Culture® 4.0
The
Contextual Guide and Internet Index to Western Civilization

Preface and Forward

(about links at this site)


Preface to Culture® 4.0

From its inception, Culture® has been thought of by its creators as a work-in-progress, an ongoing project with the ultimate aim of being a monumental contextual multimedia guide to ALL of civilization (not just Western). We hope that you will enjoy the progress made in Culture® 4.0: The Contextual Guide and Internet Index to Western Civilization. (Culture 4.0 is contextual in that it shows the interplay of the leading figures and events in history, the humanities [literature, art, music, religion & philosophy] and science. The synergy produced by the interactions among these disciplines, people, places and events helps to define a particular era such as the Renaissance.)

In addition to over 1700+ images of people, places, events and works of art, we have added almost a thousand profiles of authors and literary works, 159 historical maps, several new essays AND 25,000+ active WWW links to the Internet. Every major and practically every minor author in Western Civilization from Homer up to 1945 is now covered. The CultureGrids contain several hundred new profiles and every book of the Bible now has its own essay.

The Cultural Almanac has been greatly expanded and now contains several hundred citations of important historical and cultural events as well as several thousand new internal and Internet links to profiles of major artists, writers, composers, philosophers, theologians, scientists, historical figures, online almanacs and related resources.

Forthcoming upgrades will contain many new features and dimensions to the program. Cultural Resources, Inc. is a little company with big ideas. Thanks to the wonderful support and encouragement of librarians, and college, university and school teachers all over the world we are prepared to follow our dreams.

Forward -- Welcome to Culture® 4.0

"The philosophical mind unites where the pedant parts, he is convinced that in the provinces of both the intellect and the senses ALL THINGS ARE LINKED TOGETHER, and in his desire for synthesis he cannot content himself with fragments." -- Johann Friedrich von Schiller (1789)

Some say the problem with our educational system is an over-emphasis on isolated facts at the expense of thinking and reasoning. Others say that students don't know enough of the basic facts. The holders of each view have a perfect grasp of half a truth. We are all committed to the proposition that knowing is better than not knowing, and knowing things in context is best of all. Facts in isolation are difficult to remember. Names, dates and facts are more relevant and easier to assimilate and remember when seen in context. Knowing that Caravaggio and Rubens were painters is not as helpful as knowing that they were contemporary early-Baroque painters. Knowing that Descartes and Hobbes were philosophers is not as useful as knowing that they were contemporary middle-Baroque philosophers.

Facts are the "intellectual lint" or "raw materials" of thought. While unordered raw materials are nothing more than rubble, one certainly cannot build constructs without materials. Indeed, making order out of chaos is the very meaning of "civilization." Electronic learning on the computer by means of Culture® 4.0 and the vast resources of the Internet can open new avenues to the ordering of facts and the gaining of perspective as well as insights into the interdisciplinary, interactive, contextual, tangential and associative dimensions of knowledge.

Culture® 4.0 is an introductory guide to cultural literacy, what Lionel Trilling called "what a student must experience and understand to be called educated." Knowing how historical and cultural facts are woven together throughout the tapestry of civilization is integral to a decent education. History, whether political, literary, musical, artistic, philosophical, theological, scientific, etc., is best viewed as an interactive process rather than as a series of isolated facts. Personalities, events, works of art and styles all play on and off each other and Culture® 4.0 facilitates the understanding of these interactions.

Learning is active -- an act of discovery. The "canon" or core tradition of Western Civilization, both facts AND ideas, can come "alive" on the computer screen in new, non-linear, multimedia ways. The computer and the World Wide Web are just tools, and Culture® 4.0 has harnessed those tools to actually INVOLVE the user in the world of ideas. The exploration of knowledge can actually become "fun," realizing Matthew Arnold's ideal of the "free play of the mind upon all subjects being a pleasure in itself." As the Chinese proverb says, "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."

The great aims of education are knowledge and perspective. Facilitating cultural literacy and perspective in the core traditions of Western civilization is the aim of Culture® 4.0. The program is not intended for specialists to learn more about their fields, but for specialists and other interested parties to learn more about other fields. No other single reference work will give you all the important figures in all of the humanities within a given generation, and no other single reference work provides such an orderly guide to the riches available on the Internet.

Simply stated, Culture® 4.0 is an advanced academic environment which allows you to explore, in either a stand-alone or multimedia setting, and answer questions such as these:

It is our belief that names, dates and facts are more relevant and easier to assimilate and remember when seen in context, sort of like a sticky ball that accumulates more and more "stuff" as it rolls along. By knowing the cultural and intellectual milieu of the great (and even lesser) historical figures one can begin to acquire an associative or contextual cultural literacy.

Perspective (the basis of wisdom) is knowing how facts are related. We hope that the contextual nature of Culture® 4.0 will help you gain that perspective and achieve a greater appreciation for order, patterns and relationships.

Walter Reinhold,

February 2000

 

©2000-2010, Cultural Resources, Inc.