Sun

11

Mar

2012

More on Western Sub-traditions

What should constitute the components of the Western traditions?

 

After more deliberation, it feels to me that part of my earlier confusion came from the analogy with Islam / CWANA tradition.

 

Generally, there is general correlation between the regions and primary belief systems:

 

Region Religion
West Christianity
CWANA Islam
South Asia Hinduism
East Asia Confucianism

But, of course, we know that there are non-Christian folks in the west, and Christianity also exists outside of the West. The same can be said of every other pair.

 

For South Asia, we know Hinduism is a Western-constructed category that essentially refers to the South Asian religions tradition, when a text is generally South Asian it is probably ok to label it as something generally Hindu.

 

For Islam, there is no strong name that refers to the region that is is in (just look at how weird the term CWANA is!), there is no other way to say a text is generally Islamic (or in Marshall Hodgson's words, Islamicate), so no deep issues arise.

 

For East Asia, because Confucianism is not really that much of a strict religion, typically it is easier to say a text belong to the Chinese tradition rather than Confucianism (unless a text is strictly Confucianist).

 

For the West, especially after say 1400 - many writers are Christian, and operates under general assumptions in the cutlures of Christendom, many of the texts are no longer focused on religion per se. (in this way, analogous to say the non-pious Abu Nuwas classified as an Islamic[cate] text). So to say that it is a generally Christian text sounds strange. And because the West as a regional designation is strong strong, it is usually easier to say it is a text in the Western tradition instead. And when we encounter post-enlightenment authors, say Marx and Nietzsche, while the Judeo-Christian background is still strong, it sounds even more strange to call them Christian text.

 

This leads me to incline towards a classification system similar to how it is done in the East Asian tradition, which uses both linguistic (Chinese / Japanese) and religious categories (Confucian / Daoist / Buddhist) as basis.

 

Specifically, for the list of 54 texts:

1. Classical Pagan (13)

     a. Classical Pagan - Greek (9)

     b. Classical Pagan - Latin (4)

2. Christian (13)

     a. Christian - General (this includes all non denominationally specific texts before Catholic / Orthodox split, but exludes all literature works) (7)

     b. Christian - Orthodox (2) (includes Palamas and Solovyov)

     c. Christian - Catholic (2) (includes Aquinas and Jose de Acosta)

     d. Christan - Protestant / Anglican (2) (inclues Calvin and Schleiermacher)

3. Romance (10)

     a. Italian (3)

     b. Spanish / Portuguese (2)

     c. French (5)

4. English (11)

5. Germanic (5)

6. Slavic (2)

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