What do we mean by "Western Civilization"? When did the expression originate and why? At a time when there is a widespread perception that "Western Civilization" is undergoing a historic crisis, and when postmodernism, feminist theory, afrocentrism, deconstruction, and other current philosophical schools define themselves as alternatives to, or critiques of, "Western Civilization," this book seeks to trace the development of the concept of Western Civilization and to examine the reasons for its endurance. It also suggests ways in which proponents of "Western Civilization" can co-opt ideas from opponents. Written from a multidisciplinary viewpoint, the essays in this volume trace the development of the concept of Western Civilization and seek to explode many standing beliefs--primarily those which concern the very existence of a "Western tradition." Bound to be controversial, the book will be of interest to scholars and activists in the fields of cultural history, anthropology, and the history of ideas, as well as general readers interested in the enduring discussion of the notion of "Western Civilization."