The Western Divide of Mentality

Regarding academic philosophy and modern political history the rich Western world of European descent seems to be geographically divided in two.

The divide runs roughly along the English Channel, through the Netherlands and northern Germany, and across the Baltic Sea. On one side—lets call it the ‘English Side’—lie the British Isles, the Nordic countries, Anglo-America, and Oceania. On the other side—lets call it the ‘Continental Side’—lies a band of contiguous countries from the Iberian Peninsula in the Southwest to the Baltic states in the Northeast.

On the English Side academic philosophy is analytic; on the Continental Side it’s not. Analytic philosophy is dominated by argumentative clarity, details, and subordination to natural science; continental philosophy is dominated by idiosyncratic language, system-building, and historicism.

On the English Side modern political history is free from popular support for totalitarian military rule; on the Continental Side it’s not. From Portugal and Spain in the Southwest, through France to some extent, and widely in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, and Poland, to the Baltic states in the Northeast fascist, national socialist, communist, or other de facto militaristic dictatorships saw substantial popular support in the middle of the twentieth century. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, on the other hand, there was nothing of the kind.

Other differences worth noting are that on the English Side the inhabitants mostly enjoy more freedom and welfare, and are more Protestant and secular, while on the Continental Side the inhabitants are mostly less content and rich, and more Catholic and religious.

What might be the cause of this divide? My guess is the difference in mentality, on the one hand, in the Germanic culture as opposed to the Romance and Balto-Slavic cultures, and, on the other hand, in Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism.

What is clear, though, is that culture matters.


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