History of Western Civilization Essay
An outstanding single event that happened in history during the ancient period was the development of the alphabet in Egypt around 2800 BC. This was in the form of hieroglyphics, which was the writing system devised by the Egyptians in order to improve their communication processes. The symbols developed by the hieroglyphics represented important messages and information that helped to clearly improve the way of living of the Egyptian people.
Although the hieroglyphics are not used anymore today as part of the modern alphabet, it clearly became the basis for the establishment of the English, Greek and Latin alphabets that were further developed by people that lived during the Western civilizations. It was through the hieroglyphics that the concepts of vowels and consonants evolved, and the improved alphabets were effectively merged with different Western languages that enabled them to use better methods of communication (Budge, 2009).
The legacy that the establishment of hieroglyphics has left to the modern era is the gift of improved written communication. With a recognized set of alphabet, people at present have been able to effectively express their ideas and sentiments through various forms of written communication. With the emergence of various technologies like mobile phones and computers, written communication has even become easier and able to reach people from various parts of the globe.
Thus, people are given the opportunity to effectively convey their messages to one another by using a common alphabet and language system that they can understand, preventing unnecessary conflicts or misunderstandings that could potentially happen along the process of communication. The establishment of the Oxford University in 1249 is another outstanding single event that deserves consideration. Oxford University is one of the first academic institutions that were established all over the world, and it is already one of the oldest at present.
The various religious sects in England had the initiative to establish an academic institution where the people can be able to get formal learning and improve their knowledge and understanding about various subject matters. Because of the massive influences of the medieval, renaissance and early Industrial Revolution periods, even the people from Western civilizations traveled to Europe and aimed to study at Oxford University where the best teachers all over the world can be found (Feingold, 2010).
Music, religion, politics, science and law were the common subjects being taught at Oxford University, and the students returned to their respective countries bringing along with them the knowledge that they learned and applying them into the society. The legacy that the establishment of Oxford University has left to the modern era is that it provided the inspiration for the Western and Eastern worlds to make education of people a top priority.
The significant intellectual improvements of students that studied at Oxford University paved the way for the foundation of many other universities all over the world. For example, America was able to establish its first university, Harvard, in 1636. It became clear for people that they had to get formal education in various schools and universities for them to be able to maximize their skills and capabilities and be able to become productive citizens and contribute positively to society. An outstanding individual during the ancient period was Plato.
Originating from Greece, Plato’s ideas undoubtedly helped to shape the Western philosophy. His ideas on Platonic realism, theory of forms and the definition of knowledge helped to educate the people and made them think about their own perspectives about these matters. Plato also founded the Academy, an academic institution that was meant to help people to have a better knowledge and understanding about things that they were interested about. Perhaps the best contribution of Plato for the Western civilizations was his ideas on the ideal state.
He believed that in order for the state to be able to function effectively, the society had to be properly organized into people that will lead, people that will serve, and people that will give recommendations and advice (Taylor, 2001). These people have to be able to work harmoniously so that the state can attain peace and progress in a sustainable manner. Plato also reminded that the people also had to make certain sacrifices whenever necessary so that the state can be able to stand strong and repulse any attempts from its enemies to destroy it.
All these ideas of Plato have surely left a lasting legacy in the modern era as most governments still make use of his ideas on the ideal state to be able to guide them in the process of leadership and governance. His philosophical ideas are still being taught and debated in various academic institutions and have paved the way for people to appreciate Plato’s intellectual brilliance especially during his time where so many people were aspiring to make a huge difference in society. Another outstanding individual that lived during the Renaissance-early Industrial Revolution periods was Niccolo Machiavelli.
Originating from Italy, Machiavelli’s contributions to Western civilization were mainly rooted on political science. Known for his courage and boldness in citing his opinions on various political matters, Machiavelli is well recognized for his unique ideas that even became the inspiration of other philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Leo Strauss. Perhaps the best contribution of Niccolo Machiavelli was his masterpiece entitled The Prince. This book expressed Machiavelli’s ideas regarding a more deliberate and forceful transfer of power.
He believed that when the leader of the state was not performing his roles and responsibilities, the people need not to wait for the leader to step down (Ford, 2005). Machiavelli mentioned that the people can be empowered to forcefully expel the leader of the state from his position and choose the best and most suitable leader as the replacement. He thought that this was a necessary evil in order to restore balance and orderliness in the society instead of the people doing nothing and allowing the ineffective and corrupt leader to continue to stay in power and eventually become stronger in time.
Thus, these ideas of Niccolo Machiavelli paved the way for the establishment of the people empowerment concept, which is his legacy for the modern era. Although people at present do not really aim to kill their incompetent leaders or incite chaos to demonstrate their discontent, they use the ideas of Niccolo Machiavelli as their inspiration to have the courage to stand up and make their voices of displeasure be heard.
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