. It was unrelated to the work of artisans, from whom slower technological development occurred by improving their designs over time.

    The nature of the universe is a philosophical question, not a scientific one.

    Democracy was unknown before the ancient Greeks.

    Sure, but Athenian democracy is not the sort of thing that libertarians generally admire, or they do so only from afar. For instance, the unity of religion/culture and politics would raise the hackles of your typical work-a-day libertarian now but you rarely find a libertarian mentioning it when praising Athens.

    Bias and Pittacus were heavily reworked by Christianity.

    Your ‘heavily reworked’ is doing a lot of work there, and when you consider the sophistication of the idea of the Fall as it plays out in Christianity as in some way deriving from Bias’ ‘most men are evil’ it is a rather long bow too.

  25. Leo G

    Would not the individual have preceded society?

    Was the first chicken egged?
    Division of labour based on gender has been a universal characteristic of human societies. Even human reproduction involves such a societal process.

  26. Iampeter

    That’s right Max. Ancient Greece and Rome were Dark Ages with absolutely no human progress and they were completely indistinct from any other cultures at the time. Totally.
    It was the Christian period when progress exploded, reason and the scientific method were discovered, roads and sewers were built. Totally. Because Greeks had families or something. While Christians…didn’t? Totally.

    Also, the holocaust never happened and Nazi Germany created the state of Israel to save peoples lives from evil individualists or something.

    See? You can come up with all sorts of insane stupidity when you embrace glaring contradictions and total ignorance of history like you have.

    Good job.

  27. Tim Neilson

    Iampeter
    #3010618, posted on May 12, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Poor old Iamashiteater.
    Confronted by facts, he can’t refute a single one of them.
    But instead of accepting the facts and adjusting his views accordingly he indulges in railing sneers.

    Lower primates, confronted by a disagreeable reality, will adapt to it.
    But sub-simian Iamashiteater is incapable of learning.
    I mean check out this gem:
    You don’t need to know any history, to assess the validity of an assertion about history.

    Iamashiteater labels Christianity “collectivist” thus epitomising his mentally deficient inability to think in anything but the most ludicrous cartoon-like binary contrasts (truly remarkable for someone who sucks his own dick so incessantly about Aristotle). On that basis he concludes that Christianity couldn’t have represented an advance towards respect for individual rights over the preceding societies – in his “mind” there’s no need to analyse the actual facts about either Christianity or those preceding societies.

  28. 2dogs

    To say such a thing would be to say that Western civilization didn’t emerge until some time in 16th/17th century

    Absolutely not. Science started with Thales of Miletus.

  29. dover_beach

    Absolutely not. Science started with Thales of Miletus.

    Except it didn’t conform to the view of nature as you describe it, “a common, secular view of the nature of the universe that provides a strong boost to technological development.”

  30. 2dogs

    Classical liberal individualism did not exist in the ancient world. Siedentop wrote, “Since the sixteenth century and the advent of the nation-state, people in the West have come to understand ‘society’ to mean an association of individuals.” For the ancient Romans and Greeks society consisted of a collection of extended families. The heads of the families, including family-based clans and tribes, held all the power and made all of the decisions. Only the heads of families could become citizens in the polis.

    This is clearly exaggerating the difference between the individual person and the individual household.

    To put it in context, in the world preceding the Seven Sages, we had the late Bronze Age empires. These empires had planned/command economies (what is termed “place economies”) in which everything was accounted for. These had strict hierarchical power structures. That basic structure was naturally occurring and existed in nascent civilisations all over the world.

    The subsequent Bronze Age Collapse resulted in the Greek Dark Ages , which saw a regression to a lot of subsistence farming in small villages. Further, the destruction of the trade routes caused a lack of availability of tin meant bronze could no longer be made. This led to a lot of iron working, which was worse than bronze and harder to make, but didn’t need tin.

    With the increase in iron working, someone discovered steel. This revolutionised the economies of the region, and put a lot of power in the hands of artisans. Some of the villages became quite strong and developed in to the Greek city states. These city states were societies of artisans, and able to abandon the palace economies that existed everywhere else. The reason here is that, unlike a farmer, an artisan could produce value without using land. If a tyrant arose, an artisan could simply walk away to another village, taking their valuable labour with them. A farmer had to remain subject to the tyrant, because he controlled the land on which his crops were planted. So, instead of the tyrants, these artisans were able to bring about more benevolent leadership – the Seven Sages.

    These artisans of course, gave themselves leaders that kept them free. One leader, Croesus, who, while not counted among the Seven, is certainly within their story, developed coinage to facilitate this new economy of exchange that replaced the palace economies of the late Bronze Age.

  31. 2dogs

    Except it didn’t conform to the view of nature as you describe it, “a common, secular view of the nature of the universe that provides a strong boost to technological development.”

    Yes, it did. An early part of this common, secular view of the nature of the universe was geometry. Geometry helped technological development in ancient Greece quite a lot.

  32. dover_beach

    Yes, it did. An early part of this common, secular view of the nature of the universe was geometry. Geometry helped technological development in ancient Greece quite a lot.

    You’re overegging it, 2dogs. You are trying to understand Greek science in Baconian terms.

  33. 2dogs

    You are trying to understand Greek science in Baconian terms.

    Absolutely not – I simply acknowledge an earlier start date to Science than you do. You are the one suggesting Science did not start until the Baconian method was developed. I am taking the view that Bacon built upon the work of his predecessors. You can’t get to the Baconian method without a grounding in basic logic that the ancient Greeks provided.

  34. Iampeter

    Confronted by facts, he can’t refute a single one of them.

    You describe yourself as usual. I’m the one who confronted you with the very basic fact as to why Christianity is diametrically opposed to Western Civilization.
    You can’t refute this fact, as usual, so are triggered. As usual.

    Absolutely not. Science started with Thales of Miletus.

    Nah, science started with Aristotle. Scientific progress then stops for about a thousand years from 500AD. A little something called the “Dark Ages.” Caused by Christianity outlawed studies that people like Artistotle would engage in and closed Greek schools. Then got violent about it too.
    Scientific progress then resumed again after about 1500AD, when Christianity’s grip on the West had weakened sufficiently and Greek ideas (ie Western ideas) were becoming popular again.

    This is clearly exaggerating the difference between the individual person and the individual household.

    That’s because he doesn’t understand what’s meant by “individual” in a political context. He’s a libertarian so thinks everything is about economics. Like conservatives who think everything is about religion. Both are fundamentally wrong and can’t oppose the left in the field of politics, because they don’t seem to have any political ideology of their own.

  35. 2dogs

    Nah, science started with Aristotle.

    Aristotle came after Thales of Miletus. Aristotle relied on the works of Plato and Socrates before him, who in turn relied on earlier Greek philosophers, who in turn stared off with Thales.

    Here is a handy graph of who built on whom’s work. Thales is at the start.

  36. dover_beach

    Absolutely not – I simply acknowledge an earlier start date to Science than you do. You are the one suggesting Science did not start until the Baconian method was developed. I am taking the view that Bacon built upon the work of his predecessors. You can’t get to the Baconian method without a grounding in basic logic that the ancient Greeks provided.

    Not at all. I’m saying that what you described as science is not science per se. How you got this to mean that I was saying that science didn’t emerge until the 16th C even though I specifically referred only to your own definition is perplexing.

  37. dover_beach

    Nah, science started with Aristotle. Scientific progress then stops for about a thousand years from 500AD. A little something called the “Dark Ages.” Caused by Christianity outlawed studies that people like Aristotle would engage in and closed Greek schools. Then got violent about it too.
    Scientific progress then resumed again after about 1500AD, when Christianity’s grip on the West had weakened sufficiently and Greek ideas (ie Western ideas) were becoming popular again.

    I see IamMengele is retailing the same old lies again. If Christianity was outlawing the study of Greek philosophers, someone failed to tell Christian Neoplatonists like Augustine and Boethius (the latter of which also translated most of Aristotle’s work on logic into Latin), or Isidore of Seville’s whose Etymologiae was full to the brim with quotations from classical authors, Aristotle being oft quoted. One might even ask why a 6/7th C bishop would be doing this and why such a work would become the most used reference work of the Middle Ages, if the Middle Ages was characterized by being ‘closed off’ to classical antiquity? Another person might ask why IamMengele completely ignores Eastern Christianity before the schism in the 11th Century, and the easy availability of Aristotle’s work, as well as the works of other Greek authors too? They might even also ask why thinkers like John Damascene, Photios I, and Eustratius of Nicaea, to name but a few, were translating and commentating on the work of Greek philosophers in their schools and elsewhere?

    We would surely ask this, but pig ignorant autodidacts like IamMengele are unconcerned about facts such as these, so questions such as this which arise from certain facts are merely waved away.

  38. Notafan

    I suppose the Greeks recorded their thoughts on some early types of USB and hid them somewhere for moderns to find.

    The absurdity of claiming the west preserved Greek writings as well (as translating them for well over a thousand years) and never made use of them.

    Next.

  39. max

    The best answer lies within the fields where social science and economic research meet. As Harrison and Huntington report in Culture Matters, institutions decide economic performance, culture creates institutions and religion determines culture.

    Two books that braid the various strands of thought together into a unified theory of economic development are Helmut Schoeck’s Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior and Larry Seidentop’s Inventing the Individual. They are two sides of the same coin, though published decades apart.

    Schoeck demonstrates the ways in which envy dominated the morality of ancient and modern cultures, primitive and advanced, and created institutions that blocked economic development for millennia. Envy works by suppressing the genius of individuals who might benefit from innovations that would eventually enrich the entire tribe. Economic development requires innovations that envy destroys. Schoeck credits the Christian culture of Western Europe for managing to restrain envy long enough to allow space for economic growth.

    Seidentop explains how Christianity accomplished Schoeck’s remarkable feat and that’s where Christmas walks on stage in this historical pageant. Suppressing envy allows individualism to blossom. Before the birth of Christ, respect for individuals did not exist. As Seidentop wrote, we must imagine a pre-Christmas era as
    …a world where action was governed by norms reflecting exclusively the claims of the family, its memories, rituals and roles, rather than the claims of the individual conscience. We must imagine ourselves into a world of humans or persons who were not ‘individuals’ as we would understand them now….
    There was no notion of the rights of individuals against the claims of the city and its gods. There was no formal liberty of thought or action. Participation in the assembly and service as a magistrate, if chosen, were obligatory and enforced. Citizens belonged to the city, body and soul.
    The premise of moral equality requires a human will that is in a sense pre-social. It is that will which Paul’s great discovery, his mystical vision of the Christ, provides.

    Christianity taught that all humans are equal before God and must respond individually to his requirements. God had given rights to individuals that the state could not ignore. Most of Seidentop’s book gives the blow-by-blow details of how the Church gradually, painfully over 1,600 years and against great opposition, fought for institutions built around the new idea of individual rights. Those institutions achieved critical mass first in the Dutch Republic of the seventeenth century, which quickly became the wealthiest and most powerful nation in Europe. The Dutch owe their success to the brilliant scholarship of the theologians at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Adam Smith claimed the Dutch had most fully implemented his system of natural freedom in his book, Wealth of Nations. They were the first capitalists.

    We can still see the effects of Christian individualism today. The work of Geert Hofstede (Culture’s Consequences ) and Shalom H. Schwartz (“A Theory of Cultural Values and Some Implications for Work,” Applied Psychology: An International Review) demonstrate a very high correlation between economic growth and measures of Christian individualism around the world. (I call it Christian individualism because atheists in the French “Enlightenment” invented a different, destructive kind of individualism that Hayek explains in his Counter-Revolution in Science and Individualism: True and False.)
    Was Paul the greatest revolutionary in human history? Through its emphasis on human equality, the New Testament stands out against the primary thrust of the ancient world, with its dominant assumption of ‘natural’ inequality. Indeed, the atmosphere of the New Testament is one of exhilarating detachment from the unthinking constraints of inherited social roles. Hence Paul’s frequent references to ‘Christian liberty’.
    The atheists and deists of the French Enlightenment successfully re-wrote history to promote their propaganda that Western culture came from ancient Greece and Rome. Seidentop and Rodney Stark (How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity and The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success) expose the deceit. Western history and success come from Christianity. That is why it is unique and why multicultural propaganda so dangerous.

    http://rdmckinney.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-world-was-flat-until-1600.html

  40. 2dogs

    Not at all. I’m saying that what you described as science is not science per se. How you got this to mean that I was saying that science didn’t emerge until the 16th C even though I specifically referred only to your own definition is perplexing

    So then, what is “science per se” according to your view of it, and when did it start?

    I maintain that science according my description started with Thales of Miletus.

  41. dover_beach

    So then, what is “science per se” according to your view of it, and when did it start? I maintain that science according my description started with Thales of Miletus

    Science per se involves a view of the world as a unified and ordered whole that is susceptible to rational study; whether or not that provided a ‘strong boost to technological development’ was neither here nor there to the Greeks. Science, however, as you describe it, as a field ordered towards technological advancement, does not begin with Thales, but sometime later in the 16th/17th C, when science is turned towards the conquest of nature.

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