The Spiritual Origins of the West: A Lack Perspective

Every time a society finds itself in crisis it instinctively turns its eyes towards its origins and looks there for a sign.

(Octavio Paz)

The more we learn about other civilizations, the more anomalous the West seems. If we resist the presumption that Western culture is the growing tip of social evolution, to be contrasted with the stagnation of non-Western ones, what becomes highlighted is its dynamism, for better and worse. Rather than trying to account for the “undevelopment” of non-Western societies — why they did not evolve further along our path — it is the apparently self-generated and future-driven “progress” of the West that needs to be explained. What caused it?

We cannot simply point to the Renaissance, for that “rebirth” is itself

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