During the past two centuries Western political philosophy has exercised massive intellectual influence over the rest of the world. Its influence derives from several interrelated sources of which three are most important.1 First, since Western political philosophy had the unique advantage of having been practised more or less continuously for over two and a half millennia by some of the most talented men, it has developed unparalleled analytical rigour, been constantly fertilised by new experiences, has addressed itself to an unusually large variety of questions and fostered acute methodological self-consciousness not to be found in any other tradition of political philosophy. Second, for the past two centuries the West has politically and economically dominated the rest of the world and used its economic and political power to spread its ways of life and thought. Its ideas travelled with its goods, were sometimes supported by its bayonets and acquired enormous prestige and respectability. Almost every non-Western country was and with a few exceptions still is a supplicant at the Western court, and its spokesmen could hardly expect to be understood, let alone taken seriously, unless they spoke its standard language in an approved accent. As the West economically and politically united the world under its hegemony, its vision of man and society became the only universally acceptable currency of political discourse.


Political Philosophy Political Theory Intellectual Strength Acceptable Currency Half Millennium 
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  1. 1.
    See Introduction in Bhikhu Parekh and Thomas Pantham, (eds) Political Discourse: Explorations in Indian and Western Political Thought (Sage, 1987); andGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhikhu Parekh, The Philosophy of Political Philosophy (University of Hull, 1986).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Raghavan Iyer, The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987) vol. 1, p. 28.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Maureen Swan, Gandhi: and the South African Experience (Johannesburg: 1985) is a most welcome addition to the exiguous literature on the subject.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bhikhu Parekh 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bhikhu Parekh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HullUK

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