The End of the West and Other Cautionary Tales
Most historical accounts 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 Western society. Today, many commentators maintain that the Western tradition is fast approaching its end as it becomes more and more integrated with non-Western cultures. 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?
This groundbreaking critique 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. Reading the work 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 work Black Athena and the Beatles' second film, Help!, Meighoo poses a formidable question to philosophers, writers, political scientists, and cultural critics alike: Can we mount an effective critique of Western ethnocentrism without reinforcing the idea of the West itself?