westerncultureandknowledge - German250

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German 250 Western Culture and How We Know It: the Judeo-Christian and Darwinian  "Master Plots" of Cultural History and of Knowledge To understand the thinking behind the Grimms' revisions of European fairy tales in the  nineteenth century, we need to know something about basic Western ways of thinking  about humanity and the role of humans in the world  before  the Grimms' time. The history of the collection of ideas we have come to think of as “Western” did not  begin in Greek and Roman antiquity (ca. 400-700 b.c.), but almost certainly had its  original home in Africa--probably in Egypt. The people there were originally West  African – so, there are African roots to Greek and Roman antiquity, to the antiquity that  influenced the entire development of European culture thereafter. So, the history of what  we now think of as largely white, mainstream Western culture is grounded in Africa.  There are two main traditions of cultural ideas that we now consider "Western." One  essentially stems from religion, and the other from science:  1.  The  Judeo-Christian  tradition borrows many notions of what culture is and what  truth is from that Greek and Roman antiquity (which, again, has many roots in African  culture).  2.  The  Darwinian  tradition originates in some respects before Darwin himself, in the  scientific explosions of the Renaissance in Europe (1500-1700), which were followed by  the European Enlightenment (1700-1800). Darwin's  Origin of the Species  appears in  1859. (The Grimms' fairy tales collections appear from 1811 to 1857). The Darwinian  tradition also has roots in European/African antiquity, however.
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2009 for the course GER 250 taught by Professor Jenkins during the Fall '08 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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westerncultureandknowledge - German250

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