Freedom East And West

A Tribute to D. P. Chattopadhyaya
  • Fred Dallmayr
Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


Ever since the Enlightenment, Western culture has presented itself emphatically as a culture of freedom. Constitutional documents and charters celebrate the importance of human freedom and individual liberty, sometimes to the point of erecting the entire constitutional structure on this foundational premise. Needless to say self-presentation of this kind feeds on an opposition or contrasting foil. Thus, when America presents itself quite specifically as the “land of the free,” there is at least the implication that other countries or societies are marked by a lesser degree of freedom and perhaps by unfreedom. This contrast, to be sure, is not entirely of a modern vintage. As we know, ancient Greek and Roman cultures defined themselves largely in terms of the dichotomy between civilized and “barbarian” peoples—with barbarian peoples being basically characterized by their unfreedom or servile submission to despotic rule. Over the centuries, this legacy congealed into the doctrine of Oriental or Asian despotism, a doctrine that functioned for a long time as a staple in Western political thought. More recently, with the demise of colonialism, the doctrine has come to be muted, though not entirely abandoned. Recast in an evolutionary mold, the ancient legacy resurfaces as the contrast between developed and developing societies—where the latter, though steeped in servility, are seen as at least moving in the direction of Western freedom.


Human Freedom Indian Thought Roman Culture Evolutionary Mold Foundational Premise 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    D. P. Chattopadhyaya, Knowledge, Freedom and Language: An Interwoven Fabric of Man, Time and World (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1989), p. 279.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Knowledge, Freedom and Language, pp. 270–271. Regarding the significance and profound sense of the Buddha’s silence compare Raimundo Panikkar, The Silence of God: The Answer of the Buddha (Maryknoll, NY Orbis Books, 1989). For a comparison of Western (ego-based) freedom and Buddhist (ego-transcending) freedom see alsoGoogle Scholar
  3. Charles Taylor, “Conditions of an Uncoerced Consensus on Human Rights,” in The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights, ed. Joanne R. Bauer and Daniel A. Bell (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 124–144.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Knowledge, Freedom and Language, pp. 295–296, 299. The references are to Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (London: SCM Press, 1962), section 161Google Scholar
  5. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd rev. ed., trans. Joel Weins-heimer and Donald G. Marshall (New York: Crossroad, 1989), pp. 415–416.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Fred R. Dallmayr 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Dallmayr

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations