The four great traditions of Western culture – logical analysis, empirical investigation, the triumph of individualism and a spirituality rooted in reason – dovetail and reinforce each other, allowing for a unity of purpose in cultural development. Western culture has triumphed, not on the strength of military power or technological invention, but rather on the strength of its ideas and ideals that are rooted in these ancient traditions. Different ages have interpreted these ideas and ideals in different ways, but their essential truths have remained unchanged in Western culture for four millennia.

It is through logical analysis that Locke’s thoughts on the Wealth of Nations arose. It is through empirical investigation that all the great advance in science and medicine of the past 500 years were derived, it is through the insistence on the importance of the individual, rather than state, the theme underlying Antigone, written in the 3rd century B.C. and pursued throughout Western literary tradition, that has formed the basis for democracy and all the human rights and privileges enjoyed by the West. It is the merger of spiritual wisdom with rational devotion that scorns ritual and superstition that has allowed Western religious traditions to have had such an impact on the morality and ethics of Western democracies.

When a teacher from the West enters the classroom, he brings with him or her all the great heritage of this vast cultural tradition. Whether that teacher is engaged in science, economics, law or literature, behind him or her stands not only the intellectual treasure of the ages, but the paradigms and intellectual constructs that permit the continued investigation, growth, and purposeful discovery of all the wealth of knowledge still unlearned. There is an excitement and a sense of adventure, a conviction of the intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual successes of the past and a confident drive towards the future. It is my great privilege to be part of that historic cultural tradition. It is that sense of excitement, discovery and purpose that I attempt to bring to every class I teach.