Western Civilization as Perennial Tension

Civilization is described in many different ways involving language, history, religion, culture and self-identity that human groupings may share, but it can only be defined as a comprehensive, self-sustaining, meaning-conferring mode of existence of such groupings in history. For a collective subject such as a civilization to confer meaning to its constituent members it must imbue them with or propose to them, explicitly or implicitly, a grand purpose or aim – a final cause – around which life is organized.

Western Civilization is an entity far more encompassing than the European Enlightenment, even though most people tend to identify Western Civilization with the Enlightenment culture that emerged in Western Europe in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

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