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© 2019

Ethnocentric Political Theory

The Pursuit of Flawed Universals

Benefits

  • Calls for multicultural perspective ?in political theory, uncovering and overcoming ethnocentric bias

  • Starts a critical dialogue with voices that have been marginalised, ignored or suppressed

  • Represents a small step towards rethinking political theory and not only advocate but practice it

Book
  • 3.3k Downloads

Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 1-21
  3. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 23-39
  4. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 41-58
  5. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 59-71
  6. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 73-94
  7. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 115-129
  8. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 143-160
  9. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 161-185
  10. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 187-201
  11. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 203-219
  12. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 221-234
  13. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 235-261
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 285-290

About this book

Introduction

Western political theory has many great strengths but also a few weaknesses. Among the latter should be included its ethnocentricity, its tendency to universalize the local. The political theorist makes universal statements about human beings, societies and states without making a close study of them, and about reason, tradition, human nature and moral ideals without appreciating how differently these are understood in different societies and traditions. These statements are often an uncritical universalisation of his society’s modes of thought and experience. This book traces this tendency in different areas of moral and political life, and argues that a critical engagement between different perspectives offers one possible way to counter this tendency. Seeking universally valid knowledge is a legitimate ambition, but Western political theory cannot realise it without the help of the non-Western as its critical interlocutor.

Bhikhu Parekh is Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Hull, UK, and was Visiting Professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and McGill University, USA. He is the author of several widely acclaimed books on political philosophy, including Rethinking Multiculturalism (2000). He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Political Studies and a Fellow of the British Academy and the European Academy.

Keywords

dialogue human rights equality rationality cultural pluralism cultural identity freedom of speech public morality civil obligation political obligation active citizenship individual responsibility integration social cohesion political belonging national identity forms of secularism European identity nationalism tolerance

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Politics and International RelationsUniversity of HullHullUK

About the authors

Bhikhu Parekh is Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Hull, UK, and was Visiting Professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and McGill University, USA. He is the author of several widely acclaimed books on political philosophy, including Rethinking Multiculturalism (2000). He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Political Studies and a Fellow of the British Academy and the European Academy.

Bibliographic information

Reviews

“This book offers a critique of the continuing unconscious ethnocentrism of Western political theory; but its goal is not to debunk, but to improve theory. It contains a number of enlightening and stimulating discussions of crucial political issues of our day, including liberal democracy, rights, and secularism.” (Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada)

“Bhikhu Parekh’s book demonstrates the power of his multicultural approach, which he applies to a wide range of controversial topics in political theory. His critique of parochialism in mainstream liberal thought and his persistent advocacy of value pluralism are particularly thought-provoking. This is an important book and challenges liberals to engage with it.” (Rainer Bauböck, European University Institute, Florence, Italy)

“In this masterful analysis, Bhikhu Parekh makes powerfully clear the limitations and dangers of ethnocentrism for post-colonial political theory as well as the need for dialogue to overcome them and reconstitute itself. Parekh is already one of the finest political theorists today. This is one of his greatest contributions – a compelling must read that stands at the start of a new course for future political theory.” (Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government, Durham University, UK)

“Bhikhu Parekh is a distinguished political philosopher, especially in relation to how to understand and cherish cultural diversity. These essays, spanning three decades of sustained exploration of the latter, constitute one of the best sources of multiculturalism and of the need to go beyond liberalism. Parekh examines the presuppositions and limitations of liberalism, displacing it as a continuous monologue, and making political theory more dialogical.” (Tariq Modood, FBA, University of Bristol, UK)