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Christian philosophy brought peace to Europe and America

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Celebaelin
1241206.  Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:53 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I'm still not understanding why you seem so keen to restrict the discussion to European deaths though.

I don't know enough about African military history to back-up any statements I could make in that regard. My statement, contentious as it was, was limited to Europe and America because I thought I stood a reasonable chance or arguing that point of view fairly convincingly. America hasn't come up but Europe has more Christian history than America; about four times as much.

Jenny wrote:
Civil wars in Christian-dominant countries seem to have little to do with the teachings of religion, but have killed a lot of people.
https://ourworldindata.org/civil-wars/

There were the French Religious Wars and the English Civil War had a religious element although the reasons for taking one side or another were very diverse and upon occasion complex. Broadly though, yes, I agree.

I find it difficult to see any doctrinal justification for a Christian religious war but people tend to get a bit shirty when they feel their freedoms are threatened.

 
Celebaelin
1241212.  Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:33 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
Chicken and Egg – does seem to be the central theme here.

Natch.

bobwilson wrote:
The Pax Romana was not a religious movement (as we would understand it), and certainly not a Christian one.

I didn’t claim that it was – what I said was that the peaceful state of affairs that existed under Roman rule was suited to Christian thought and that the de facto peace suited the majority of people after the break-up of the empire facilitated by the advances leading to greater efficiency of land use.

bobwilson wrote:
It is the PR that sets the standard for peaceful co-existence allowing the development of settled societies over a wide area and (ultimately) experimentation with more complex industrial processes, education, and social systems (including the development of more inclusive religious philosophies).

In other words, in that initial phase – first comes the security, then the movement towards an agrarian/industrial culture, and following in the train come experiments in thought (amongst which is Christianity).

That, IMO, is a perfectly valid and reasonable explanation of the events up to the rise of Christianity. I may have said something quite like it myself.

I don’t take much issue with your other assessments either except that you acknowledge the reverence for Christianity but do not accept the influence of Christian philosophy on social development

bobwilson wrote:
...they were considered to be “untouchable” – I’m reminded of the scene in “The Man Who Would Be King” when battle is suspended due to a procession of monks passing throught the battlefield

bobwilson wrote:
To claim that the later history of Europe holds a direct connection to the Pax Romana – despite the establishment of the “Holy Roman Empire” (which, as Voltaire said, was “neither Holy, nor Roman, nor even an Empire”) – is stretching things.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t claim any direct connections in any of my interpretations. That would definitely require evidence that a given transition was planned rather than ‘evolved’ as a natural progression. I imagine many people felt reassured by the existence of a political entity that referenced Christianity, Rome and military capability in its name. If the HRE had conquered the Danes would the Norman invasion have been possible? We’ll never know but as for that arch-sophist Voltaire I always like to keep in mind his deathbed quote

Priest: Do you denounce the Devil and all his works?
Voltaire: This is hardly a time to be making enemies!

 
bobwilson
1241285.  Sun Jul 02, 2017 6:46 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas


You now seem to have yourself countered your initial assertion (at least as far as Europe is concerned):

The transformation to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe was initiated by the Pax Romana – not by Christian philosophy.

There then rises a secondary question – was Christian philosophy responsible for the revitalisation of the agrarian/industrial culture in Europe at the end of the Dark Ages? (And a tertiary question of course – concerning the Americas – but that can wait for now).

The fall of the Pax Romana would not, in and of itself, have led to a complete societal breakdown. The limitations of communication in the ancient world have a positive side – put simply, even the sacking of a city would have little effect on people (say) 50 miles distant unless they took an active part to become involved in the conflict.

To put this into context, there are many stories from as late as the First World War of army units on the Eastern front, and from both sides of the conflict, being unable to establish by inquiring of the locals as to which country they were in, let alone who was nominally the territorial overlord.

In other words, for the vast majority of the population, life would have continued as it always had – and that would (presumably) mean that the local priest along with the local Lord would continue to operate as they always had.

This continuity, combined with the fact that religious bodies would be the only place wherein literacy was the norm, would lead to a natural reverence for religious people. It is telling that that even as late as the 18th Century, it is the Church that is the main directing force that gives semi-sanctity to the teachings of the ancient Greeks (and it is the Church that is instrumental in suppressing any suggestion that run counter to those teachings).

So, what we have, simplistically put, is an initial (non-Christian) Empire imposing a universal peace; in this atmosphere a transformation to an agrarian/industrial culture becomes possible; this Empire (I would argue inevitably) falls; a legacy of learning is left which in this instance is monopolised by the Christian church; that legacy of learning is not limited to Christian doctrine but draws upon all facets of knowledge.

The reverence for the Church (imposed by the Empire) becomes reverence for the churchman; the churchman does not limit his studies to Christianity but turns his attentions to other ancient writings, which in turn leads to a reverence among the populace for those ancient writings.

Thus, when a strongman emerges from the chaos, there is a ready-built civil service upon which a new Empire can be built.

This is exactly the model that Charlemagne followed.

The transformation (in Europe) from a fragmented to a settled agrarian/industrial society has nothing to do with Christianity (that was the Pax Romana); and the revival of a settled agrarian/industrial society also has nothing to do with Christianity – it is the result of usurping the talents of the educated classes which HAPPENED to be the Christian priests.

In this context it is essential to note that the educated class were not only repositories for Christian knowledge, but also for knowledge of ALL kinds – specifically, for the learning of ancient Greece. It is the learning that is important – Christianity is merely the vehicle in which they hitch a ride.

So, to refer back to my initial question “was Christian philosophy responsible for the revitalisation of the agrarian/industrial culture in Europe at the end of the Dark Ages?” – I would say emphatically no. I would accept that Christians were in the forefront of revitalising agrarian/industrial culture – but that it was the incidental fact of their being the learned people that was responsible for that, rather than their being Christians.

Quote:
If the HRE had conquered the Danes would the Norman invasion have been possible?

I’m not sure what this question means or what relevance it has? By “Norman invasion” do you mean the 1066 invasion of Britain? If so, it probably would have made little difference to that event.

As for Voltaire – he did have a good turn of phrase didn’t he? Although I think it’s a bit harsh to describe him as a sophist.

(I do feel like I’m re-writing the Monty Python sketch to “What have the Christians ever done for us?” – but to every response that is given countering that “actually, no they didn’t, and no they didn’t do that either”. Perhaps this thread should be renamed?).

 
Celebaelin
1241290.  Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:21 pm Reply with quote

I'm not going to reply in detail at this beery point but in general you appear to be confusing conciliation with capitulation.

I'll look at it further later if I may.

 
Celebaelin
1241340.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:24 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
You now seem to have yourself countered your initial assertion (at least as far as Europe is concerned):

The transformation to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe was initiated by the Pax Romana – not by Christian philosophy.

But the Pax Romana by definition did not persist beyond the lifetime of the empire. Without Christianity’s influence to perpetuate the Pax Romana under ‘new management’ as it were it is at least possible, or even likely, that this pacifistic trend would not have continued.

bobwilson wrote:
There then rises a secondary question – was Christian philosophy responsible for the revitalisation of the agrarian/industrial culture in Europe at the end of the Dark Ages?

The transformation (in Europe) from a fragmented to a settled agrarian/industrial society has nothing to do with Christianity (that was the Pax Romana); and the revival of a settled agrarian/industrial society also has nothing to do with Christianity – it is the result of usurping the talents of the educated classes which HAPPENED to be the Christian priests.

In this context it is essential to note that the educated class were not only repositories for Christian knowledge, but also for knowledge of ALL kinds – specifically, for the learning of ancient Greece. It is the learning that is important – Christianity is merely the vehicle in which they hitch a ride.

So, to refer back to my initial question “was Christian philosophy responsible for the revitalisation of the agrarian/industrial culture in Europe at the end of the Dark Ages?” – I would say emphatically no. I would accept that Christians were in the forefront of revitalising agrarian/industrial culture – but that it was the incidental fact of their being the learned people that was responsible for that, rather than their being Christians.

(I’ve taken the liberty of putting all your eggs (and probably the majority of your chickens) in one basket as regards the structure of your post there bob. I trust you will let me know if I have altered your intention in any way.

Gosh, where to start in unravelling that bag of snakes?

Let’s begin with

bobwilson wrote:
- it is the result of usurping the talents of the educated classes which HAPPENED to be the Christian priests.

Usurping? Do you mean seconding into the Christian church rather than letting them go about the business of, well, business? If not where is the usurpation? The educated classes did not just happen to be Christian. In that culture they were educated because they were Christian monks and/or priests and the Church had made an effort to preserve the amassed knowledge of the centuries.

bobwilson wrote:
The fall of the Pax Romana would not, in and of itself, have led to a complete societal breakdown. The limitations of communication in the ancient world have a positive side – put simply, even the sacking of a city would have little effect on people (say) 50 miles distant unless they took an active part to become involved in the conflict.

At the risk of repeating myself you’re asserting that the empire fell but the Pax Romana did not? Why not? What factor or factors preserved the Pax Romana in essence if not in detail after the collapse of the empire itself? I think you can guess what my suggestion would be in that regard. As regards your point about communications it’s all a question of size, distance and timescales. It’s not that cities didn’t have hinterlands or that they were particularly limited (if anything the scarcity of large cities expanded their sphere of influence) but the speed of travel slowed the impact giving a bigger timeframe in which to reach alternative arrangements where possible.

bobwilson wrote:
To put this into context, there are many stories from as late as the First World War of army units on the Eastern front, and from both sides of the conflict, being unable to establish by inquiring of the locals as to which country they were in, let alone who was nominally the territorial overlord.

And there’d be no other reason for civilians in a time of war to be uncertain which side of a border they were on obviously!

bobwilson wrote:
In other words, for the vast majority of the population, life would have continued as it always had – and that would (presumably) mean that the local priest along with the local Lord would continue to operate as they always had.

But the local priest and the local lord were a result of Roman societal structure as was the bucolic existence so life did not continue ‘as it always had’ but as it most recently had because of the vestiges of late Roman society which included the Christian church and at least a limited form of local power structure.

bobwilson wrote:
This continuity, combined with the fact that religious bodies would be the only place wherein literacy was the norm, would lead to a natural reverence for religious people. It is telling that that even as late as the 18th Century, it is the Church that is the main directing force that gives semi-sanctity to the teachings of the ancient Greeks (and it is the Church that is instrumental in suppressing any suggestion that run counter to those teachings).

Agreed.

bobwilson wrote:
So, what we have, simplistically put, is an initial (non-Christian) Empire imposing a universal peace; in this atmosphere a transformation to an agrarian/industrial culture becomes possible; this Empire (I would argue inevitably) falls; a legacy of learning is left which in this instance is monopolised by the Christian church; that legacy of learning is not limited to Christian doctrine but draws upon all facets of knowledge.

/industrial not industrial yet
monopolised that has an aggressive sound to it. Christianity became the state religion under the Romans as it was in the ascendance and the non-violent philosophy favoured the status quo. The opposition to new knowledge noted earlier is unrelated to that but more to do with the threat to the authority of the church that new information brings. It’s a natural reaction of human beings protecting their positions of power not anything inherent to the religion itself.

bobwilson wrote:
The reverence for the Church (imposed by the Empire) becomes reverence for the churchman; the churchman does not limit his studies to Christianity but turns his attentions to other ancient writings, which in turn leads to a reverence among the populace for those ancient writings.

Totally.

bobwilson wrote:
Thus, when a strongman emerges from the chaos, there is a ready-built civil service upon which a new Empire can be built.

This is exactly the model that Charlemagne followed.

Well at least he’s a Christian thug!

bobwilson wrote:
Quote:
If the HRE had conquered the Danes would the Norman invasion have been possible?

I’m not sure what this question means or what relevance it has? By “Norman invasion” do you mean the 1066 invasion of Britain? If so, it probably would have made little difference to that event.

It was an aside referencing William the Bastard’s use of Danish mercenaries to attack Yorkshire (Battle of Stamford Bridge) which he wouldn’t have been able to do had the Carolingians conquered Denmark.

<E> Oops, I missed off a chunk from the beginning of that.

 
Alexander Howard
1241352.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:34 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
It was an aside referencing William the Bastard’s use of Danish mercenaries to attack Yorkshire (Battle of Stamford Bridge) which he wouldn’t have been able to do had the Carolingians conquered Denmark.


Stamford Bridge was nothing to do with William the Bastard, nor the Danes: it was the battle that ended a Norwegian invasion by Harald Sigurdsson.

Historians speculate that the English armies were defeated at Hastings in 1066 because they were weakened by having had to fight the Norwegians in the north a few weeks before. There is no certainty though: the English line held for many hours and was broken only by tactics which could have defeated even a fresh army. You might even argue that the army which lined Senlac Hill were battle-hardened by their encounter with the Norse.

After Hastings there was a conspiracy for Sveinn Ástríđarson, King of the Danes, to invade, but the Normans were too well entrenched and the English nobility too broken to offer support.

 
Celebaelin
1241362.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:55 am Reply with quote

Harald Hardrada and the... oh. Some errors there on my part apparently.

Quote:
Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurđarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harđráđi, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus' and of the Varangian Guard in the Byzantine Empire.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Hardrada

Hardrada was a mercenary (above source) and I've heard it alleged that he was paid by William to attack in the North to draw Saxon strength away from his landing but I can't find any sources to back that up explicitly. I must admit that I'd taken this as fact up until this point - it seemed logical - but apparently this is at least in doubt and possibly mere speculation.

A more interesting aside that I'd thought then - but not in the way I'd thought. I blame television historians and my own credulity.

Thanks for pointing that out.

 
Jenny
1241373.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:33 pm Reply with quote

Cele you keep referencing Christianity as a non-violent philosophy, but doesn't that rather ignore the amount of violence that uses Christianity as an excuse?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_wars_of_religion

If Christianity was so non-violent, why would Christians use their variant of it as an excuse to attack other Christians? And if religion wasn't an excuse but a cover for other motives, then the supposed non-violent ethos of the religion didn't have much of an impact, did it?

At the moment, I'm seeing the rise of education, science and democracy as far more contributory to any reduction in violence than the spread of Christianity. There's a rather good essay called The Decline of European Christianity
From the Enlightenment to the French Revolution here.

 
Celebaelin
1241391.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 5:58 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Cele you keep referencing Christianity as a non-violent philosophy, but doesn't that rather ignore the amount of violence that uses Christianity as an excuse?

Not in my opinion because philosophically Christianity IS inherently non-violent. To protect that point of view against more aggressive philosophies is inherently contrary to Christian philosophy however.

Jenny wrote:
If Christianity was so non-violent, why would Christians use their variant of it as an excuse to attack other Christians? And if religion wasn't an excuse but a cover for other motives, then the supposed non-violent ethos of the religion didn't have much of an impact, did it?

At the moment, I'm seeing the rise of education, science and democracy as far more contributory to any reduction in violence than the spread of Christianity. There's a rather good essay called The Decline of European Christianity
From the Enlightenment to the French Revolution here.


I like this following movie quote; I'm not sure that I care if you don't (on review even as I see it now I'm going to go with it); it's monumentally pragmatic but clearly far from moral from a personal perspective. I both like it and dislike it.

A Few Good Men wrote:
Col. Nathan R. Jessep: You cant handle the truth! Son we live in a world that has walls, and those have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You... you lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines; you have that luxury, you have the luxury of not knowing what I know - that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence - while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall! We use words like honor, code [and?] loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something; you use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd rather you just say 'thank you' and go on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!


Christianity, within limits, is a guarantee of peace; meanwhile however people within that culture but in protection of it have to stand guard against more aggressive philosophies. There are other points of view on that from time to time although they get subsumed within other more violent, cultures.

I welcome the expected oncoming storm btw...


Last edited by Celebaelin on Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:52 am; edited 2 times in total

 
CharliesDragon
1241393.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:38 pm Reply with quote

So... Christianity made people more peaceful, except those that disregarded Christianity's teachings and went to war anyway?

I fully agree Christian teachings are peaceful and against war, but I disagree that those teachings have always been respected, people have found ways around it, excuses to tell themselves and others.

 
Celebaelin
1241394.  Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:45 pm Reply with quote

Yes. The general idea is:

Take care 'luv'; I may be back later (or not) but you'll* be protected.

* wife and kids

 
Jenny
1241468.  Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:50 am Reply with quote

I honestly can't see the difference between non-violence combined with self-protection against aggression as espoused (according to you) by Christianity and the exact same philosophy with different bits of embroidery on it as taught by any other religion.

 
Celebaelin
1241511.  Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:57 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I honestly can't see the difference between non-violence combined with self-protection against aggression as espoused (according to you) by Christianity and the exact same philosophy with different bits of embroidery on it as taught by any other religion.

Buddhism seems to be the principal counter concept in that regard as regards laudable examples of non-violence and, as far as I am aware, is ideally(?) dictated by individual belief not the necessities of state.

I'll have to say at this point that I'm unsure about my assertions but I think/hope it's fair to assert that the primarily Buddhist states in terms of influence on governance are Bhutan and Nepal (others? information? arguments?) and they are hardly big players politically... or geographically. What we're getting onto at this point seems to be the pragmatism (it appears pragmaticism is not a real word, much as I like it : /) of social co-operation for the greater good - very much akin to, or totally synonymous with, utilitarianism. The question at the root of that contention is about the particular perspective of the greater good which, on balance, is, or rather should be IMO, a purely ethical concern rather than being subject to the doctrinal influence prevalent within an individual culture or the perspective at a unique point in history. This seems to me to be a more mature understanding than the one under which many embedded attitudes were formed.

This does not alter the 'foundations' of thought beneath the societal structure of Western culture however. Not in my opinion anyway.

 
tetsabb
1241545.  Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:04 am Reply with quote

Buddhism is the primary religion in Sri Lanka, where they waged a ling and bloody war against the separatist Hindu Tamils.
Go figure.

 
Celebaelin
1241570.  Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:16 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
...self-protection against aggression as espoused (according to you) by Christianity...

To be fair I didn't say that was espoused by Christianity; nominally Christian societies suspend Christian values in the face of threats to the peace of their populace. In fact, for reasons of state ambition which are quite clearly not part of a Christian agenda (as both sides of the conflict are Christian), some level of aggression by supposedly Christian countries is probably going on at all times (Russia in the Ukraine, the USA in South America, the Falklands War etc.). These are not 'religious wars' these are your ordinary, bog-standard, wars for political or economic gain paid for by the blood of the populations of the involved nations.

 

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