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Western Values

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pctacitus

Western Values

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The subject of Western Values came up in a discussion of how societies respond to terrorism. So what are Western Values?I think that they include justice, tolerance to those who tolerate others, the freedom to express ideas, the association of free men who govern themselves and fight to stay free. Doug Larson: "The cat could very well be man's best friend but would never stoop to admitting it."
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Western Values

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I think you just summed them up very well. I suspect we'll soon hear from someone saying the primary western value is greed.Chris
badmendicant

Re: Western Values

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This discussion is most often prompted by those who seek to deny there is anynthing unique about Western European civilisation by denying the existence of differences in values between Western European culture and other world cultures.I think that this is a blind alley. You don't grade atheletes by analysing their training regimes. You grade them by their performance. A culture should be judged by its achievements not by the putative source of these achievements. Our culture is different because our values are different. Why bother to plot the route when you've already reached your destination?
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Western Values

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Quote:A culture should be judged by its achievements not by the putative source of these achievements.And our achievements are undeniable. This thread has brought back memories of one of my favorite movies, Wallstreet, where Gordon Gekko addresses the Teldar Paper Stockholders. I've found a site where you can listen to the entire speach. Click here and watch/listen to both clips.Quote:The point is, ladies and gentleman, is that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good.Greed is right.Greed works.Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much. I agree. Greed is good, Greed works. Greed produces the goods. Those nations that rein in human greed are shooting themselves in the feet. The problem is one of semantics, IMO. How do we define greed? Chris Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 7/30/05 10:27 am
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Re: Western Values

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I don't know about tolerance as a Western value. I would say that the West, on the whole, values individuality. But we are not always, or ever usually, tolerant of the forms it may take.I'd reject the greed suggestion as well. If you want to posit self-interest as a Western value, I'd be more inclined to agree, and capitalism is a rather glaring illustration of that value. Greed is something else though, and in that sense "Wallstreet" is more indicative of the nineteen-eighties than of Western culture in toto. If you want to define greed, for the purposes of this discussion, I would call it "desire out of proportion with need or probable use." A greedy banker wants more money than his company has use for, more money than he has use for; he wants it only because it is more. Gordon Gekko notwithstanding, greed is not good.
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Re: Western Values

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As I see it, one of the more crucial values exhibited in so called "western civilization' is the courage to confront abusive power and hold authorities accountable for their behavior. Tied to this is the ability to hold oneself accountable for abuses and errors and flaws. Still, I don't recognize the existence of 'western civilization' or of 'occidental' as opposed to 'eastern' civilizations. The constant interaction, cross-fertilization, interdependencies across geography, history, culture and traditions makes such simplistic binary descriptions seem, well, silly.
pctacitus

Re: Western Values

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I think greed is the wrong description. Perhaps commercial competition within the law, is a better description of capitalism. Doug Larson: "The cat could very well be man's best friend but would never stoop to admitting it."
badmendicant

Re: Western Values

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"Tolerance"........tolerance itself is a neutral value. Its not beneficial to tolerate crime or pedophilia is it? The West's reputation for tolerance derives largely from its tolerance of different modes of religious expression. A tolerance which was a consequence of the exhaustive nature of the various religious wars which plagued Europe throughout its history. Religious tolerance was only adavantageous, however, because it paved the way for science based secular society. The reintroduction of religious, faith based belief systems in the name of tolerance is, in my firm opinion, a retrogade step.There is, "no such thing as Western civilisation"? A chimp posseses a genetic structure which is 95% identical to humans. Does this mean that there is difference between human beings and monkeys?To paraphrase the Teldar speeech.Quote:A society which prevents people from striving after frivolities soon finds itself unable to provide neccessitiesEric Hoffer.
pctacitus

Re: Western Values

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I am a Lockean when it comes to tolerance. That is why I said "tolerance to those who tolerate others." That is markedly different from blanket tolerance. In Locke's original context, it was accepting of all Protestants, but exluded Catholics, who, under the Pope believed all Protestants were heretics and must be converted, by force if need be. That is one of the primary reasons for the altering of the stand of the Catholic Church with regard to other Christian denominations, loss of the moral high ground. Doug Larson: "The cat could very well be man's best friend but would never stoop to admitting it."
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Re: Western Values

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If I were to claim that there was a primary western value I'd say that it is the idea of freedom. Not corny FREEDOM but a belief that one should be able to do what they want, so long as you are not hurting another in the process. Let us agree, there is no one single reality. Not upon this stage, not in this world, all is in the mind... imagination is the only truth. Because it cannot be contradicted except by other imaginations - Richard MathesonThere are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep - Rene Descartes
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