How Western Europe produced so many influential individuals?

Dec 2015
218
NYC
#1
Why was Western Europe (UK, France, Germany) able to produce so many important and influential individuals in areas of science, math, arts, politics, philosophy, etc. I know many other civilizations made more contributions then Western Europe in the past, but it was France, UK, and Germany who shaped the modern world. What events lead to Western Europe producing so many important individuals? As compared to other parts.
 
Dec 2015
277
The Balkans
#3
Higher developed society = better education system and more people who can afford education = more likely a genius will have proper environment to develop whatever talents he has.

For example Carl Friedrich Gauss was first noticed by a school teacher and later by Duke of Brunswick who sent him to university and funded him.

Had he been born in some primitive agricultural society which had no compulsory education it's likely he would never have had the right chance to put his talents to good use for humanity.
 
#4
Why was Western Europe (UK, France, Germany) able to produce so many important and influential individuals in areas of science, math, arts, politics, philosophy, etc. I know many other civilizations made more contributions then Western Europe in the past, but it was France, UK, and Germany who shaped the modern world. What events lead to Western Europe producing so many important individuals? As compared to other parts.
In simple terms, the Renaissance, heavily aided and abetted by Islamic contributions, allowed Western Europe to shoot ahead in terms of economic and technological progress. This, combined with our geographical position, spurred colonialism, which provided wealth and favourable political conditions, viz.: the advent of proxy wars instead of destructive direct wars, plus competitiveness, which spurred creativity and innovation. Also, the timing was lucky, as the other traditional areas of civilisation (the Middle East, India and China) were stagnating due to the dominance of four bloated and oppressive imperial powers, namely the Ottomans, the Safavids, the Mughals and the Qing Dynasty. This was later cemented by the Enlightenment and then the Industrial Revolution.

Although if you want to trace it back to one specific man, it was not a Westerner but an Easterner: Genghis Khan. It was he who laid waste to the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia and eventually laid the foundations for the Mughal empire and the Yuan dynasty, and indirectly to the dominance of the Ottomans and Persia also. He effectively completely destroyed all major world civilisations except that of Western Europe and that is a large part of the story of why we are where we are today.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#5
It's like my main man Edward Gibbon wrote, "the progress of knowledge and industry is accelerated by the emulation of so many active rivals"

The "variegated" outline of Europe, and the many large islands close by, fostered the emergence of many independent kingdoms, duchies, etc, etc.

There was more scope for ministerial talent to innovate, emulate, and more important, avoid any pitfalls, dead-ends, bad outcomes, etc. made by others.

It's almost as if it were on auto-pilot, or an evolution of species of governments.

Genghis Khan would represent a severe environmental pressure.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2015
277
The Balkans
#6
In simple terms, the Renaissance, heavily aided and abetted by Islamic contributions, allowed Western Europe to shoot ahead in terms of economic and technological progress.
I don't see which "Islamic contributions" aided the Renaissance.

If you mean the transmission of the Greek classics it was an Arab contribution and not an "Islamic" one. Not all Muslims are Arabs and not all Arabs are Muslims. The important role was played by Syriac translators who were mostly Christians like Hunayn ibn Ishaq.

The Muslim Ottomans effectively cancelled the Renaissance in the Byzantine empire.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2015
218
NYC
#7
Did the industrial revolution have any part on why Western Europe produced so many individuals? I was looking at a discussion on what would happen if the industrial revolution never existed, and one person said, we wouldn't be so advanced in science, technology like we are now. But wasn't there already scientific and technological advancement before the industrial revolution?
 
Mar 2012
18,030
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
#8
The poor hated Christianity did it for Europe. All these philosophers and scientists were educated by priests.
 
Mar 2012
18,030
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
#9
In simple terms, the Renaissance, heavily aided and abetted by Islamic contributions, allowed Western Europe to shoot ahead in terms of economic and technological progress. This, combined with our geographical position, spurred colonialism, which provided wealth and favourable political conditions, viz.: the advent of proxy wars instead of destructive direct wars, plus competitiveness, which spurred creativity and innovation. Also, the timing was lucky, as the other traditional areas of civilisation (the Middle East, India and China) were stagnating due to the dominance of four bloated and oppressive imperial powers, namely the Ottomans, the Safavids, the Mughals and the Qing Dynasty. This was later cemented by the Enlightenment and then the Industrial Revolution.

Although if you want to trace it back to one specific man, it was not a Westerner but an Easterner: Genghis Khan. It was he who laid waste to the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia and eventually laid the foundations for the Mughal empire and the Yuan dynasty, and indirectly to the dominance of the Ottomans and Persia also. He effectively completely destroyed all major world civilisations except that of Western Europe and that is a large part of the story of why we are where we are today.
If the Muslims were the ones responsible for European success, why is it that they miserably failed in the race against the West? The Muslims were not transformed to become Mongols but it was the other way around. I do recognize that the Middle East have huge contribution in the fields of mathematics et al.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,549
#10
If the Muslims were the ones responsible for European success, why is it that they miserably failed in the race against the West? The Muslims were not transformed to become Mongols but it was the other way around. I do recognize that the Middle East have huge contribution in the fields of mathematics et al.
Well, why do you think?

(Me? Well, no, the Renaissance is a red herring. The important stuff all happened in the Middle Ages already.)