The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident (from Latin: occidens "sunset, West"; as contrasted with the Orient), is a term referring to different nations depending on the context. There is no agreed upon definition about what all these nations have in common apart from having a significant population of European descent and having cultures and societies heavily influenced by and connected to Europe.
The concept of the Western part of the earth has its roots in Greco-Roman civilization in Europe, with the advent of Christianity. In the modern era, the Western culture has been heavily influenced by the traditions of Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, Age of Enlightenment, and shaped by the expansive colonialism of the 15th-20th centuries. Its political usage was temporarily changed by an internal antagonism during the Cold War in the mid-to-late 20th Century (1947–1991).
The term originally had a literal geographic meaning, contrasting Europe with the linked cultures and civilizations of the Middle East, North Africa, Near East, South Asia, South East Asia and remote Far East, which used to be seen as the East by early-modern Europeans, but today this has little geographic relevance, since the USA and Canada are in the Americas, Russia expands to Northern Asia and Australia and New Zealand are part of Oceania.
In the contemporary cultural meaning, the Western world includes Europe, as well as many countries of European colonial origin with majority European populations in the Americas and Oceania, such as the United States of America, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand
The term "Western culture" is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies.
Specifically, Western culture may imply:
a Biblical Christian cultural influence in spiritual thinking, customs and either ethic or moral traditions, around the Post-Classical Era and after.
European cultural influences concerning artistic, musical, folkloric, ethic and oral traditions, whose themes have been further developed by Romanticism.
a Graeco-Roman Classical and Renaissance cultural influence, concerning artistic, philosophic, literary, and legal themes and traditions, the cultural social effects of migration period and the heritages of Celtic, Germanic, Slavic and other ethnic groups, as well as a tradition of rationalism in various spheres of life, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, Scholasticism, Humanisms, the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment.
Latin alphabet world distribution. The dark green areas shows the countries where this alphabet is the sole main script. The light green shows the countries where the alphabet co-exists with other scripts. In addition, China's widely-used pinyin system employs the Latin alphabet
The Orient means "the East". It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Near East or Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is largely a metonym for, and coterminous with, the continent of Asia
The term "Orient" derives from the Latin word oriens meaning "east" (lit. "rising" < orior " rise"). The use of the word for "rising" to refer to the east (where the sun rises) has analogs from many languages: compare the terms "Levant" (< French levant "rising"), "Vostok" Russian: Восток (< Russian voskhod Russian: восход "sunrise"), "Anatolia" (< Greek anatole), "mizrahi" in Hebrew ("zriha" meaning sunrise), "sharq" Arabic: شرق (< Arabic yashriq يشرق "rise", shurūq Arabic: شروق "rising"), "shygys" Kazakh: шығыс (< Kazakh shygu Kazakh: шығу "come out"), Chinese: 東 (pinyin: dōng, a pictograph of the sun rising behind a tree) and "The Land of the Rising Sun" to refer to Japan. Also, many ancient temples, including pagan temples and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances facing the East. To situate them in such a manner was to "orient" them in the proper direction. When something was facing the correct direction, it was said to be in the proper "orientation".
The opposite term "Occident" is derived from the Latin word occidens meaning "west" (lit. "setting" < "occido" "fall/set"). This term was once used to mean the West (where the sun sets) but has fallen into disuse in English.
[ 本帖最后由 楚越 于 2013-1-26 15:55 编辑