Culture of Reason
A Brief History of Democracy
By Jeff Fynn-Paul
Dr. Jeff Fynn-Paul, PhD. is a professor of International Studies at Leiden Univ. in The Hague. He regularly lectures to groups of 500 or more students on issues of pressing international concern, incl. economics, culture, and theory. He has published several books with major international publishers, including Cambridge, Routledge, and Brill. His scholarly work has appeared in some of the world’s leading academic journals, and several of his articles are ranked amongst the most influential in their field. He has made particular contributions to the history of urban history, class, slavery, entrepreneurialism, and economic development.
Why does the West clash so strongly with some non-Western societies over Human Rights? Why does the World Bank care so strongly about perceived corruption? Why do western democracies hold Capitalism so dear—despite virulent criticisms from many quarters? Why has it historically been so difficult for dictatorships maintain strong scientific establishments? Why do soft-culture elements such as movies, Rock’n’Roll, and Hip-Hop tend to develop so prodigiously in certain democratic societies, and why are they consumed so eagerly throughout the globe? Why did twentieth-century attempts to dismantle Capitalism almost always end in totalitarian failure? And why is it proving so difficult to spread democracy in the Middle East and Russia?
In Culture of Reason Professor Jeff Fynn-Paul argues that one cannot understand the nexus of so-called ‘Western’ culture without understanding the Four Pillars that have underpinned what he calls the western Culture of Reason. These Four Pillars are: 1) Democratic Institutions, 2) Capitalism, 3) Philosophy and Science, and 4) Humanism, including human rights. In this argument, the development of economics, politics, and culture have been intimately bound up for thousands of years.
A turning point in global history came with what Prof. Fynn-Paul calls the ‘First Polyarchal Revolution.’ At this time, the first non-monarchical societies emerged in Greece and the Mediterranean. These were narrow oligarchies, but they accidentally spawned both public Law Codes and public forums, which favored elites who were particularly skilled in the arts of logic and rhetoric. As oligarchy survived for a period of centuries, elites began to deliberately train their sons in rhetoric and logic, and the spinoff effect from this was the creation of a Culture of Reason.
When Athens shifted to a radically inclusive democracy, it supercharged this nascent Culture of Reason, and every field of science known to man prior to the 19th century was born in that one city—within a period of two centuries. Over a millennium later, a remarkably similar process occurred in renaissance Florence. Modern science was reborn. Florence handed on the torch to Holland, and then to England, which itself gave rise to the United States. Fynn-Paul argues that these few cultures have been responsible for the lion’s share of global innovations—and they have all remained intimately bound with the Four Pillars. History shows that, even today, those societies which support only some of these pillars risk losing them all.
Prof. Fynn’s lucid, gripping analysis provides a much-needed explanation of precisely why and how modern global culture came to be what it is today. Many attempts are still being made to reform or spread this culture, and most end in abject failure due to lack of sufficient understanding of the history of democracy. Global society simply cannot afford to ignore the lessons that this book provides.
Seeking initial publication as well as Foreign Rights
Approx. 110.000 words - World Rights Available