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For this article's equivalent regarding the East, see Eastern culture. For the Henry Cow album of the same name, see Western Culture (album).
Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. A symbol of the importance of humanism and empiricism in Western culture since the Renaissance.
Plato along with Socrates and Aristotle were founding members of Western philosophy Western culture (sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization) refers to cultures of European origin. Western culture began with the Greeks, was enlarged and strengthened by the Romans, reformed and modernized by the fifteenth-century Renaissance and Reformation, and globalized by successive European empires that spread the European ways of life and education between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. European Culture developed with a complex range of philosophy, medieval scholasticism and mysticism, Christian and secular humanism. Rational thinking developed through a long age of change and formation with the experiments of enlightenment, naturalism, romanticism, science, democracy, and socialism. With its global connection, European culture grew with an all-inclusive urge to adopt, adapt, and ultimately influence other trends of culture. The term "Western culture" is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies. Specifically, Western culture may imply: •
a Graeco-Roman Classical and Renaissance cultural influence, concerning artistic, philosophic, literary, and legal themes and traditions, the cultural social effects of migration period and the heritages of Celtic, Germanic, Romanic, Iberians, Slavic and other ethnic groups, as well as a tradition of rationalism in various spheres of life, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, Scholasticism, Humanisms, the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, and including, in political thought, widespread rational arguments in favour of freethought, human rights, equality and democratic values averse to irrationality and theocracy. •
a Biblical-Christian cultural influence in spiritual thinking, customs and either ethic or moral traditions, around Post-Classical Era. •
Western European cultural influences concerning artistic, musical, folkloric, ethic and oral traditions, whose themes have been further developed by Romanticism. The concept of western culture is generally linked to the classical definition of the Western world. In this definition, Western culture is the set of literary, scientific, political, artistic and philosophical principles which set it apart from other civilizations. Much of this set of traditions and knowledge is collected in the Western canon. The term has come to apply to countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration or settlement, such as the Americas, and Australasia, and is not restricted to Western Europe. Some tendencies that define modern Western societies are the existence of political pluralism, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements), increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration. Contents
2.1 The Classical West
2.2 The Medieval West
2.3 The Modern Era
4 Widespread influence
5 Music, art, story-telling and architecture
6 Scientific and technological inventions and discoveries •
7 Themes and traditions
8 See also
12 Further reading
Further information: Western...
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