Ethnocentric Political Theory

The Pursuit of Flawed Universals

  • Bhikhu Parekh

Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 1-21
  3. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 23-39
  4. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 41-58
  5. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 59-71
  6. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 73-94
  7. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 115-129
  8. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 143-160
  9. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 161-185
  10. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 187-201
  11. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 203-219
  12. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 221-234
  13. Bhikhu Parekh
    Pages 235-261
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 285-290

About this book


Western political theory has many great strengths but also a few weaknesses. Among the latter should be included its ethnocentricity, its tendency to universalize the local. The political theorist makes universal statements about human beings, societies and states without making a close study of them, and about reason, tradition, human nature and moral ideals without appreciating how differently these are understood in different societies and traditions. These statements are often an uncritical universalisation of his society’s modes of thought and experience. This book traces this tendency in different areas of moral and political life, and argues that a critical engagement between different perspectives offers one possible way to counter this tendency. Seeking universally valid knowledge is a legitimate ambition, but Western political theory cannot realise it without the help of the non-Western as its critical interlocutor.

Bhikhu Parekh is Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Hull, UK, and was Visiting Professor at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and McGill University, USA. He is the author of several widely acclaimed books on political philosophy, including Rethinking Multiculturalism (2000). He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Political Studies and a Fellow of the British Academy and the European Academy.


dialogue human rights equality rationality cultural pluralism cultural identity freedom of speech public morality civil obligation political obligation active citizenship individual responsibility integration social cohesion political belonging national identity forms of secularism European identity nationalism tolerance

Authors and affiliations

  • Bhikhu Parekh
    • 1
  1. 1.Politics and International RelationsUniversity of HullHullUK

Bibliographic information