The Problem with Multiculturalism: The Uniqueness and Universality of Western Civilization

Transaction Publishers
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The horrors of the past century have done little to advance appreciation for the virtues of Western civilization. Criticism of the West has mounted and the West itself has lost sight of its uniqueness. Westerners tend to endow other societies with liberal philosophy and practices. While politically profitable, this fails to educate these societies about their own civilizations’ contributions to the idea of a common humanity, human rights, and the legitimacy of dissent and diversity. John M. Headley argues for the West’s uniqueness and universality, while critiquing multiculturalism’s failure to recognize these special characteristics. He looks to civilization rather than to the nation-state as the source of the West’s achievements, arguing that its uniqueness was evident from its beginnings. Headley also seeks to advance the ever-contentious discussion about secularization. He sees secularization as a neutralizing force regarding the religions of other civilizations, allowing them to accept Western influence, which thus becomes universal. To understand secularization and how it operates from a naturalistic perspective, one must see civilization itself as a defining element in world affairs.
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About the author

John M. Headley is professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina. His research interests include reform, reform programs and their reception and distortion, particularly in the periods of the Renaissance, Reformation, and seventeenth-century Europe. His books include The Europeanization of the World: On the Origins of Human Rights and Democracy; The Emperor and His Chancellor: A Study of the Imperial Chancellery under Gattinara; and Tommaso Campanella and the Transformation of the World.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Published on
Aug 14, 2012
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Pages
122
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ISBN
9781412847155
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Civilization
History / General
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Social
Political Science / Globalization
Religion / Religion, Politics & State
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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According to the Long Count Calendar used by the Maya, the current Great Cycle which has lasted 5,125 years is to end in 2012. What will happen when this occurs has been a hot topic for many years, literally decades, since the mid-1980s. Based loosely on Maya cosmology and mythology describing the death and rebirth of humankind, many observers have speculated on the events preceding and subsequent to the changing of the Great Cycles. These speculations have developed into a theory which is now known as the Mayan Prophecy of 2012. This Prophecy supposedly foretells significant changes to our way of life as the current Great Cycle ends and the next one begins. Exactly what these changes will be, and how it might affect all of us, run the gamut from the total destruction of our world, essentially the End of Days of our existence, to a new evolution of humankind. What one believes depends upon how he or she views life in general. If one is a pessimist, catastrophe will rule the day. On the other hand, an optimist will expect a new day with sunshine and roses. This book summarizes the most popular theories coming from both viewpoints, ultimate catastrophe versus a new beginning for humans and life on our planet. It then traces the archeological evidence and observations of noted Mesoamerican scholars to establish the validity and true nature of such a Mayan Prophecy. Along the way, other noteworthy prophecies regarding the future of our existence will be examined. Those future events predicted by the extraordinary prophet, Nostradamus, are especially informative. Recently, with the advent of advanced technology, notably computers, cyber predictions of our future and how they relate to the Mayan Prophecy will also be examined. Lastly, the enigmatic saga of the Maya crystal skulls appears to play an important role in our future. Much about the legend of the crystal skulls comes from the Maya Elders, who do anticipate great changes in the coming Great Cycle. Also, the mysterious phenomenon of the formation of crop circles may provide other clues as to what the future holds for all of us as we enter the next Great Cycle.
The Europeanization of the World puts forward a defense of Western civilization and the unique gifts it has bequeathed to the world-in particular, human rights and constitutional democracy-at a time when many around the globe equate the West with hubris and thinly veiled imperialism. John Headley argues that the Renaissance and the Reformation provided the effective currents for the development of two distinctive political ideas. The first is the idea of a common humanity, derived from antiquity, developed through natural law, and worked out in the new emerging global context to provide the basis for today's concept of universal human rights. The second is the idea of political dissent, first posited in the course of the Protestant Reformation and later maturing in the politics of the British monarchy.

Headley traces the development and implications of this first idea from antiquity to the present. He examines the English revolution of 1688 and party government in Britain and America into the early nineteenth century. And he challenges the now--common stance in historical studies of moral posturing against the West. Headley contends that these unique ideas are Western civilization's most precious export, however presently distorted. Certainly European culture has its dark side--Auschwitz is but one example. Yet as Headley shows, no other civilization in history has bequeathed so sustained a tradition of universalizing aspirations as the West. The Europeanization of the World makes an argument that is controversial but long overdue. Written by one of our preeminent scholars of the Renaissance and Reformation, this elegantly reasoned book is certain to spark a much-needed reappraisal of the Western tradition.

Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) is one of the most fascinating, if hitherto inaccessible, intellectuals of the Italian Renaissance. His work ranges across many of the intellectual, ecclesiastical, and political concerns of that tumultuous era. John Headley uses Campanella's life and works to open a window into this complex period. He not only explicates the frequently contradictory texts of a prolific author but also situates Campanella's writings amidst the larger currents of European thought.
For all its obscurely magical and astrolgocial intricacies, Campanella's entire intellectual endeavor expresses an effort to impose a distinctive order and direction upon the major issues and forces of the age different from that which was shortly to prevail with the new Galilean science and the Leviathan state. In the process of identifying and engaging these issues and imparting in some instances something of his own, he managed to mobilize and deploy many of the salient principles of late medieval and Renaissance culture, often cast in a curiously modern hue and aligned with the new forces of the age. Indeed, modern and antique, new and old juxtapose violently in the person of this reformer who combines an encyclopedic comprehensiveness of intellect with an appalling intensity of will. He is a man who strove to destabilize the regnant forces of what he identified as tyranny, sophistry, and hypocrisy and to shake the world into a new order. In this book, Headley invites readers to look anew at this mercurial figure and at the turbulent times in which he lived.
John M. Headley is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has authored studies of Luther, Thomas More, the Emperor Charles V, and San Carlo Borromeo.

Originally published in 1997.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

America has a God-shaped hole in its heart, argues New York Times bestselling author Ben Shapiro, and we shouldn't fill it with politics and hate.

In 2016, Ben Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley. Hundreds of police officers were required from 10 UC campuses across the state to protect his speech, which was -- ironically -- about the necessity for free speech and rational debate.

He came to argue that Western Civilization is in the midst of a crisis of purpose and ideas. Our freedoms are built upon the twin notions that every human being is made in God’s image and that human beings were created with reason capable of exploring God’s world.

We can thank these values for the birth of science, the dream of progress, human rights, prosperity, peace, and artistic beauty. Jerusalem and Athens built America, ended slavery, defeated the Nazis and the Communists, lifted billions from poverty and gave billions spiritual purpose. Jerusalem and Athens were the foundations of the Magna Carta and the Treaty of Westphalia; they were the foundations of Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Civilizations that rejected Jerusalem and Athens have collapsed into dust. The USSR rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, substituting a new utopian vision of “social justice” – and they starved and slaughtered tens of millions of human beings. The Nazis rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and they shoved children into gas chambers. Venezuela rejects Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and citizens of their oil-rich nation have been reduced to eating dogs. 

We are in the process of abandoning Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, favoring instead moral subjectivism and the rule of passion. And we are watching our civilization collapse into age-old tribalism, individualistic hedonism, and moral subjectivism. We believe we can reject Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law and satisfy ourselves with intersectionality, or scientific materialism, or progressive politics, or authoritarian governance, or nationalistic solidarity.

We can’t.

The West is special, and in The Right Side of History, Ben Shapiro bravely explains that it’s because too many of us have lost sight of the moral purpose that drives us each to be better, or the sacred duty to work together for the greater good, or both. A stark warning, and a call to spiritual arms, this book may be the first step in getting our civilization back on track.

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