Philosophical Anthropology and Practical Politics

By F. S. C. Northrop | Go to book overview

19
Freedom's Way to Modernize an Old Society

The modernization of an old society must be tailor-made to each particular instance. Such societies differ greatly from one another because the religious or secular universals, epistemically trapped covertly for the most part in the brains and behavioristically conditioned customs of the people, vary from religious community to religious community and from nation to nation.

The most elementary concepts of any Judaic, Christian or Islamic community are conveyed in the stories of creation and the Garden of Eden. All three of these Semitic religions, however, take on more specific religious content by virtue of the number of prophets, in addition to those of the Talmud and the Old Testament, which they accept. Thus Christian communities give assent to the teachings and life of Jesus in a Holy Trinitarian sense in which Jewish and Islamic communities do not; and Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet like the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament but believes that only in Mohammad and his Quran is the Divine Will perfectly expressed. Each of these three Semitic religious communities takes on more specific scientific, philosophical and religious content because of the varying influences upon it of ancient Greek science and philosophy and Stoic Roman law. Islam, for example, was deeply influenced by Greek mathematical physics and philosophy, as the later discovery of geometrical optics and its laws of perspective by the Arabian Alhazen demonstrates. It was not influenced by Stoic Roman law of contract until modern times and then only in some Islamic nations such as

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