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  • 19

    Humility and the West
    Philosophy; Posted on: 2008-04-10 11:57:04 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Why scientific inquiry flourished

    By The Realist

    One of the great weaknesses in the work of race realists has been their failure to explain Western uniqueness. Why is it that whites and whites alone invented science, capitalism, democracy, and the idea of human rights? Treatments of this subject are rare or absent in the work of race realists like Richard Lynn, J. P. Rushton, Steven Sailer, and Jared Taylor. Due to their focus on intelligence, they do a good job of describing and explaining the differences between whites and blacks, whose IQs differ substantially; however, race realists have little to say about the enormous cultural differences between whites and Asians, whose average IQ scores are approximately the same.

    Michael Hart’s recent Understanding Human History, which attempts to explain history from a race realist perspective, is a case in point. Because of his focus on IQ, Hart has little to say about why modernity arose in the West and not China; consequently, he devotes only four pages of his book to the subject despite the fact that the source Western uniqueness is one of the great questions of history, perhaps even the central one. Furthermore, Hart’s remarks on the subject are implausible. Hart would have us believe that Western superiority is due to accidents of culture and geography, such as the fact that China’s script is unsuitable for printing and that China has a smaller coastline in proportion to its area than Europe does.

    Hart ignores what surely must be one of the primary reasons for China’s failure to achieve modernity: throughout its history, China has been a despotism that crushed innovation and refused its inhabitants the most basic of rights. Western authorities have generally been much more friendly to innovation than the Chinese and had greater respect for the rights of their subjects; consequently, the individual initiative that is at the root of scientific inquiry and capitalism flourished in Europe.

    The differences between Western and Chinese culture are too profound and persistent to be explained by historical accidents. Rather, there is plainly a difference in nature between the two peoples. I would like to suggest that the West’s unique characteristics are, in part at least, due to the white race’s capacity for humility. By humility I do not mean self-abasement, false modesty, or lack of self-respect. I simply mean the awareness of one’s own fallibility and the ability to recognize when one is wrong. The Chinese government always assumed that it had a monopoly on the truth and therefore insisted on the absolute subjection of its population. The Western authorities, by contrast, were much more accepting of their own fallibility and were thus more friendly to technological innovation and individual initiative.

    Historian Rodney Stark’s The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success is a crucial contribution to our understanding of the nature and sources of Western uniqueness. Stark takes aim at the idea that the five centuries after the fall of Rome were a “Dark Ages” in Europe during which “barbarism, superstition, and ignorance covered the face of the world,” in the words of Voltaire.

    In fact, Europeans in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages were highly innovative. The list of the inventions that arose between the fifth and fifteenth centuries is long and impressive: wind and water mills, horse shoes, the mechanization of cloth making, chimneys, eyeglasses, and mechanical clocks, to mention only a few.

    Stark argues that the reason for this innovation was that Christianity encouraged it. The Christian authorities of the period had the humility to recognize that they did not have a monopoly on the truth; therefore, generally speaking, they responded to innovation with praise rather than censure.

    News Source: inverted-world.com


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