So we don't think that the western's virtue is George W. Bush, or for that matter Paris Hilton. But I guess it is fair to say that the western has been having a great wealth of knowledge, making technological progress, and taking the lead in term of economic income.
The question is why Europe, the western?
David Landes asserts that in Europe the knowledge accumulation, and its subsequent peak of industrial revolution, had been characterized by the growing autonomy of intellectual inquiry, development of (scientific) method (including verification method and common language), and routinization of research and diffusion.
All came from not-so-noble reasons. Autonomy from dogmatic religious authority emerged from the patronage of science from political rulers pursuing pragmatic aim, that is, advantage over rival. Development of scientific method and research routinization was spurred by fame motive and contest for priority.