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Leonardo_da_Vinci's_''Vitruvian_Man''._Based_on_the_correlations_of_ideal_Body_proportions.html" ;"title="Vitruvian_Man.html" ;"title="Leonardo da Vinci's ''Vitruvian Man">Leonardo da Vinci's ''Vitruvian Man''. Based on the correlations of ideal Body proportions">human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise ''De architectura''. image:Plato Pio-Clemetino Inv305.jpg, up
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first instit ...
, arguably the most influential figure in all of
Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical thought and work of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to the various nations and states in the regions of Europe, North America, and Oceani ...
and has influenced virtually all of subsequent Western and Middle Eastern
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. ...
and
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing t ...
. Western culture, also known as Western civilization, Occidental culture, or Western society, is the Cultural heritage, heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies of the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to the various nations and states in the regions of Europe, North America, and Oceania.
. The term applies beyond
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization or influence. Western culture is most strongly influenced by Greco-Roman culture, Germanic culture, and Christian culture. The expansion of Greek culture into the
Hellenistic In Classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the in ...
world of the eastern Mediterranean led to a synthesis between Greek and Near-Eastern cultures, and major advances in literature, engineering, and science, and provided the culture for the expansion of early Christianity and the Greek
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Chri ...
. This period overlapped with and was followed by
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption ...
, which made key contributions in law, government, engineering and political organization. Western culture is characterized by a host of artistic, philosophic, literary and legal themes and traditions. Christianity, primarily the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a character ...
, and later Protestantism has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization since at least the 4th century,Caltron J.H Hayas, ''Christianity and Western Civilization'' (1953), Stanford University Press, p. 2: That certain distinctive features of our Western civilization—the civilization of western Europe and of America—have been shaped chiefly by Judaeo–Christianity, Catholic and Protestant.Jose Orlandis, 1993, "A Short History of the Catholic Church," 2nd edn. (Michael Adams, Trans.), Dublin:Four Courts Press, , preface, se

accessed 8 December 2014. p. (preface)
Thomas E. Woods and Antonio Canizares, 2012, "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization," Reprint edn., Washington, D.C.: Regnery History, , se
accessed 8 December 2014. p. 1: "Western civilization owes far more to Catholic Church than most people—Catholic included—often realize. The Church in fact built Western civilization."
/ref> as did
Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion in t ...
. A cornerstone of Western thought, beginning in
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civiliz ...
and continuing through the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
and
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late ...
, is the idea of
rationalism In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".Lacey, A.R. (1996), ''A Dictionary of Philosoph ...
in various spheres of life developed by Hellenistic philosophy, scholasticism and
humanism Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. It considers human beings the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry. The meaning of the term "huma ...
. Empiricism later gave rise to the
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical method for acquiring knowledge Knowledge can be defined as awareness of facts or as practical skills, and may also refer to familiarity with objects or situations. Knowledge of facts, also ca ...
, the scientific revolution, and the
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment or the Enlightenment; german: Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie, "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, La Ilustración, "Enlightenment" was an intel ...
. Western culture continued to develop with the Christianization of European society during the Middle Ages, the reforms triggered by the medieval renaissances, the influence of the Islamic world via Al-Andalus and
Sicily Sicily ( it, Sicilia , ) is the list of islands in the Mediterranean, largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy, regions of Italy. The Strait of Messina divides it from the region of Calabria in Southern Italy. I ...
(including the transfer of technology from the East, and Latin translations of Arabic texts on science and
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. ...
by Greek and Hellenic-influenced Islamic philosophers), and the Italian Renaissance as Greek scholars fleeing the fall of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
after the Muslim conquest of Constantinople brought classical traditions and philosophy. This major change for non-western countries and their people saw a development in modernization into those non-western countries. Medieval Christianity is credited with creating the modern university,Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: ''A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages'', Cambridge University Press, 1992, , pp. xix–xx the modern hospital system, scientific economics, and natural law (which would later influence the creation of international law). Christianity played a role in ending practices common among
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin ''pāgānus'' "rural", "rustic", later "civilian") is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασ ...
societies, such as human sacrifice, slavery,Chadwick, Owen p. 242. infanticide and polygamy.Hastings, p. 309. European culture developed with a complex range of philosophy, medieval scholasticism, mysticism and Christian and secular humanism. Rational thinking developed through a long age of change and formation, with the experiments of the Enlightenment and breakthroughs in the sciences. Tendencies that have come to define modern Western societies include the concept of political pluralism, individualism, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements) and increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration.


Terminology

The West as a geographical area is unclear and undefined. More often the ideology of a state's inhabitants is what will be used to categorize it as a Western society. There is some disagreement about what nations should or should not be included in the category and at what times. Many parts of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire are considered to be distinct from the west and eastern by most scholars, since the Byzantine empire was primarily influenced by eastern practices due to its proximity and cultural similarity to Iran and Arabia, thus lacking features seen as "Western". The traditions of scholarship around
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first instit ...
,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of ...
, and Euclid had been forgotten in the West and were rediscovered by Italians during the Renaissance from scholars fleeing the collapse of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Thus, the culture identified with East and West itself interchanges with time and place (from the ancient world to the modern). Geographically, the "West" of today would include Europe (especially the states that collectively form the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its gre ...
, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Switzerland) together with extra-European territories belonging to the
English-speaking world Speakers of English are also known as Anglophones, and the countries where English is natively spoken by the majority of the population are termed the '' Anglosphere''. Over two billion people speak English , making English the largest langua ...
, the Hispanidad, the Lusosphere, the Francophonie and the Russian-speaking world in the wider context. Since the context is highly biased and context-dependent, there is no agreed definition of what the "West" is. It is difficult to determine which individuals fit into which category and the East–West contrast is sometimes criticized as relativistic and arbitrary. Globalism has spread Western ideas so widely that almost all modern cultures are, to some extent, influenced by aspects of Western culture. Stereotypical views of "the West" have been labeled Occidentalism, paralleling Orientalism—the term for the 19th-century stereotyped views of "the East". It has been disputed by some philosophers whether Western culture can be considered a historically sound, unified body of thought. For example, Kwame Anthony Appiah points out that many of the fundamental influences on Western culture, such as those of
Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, marking the end of the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization, around 1100 BC, to the beg ...
are also shared by the
Islamic world The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic community, which is also known as the Ummah. This consists of all those who adhere to the religious beliefs and laws of Islam or to societies in which Islam is practiced. I ...
to a certain extent. Appiah argues that the origin of the Western and European identity can be traced back to the Muslim invasion of Iberia where Christians would form a common Christian or European identity. Contemporary Latin chronicles from Spain described the victors in the Frankish victory over the Umayyads at the Battle of Tours as Europeans according to Appiah, denoting a shared sense of identity. As Europeans discovered the smaller world, old concepts adapted. The area that had formerly been considered the Orient ("the East") became the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
as the interests of the European powers interfered with Meiji Japan and Qing China for the first time in the 19th century. Thus the Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895 occurred in the Far East while the troubles surrounding the decline of the Ottoman Empire simultaneously occurred in the Near East. The term Middle East in the mid-19th century included the territory east of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
, but West of China— Greater Persia and Greater India—is now used synonymously with "Near East" in most languages.


History

The earliest
civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by the development of a state, social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on socioeconomic fact ...
s which influenced the development of Western culture were those of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of th ...
; the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, the Persian Gulf a ...
, northeastern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country lo ...
, southeastern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula ...
and southwestern
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆما ...
: the
cradle of civilization A cradle of civilization is a location and a culture where civilization was created by mankind independent of other civilizations in other locations. The formation of urban settlements (cities) is the primary characteristic of a society that ...
.Jacobus Bronowski; ''The Ascent of Man''; Angus & Robertson, 1973 Geoffrey Blainey; ''A Very Short History of the World''; Penguin Books, 2004 Ancient Egypt similarly had a strong influence on Western culture. The
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or ...
contrasted themselves with both their Eastern neighbours (such as the Trojans in ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; "a poem about Ilium") is one of two major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world Ancient history is a ...
'') as well as their Northern neighbours (who they considered barbarians). Concepts of what is ''the West'' arose out of legacies of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republi ...
and the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople la ...
. Later, ideas of the West were formed by the concepts of Latin Christendom and the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a political entity in Western, Central, and Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of ...
. What is thought of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, as well as Christian culture.


The West of the Mediterranean Region during the Antiquity

While the concept of a "West" did not exist until the emergence of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the classical Roman civilization when it was run through public representation of the Roman people. Beginning with the overthrow of the Roman K ...
, the roots of the concept can be traced back to
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civiliz ...
. Since
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the '' Iliad'' and the '' Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of ...
ic literature (the Trojan Wars), through the accounts of the Persian Wars of
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or ...
against
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and T ...
ns by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek historian and geographer from the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey) and a later citizen of Thurii in modern Calabria ( Italy). He is known ...
, and right up until the time of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek la ...
, there was a paradigm of a contrast between Greeks and other civilizations. Greeks felt they were the most civilized and saw themselves (in the formulation of
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of ...
) as something between the advanced civilizations of the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
(who they viewed as soft and slavish) and the wild barbarians of most of Europe to the north. During this period writers like Herodotus and Xenophon would highlight the importance of freedom in the Ancient Greek world, as opposed to the perceived slavery of the so-called barbaric world. Alexander's conquests led to the emergence of a Hellenistic civilization, representing a synthesis of Greek and Near-Eastern cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean region.Green, Peter. ''Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age''. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. The Near-Eastern civilizations of Ancient Egypt and the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology and other cultural contexts, it is ...
, which came under Greek rule, became part of the Hellenistic world. The most important Hellenistic centre of learning was Ptolemaic Egypt, which attracted Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, Persian,
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient thalassocratic civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by the development of a state, social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categor ...
n and even Indian scholars. Hellenistic science, philosophy, architecture,
literature Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "m ...
and art later provided a foundation embraced and built upon by the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
as it swept up Europe and the Mediterranean world, including the Hellenistic world in its conquests in the 1st century BCE. Following the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, the concept of a "West" arose, as there was a cultural divide between the Greek East and Latin West. The Latin-speaking
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republi ...
consisted of Western Europe and Northwest Africa, while the Greek-speaking
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople la ...
(later the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
) consisted of the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographical area in southeastern Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weig ...
,
Asia Minor Anatolia, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau, also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula (; ) is a landform that extends from a mainland and is surrounded by water on most, but not all of its borders. ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
and
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology and other cultural contexts, it is ...
. The "Greek" East was generally wealthier and more advanced than the "Latin" West. With the exception of Italia, the wealthiest provinces of the Roman Empire were in the East, particularly Roman Egypt which was the wealthiest Roman province outside of Italia. Nevertheless, the Celts in the West created some significant literature in the ancient world whenever they were given the opportunity (an example being the poet Caecilius Statius), and they developed a large amount of scientific knowledge themselves (as seen in their Coligny Calendar). For about five hundred years, the Roman Empire maintained the Greek East and consolidated a Latin West, but an east–west division remained, reflected in many cultural norms of the two areas, including language. Eventually, the empire became increasingly split into a Western and Eastern part, reviving old ideas of a contrast between an advanced East, and a rugged West. From the time of Alexander the Great (the Hellenistic period), Greek civilization came in contact with Jewish civilization. Christianity would eventually emerge from the syncretism of Hellenic culture, Roman culture, and Second Temple Judaism, gradually spreading across the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
and eclipsing its antecedents and influences. The rise of Christianity reshaped much of the Greco-Roman tradition and culture; the Christianised culture would be the basis for the development of Western civilization after the fall of Rome (which resulted from increasing pressure from barbarians outside Roman culture). Roman culture also mixed with Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic cultures, which slowly became integrated into Western culture: starting mainly with their acceptance of Christianity.


The birth of the European West during the Middle Ages

The Medieval West referred specifically to the Catholic "Latin" West, also called "Frankish" during
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards The Kings of the Lombar ...
's reign, in contrast to the Orthodox East, where Greek remained the language of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
. After the fall of Rome, much of Greco-Roman art, literature, science and even technology were all but lost in the western part of the old empire. However, this would become the center of a new West. Europe fell into political anarchy, with many warring kingdoms and principalities. Under the Frankish kings, it eventually, and partially, reunified, and the anarchy evolved into feudalism. Much of the basis of the post-Roman cultural world had been set before the fall of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republi ...
, mainly through the integration and reshaping of Roman ideas through Christian thought. The Greek and Roman paganism gradually was replaced by Christianity, first with its legalisation with the
Edict of Milan The Edict of Milan ( la, Edictum Mediolanense; el, Διάταγμα τῶν Μεδιολάνων, ''Diatagma tōn Mediolanōn'') was the February 313 AD agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire. Frend, W. H. C. ( ...
and then the Edict of Thessalonica which made it the State church of the Roman Empire.
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Ro ...
Christianity, served as a unifying force in Christian parts of Europe, and in some respects replaced or competed with the secular authorities. The
Jewish Christian Jewish Christians ( he, יהודים נוצרים, yehudim notzrim) were the followers of a Jewish religious sect that emerged in Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard ''Yəhūda'', Tiberian ''Yehūḏā''; el, Ἰ ...
tradition out of which it had emerged was all but extinguished, and antisemitism became increasingly entrenched or even integral to Christendom. Much of art and literature, law, education, and politics were preserved in the teachings of the Church. The
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops vi ...
founded many cathedrals, monasteries and
seminaries A seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, or divinity school is an educational institution for educating students (sometimes called ''seminarians'') in scripture Religious texts, including scripture, are texts which various r ...
, some of which continue to exist today. After the fall of the Roman Empire, many of the classical Greek texts were translated into Arabic and preserved in the medieval Islamic world. The Greek classics along with Arabic science,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. ...
and technology were transmitted to Western Europe and translated into Latin, sparking the Renaissance of the 12th century and 13th century.George Sarton: ''A Guide to the History of Science''
Waltham Mass. U.S.A. 1952
Burnett, Charles. "The Coherence of the Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo in the Twelfth Century," ''Science in Context'', 14 (2001): 249–288. Medieval Christianity is credited with creating the first modern universities. The Catholic Church established a hospital system in Medieval Europe that vastly improved upon the Roman ''valetudinaria'' and Greek healing temples. These hospitals were established to cater to "particular social groups marginalized by poverty, sickness, and age," according to the historian of hospitals, Guenter Risse. Christianity played a role in ending practices common among pagan societies, such as human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy. Francisco de Vitoria, a disciple of
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term disti ...
and a Catholic thinker who studied the issue regarding the human rights of colonized natives, is recognized by the United Nations as a father of international law, and now also by historians of economics and democracy as a leading light for the West's democracy and rapid economic development. Joseph Schumpeter, an economist of the twentieth century, referring to the Scholastics, wrote, "it is they who come nearer than does any other group to having been the 'founders' of scientific economics." In a broader sense, the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
, with its fertile encounter between Greek philosophical reasoning and
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology and other cultural contexts, it is ...
ine monotheism was not confined to the West but also stretched into the old East. The philosophy and science of Classical Greece were largely forgotten in Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, other than in isolated monastic enclaves (notably in Ireland, which had become Christian but was never conquered by Rome). The learning of
Classical Antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
was better preserved in the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn R ...
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople la ...
. Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis Roman civil law code was created in the East in his capital of Constantinople, and that city maintained trade and intermittent political control over outposts such as Venice in the West for centuries. Classical Greek learning was also subsumed, preserved, and elaborated in the rising Eastern world, which gradually supplanted Roman-Byzantine control as a dominant cultural-political force. Thus, much of the learning of classical antiquity was slowly reintroduced to European civilization in the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The rediscovery of the Justinian Code in Western Europe early in the 10th century rekindled a passion for the discipline of law, which crossed many of the re-forming boundaries between East and West. In the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a character ...
or Frankish west,
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
became the foundation on which all legal concepts and systems were based. Its influence is found in all Western legal systems, although in different manners and to different extents. The study of
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is t ...
, the legal system of the Catholic Church, fused with that of Roman law to form the basis of the refounding of Western legal scholarship. During the Reformation and Enlightenment, the ideas of civil rights, equality before the law, procedural justice, and democracy as the ideal form of society began to be institutionalized as principles forming the basis of modern Western culture, particularly in Protestant regions. In the 14th century, starting from Italy and then spreading throughout Europe, there was a massive artistic, architectural, scientific and philosophical revival, as a result of the Christian revival of Greek philosophy, and the long Christian medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities.Grant ''God and Reason'' p. 9 This period is commonly referred to as the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late ...
. In the following century, this process was further enhanced by an exodus of Greek Christian priests and scholars to Italian cities such as
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany it, Toscano (man) it, Toscana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_typ ...
and Venice after the end of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
with the
fall of Constantinople The Fall of Constantinople, also known as the Conquest of Constantinople, was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of ...
. From Late Antiquity, through the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
, and onwards, while Eastern Europe was shaped by the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops vi ...
, Southern and Central Europe were increasingly stabilized by the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
which, as Roman imperial governance faded from view, was the only consistent force in Western Europe. In 1054 came the Great Schism that, following the Greek East and Latin West divide, separated Europe into religious and cultural regions present to this day. Until the Age of Enlightenment, Christian culture took over as the predominant force in Western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science for many years. Movements in art and philosophy, such as the Humanist movement of the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late ...
and the Scholastic movement of the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period of European history that lasted from AD 1000 to 1300. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Age ...
, were motivated by a drive to connect
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a character ...
with Greek and Arab thought imported by Christian pilgrims. However, due to the division in Western Christianity caused by the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment, religious influence—especially the temporal power of the Pope—began to wane. From the late 15th century to the 17th century, Western culture began to spread to other parts of the world through explorers and missionaries during the
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery (or the Age of Exploration), also known as the early modern period, was a period largely overlapping with the Age of Sail, approximately from the 15th century to the 17th century in European history, during which seaf ...
, and by imperialists from the 17th century to the early 20th century. During the Great Divergence, a term coined by Samuel Huntington the Western world overcame pre-modern growth constraints and emerged during the 19th century as the most powerful and wealthy world
civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by the development of a state, social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on socioeconomic fact ...
of the time, eclipsing Qing China, Mughal India, Tokugawa Japan, and the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University ...
. The process was accompanied and reinforced by the Age of Discovery and continued into the modern period. Scholars have proposed a wide variety of theories to explain why the Great Divergence happened, including lack of government intervention, geography, colonialism, and customary traditions.


Expansion of the West: the Era of Colonialism (15th–20th centuries)


Early modern era

The
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery (or the Age of Exploration), also known as the early modern period, was a period largely overlapping with the Age of Sail, approximately from the 15th century to the 17th century in European history, during which seaf ...
faded into the
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment or the Enlightenment; german: Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie, "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, La Ilustración, "Enlightenment" was an intel ...
of the 18th century, during which cultural and intellectual forces in European society emphasized reason, analysis, and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority. It challenged the authority of institutions that were deeply rooted in society, such as the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
; there was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism. Philosophers of the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza,
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778) was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Known by his '' nom de plume'' M. de Voltaire (; also ; ), he was famous for his wit, and his criticism of Christianity— ...
(1694–1778), David Hume, and Immanuel Kant, who influenced society by publishing widely read works. Upon learning about enlightened views, some rulers met with intellectuals and tried to apply their reforms, such as allowing for toleration, or accepting multiple religions, in what became known as enlightened absolutism. New ideas and beliefs spread around Europe and were fostered by an increase in literacy due to a departure from solely religious texts. Publications include '' Encyclopédie'' (1751–72) that was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert. The '' Dictionnaire philosophique'' (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764) and '' Letters on the English'' (1733) written by
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778) was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Known by his '' nom de plume'' M. de Voltaire (; also ; ), he was famous for his wit, and his criticism of Christianity— ...
spread the ideals of the Enlightenment. Coinciding with the Age of Enlightenment was the scientific revolution, spearheaded by Newton. This included the emergence of
modern science The history of science covers the development of science Science is a systematic endeavor that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Science may be as old as th ...
, during which developments in
mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...
,
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that department of knowledge which ...
,
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in w ...
,
biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of cells that process heredita ...
(including human anatomy) and
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, proper ...
transformed views of society and nature.Galileo Galilei, ''Two New Sciences'', trans. Stillman Drake, (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Pr., 1974), pp. 217, 225, 296–97.Marshall Clagett, ''The Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages,'' (Madison, Univ. of Wisconsin Pr., 1961), pp. 218–19, 252–55, 346, 409–16, 547, 576–78, 673–82; Anneliese Maier, "Galileo and the Scholastic Theory of Impetus," pp. 103–23 in ''On the Threshold of Exact Science: Selected Writings of Anneliese Maier on Late Medieval Natural Philosophy,'' (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Pr., 1982).Hannam, p. 342E. Grant, ''The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional, and Intellectual Contexts'', (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1996), pp. 29–30, 42–47. While its dates are disputed, the publication in 1543 of Nicolaus Copernicus's '' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium'' (''On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres'') is often cited as marking the beginning of the scientific revolution, and its completion is attributed to the "grand synthesis" of Newton's 1687 '' Principia''.


Industrial Revolution

The
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going f ...
was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, and the development of machine tools. These transitions began in Great Britain and spread to Western Europe and North America within a few decades. The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the
standard of living Standard of living is the level of income, comforts and services available, generally applied to a society or location, rather than to an individual. Standard of living is relevant because it is considered to contribute to an individual's quality ...
for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries. The precise start and end of the Industrial Revolution is still debated among historians, as is the pace of economic and social changes.Eric Hobsbawm, ''The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789–1848'', Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd., p. 27 GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, while the Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies. Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals, plants and fire. The First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870, when technological and economic progress continued with the increasing adoption of steam transport (steam-powered railways, boats, and ships), the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of machinery in steam-powered factories. No name is given to the transition years. The " Transportation Revolution" began with improved roads in the late 18th century.. Reprinted by McGraw-Hill, New York and London, 1926 (); and by Lindsay Publications, Inc., Bradley, Illinois, ().


After the Industrial Revolution

Tendencies that have come to define modern Western societies include the concept of political pluralism, individualism, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements) and increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration. Western culture has been heavily influenced by the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late ...
, the Ages of Discovery and Enlightenment and the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions. In the 20th century, Christianity declined in influence in many Western countries, mostly in the European Union where some member states have experienced falling church attendance and membership in recent years, and also elsewhere. Secularism (separating religion from politics and science) increased. Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western world, where 70% are Christians. The West went through a series of great cultural and social changes between 1945 and 1980. The emergent mass media (film, radio, television and recorded music) created a global culture that could ignore national frontiers. Literacy became almost universal, encouraging the growth of books, magazines and newspapers. The influence of cinema and radio remained, while televisions became near essentials in every home. By the mid-20th century, Western culture was exported worldwide, and the development and growth of international transport and telecommunication (such as transatlantic cable and the radiotelephone) played a decisive role in modern globalization. The West has contributed a great many technological, political, philosophical, artistic and religious aspects to modern international culture: having been a crucible of
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a character ...
, Protestantism, democracy, industrialisation; the first major civilisation to seek to abolish slavery during the 19th century, the first to enfranchise women (beginning in
Australasia Australasia is a region that comprises Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands ...
at the end of the 19th century) and the first to put to use such technologies as steam, electric and
nuclear power Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions. Presently, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produ ...
. The West invented cinema, television, the personal computer and the Internet; developed sports such as soccer,
cricket Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by s ...
, golf, tennis, rugby,
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately in diameter) through the defender ...
, and volleyball; and transported humans to an astronomical object for the first time with the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon Landing. It was, in recent history, and remains, the dominant power and director of human civilization.


Arts and humanities

: While dance, music, visual art, story-telling, and architecture are human universals, they are expressed in the West in certain characteristic ways. In Western dance, music, plays and other arts, the performers are only very infrequently masked. There are essentially no taboos against depicting a god, or other religious figures, in a representational fashion.


Music

In music, Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern Western musical notation to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church,Hall, p. 100. and an enormous body of religious music has been composed for it through the ages. This led directly to the emergence and development of European classical music and its many derivatives. The Baroque style, which encompassed music, art, and architecture, was particularly encouraged by the post-Reformation Catholic Church as such forms offered a means of religious expression that was stirring and emotional, intended to stimulate religious fervor.Murray, p. 45. The symphony, concerto, sonata, opera, and oratorio have their origins in Italy. Many
musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. A person who pl ...
s developed in the West have come to see widespread use all over the world; among them are the guitar, violin, piano, pipe organ, saxophone, trombone, clarinet,
accordion Accordions (from 19th-century German ''Akkordeon'', from ''Akkord''—"musical chord, concord of sounds") are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type (producing sound as air flows past a r ...
, and the theremin. In turn, it has been claimed that some European instruments have roots in earlier Eastern instruments that were adopted from the medieval Islamic world. The solo piano, symphony orchestra, and the
string quartet The term string quartet can refer to either a type of musical composition or a group of four people who play them. Many composers from the mid-18th century onwards wrote string quartets. The associated musical ensemble consists of two violinist ...
are also significant musical innovations of the West. File:Bernardo Strozzi - Claudio Monteverdi (c.1630).jpg, Claudio Monteverdi, 1567–1643 File:Vivaldi.jpg, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, 1678–1741 File:Georg Friedrich Händel.jpg, George Frideric Handel, 1685–1759 File:Bach.jpg,
Johann Sebastian Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the '' Brandenburg Concertos''; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites; keyboard ...
, 1685–1750 File:Joseph Haydn.jpg, Franz Joseph Haydn, 1732–1809 File:Wolfgang-amadeus-mozart 1.jpg, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756–1791 File:Beethoven.jpg, Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770–1827 File:Chopin, by Wodzinska.JPG, Frédéric François Chopin, 1810–1849 File:Porträt des Komponisten Pjotr I. Tschaikowski (1840-1893).jpg,
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky , group=n ( ; 7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893) was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music would make a lasting impression internationally. He wrote some of the most pop ...
, 1840–1893


Painting and photography

Jan van Eyck, among other renaissance painters, made great advances in oil painting, and perspective drawings and paintings had their earliest practitioners in
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany it, Toscano (man) it, Toscana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_typ ...
. In art, the Celtic knot is a very distinctive Western repeated motif. Depictions of the nude human male and female in photography, painting, and sculpture are frequently considered to have special artistic merit. Realistic portraiture is especially valued. Photography and the motion picture as both a technology and basis for entirely new art forms were also developed in the West. File:Cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale MET DP170950.jpg, Restoration of a fresco from an Ancient Roman villa bedroom, circa 50-40 BC, dimensions of the room: 265.4 × 334 × 583.9 cm, in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the List of largest art museums, largest art museum in the Americas. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among 17 curatorial departments. ...
(New York City) File:Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF retouched.jpg, '' Mona Lisa'', by
Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 14522 May 1519) was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance In art history, the High Renaissance was a short period of the most exceptional artistic production in the Italian states, parti ...
, c. 1503 – 1506, perhaps continuing until circa 1517, oil on poplar panel, 77 cm × 53 cm,
Louvre The Louvre ( ), or the Louvre Museum ( ), is the world's most-visited museum, and an historic landmark in Paris, France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also com ...
, (Paris) File:Las Meninas, by Diego Velázquez, from Prado in Google Earth.jpg, '' Las Meninas'', by Diego Velázquez, 1656, oil on canvas, 318 cm × 276 cm, El Prado (Madrid) File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette.jpg, '' Dance at Le moulin de la Galette'', by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876, oil on canvas, height: 131 cm, Musée d'Orsay (Paris) File:Atget Intérieur d'un ouvrier rue de Romainville (cropped).jpg, Photo of the interior of the apartment of Eugène Atget, taken in 1910 in Paris


Dance and performing arts

The ballet is a distinctively Western form of performance dance. The
ballroom dance Ballroom dance is a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world, mostly because of its performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainmen ...
is an important Western variety of dance for the elite. The polka, the square dance, the flamenco, and the Irish step dance are very well known Western forms of folk dance. Greek and Roman theatre are considered the antecedents of modern theatre, and forms such as medieval theatre, Passion Plays,
morality play The morality play is a genre of medieval and early Tudor drama. The term is used by scholars of literary and dramatic history to refer to a genre of play texts from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries that feature personified concepts ...
s, and commedia dell'arte are considered highly influential. Elizabethan theatre, with playwrights including
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's natio ...
, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, is considered one of the most formative and important eras for modern drama. The soap opera, a popular culture dramatic form, originated in the United States first on radio in the 1930s, then a couple of decades later on television. The music video was also developed in the West in the middle of the 20th century. Musical theatre was developed in the West in the 19th and 20th Centuries, from music hall, comic opera, and Vaudeville; with significant contributions from the Jewish diaspora, African-Americans, and other marginalized peoples.


Literature

While epic literary works in verse such as the
Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' ( ; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...
and Homer's
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; "a poem about Ilium") is one of two major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world Ancient history is a ...
are ancient and occurred worldwide, the prose novel as a distinct form of storytelling, with developed, consistent human characters and, typically, some connected overall plot (although both of these characteristics have sometimes been modified and played with in later times), was popularized by the West in the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course, extended prose fiction had existed much earlier; both novels of adventure and romance in the
Hellenistic In Classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the in ...
world and in Heian Japan. Both Petronius' '' Satyricon'' (c. 60 CE) and the '' Tale of Genji'' by Murasaki Shikibu (c. 1000 CE) have been cited as the world's first major novel but they had a very limited long-term impact on literary writing beyond their own day until much more recent times. The novel, which made its appearance in the 18th century, is an essentially European creation. Chinese and Japanese literature contain some works that may be thought of as novels, but only the European novel is couched in terms of a personal analysis of personal dilemmas. As in its artistic tradition, European literature pays deep tribute to human suffering.
Tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a main character. Traditionally, the intention of traged ...
, from its ritually and mythologically inspired Greek origins to modern forms where struggle and downfall are often rooted in psychological or social, rather than mythical, motives, is also widely considered a specifically European creation and can be seen as a forerunner of some aspects of both the novel and of classical opera. The validity of reason was postulated in both Christian philosophy and the Greco-Roman classics. Christianity laid a stress on the inward aspects of actions and on motives, notions that were foreign to the ancient world. This subjectivity, which grew out of the Christian belief that man could achieve a personal union with God, resisted all challenges and made itself the fulcrum on which all literary exposition turned, including the 20th–21st century novels. Western literature encompasses literary traditions of Europe, as well as Northern America and Latin America.


Architecture

Important Western architectural motifs include the Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic orders of Greek architecture, and the Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Victorian styles, which are still widely recognized and used in contemporary Western architecture. Much of Western architecture emphasizes repetition of simple motifs, straight lines and expansive, undecorated planes. A modern ubiquitous architectural form that emphasizes this characteristic is the skyscraper, their modern equivalent first developed in New York and Chicago. The predecessor of the skyscraper can be found in the medieval towers erected in Bologna. File:Parthenon-2008 entzerrt.jpg, The Parthenon under restoration in 2008, the most iconic Classical building, built from 447 BC to 432 BC, located in
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is both the capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Greece, largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh List ...
File:Angoulême 16 Façade cathédrale 2014.JPG, The facade of Angoulême Cathedral was built between 1110 and 1128 in the Romanesque style File:Sainte Chapelle Interior Stained Glass.jpg, Stained glass windows of the '' Sainte-Chapelle'' in Paris, completed in 1248, mostly constructed between 1194 and 1220 in the Gothic style File:Palais Farnese.jpg, The Palazzo Farnese, in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption ...
, built from 1534 to 1545, was designed by Sangallo and
Michelangelo Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known as Michelangelo (), was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance. Born in the Republic of Florence, his work was insp ...
and is an important example of
renaissance architecture Renaissance architecture is the European architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 16th centuries in different regions, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of Ancient Greece, ancient Greek and ...
File:Paris Opera full frontal architecture, May 2009.jpg, The
Palais Garnier The Palais Garnier (, Garnier Palace), also known as Opéra Garnier (, Garnier Opera), is a 1,979-seatBeauvert 1996, p. 102. opera house at the Place de l'Opéra in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, France. It was built for the Paris Opera f ...
in Paris, built between 1861 and 1875, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece


Cuisine

: Western foodways were, until recently, considered to have their roots in the cuisines of Classical Rome and Greece, but the influence of Arab and Near Eastern cuisine on the West has become a topic of research in recent decades. The Crusaders, known mostly for fighting over holy land, settled in the Levant and acclimated to the local culture and cuisine. Fulcher of Chartres said "For we who were occidentals have now become orientals." These cultural experiences, carried back to France by notables like Eleanor of Aquitaine influenced Western European foodways. Many Oriental ingredients were relatively new to the Western lands. Sugar, almonds, pistachios, rosewater, and dried citrus fruits were all novelties to the Crusaders who encountered them in Saracen lands. Pepper, ginger and cinnamon were the most widely used spices of the European courts and noble households. By the end of the Middle Ages cloves, nutmeg, mastic, galingale and other imported spices had become part of the Western cuisine. Saracen influence can be seen in medieval cookbooks. Some recipes retain their Arabic names in Italian translations of the '' Liber de Coquina''. Known as ''bruet Sarassinois'' in the cuisine of North France, the concept of sweet and sour sauce is attested to in Greek tradition when Anthimus finishes his stew with vinegar and honey. Saracens combined sweet ingredients like date-juice and honey with pomegranate, lemons and citrus juices, or other sour ingredients. The technique of browning pieces of meat and simmering in liquid with vegetables is used in many recipes from the Baghdad cookery book. The same technique appears in the late-13th century '' Viandier''. Fried pieces of beef simmered in wine with sugar and cloves was called ''bruet of Sarcynesse'' in English.


Scientific and technological inventions and discoveries

A notable feature of Western culture is its strong emphasis and focus on innovation and invention through science and technology, and its ability to generate new processes, materials and material artifacts with its roots dating back to the Ancient Greeks. The
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical method for acquiring knowledge Knowledge can be defined as awareness of facts or as practical skills, and may also refer to familiarity with objects or situations. Knowledge of facts, also ca ...
as "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses" was fashioned by the 17th-century Italian Galileo Galilei, with roots in the work of medieval scholars such as the 11th-century Iraqi physicist Ibn al-Haytham and the 13th-century English friar
Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (; la, Rogerus or ', also '' Rogerus''; ), also known by the scholastic accolade ''Doctor Mirabilis'', was a medieval English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through ...
. By the will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel the Nobel Prizes were established in 1895. The prizes in
Chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, proper ...
,
Literature Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "m ...
,
Peace Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups. ...
,
Physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that department of knowledge which ...
, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901. The percentage of ethnically European Nobel prize winners during the first and second halves of the 20th century were respectively 98 and 94 percent. The West is credited with the development of the
steam engine A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid. The steam engine uses the force produced by steam pressure to push a piston A piston is a component of reciprocating engine A ...
and adapting its use into factories, and for the generation of electric power. The electrical motor, dynamo, transformer, electric light, and most of the familiar electrical appliances, were inventions of the West.Tom McInally, The Sixth Scottish University. The Scots Colleges Abroad: 1575 to 1799 (Brill, Leiden, 2012) p. 115 The Otto and the Diesel
internal combustion engine An internal combustion engine (ICE or IC engine) is a heat engine in which the combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox Redox (reduction–oxidation, , ) is a type of chemical reaction in whic ...
s are products whose genesis and early development were in the West.
Nuclear power Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions. Presently, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produ ...
stations are derived from the first atomic pile constructed in Chicago in 1942. Communication devices and systems including the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, communications and navigation satellites, mobile phone, and the Internet were all invented by Westerners."Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906–1971)"
''The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco'', retrieved 15 July 2009.
The pencil,
ballpoint pen A ballpoint pen, also known as a biro (British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean ...
,
Cathode ray tube A cathode-ray tube (CRT) is a vacuum tube A vacuum tube, electron tube, valve (British usage), or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric voltage, p ...
,
liquid-crystal display A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat-panel display or other electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly but ...
,
light-emitting diode A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits light when current flows through it. Electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, releasing energy in the form of photons. The color of the light ...
, camera, photocopier,
laser printer Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a Electric charge, negatively-charged cylinder call ...
, ink jet printer, plasma display screen and
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system enabling documents and other web resources to be accessed over the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected comp ...
were also invented in the West. Ubiquitous materials including aluminum, clear glass,
synthetic rubber A synthetic rubber is an artificial elastomer. They are polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecules called macromolecules, composed of many repeating s ...
, synthetic diamond and the plastics
polyethylene Polyethylene or polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most commonly produced plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Thei ...
,
polypropylene Polypropylene (PP), also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecules called macromolecules, composed of many ...
, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene were discovered and developed or invented in the West. Iron and steel ships, bridges and skyscrapers first appeared in the West. Nitrogen fixation and petrochemicals were invented by Westerners. Most of the elements were discovered and named in the West, as well as the contemporary atomic theories to explain them. The transistor,
integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transis ...
, memory chip, first
programming language A programming language is a system of notation for writing computer programs. Most programming languages are text-based formal languages, but they may also be graphical. They are a kind of computer language. The description of a programmin ...
and computer were all first seen in the West. The ship's chronometer, the screw propeller, the
locomotive A locomotive or engine is a rail transport vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. If a locomotive is capable of carrying a payload, it is usually rather referred to as a multiple unit, motor coach, railcar or power car; ...
, bicycle,
automobile A car or automobile is a motor vehicle with wheels. Most definitions of ''cars'' say that they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport people instead of goods. The year 1886 is regard ...
, and airplane were all invented in the West. Eyeglasses, the telescope, the microscope and
electron microscope An electron microscope is a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination. As the wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than that of visible light photons, electron microscopes have a ...
, all the varieties of chromatography,
protein Proteins are large biomolecules and macromolecules that comprise one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalysing metabolic reactions, DNA replication, res ...
and DNA sequencing, computerised tomography,
nuclear magnetic resonance Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a physical phenomenon in which nuclei in a strong constant magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence on moving electric charges, electric currents, ...
,
x-ray An X-ray, or, much less commonly, X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constitu ...
s, and light, ultraviolet and infrared spectroscopy, were all first developed and applied in Western laboratories, hospitals and factories. In medicine, the pure antibiotics were created in the West. The method of preventing Rh disease, the treatment of
diabetes Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by a high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia Hyperglycemia is a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose Glucose is a simple sugar with the ...
, and the germ theory of disease were discovered by Westerners. The eradication of smallpox, was led by a Westerner, Donald Henderson.
Radiography Radiography is an imaging technique using X-ray An X-ray, or, much less commonly, X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength In physics Physics is the natural s ...
, computed tomography,
positron emission tomography Positron emission tomography (PET) is a functional imaging technique that uses radioactive substances known as radiotracers to visualize and measure changes in metabolic processes, and in other physiological activities including blood flo ...
and medical ultrasonography are important diagnostic tools developed in the West. Other important diagnostic tools of
clinical chemistry Clinical chemistry (also known as chemical pathology, clinical biochemistry or medical biochemistry) is the area of chemistry that is generally concerned with analysis of bodily fluids for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. It is an appl ...
, including the methods of
spectrophotometry Spectrophotometry is a branch of electromagnetic spectroscopy concerned with the quantitative measurement of the reflection or transmission properties of a material as a function of wavelength. Spectrophotometry uses photometers, known as sp ...
, electrophoresis and
immunoassay An immunoassay (IA) is a biochemical test that measures the presence or concentration of a macromolecule or a small molecule in a solution through the use of an antibody (usually) or an antigen (sometimes). The molecule detected by the immuno ...
, were first devised by Westerners. So were the stethoscope, the electrocardiograph, and the endoscope.
Vitamins A vitamin is an organic molecule (or a set of molecules closely related chemically, i.e. vitamers) that is an essential micronutrient that an organism In biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natu ...
, hormonal contraception, hormones,
insulin Insulin (, from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around p ...
,
beta blocker Beta blockers, also spelled β-blockers, are a class of medications that are predominantly used to manage abnormal heart rhythms, and to protect the heart from a second heart attack after a first heart attack ( secondary prevention). They are ...
s and ACE inhibitors, along with a host of other medically proven drugs, were first used to treat disease in the West. The double-blind study and
evidence-based medicine Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients". The aim of EBM is to integrate the experience of the clinician, the values of t ...
are critical scientific techniques widely used in the West for medical purposes. In mathematics, calculus, statistics,
logic Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating how conclusions follow from prem ...
, vectors, tensors and complex analysis, group theory, abstract algebra and
topology In mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...
were developed by Westerners.Dodge, Y. (2006) ''The Oxford Dictionary of Statistical Terms'', OUP. In biology,
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "... Wilhelm Johannsen coined the ...
, chromosomes, DNA,
genetics Genetics is the study of gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "... Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several differen ...
and the methods of
molecular biology Molecular biology is the branch of biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organ ...
are creations of the West. In physics, the science of
mechanics Mechanics (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world Ancient history is a time period from the beginning of writing and recorded human history ...
and
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and f ...
, relativity, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics were all developed by Westerners. The discoveries and inventions by Westerners in electromagnetism include
Coulomb's law Coulomb's inverse-square law, or simply Coulomb's law, is an experimental law of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the re ...
(1785), the first battery (1800), the unity of electricity and magnetism (1820), Biot–Savart law (1820), Ohm's Law (1827), and Maxwell's equations (1871). The
atom Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons. Every solid, liquid, g ...
, nucleus,
electron The electron ( or ) is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family, and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have n ...
, neutron and proton were all unveiled by Westerners. The world's most widely adopted system of measurement, the
International System of Units The International System of Units, known by the international abbreviation SI in all languages and sometimes pleonastically as the SI system, is the modern form of the metric system The metric system is a system of measurement that ...
, derived from the
metric system The metric system is a system of measurement that succeeded the decimalised system based on the metre that had been introduced in France in the 1790s. The historical development of these systems culminated in the definition of the Intern ...
, was first developed in France and evolved through contributions from various Westerners. In business, economics, and finance, double entry bookkeeping, credit cards, and the charge card were all first used in the West. Westerners are also known for their explorations of the globe and
outer space Outer space, commonly shortened to space, is the expanse that exists beyond Earth and its atmosphere and between celestial bodies. Outer space is not completely empty—it is a near-perfect vacuum containing a low density of particles, pre ...
. The first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth (1522) was by Westerners, as well as the first journey to the South Pole (1911), and the first Moon landing (1969). The landing of robots on Mars (2004 and 2012) and on an asteroid (2001), the '' Voyager 2'' explorations of the outer planets (
Uranus Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. Its name is a reference to the Greek god of the sky, Uranus ( Caelus), who, according to Greek mythology A major branch of classical mythology, Greek mythology is the body of myths ori ...
in 1986 and Neptune in 1989), '' Voyager 1''s passage into interstellar space (2013), and '' New Horizons'' flyby of Pluto (2015) were significant recent Western achievements.


Media

The roots of modern-day Western mass media can be traced back to the late 15th century, when
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. It marked a dramatic improvement on earlier printing methods in which th ...
es began to operate throughout wealthy European cities. The emergence of news media in the 17th century has to be seen in close connection with the spread of the printing press, from which the publishing press derives its name. In the 16th century, a decrease in the preeminence of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
in its literary use, along with the impact of economic change, the discoveries arising from trade and travel, navigation to the New World, science and arts and the development of increasingly rapid communications through print led to a rising corpus of vernacular media content in European society. After the launch of the satellite
Sputnik 1 Sputnik 1 (; see § Etymology) was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit A low Earth orbit (LEO) is an orbit around Earth with a period of 128 minutes or less (making at least 11.25 or ...
by the Soviet Union in 1957, satellite transmission technology was dramatically realised, with the United States launching Telstar in 1962 linking live media broadcasts from the UK to the US. The first digital broadcast satellite (DBS) system began transmitting in US in 1975. Beginning in the 1990s, the Internet has contributed to a tremendous increase in the accessibility of Western media content. Departing from media offered in bundled content packages (magazines, CDs, television and radio slots), the Internet has primarily offered unbundled content items ( articles, audio and video files).


Religion

The native religions of Europe were polytheistic but not homogenous – however, they were similar insofar as they were predominantly
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent The Indian subcontinent is a physiographical region in Southern Asia. It i ...
in origin. Roman religion was similar to but not the same as Hellenic religion – likewise for indigenous Germanic polytheism, Celtic polytheism and Slavic polytheism. Before this time many Europeans from the north, especially Scandinavians, remained polytheistic, though southern Europe was predominantly Christian from the 5th century onwards. Western culture at some level is influenced by the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions. These cultures had a number of similarities, such as a common emphasis on the individual, but they also embody fundamentally conflicting worldviews. For example, in Judaism and Christianity, God is the ultimate authority, while Greco-Roman tradition considers the ultimate authority to be reason. Christian attempts to reconcile these frameworks were responsible for the preservation of
Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, marking the end of the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization, around 1100 BC, to the beg ...
. Historically, Europe has been the center and cradle of Christian civilization. According to a survey by
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic Demography () is the statist ...
from 2011, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western world where 70–84% are Christians, According to this survey, 76% of Europeans described themselves as Christians, and about 86% of the
Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called America, are a landmass comprising the totality of North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along wi ...
' population identified themselves as Christians, (90% in Latin America and 77% in North America). 73% in Oceania self-identify as Christian, and 76% in South Africa are Christian. 2012 Eurobarometer polls about religiosity in the European Union in 2012 found that Christianity was the largest religion in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its gre ...
, accounting for 72% of the EU population. The question asked was "Do you consider yourself to be...?" With a card showing: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Other Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and Non-believer/Agnostic. Space was given for Other (SPONTANEOUS) and DK. Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu did not reach the 1% threshold. Catholics are the largest Christian group, accounting for 48% of the EU citizens, while
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, text ...
s make up 12%, Eastern Orthodox make up 8% and other Christians make up 4%. Non-believers/Agnostics account for 16%, atheists account for 7%, and
Muslim Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam, a monotheistic religion belonging to the Abrahamic tradition. They consider the Quran, the foundational religious text of Islam, to be the verbatim word of the God of Ab ...
s account for 2%. At the same there has been an increase in the share of agnostic or atheist residents in Europe; these made up about 18% of the European population in 2012. In particular, over half of the populations of the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, or simply Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Historically known as Bohemia, it is bordered by Austria Austria, , bar, Östareich officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in the ...
( 79% of the population was agnostic, atheist or irreligious), the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
( 52%),
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated betwe ...
( 25–33%),
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
(30–35%)
Views on globalisation and faith
''. Ipsos MORI, 5 July 2011.
Catholicisme et protestantisme en France: Analyses sociologiques et données de l'Institut CSA pour La Croix
– Groupe CSA TMO for '' La Croix'', 2001
and the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
(39–44%) are agnostic or atheist. As in other areas, the Jewish diaspora and Judaism exist in the Western world. There are also small but increasing numbers of people across the Western world who seek to revive the indigenous religions of their European ancestors; such groups include Germanic, Roman, Hellenic, Celtic, Slavic, and polytheistic reconstructionist movements. Likewise, Wicca, New Age spirituality and other neo-pagan belief systems enjoy notable minority support in Western states.


Sport

Since
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
, sport has been an important facet of Western cultural expression. A wide range of sports was already established by the time of
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civiliz ...
and the military culture and the development of sports in Greece influenced one another considerably. Sports became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games, which in ancient times were held every four years in a small village in the Peloponnesus called Olympia. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman, instigated the modern revival of the Olympic movement. The first modern Olympic games were held at Athens in 1896. The Romans built immense structures such as the amphitheatres to house their festivals of sport. The Romans exhibited a passion for blood sports, such as the infamous
Gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the classica ...
ial battles that pitted contestants against one another in a fight to the death. The Olympic Games revived many of the sports of
Classical Antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
—such as Greco-Roman wrestling, discus and
javelin A javelin is a light spear A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with fire hardened spears, or it may be made ...
. The sport of bullfighting is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France, and some Latin American countries. It traces its roots to prehistoric bull worship and sacrifice and is often linked to
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption ...
, where many human-versus-animal events were held. Bullfighting spread from Spain to its American colonies, and in the 19th century to France, where it developed into a distinctive form in its own right. Jousting and hunting were popular sports in the European
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
, and the aristocratic classes developed passions for leisure activities. A great number of popular global sports were first developed or codified in Europe. The modern game of golf originated in Scotland, where the first written record of golf is James II's banning of the game in 1457, as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. The
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going f ...
that began in Great Britain in the 18th century brought increased leisure time, leading to more opportunities for citizens to participate in athletic activities and also follow spectator sports. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. The bat and ball sport of
cricket Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by s ...
was first played in England during the 16th century and was exported around the globe via the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as th ...
. A number of popular modern sports were devised or codified in the United Kingdom during the 19th century and obtained global prominence; these include ping pong, modern tennis, association football, netball and rugby. Football (or soccer) remains hugely popular in Europe, but has grown from its origins to be known as the ''world game''. Similarly, sports such as cricket, rugby, and netball were exported around the world, particularly among countries in the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the ...
, thus India and Australia are among the strongest cricketing states, while victory in the Rugby World Cup has been shared among New Zealand, Australia, England, and South Africa.
Australian Rules Football Australian football, also called Australian rules football or Aussie rules, or more simply football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an oval field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by ...
, an Australian variation of football with similarities to
Gaelic football Gaelic football ( ga, Peil Ghaelach; short name '), commonly known as simply Gaelic, GAA or Football is an Irish team sport. It is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by ki ...
and rugby, evolved in the British colony of Victoria in the mid-19th century. The United States also developed unique variations of English sports. English migrants took antecedents of
baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each, taking turns batting and fielding. The game occurs over the course of several plays, with each play generally beginning when a player on the fielding ...
to America during the colonial period. The history of
American football American football (referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada), also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, the team wi ...
can be traced to early versions of rugby football and association football. Many games are known as "football" were being played at colleges and universities in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. American football resulted from several major divergences from rugby, most notably the rule changes instituted by Walter Camp, the "Father of American football".
Basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately in diameter) through the defender ...
was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor working in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the United States. Volleyball was created in Holyoke, Massachusetts, a city directly north of Springfield, in 1895.


Themes and traditions

Western culture has developed many themes and traditions, the most significant of which are: * Greco-Roman classic letters, arts, architecture, philosophical and cultural tradition, which include the influence of preeminent authors and philosophers such as
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical thought and work of the Western world The Western world, al ...
,
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first instit ...
,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of ...
,
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the '' Iliad'' and the '' Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of ...
,
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He composed three of the most famous poems in Latin literature: ...
, and
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and academic skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during the political crises that led to the est ...
, as well as a long mythologic tradition. * Christian ethical, philosophical, and
mythological Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narr ...
tradition, stemming largely from the Christian Bible, particularly the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Chri ...
Gospels. * Monasteries, schools, libraries, books, book making, universities, teaching, education, and lecture halls. * A tradition of the importance of the rule of law. * Secular humanism,
rationalism In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".Lacey, A.R. (1996), ''A Dictionary of Philosoph ...
and Enlightenment thought. This set the basis for a new critical attitude and open questioning of religion, favouring freethinking and questioning of the church as an authority, which resulted in open-minded and reformist ideals inside, such as liberation theology, which partly adopted these currents, and secular and political tendencies such as separation of church and state (sometimes termed ''laicism''), agnosticism and
atheism Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no ...
. * Generalized usage of some form of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
or
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek ( el, label= Modern Greek, Ελληνικά, Elliniká, ; grc, Ἑλληνική, Hellēnikḗ) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native t ...
, and derived forms, such as Cyrillic, used by those southern and eastern Slavic countries of Christian Orthodox tradition, historically under the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
and later within the Russian czarist or the Soviet area of influence. Other variants of the Latin or Greek alphabets are found in the Gothic and Coptic alphabets, which historically superseded older scripts, such as
runes Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language i ...
, and the Egyptian Demotic and Hieroglyphic systems. * Natural law, human rights, constitutionalism, parliamentarism (or presidentialism) and formal
liberal democracy Liberal democracy is the combination of a liberal political ideology that operates under an indirect democratic form of government. It is characterized by elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a ...
in recent times—prior to the 19th century, most Western governments were still monarchies. * A large influence, in modern times, of many of the ideals and values developed and inherited from
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic movement or Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right ...
. * An emphasis on, and use of, science as a means of understanding the natural world and humanity's place in it. * More pronounced use and application of innovation and scientific developments, as well as a more rational approach to scientific progress (what has been known as the
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical method for acquiring knowledge Knowledge can be defined as awareness of facts or as practical skills, and may also refer to familiarity with objects or situations. Knowledge of facts, also ca ...
).


See also


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * Ankerl, Guy (2000). ''Coexisting Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western''. INUPRESS, Geneva, 119–244. . * Atle Hesmyr (2013). ''Civilization, Oikos, and Progress'' * Barzun, Jacques '' From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present'' HarperCollins (2000) . * Daly, Jonathan.
The Rise of Western Power: A Comparative History of Western Civilization
(London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014). . * Daly, Jonathan.
Historians Debate the Rise of the West
(London and New York: Routledge, 2015). . * Derry, T. K. and Williams, Trevor I. ''A Short History of Technology: From the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900'' Dover (1960) . * Duran, Eduardo, Bonnie Dyran
Native American Postcolonial Psychology
' 1995 Albany: State University of New York Press * Hanson, Victor Davis; Heath, John (2001). ''Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom'', Encounter Books. * Jones, Prudence and Pennick, Nigel ''A History of Pagan Europe'' Barnes & Noble (1995) . * Meaney, Thoma
“The Return of ‘The West’” New York Times March 11, 2022.
* Merriman, John ''Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present'' W. W. Norton (1996) . * McClellan, James E. III and Dorn, Harold ''Science and Technology in World History'' Johns Hopkins University Press (1999) . * Stein, Ralph ''The Great Inventions'' Playboy Press (1976) . * Asimov, Isaac ''Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology: The Lives & Achievements of 1510 Great Scientists from Ancient Times to the Present'' Revised second edition, Doubleday (1982) . * Pastor, Ludwig von, ''History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages; Drawn from the Secret Archives of the Vatican and other original sources'', 40 vols. St. Louis, B. Herder (1898ff.) * Walsh, James Joseph, ''The Popes and Science; the History of the Papal Relations to Science During the Middle Ages and Down to Our Own Time'', Fordam University Press, 1908, reprinted 2003, Kessinger Publishing. Reviews
p. 462
* Stearns, P.N. (2003). ''Western Civilization in World History'', Routledge, New York. * Bruce Thornton, Thornton, Bruce (2002). ''Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization'', Encounter Books. * Niall Ferguson, ''Civilization. The West and the rest'', Penguin Press, 2011. * Joseph Henrich, '' The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous'', Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020. * Rodney Stark, ''The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success'',
Random House Random House is an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world. The company has several independently managed subsidiaries around the world. It is part of Penguin Random House, which is owned by Ger ...
, 2006. * Rodney Stark, ''How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity'', Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2014.


Further reading

* Barzun, Jacques. ''From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life : 1500 to the Present''. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. * Hesmyr, Atle Kultorp: ''Civilization; Its Economic Basis, Historical Lessons and Future Prospects'' (Telemark: Nisus Publications, 2020).


External links


An overview of the Western Civilization
{{Authority control Cultural anthropology Sociological terminology