Around the eleventh century, he notes Europe changed drastically, insofar as it became more inventive, cultural, mobile, scientific and even individualistic. Yet, why did all this happen? Amusingly, Watson begins the chapter with a spate of criticism of Europeans from from Islamic scholars alleging that they were stupid, lazy, messy, and totally devoid of learning or science. Indeed, as Watson notes, educated Islamic or Chinese scholars living in the Eleventh century (to whom we owe so much) considered Europe was a backward place, and rightfully so. At the time, most of the advances in civilation came from China, and it was the place of culture and intellectual life. Yet, soon enough, everything changed. Given that this was the middle ages, records from this time scarce. Accordingly, Watson mentions various speculative theories (i.e. from historians, such as Needham, or North and Thomas) which attempt to explain why China declined so drastically, and then, why Europe changed became more cultured. Of course, like so many changes, we are all here because this happened, and have benefit from such changes. Indeed, as Watson says, we are all beneficiaries of the the idea of Europe, as such. Although it is vague in its outlines, Watson thinks that this idea of Europe is paramount, and mainly concerns
the promotion of individuality.
1. Watson mentions various theories (i.e. from Braudel, McCormack, Abu-Lughod, Needham, or North and Thomas) addressing the rise of Europe, and why this matters. Which historical explanations- individually or collectively- are more plausible? Explain, in detail.
2. What is this “idea of Europe,” exactly?