The End of the West and Other Cautionary Tales

Hardcover | April 19, 2016

bySean Meighoo

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Most historical accounts of "the West" take it for granted that the guiding principles of the Western tradition-reason, progress, and freedom-have been passed down directly from ancient Greece to modern Europe, evolving in isolation from all non-Western cultures. Today, many political analysts and cultural critics maintain that the Western tradition is fast approaching its end, for better or worse, as it becomes more and more integrated with non-Western cultures in an increasingly globalized world. But what if we are witnessing something else entirely-not the "end" of the West but rather another historical mutation of the idea of the West itself?

This groundbreaking work shows that whether the West is hailed as the source of all historical progress or scorned as the root of all cultural imperialism, it remains a deeply problematic concept that is intrinsically connected to an ethnocentric view of the world. In a critical reading of the continental philosophers Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida as well as the postcolonial thinkers Said, Mohanty, Bhabha, and Trinh, Sean Meighoo strikes at the intellectual foundations of Western exceptionalism until its ideological supports show through. Deconstructing the concept of the West in his provocative interpretations of Martin Bernal's controversial publication Black Athena and the Beatles' second film Help!, Meighoo poses a formidable question to philosophers, writers, political analysts, and cultural critics alike: Can we mount an effective critique of Western ethnocentrism without reinforcing the very idea of the West?

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Most historical accounts of "the West" take it for granted that the guiding principles of the Western tradition-reason, progress, and freedom-have been passed down directly from ancient Greece to modern Europe, evolving in isolation from all non-Western cultures. Today, many political analysts and cultural critics maintain that the We...

Sean Meighoo is an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Emory University. His work has appeared in the journals Small Axe, Cultural Critique, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, and Humanimalia, as well as the volumes Nation Dance: Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean (2001) and B...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:April 19, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231176724

ISBN - 13:9780231176729

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I: The End of the West1. The Black Athena DebatePart II: From Teleology to Negative Teleology2. The Phenomenological Turn3. The Ethical TurnPart III: From Continental Philosophy to Postcolonial Theory4. The Critique of Representation5. The Defense of DifferencePart IV: The Limits of Antiethnocentrism6. The Beatles in IndiaConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

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This groundbreaking book makes an important and crucial intervention into the literatures and debates on postcolonial theory, politics, and cultural studies. Meighoo skillfully and thoughtfully brings together Western and Eastern philosophies, pointing not only to their various differences and similarities but also, importantly, to their influences. The End of the West and Other Cautionary Tales moves across a wide philosophical terrain to provide readers with a profound sense of what might be at stake in terms of how Western philosophy and postcolonial theory speak to each other.