Our European culture is one that has staked its all on the universal and the danger menacing it is that of perishing by the universal.
Rémi Brague rejects common charges of Eurocentrisim leveled against Western civilization. He prefers to characterize the West as "eccentric," meaning off center. He equates Western civilization with Europe and understands it as that civilization which grew out of the western half of the Roman Empire and with time differentiated itself from Byzantine and Islamic civilizations (themselves successors to the Roman heritage). He labels Europe eccentric because it stands (physically and figuratively) on the edge of its professed universal core. Ancient Greece and Christianity comprise that core. Following Leo Strauss, Brague employs the symbols of Athens and Jerusalem. "Its culture comes down to two elements that cannot be reduced to one another. These two elements are the Jewish and the later Christian tradition, on the one hand, and the tradition of pagan antiquity on the other. 'Athens and Jerusalem' has been proposed as an expression to symbolize each of these currents with a proper name."2
Brigham Young University
O'Brien, P. (2005). Europe: A civilization on the edge. Comparative Civilizations Review, 53, 52-85.
Comparative Civilizations Review