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Intellectual History - Term Paper Example

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Your Name Subject 18 November 2013 Ideas, World Views and Human History Ideas have shaped the world by guiding the course of its path throughout history. The idea of an afterlife built the great pyramids in Egypt; democracy has been the bedrock of the classical Greek civilization and Greek thought; and the Christian god has established the dominant concept of morality that persists to this day…
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Intellectual History
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Download file to see previous pages One could call it the easiest way to explain natural processes. But it is also the only option available in order to interpret and articulate the world with limited knowledge, sophistication and maturity. In the eyes of the primitive humans, the natural phenomena such the setting of the sun, the changes in the season, the very wind that shakes the trees, and the rumble of thunder were beyond understanding. They were inexplicable, terrifying and spectacular all at the same time. By conceiving a metaphysical world, several mysteries were readily answered. The all powerful entity of god, for example, resolved the question of why man lives and dies, why the rain pours and why calamities strikes. Consider the many religious practices discovered as archaeologists unearthed and studied ancient civilizations. They provided invaluable insights not only in regards to how man perceived the world but how he came to terms with his relationship and experience with the world around him. Sacrifice is a case in point. It is, as explained by Watson, both a gift and a coercion, provided to force the god to behave in a manner man wished: “to propitiate them, to defuse their anger, to get, to get rid of, to atone” (134). Natural phenomena that impact humans such as disasters, famine, disease and those favorable events like good harvest and victory in war were attributed to the workings of the gods. Thus, they were considered to be subject to some semblance of human control through sacrifice. For example, when famine struck, primitive people would think that gods were displeased or their offerings inadequate and, hence, would redouble their efforts in the next agricultural cycle (136). The rituals evolved into more elaborate ceremonies with far more important sacrifices as way of life became more complex. Human sacrifices became a prominent form of sacrifice later on. According to Watson, this came about on the strength of the idea that it is a form of self-denial and that the degree of importance of the offering came to be perceived as the more effective or the worthier sacrifice to appease the gods’ anger or to ask for far more important blessings (135). In the Greek island of Knossos, for instance, bone fragments of children offered as sacrifices to the gods were found. These remains, dating to 2000 BC, were said to have existed during the bull-worshipping Minoan civilization and were killed to avert catastrophe, such as the earthquake that eventually led to the civilization’s demise (133). The most basic and the earliest sacrifices involved the use of objects, keeping the first seeds or the first ears of corn for the gods. Later the sacrifices became more elaborate and more cruel. This was a logical evolution in the backdrop of human ignorance about the natural processes that they observed on a daily basis. These were mysteries that occur constantly and they become the basis for the practices such as human sacrifice. The concept of the after life also emerged early in human history. Ancient Egyptians, for example, were buried with their worldly goods in the belief that they would need the treasure in the after life. The Hindu religion also believes that the dead can be reborn. Watson explained that this was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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