Visions of alterity: the impact of cross-cultural contacts on european self-understanding in the pre-enlightenment period.
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Comparative Political Theory (CPT) focuses on political ideas of non-western thinkers and compares these to their western counterparts. In recent years, works of CPT have demonstrated that a comparative perspective allows us to see the many parallels in the theoretical projects of western and non-western thinkers. This approach towards political theorizing opens up previously unexplored avenues to gain a better understanding of the political. CPT has also strongly challenged traditional western political theorists, and political scientists alike, to reconsider the validity of several existing theories about the political. This is a result of CPT’s awareness of the bias introduced by western dominance in a globalized world. Works of CPT attempt to neutralize this power imbalance between the west and the rest by attempting to revitalize the non-west in terms of its self-understanding. This dissertation argues that a comparative perspective must be adopted in political theory, because, while it helps us to interpret non-western ideas it also allows us to understand how the west has come to its present self-understanding. Hence, unlike previous comparative works which argue for CPT as a separate subfield of political theory in the west, this dissertation brings the CPT enterprise to the center of the vocational landscape of the western political theory. The dissertation supports this claim by presenting an in-depth analysis of four cases of east-west encounters in the pre- Enlightenment period. The analysis is based on several primary and secondary sources from the western and non-western civilizations which span a period of over four centuries. The significance of the dissertation is distributed along four dimensions. First, it presents a comprehensive review and critique of scholarship done by comparative theorists till now. Second, it highlights additional points of significance attached to the integral role of the non-west in the construction of the west itself. Third, it extends the range of comparative analyses to the pre and early modern periods. Fourth, it considers actual cases of east-west encounters as against CPT’s exclusive focus on constructing imaginary inter-civilizational dialogues.
Bashir, Hassan (2008). Visions of alterity: the impact of cross-cultural contacts on european self-understanding in the pre-enlightenment period.. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from