Monday, February 27, 2006

Western Civilization Core Course

Western Civilization Core Course. This site is available as both a timeline and index. It includes a survey of history, culture, and ideas with readings, period introductions, and articles. It was created by the History Department at Whitworth College.

Even if you are not taking this class, this is a useful site. There are a lot of full-text readings available from public domain sources as well as biographies of significant individuals.

From the site:

This course is an interdisciplinary study of those aspects of our Western civilization which are related to the development of rationalism. It emphasizes the important and continuing impact the rationalist tradition has had in the shaping of our Western civilization and of our contemporary world. The foundations of this tradition were laid by the brilliant thinkers and artists of ancient Greece; it was modified, or at least interpreted for the rising Western world, by the Romans; some of it was absorbed, some of it was rejected in the growing ascendancy of the Christian Church; and a renewed knowledge of it achieved by thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, encouraged by a "Twelfth-Century Renaissance" in the Christian West.

The rationalist tradition was fully revived in Western Europe during the Renaissance, which sought at first to balance its claims with those of the medieval Christian Church. But by the Eighteenth Century--often called the Age of Reason--the tradition had been elevated to a position of dominance. During this period other intellectual movements developed which tended to accept the great artistic accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans as normative: humanism--which drew its meaning from the study of classical writing and art, and from these sources developed renewed appreciation of human beings and their accomplishments and capabilities; and empiricism--which emphasized experience and observable data, and prepared for the later burgeoning of modern science.

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