NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ863127
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
What the West Doesn't Owe Islam
Huff, Toby E.
Academic Questions, v22 n4 p504-520 Dec 2009
Globalization has brought more and more peoples and societies around the world into contact with "international" standards of law, commerce, and communication. That process has also enabled a number of formerly underdeveloped societies to experience extraordinary patterns of economic growth, especially in the last third of the twentieth century. In part, as a reaction to these developments, North America and to some extent Europe experienced the flowering of "multiculturalism," which includes the view that all peoples and societies are equal. Sometimes this point of view has been taken to mean that all peoples everywhere are the same. One scholar called this "uniformitarianism," as it allows little room for alternative life choices and life ways: everyone is deemed to be identical in their habits and wishes. From either an anthropological or historical perspective, uniformitarianism is a highly unlikely claim, but it has been assimilated into the multicultural viewpoint. Furthermore, such a perspective has led still others to assume that if Europe was undergoing rapid economic development in the past, a scientific revolution, and an enlightenment, then other parts of the world must have been experiencing similar developments prior to the twentieth century. This is a myth, though prevailing sentiments do not approve of casting a critical eye on those (non-)developments from the seventeenth century onward in other parts of the world. To do so is said to be Eurocentric. But if Asian and South Asian development seems to be real in economic terms, the Islamic world--especially the Middle East--has not shown such a dashing path of development over the twentieth century, either economically or politically. Indeed, the rise of political Islam and its many jihadist offshoots reveals a civilization torn apart, with the spillover bringing serious acts of terrorism to Europe and America. Nevertheless, there are a few writers who manage to see elements of positive development in the history of the Muslim world that may have influenced Europe-in-the-making. If some of these writers do not see major Islamic influences on European culture, they at least claim "parallel" development. This article reconsiders Europe as a civilization and examines its trademark identity: (1) the revolutionary creation of a legal system that went global long ago; (2) the traditions of political democracy and election by consent that flow out of that legal revolution; (3) the conception of corporate legal autonomy, along with autonomous legislation; and (4) the rudiments of a "public sphere." (Contains 39 footnotes.)
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North America