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Four Cultures of the West / Edition 1

Four Cultures of the West / Edition 1

by John W. O'Malley


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Four Cultures of the West / Edition 1

The workings of Western intelligence in our day—whether in politics or the arts, in the humanities or the church—are as troubling as they are mysterious, leading to the questions: Where are we going? What in the world were we thinking? By exploring the history of four "cultures" so deeply embedded in Western history that we rarely see their instrumental role in politics, religion, education, and the arts, this timely book provides a broad framework for addressing these questions in a fresh way.

The cultures considered here originated in the ancient world, took on Christian forms, and manifest themselves today in more secular ways. These are, as John W. O'Malley identifies them: the prophetic culture that proclaims the need for radical change in the structures of society (represented by, for example, Jeremiah, Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King, Jr.); the academic culture that seeks instead to understand those structures (Aristotle, Aquinas, the modern university); the humanistic culture that addresses fundamental human issues and works for the common good of society (Cicero, Erasmus, and Eleanor Roosevelt); and the culture of art and performance that celebrates the mystery of the human condition (Phidias, Michelangelo, Balanchine).

By showing how these cultures, as modes of activity and discourse in which Western intelligence has manifested itself through the centuries and continues to do so, O'Malley produces an essay that especially through the history of Christianity brilliantly illuminates the larger history of the West.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674021037
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/30/2006
Edition description: ANN
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,132,611
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 8.87(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

John W. O’Malley is University Professor at Georgetown University.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Athens and Jerusalem1
Culture 1Prophecy and Reform37
Culture 2The Academy and the Professions77
Culture 3Poetry, Rhetoric, and the Common Good127
Culture 4Art and Performance179
Epilogue: The Book of Our Experience235
Further Reading249

What People are Saying About This

This is a bold tour de force.

Jill Ker Conway

John O'Malley's Four Cultures of the West will delight scholars, students, general readers, specialists, young and old, the learned and the merely curious because of its combination of great learning with simplicity of language, elegance of style, and narrative gifts. Whatever our place in the culture wars of our troubled present we will learn to see ourselves differently from O'Malley's analysis of styles of thought and expression flourishing side by side in what we call Western culture.
Jill Ker Conway, author of A Woman's Education and True North.

Jaroslav Pelikan

This is a bold tour de force.
Jaroslav Pelikan, author of Divine Rhetoric and Jesus through the Centuries.

Kenneth Woodward

O'Malley's succinct analysis of the Four Cultures of the West is one of those rare books that uses history to tell us as much about the intellectual conflicts of the present as it does about those of the past. I predict his categorical analysis will be widely cited and widely debated by commentators well beyond academic specialists.
Kenneth Woodward, contributing editor for Newsweek and author of Making Saints.

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