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Old May 27 2013, 04:00 AM   #97
stj
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

The Dark Ages were never a term for the Middle Ages. They were applied in western Europe to roughly 500 to 900 CE. The notion that these were times of technological advancement and social progress depends on redefining cities as a blight and the high culture in cities as some sort of mental oppression.

The continuation of civilization in the Byzantine and Arab empires continues to be ignored but has nothing to do with arbitrarily defining away the collapse of civilization in western Europe. Christianity harshly oppressed cultural life in the Byzantine empire. And eventually the same happened in the successors to the Abbasid caliphate, particularly after al-Ghazali's Destruction of Reason. Fortunately the Arab culture had already helped revive culture in the High Middle Ages via the engagement of such minds as Thomas Aquinas.

The notorious example of the Egyptian cultural stagnation however should alone refute any notions that culture is progressive or cyclical.

Popular culture is more like Philistine art, made to be profitable by virtue of being cheap and imitative.

Much of this discussion seems to be tacitly assuming that popular culture is somehow actually of, from, for and by "the people" and that high culture is an insult to the masses. This kind of faux populism expresses a demagogy common to political conservatives.

PS Double checking I see that "Incoherence of the Philosophers" is the preferred transliteration now. I also see that Averroes was later rather than a contemporary. I'm not sure that it matters since al-Ghazali "won" the debate.
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