Two errors the West makes when approaching other cultures

This is part one of a series of Reflections on the nature and functioning of cultures. Here is part two, and here is the conclusion.

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When we examine the character of human nature and the nature of society and its politics, we can see that two temptations await the modern European.

 

In the first one, he becomes eurocentric and, by following his conclusions on the nature of Europeans, their culture and society, he judges non-Europeans by the same criteria. Thus, for him, the only thing that counts is that we all partake in one humanity while forgetting the natural divisions within it, and consequently he expects that non-Europeans become like us.

In the second, he becomes a universalist and concludes that, if non-Europeans have some customs, social mechanisms and institutions and cultural characteristics, then the European world can also adopt them. But he is wrong, because he doesn’t count the essence of the Europeans’ genes, culture and social and natural environment; if we look at these, we can easily understand that adopting some elements of other civilizations will be very unwise for us and/or inorganic to our society.

 

The culture of a man, nevertheless, remains the lens through which he sees the outside world and communicates with it – as a member of a collective. All cultures are human and share some basic beliefs, but they remain quite different and hardly understandable to their outsiders. Whether this culture is pure and traditional, or modern, or somehow postmodern, it is the departure point for all objectivity and universality!

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