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Weber on The Western Tradition, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 695

Essay

Eugene Weber talks about many historical concepts in his videos. Religion is a reoccurring factor, which he identifies as an evolving core aspect of every culture. In “The Dawn of History” on many concepts Weber describes the creation of religion and in the video “From Bronze to Iron,” he explains how religion has evolved into many of the more contemporary ideologies that are known today. The other two videos connect the two eras

In “The Dawn of History,” Weber does not touch too deeply on religion as the majority of the video focuses on the first few thousand years of evolution. The main obstacle to religion in the video is the constraints on the mind like heavy jaws lines, and large teeth.  Once man discovered the ability of flint tools to cut food and other items, the need for the heavy jaw lines disappeared and mind evolved into a thinking mind. These Old Stone Age members transitioned from the fear of thinking to realize that thinking did not result in death.  Weber does touch on the concept of these men of the Old Stone Age trying to comprehend death and becoming terrified by the mystery and terror of death.  He says to deal with this fear, man created stories and mythical tales to explain life and death. This pattern resulted in a religion that was grounded on rituals based on the sexual act to influence fertility in both human life as well as nature to grow crops. Webr uses the example of “The Grain King.” This person was seen as being responsible for the abundance of crops, through fertility rituals, and ultimately this character became viewed as priest of or King in more developed societies.

In “The Ancient Egyptians,” Weber talks about Egypt, and he identifies the core difference between Old Kingdom Egypt and New Kingdom Egypt as being the power the Pharaoh had over the people, and the Pharoah being viwed as a god. Egyptians invented a divine world that was connected with the real world. Akhenaten’s religious experiments be sure to indicate the changes from the Old religion As noted by the text Akhenaten initiated religious reforms in Egypt that have never before been attempted. The text states that, “he withdrew his support from the old temples and tried to dissolve the powerful priesthoods. Akhenaten also departed from tradition by introducing a new naturalism in art, in which he allowed himself to be portrayed realistically, protruding belly and all.

On the Western tradition, “Mesopotamia” episode, Weber opens by starting about paradise in the book of Genesis. He says this was Mesopotamia was the land between the rivers which the Garden of Eden was based on. He references the varying nature of. He says the gods were “terrible unpredictable and likely to manifest themselves in unpleasant ways (Weber).” Weber notes the complicated social structure of Mesopotamia was dominated by priests. Semites were more abstract with their art and did not try to connect the religion they created in relation the real world.

In from “From the Bronze to the Iron” on more aspects of the many religious wars that spurred social changes. Wars spread culture. He mentions Sargon exemplified power and prestige. He used religion as a tool to unite the people. This can be specifically seen in the act of appointing his daughter, Enheduanna, as high priestess of both the Akkadian and Sumerian goddesses. Nebuchadnezzar II is responsible for defeating the Hebrews in Judah and Jerusalem, exiling them and enslaving the Jewish people and taking them to Babylon. Cyrus the Great is also mentioned as he is responsible for the expansion of the Neo Babylonian Empire. His influences is largely responsible for adoption of Aramaic as the lingua franca, common language.

In sum, Weber describes religion as a concept on which the societies were built and theirs were spread through the empowerment of trade and exchange of ideas.  The Stone Age led to thinking beings which gave birth to the Egyptian era and the practice of idolatry in the for of pharaohs. The most important revelation that Weber demonstrates in all four videos is that religion led to the development of social structure, economy, and language.

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