The Exceptionalism of the West?
As to the cultural aridity of Islamic civilizations: well, yes. This is
not an exceptionalism belonging to Islam, though. The exceptionalism
belongs to us, to the West. We are dynamic and creative; we are fired by curiosity to inquire into the natural order; we are driven by imagination to set off and explore remote places; our
culture progresses through developmental stages, each building on the
last: Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical… Renaissance, Reformation,
Enlightenment… Romanesque, Gothic, Perpendicular… Classical,
Romantic, Modern… City-state, empire, feudalism, monarchy,
The ancient Egyptians and Persians, the Maurya and Gupta dynasties of
India; the Japanese; the Mesoamerican civilizations, the old
Mesopotamian empires — there was not a lick of progress in any of them
across their entire existences, compared with what happened in any
hundred years of European civilization.
Obviously his point here is not technological progress, but social and intellectual progress. I don’t feel I (yet) have the historical training to gauge the statement’s accuracy… so what do you think?