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View Full Version : Ancient-Renaissance, Modern Cultural Decline, etc


Darth InSidious
09-12-2007, 12:53 PM
Compared to 1000 years ago, when religions had "full control" I think where doing /much/ better now.

In 1007 we were just creeping towards the beginning of a cultural and scientific golden age that would come to full fruition in the High Medieval and lead into the Renaissance, primarily upon the rediscovery of 'classical' literature - works by Greek and Roman authors that had been lost with the Fall of Rome and the disappearance of classical Latin from mainstream use.

In fact, in 1007, at least in Western society, secular authorities dominated religion still, primarily through investiture and simony.

Now, we would seem to be in cultural and academic decline. Evidence, you cry? Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island and Tracy Emin etc and the myriad of useless-and-uninteresting research that goes on all the time at the moment - of the sort that 'discovers' things like that on rollercoasters, people tend to stick their hands in the air.

Ray Jones
09-13-2007, 06:15 AM
In 1007 we were just creeping towards the beginning of a cultural and scientific golden age that would come to full fruition in the High Medieval and lead into the Renaissance, primarily upon the rediscovery of 'classical' literature - works by Greek and Roman authors that had been lost with the Fall of Rome and the disappearance of classical Latin from mainstream use.

In fact, in 1007, at least in Western society, secular authorities dominated religion still, primarily through investiture and simony.In fact the Crusades (like 9 crusades from ca. 1100 to 1300) happened to fall right into that period of time. Hey or how about Inquisition? Of course, there were also less religious driven events, the hundred years wars, for example. But besides that, and although we may have some discoveries in technology and science, we have also a huge influence of religion, with pretty inhumane results. Not to mention things like the black death or such, wiping out about one third of the European populace. It took 250 years for humans to recover from that.

Now, we would seem to be in cultural and academic decline. Evidence, you cry? Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island and Tracy Emin etc and the myriad of useless-and-uninteresting research that goes on all the time at the moment - of the sort that 'discovers' things like that on rollercoasters, people tend to stick their hands in the air.Don't know about you, but I don't watch Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island or whatever. And compared to the belief in demons, the burning of witches, belief in superstitions in general, we're pretty much above the cultural and academical level of that time, even with the stupidity of "reality" tv.

Discoveries like people sticking their hands in the air? I think by all means better than discoveries like the test for witchcrafts. Besides that we make awesome discoveries by the day, and just in case someone is not watching BB, he might stop at some other channel or media where they discover how the stripes come into the tooth paste, or how they make mesh wire fence, recently I saw a documentation of an experiment where they tried (and succeeded) to cross the Alps on the original paths of early stone age men with historic clothes, and they even used an 6000 years old fire place under a natural rock spur, where you still could see the smut on the "ceiling". THAT is culture, and interesting research. Of course we cannot discover a new continent every day, or the seaway to India, or that the earth isn't flat. However, we can watch huge rocks drop into Jupiter. Or discover water on Mars. And here on earth there's still a lot to discover, even if some may think we are all digital and cool.

Fundamental inventions where made? We made them too, with fundamental new breakthroughs in electronics, aviation, medicine, biology, physics, maths, you name it.

Now, I am not saying that the discoveries of our history are unimportant, because the are not, but that time was compared to later and earlier periods not the best when it comes to humanity and technological advance. The ancient world (also interesting researches of 'today') had groundbreaking knowledge about medicine, astrology, mechanics, architecture or even knew how to use produce electric current, which sadly got lost in the middle ages. However, similar is happening even today too, like the fact that we currently have no technology to fly a man to the moon.

Darth InSidious
09-13-2007, 07:29 AM
In fact the Crusades (like 9 crusades from ca. 1100 to 1300)
More like from about 1090-ish.

And? Most of them were attempts to prop up an ally, albeit a somewhat shifty ally in the form of the Western Roman Empire. The Pope called them in order to incite some to go and defend Byzantium; however, it is clear from the records that he was not expecting the massed numbers that we see going, or the setting-up of the Crusader Kingdoms. Most of the Crusades were about propping up/defending said Kingdoms, aside from the Fourth Crusade, which the Doge of Venice hijacked.

Before the Crusades, Europe was tearing itself apart in inter-necine struggles, and bands of thuggish knights terrorised the population. Afterwards, we start to see the first nations in the modern meaning of the word coming into existence, and without the trade coming from the eventual peace following the Crusades, we wouldn't have had access a lot of the texts that sparked the Renaissance.

happened to fall right into that period of time. Hey or how about Inquisition?
Which one were you thinking of?

Of course, there were also less religious driven events, the hundred years wars, for example. But besides that, and although we may have some discoveries in technology and science, we have also a huge influence of religion,
I think you'll find that the scientific invention and the religiosity went together. Where was ancient knowledge stored after the fall of Rome? Who preserved information? Who educated, tended the sick and helped the poor?

with pretty inhumane results. Not to mention things like the black death or such, wiping out about one third of the European populace. It took 250 years for humans to recover from that.
If you are trying to blame religion for the Black Death, then you should give up the pretence of sanity right now and start the multi-coloured writing.

Yes, atrocities were committed in the Middle Ages/Renaissance, but when haven't they been? Were they any worse than those comitted by Stalin, or by Hitler, or those being performed right now by Robert Mugabe, by the North Korean dictator, and by the People's Republic of China? Around the world we are still seeing these 'inhumane results' in the middle of a period of religious decline.

Don't know about you, but I don't watch Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island or whatever. And compared to the belief in demons, the burning of witches, belief in superstitions in general, we're pretty much above the cultural and academical level of that time, even with the stupidity of "reality" tv.
Given a toss-up, I'd choose demons. Demons can be effectively countered, but so far there seems to be no cure for the mental-softening effects of reality TV. [j/k]

Seriously, you are comparing two somewhat separate points. No, we don't burn witches now, we crucify people who don't fit societal norms above the altar of news media.

But compare "Celebrity Love Island", to, say, Don Quixote, or the Mort d'Arthur, or the Canterbury Tales and I'm sure you see what I mean.

Discoveries like people sticking their hands in the air? I think by all means better than discoveries like the test for witchcrafts.
And what of how to build a dome? Or of the way to paint depth? The knowledge of ancient writers from Aristotle to Zeno? Is the test for witchcraft any different from memetics in its inherently pseudoscientific nature?

Besides that we make awesome discoveries by the day, and just in case someone is not watching BB, he might stop at some other channel or media where they discover how the stripes come into the tooth paste, or how they make mesh wire fence,
Oh, yes. Definitely as great as Archimedes' Method, the Instructions of Ptah-hotep, the Summa Theologiae or Dante's Inferno.
recently I saw a documentation of an experiment where they tried (and succeeded) to cross the Alps on the original paths of early stone age men with historic clothes, and they even used an 6000 years old fire place under a natural rock spur, where you still could see the smut on the "ceiling". THAT is culture, and interesting research.
T'ain't culture and it's barely research. That kind of thing is academic grandstanding of the worst kind, and the programmes are usually horrendously weighted pieces of writing. As research, and I hate to say this, the invention of the arquebus is of greater value, methinks.

Of course we cannot discover a new continent every day, or the seaway to India, or that the earth isn't flat. However, we can watch huge rocks drop into Jupiter. Or discover water on Mars. And here on earth there's still a lot to discover, even if some may think we are all digital and cool.
Err, yes. But how much of it is useful?

Fundamental inventions where made? We made them too, with fundamental new breakthroughs in electronics, aviation, medicine, biology, physics, maths, you name it.
A lot of which was based on the work of the great medieval/Renaissance men.

Now, I am not saying that the discoveries of our history are unimportant, because the are not, but that time was compared to later and earlier periods not the best when it comes to humanity and technological advance. The ancient world (also interesting researches of 'today') had groundbreaking knowledge about medicine, astrology, mechanics, architecture or even knew how to use produce electric current,
There is no evidence for knowledge of electrical current being understood in the ancient world. If you're going to dredge up the Baghdad Battery, there is only one and it was probably a fluke. The ancients also believed in whole panthea of gods.

which sadly got lost in the middle ages. However, similar is happening even today too, like the fact that we currently have no technology to fly a man to the moon.
No, it mostly got lost after the fall of Rome and it was mostly found in the Middle Ages.

Ray Jones
09-13-2007, 11:23 AM
More like from about 1090-ish. 1095. :rolleyes:


And? Most of them were attempts to prop up an ally, albeit a somewhat shifty ally in the form of the Western Roman Empire. The Pope called them in order to incite some to go and defend Byzantium; however, it is clear from the records that he was not expecting the massed numbers that we see going, or the setting-up of the Crusader Kingdoms. Most of the Crusades were about propping up/defending said Kingdoms, aside from the Fourth Crusade, which the Doge of Venice hijacked.The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged by Christians during 10951291, most of which were sanctioned by the Pope in the name of Christendom.[1] The Crusades originally had the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the sacred "Holy Land" from Muslim rule and were originally launched in response to a call from the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire for help against the expansion of the Muslim Seljuq dynasty into Anatolia.


Which one were you thinking of?The medieval ones? The Medieval Inquisitions were in response to growing religious movements, in particular the Cathars first noted in the 1140s and the Waldensians starting around 1170, in southern France and northern Italy. Individual "Heretics", for example Peter of Bruis, had often challenged the Church. However, the Cathars were the first mass heretical organization in the second millennium that posed a serious threat to the authority of the Church, and to its interpretation of Christian doctrines.


I think you'll find that the scientific invention and the religiosity went together. Where was ancient knowledge stored after the fall of Rome? Who preserved information?Some knowledge got destroyed when ancient cities burnt down, for instance. Other knowledge was taken and except for some persons no one saw it again for a looong time.


Who educatedThe church? No. They did not even translate the bible from Latin, or read from it in a language normal people could understand, so no one could question what was said. Education? Ha. Also, as Luther finally did it, the church was not really happy about the, were they?


Yes, atrocities were committed in the Middle Ages/Renaissance, but when haven't they been? Were they any worse than those comitted by Stalin, or by Hitler, or those being performed right now by Robert Mugabe, by the North Korean dictator, and by the People's Republic of China? Around the world we are still seeing these 'inhumane results' in the middle of a period of religious decline.Yes, but with much more advanced technology and medical supply for the wounded. :D


And what of how to build a dome? Or of the way to paint depth? The knowledge of ancient writers from Aristotle to Zeno?Ain't that ancient knowledge and technololgy, like aqueducts, pyramids, or even older ones like Stonehenge? Aren't Aristotle and Zeno ancients? Ancient knowledge does not come from the middle ages, just because someone decided to keep the stuff they found for whatever reasons.


Oh, yes. Definitely as great as Archimedes' Method, the Instructions of Ptah-hotep, the Summa Theologiae or Dante's Inferno.That is sooo not middle ages, either.


T'ain't culture and it's barely research. That kind of thing is academic grandstanding of the worst kind, and the programmes are usually horrendously weighted pieces of writing. As research, and I hate to say this, the invention of the arquebus is of greater value, methinks.Yes, and the aquebus does equally help to find a deeper understanding and knowledge about our history and how we came to where we are, or the simple and "normal" things of our world as well. I rather have my daughter to know something about toothpaste stripes than any weapon at all. :rolleyes: Ignorance against this kind of knowledge is what you are trying to condemn here, methinks. Someone who does not know how electric current works cannot fully understand what's going on in a computer.


Err, yes. But how much of it is useful?Usefulness is not up for discussion. No one considered the car as useful when the first one hit the road.


A lot of which was based on the work of the great medieval/Renaissance men.A lot of which was RE-discovered after it got lost after the ancient world fell apart.


There is no evidence for knowledge of electrical current being understood in the ancient world.I did not say they understood, the had knowledge how to use it. Like for instance for electroplating.


The ancients also believed in whole panthea of gods.The ancients also did not burn witches. The ancients did fight about land, power, and money, not about god or religion. The ancient religions did not oppress knowledge, or inventions.


No, it mostly got lost after the fall of Rome and it was mostly found in the Middle Ages.Found, not to be confused with discovered or invented.

Darth InSidious
09-14-2007, 12:29 PM
(Continuing the conversation started in the thread on secularisation)
1095. :rolleyes:
Actually, the Papal authority granted to Robert Guiscard (1015-1085) in his reconquest of southern Italy and creation of a largely stable, peaceful Italy have been argued to be as close as makes no difference to those granted in a Crusade.


The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged by Christians during 10951291, most of which were sanctioned by the Pope in the name of Christendom.[1] The Crusades originally had the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the sacred "Holy Land" from Muslim rule and were originally launched in response to a call from the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire for help against the expansion of the Muslim Seljuq dynasty into Anatolia.
Ahh, yes, that well-known paragon of academic rigourousness, Wikipedia! Nicolas Cheetham's Keepers of the Keys, and indeed most works on the First Crusade make it clear that it was called at the behest of the Byzantine Empire for help, and a brief look at the state of finances for most knightly families, and indeed the state of knightly piety make it quite clear that they mostly went to get rich.

The medieval ones?

Why don't we quote your beloved wikipedia on the subject?

[edit] Investigation
When a papal inquisition arrived at a town it had a set of procedures and rules to identify likely heretics. First, the townspeople would be gathered in a public place. Although attendance was voluntary, those who failed to show would automatically be suspect, so most would come. The inquisitors would provide an opportunity for anyone to step forward and denounce themselves in exchange for easy punishment. As part of this bargain they would need to inform on other heretics. In addition, the inquisitors could simply force people to be interrogated. Once information had been gathered, an inquisitorial trial could begin.


[edit] Trial
The inquisitorial trial generally favored the prosecution (the Church). The defendant would be allowed a lawyer, but if the defendant was convicted, the lawyer would lose his ability to practice. Therefore most lawyers never took the chance of defending a potential heretic. The trials were conducted in secret with only the inquisitors, the defendant and some inquisitorial staff to take notes. Inquisitors sequestered all of the property of the defendant. The defendant was not told the charges, but was always invited to confess, only guessing what for. The accused was expected to self-incriminate and did not have the right to face and question the accuser. It was acceptable to take testimony from criminals, persons of bad reputation, excommunicated people, and convicted heretics. Blood relationship did not exempt one from the duty to testify against the accused. Sentences could not be appealed once made. The inquisitor could keep a defendant in prison for years before the trial to obtain new information.

Despite the seeming unfairness of the procedures, the inquisitors did provide some rights to the defendant. At the beginning of the trial, defendants were invited to name those who had "mortal hatred" against them. If the accusers were among those named, the defendant was set free and the charges dismissed; the accusers would face life imprisonment. This option was meant to keep the inquisition from becoming involved in local grudges. A confession under torture was not admissible in court, although the inquisitor could threaten the accused with torture during the proceedings.


[edit] Torture
Torture was used after 1252. On May 15, Pope Innocent IV issued a papal bull entitled Ad exstirpanda, which authorized the use of torture by inquisitors. It was a common part of the medieval judicial system and not particular to the inquisition. The torture methods used by inquisitors were mild compared to secular courts, as they were forbidden to use methods that resulted in bloodshed, mutilation or death. Also, torture could be performed only once (although a session could be "suspended", and when continued would be regarded as the same session of torture). One of the more common forms of medieval inquisition torture was known as strappado. The hands were bound behind the back with a rope, and the accused was suspended this way, dislocating the joints painfully in both arms. Weights could be added to the legs dislocating those joints as well.


[edit] Punishment
Once the trial was concluded the results might take years to be revealed, during which time the defendant stayed in prison. The inquisitors would save up the cases and announce them at once in a public ceremony called, in Latin, sermo generalis, or "general sermon." Among the possible punishments were a long pilgrimage for first offenders, wearing a yellow cross for life, confiscation of property, banishment, public recantation, or long-term imprisonment. Burning at the stake was only for the most serious cases, including repeat offenders and unrepentant heretics. Execution was done not by the Church, which was forbidden to kill, but by secular officials. The accused could have all of his property confiscated, and in many cases, accusers may have been motivated by a desire to take the property of the accused.

The inquisitors generally preferred not to hand over heretics to the secular arm for execution if they could persuade the heretic to repent. It was in the inquisitors' interest to be perceived as merciful, and they generally preferred to keep defendants alive in hopes of obtaining confessions. For example, Bernard Gui, a famous inquisitor working in the area of Toulouse (in modern France), executed 42 people out of over 900 guilty verdicts in fifteen years of office. Execution was to admit defeat, that the Church was unable to save a soul from heresy, which was the goal of the inquisition.


Some knowledge got destroyed when ancient cities burnt down, for instance. Other knowledge was taken and except for some persons no one saw it again for a looong time.
And most of what survived was kept where? The monasteries.

The church? No. They did not even translate the bible from Latin, or read from it in a language normal people could understand, so no one could question what was said.
Any educated person could read Latin. It was the academic lingua franca. And what schooling was given was given by the Church. Further, any pre-Vatican II missal had the Latin on one side and the native speech/English on the other. Not. Hard.

Education? Ha. Also, as Luther finally did it, the church was not really happy about the, were they?
Actually, the Bible was available in the common tongue in all countries except England, the question was over translation from greek manuscripts which we now know are some of the least reliable, Erasmus had already created a translation and the problem was with Luther's twisting of words to his own meaning.

Yes, but with much more advanced technology and medical supply for the wounded. :D
And with more horrendous weapons to commit greater atrocities and ensure there are fewer wounded that we can treat.

Ain't that ancient knowledge and technololgy, like aqueducts, pyramids, or even older ones like Stonehenge? Aren't Aristotle and Zeno ancients? Ancient knowledge does not come from the middle ages, just because someone decided to keep the stuff they found for whatever reasons.
Largely preserved by monasteries. The secular authorities in the so-called 'Dark Ages' were not in the slightest bit interested in education.

That is sooo not middle ages, either.

The Summa Theologiae not middle ages?! Dante's Inferno not middle ages?!

As for the Method the only extant copy only survived through use as a palimpsest in a monastery!

Yes, and the aquebus does equally help to find a deeper understanding and knowledge about our history and how we came to where we are, or the simple and "normal" things of our world as well. I rather have my daughter to know something about toothpaste stripes than any weapon at all. :rolleyes: Ignorance against this kind of knowledge is what you are trying to condemn here, methinks. Someone who does not know how electric current works cannot fully understand what's going on in a computer.
I'll agree, I'd rather have the roller-coaster than another weapon, but in terms of development the arquebus was a far greater leap forward than much else until the computer.

I did not say they understood, the had knowledge how to use it. Like for instance for electroplating.
Again, there is no evidence for this. This is an assumption based on a handful of artifacts only found in Iraq and dating from 200 BC. There is no way that they used electroplating. To the best of my knowledge, we've found nothing that's been electroplated, for example. That's a theory, but it's one that is distinctly unlikely. Anyway, the copper cylinder in the 'Baghdad battery' is completely covered in asphalt- no current could be produced, and as a battery, it is an extremely flawed design. More likely they were for storage of something - sacred scrolls have been suggested.

The ancients also did not burn witches.
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
Weren't the Israelites ancients? Throughout the ancient world, the practice of black magic or blasphemy had typically only one punishment: death. You do know that obtaining someone else's horoscope in Rome was as good as being found with a bloody knife at a murder scene?

The ancients did fight about land, power, and money, not about god or religion.
Then why did the Egyptians drive out the Hyksos, pray? Why did various Seleucids conquer Israel and force their polytheistic religion upon the Jews?
The ancient religions did not oppress knowledge, or inventions.
Ha! Ramses II's account of the Battle of Kadesh would seem to say otherwise. As for inventions, in ancient Rome, prophylactics were illegal, for example. But by-and-large, they preferred people as targets.

Found, not to be confused with discovered or invented.
Preserved, not to be confused with finding in a junk shop (although with things like Manetho...)

(EDIT @below: fair enough)

Ray Jones
09-14-2007, 12:51 PM
(I'll respond later because I have no time at the moment, but maybe some mod could move the related posts from the secularisation thread over here in the meantime. Thanks. :))

Nancy Allen``
09-14-2007, 06:43 PM
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

I would consider this a sign of the times. Today it is Muslims that are trying to be placed in the same boat. Some of you might have lived through the Communist hysteria and before then it was blacks. Throughout history we have always sought some great evil to stand against.

Jae Onasi
09-16-2007, 03:28 PM
History-related posts were split off from the thread Effects on society of secularization and moral relativism (http://www.lucasforums.com/showthread.php?t=182078) and merged here. Carry on. :)

JediMaster12
09-17-2007, 12:25 PM
Am I correct in assuming that the main purpose of the thread is talking about cultural decline? If so then I agree that it is. For a more obvious picture, look at television. We have a myriad of shows dedicated to this reality tv junk. Personally I think they are a waste of time and money since they tend to show nothing but the worst in people. It seems that networks are more in favor of dropping good comedy sitcoms from their slots in order to put in a new reality series. There were rumors of Jericho being dropped, a show that I like.
Another thing to look at is what we promote to younger generations. It seems that everything is sex driven. Well not everything if you look at video games like Grand Theft Auto and such. I could go on a ramble here but I think I expressed clearly my thoughts on today's culture.

John Galt
09-17-2007, 09:09 PM
I really don't see the problem, so long as people know how to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I reiterate that what we have on our hands is, in my opinion, a massive lack of personal responsibility and individualism. If people were willing to be accountable for their own actions I think most of this "moral cultural decline" would evaporate.

I think that it would be for the best if basic philosphy courses were offered throughout public schooling, teaching a variety of philosophies from a functional and theoretical standpoint, and perhaps even integrating a "skeleton" of univerally agreed-upon objective morality, like "think for yourself," "take responsiblity for what you do," "obey the law," and "you are worth something."

Teaching the constitution and laws from a very young age would help as well, especially considering the lack of political awareness that seems to pervade US politics.