"But there is yet a further difference between those two old empires. While in the Islamic Empire there was no privileged nation, and power was made subservient to the propagation of an idea regarded by its torchbearers as the sublime religious truth, the idea underlying the Roman Empire was conquest of power and the exploitation of other nations for the benefit of the mother country alone. To promote better living for a privileged group, for the Romans no violence was too harsh, no injustice too base. The famous "Roman justice" was justice for the Romans alone. It is clear that such an attitude was possible only on the basis of an entirely materialistic conception of life and civilization -a materialism certainly refined by intellectual and aesthetic taste, but none the less foreign to all spiritual values. The Romans never in reality knew religion. Their traditional gods were a pale imitation of Greek mythology, mere colourless ghosts silently accepted for the benefit of social convention. In no way were those gods allowed to interfere with "real" life. When consulted, they had to give oracles through the medium of their priests; but they were never supposed to confer moral laws upon men or to direct their actions.
This was the soil out of which modern Western civilization grew. It undoubtedly received many other influences in the course of its development, and it naturally changed. and modified the cultural inheritance of Rome in more than one respect. But the fact remains that all that is real today in Western ethics and world-view is directly traceable to the old Roman civilization. As the intellectual and social atmosphere of ancient Rome was utterly utilitarian and anti-religious -in fact, if not by open admission so is the atmosphere of the modern West. Without having a proof against transcendental religion, and without even admitting the need of such a proof, modern Western thought, while tolerating and sometimes even emphasizing religion as a social convention, generally leaves transcendental ethics out of the range of practical consideration. Western civilization does not strictly deny God, but has simply no room and no use for Him in its present intellectual system. It has made a virtue out of an intellectual difficulty of man -his inability to grasp the totality of life. Thus, the modern Occidental is likely to attribute practical importance only to such ideas as lie within the scope of empirical sciences, or, at least, are expected to influence men's social relations in a tangible way. And as the question of the existence of God does not belong prima facie to either of these two categories, the Western mind is, on principle, inclined to exclude God from the sphere of practical consideration."
Bugün "evrensel" diye yutturulan şeylerin aslında Yunan-Roma geleneği olduğu konusunda Esed'den yetkin bir yorum. Din özgürlüğü, dinlere eşit uzaklıkta devlet, sekülerlik gibi kavramlar aslında Yunan-Roma kavramlarıdır. Antropologlar yeryüzünde 300-600 ayrı kültür sayıyorlar ve Yunan-Roma kültürü veya bugün "endüstri uygarlığı" diye kapsamı genişletiliveren kültür bunlardan yalnızca BİRidir. Bu kültüre ait öğelerin evrensel olmadığını (sözgelimi tekkarılı evlilikler mükemmel bir örnektir) fark ettiğimde her şeyi (ve Kuran'ı) anlayışım bir kat genişledi. İngilizce bilmeyenlerden özür dilerim, Türkçesini bulamıyorum.