Bruce Thornton’s “Greek Ways”

Ancient Greek civilization is considered by many specialists, such as Bruce Thornton, the cradle of the modern western civilization. In his book “Greek Ways”, Bruce Thornton opposes to critics of the ancient Greek society who believed in the backwardness of ancient Greeks. Instead, he argues that the ancient Greek society was an advanced civilization which laid the foundation to the modern western society and its basic principles. In this respect, it is important to underline that Bruce Thornton argue that ancient Greeks affected different aspects of western civilization, but he lays a particular emphasis on their achievements in the field of socio-political life, culture and science.

First of all, Bruce Thornton focuses his attention on the close link between the ancient Greek civilization and modern western civilization. He points out that the modern western civilization originates from the ancient Greek civilization. In this respect, he is particularly concerned with the liberalism of the modern western civilization. He believes that those liberal principles that are taken for granted by modern people representing the western civilization were originally inherited from the ancient Greek culture. The author repeatedly refers to works of ancient Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle and Plato, to prove the Greek origin of liberal ideas which dominate in the modern western civilization.

At the same time, the author logically constructs his argument supporting his principal idea that ancient Greeks created an advanced civilization, which to a significant extent, defined the development of Europe and western civilization at large. At the beginning of his book, he describes the culture and traditions of ancient Greece which were characterized by high liberalism and freedom. In such a way, he attempts to reveal the richness of ancient Greek culture and show its similarity to the modern western culture or, at least, some of its elements.

Furthermore, similarities grow more and more substantial. One of the major achievements of the ancient Greek civilization was its political advancement and the development of diverse political systems and states. In this respect, Bruce Thornton considers democracy as the major achievement of ancient Greece. He underlines that Greece was the country where democracy emerged and became a very important form of the state, where the populace have the possibility to influence the political life of the country and, in a way, participating in the process of taking decisions by Greek rulers. Even though, Greek democracy was under-developed compared to the modern western democracy, but, it was consistently more advanced than centuries of European feudalism and absolutism to follow, when personal freedom and the sovereignty of people were absolutely irrelevant, while the position of ruling elite and monarchs was unchallengeable. It is only by the 18-19th centuries, democratic principles developed in ancient Greece were adapted to the new environment and eventually became the mainstream trend in the western civilization.

Along with politics, ancient Greek produced a considerable impact on the development of western philosophy and science. Ideas of ancient philosophers persisted practically to the modern era and even, today, their views are very significant. At the same time, ancient Greek rationalism laid a solid foundation to the development of western science, which has a great authority in the consciousness of westerners today.

Thus, Bruce Thornton reveals a great contribution of ancient Greeks in the development of western culture, philosophy, science, politics and social life. Ancient Greek liberalism and freedom became fundamental to the modern western civilization.

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