The European comparative gaze

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This paper discusses the comparative perspective of the European Modernity towards other civilizations, and the creation of comparative studies, and, for that matter, of comparative education. The paper argues that much of the debate about Eurocentrism neglects the fact that the European tradition includes also an inextricable self-reflective dimension, which has allowed for the emergence of impartial approaches to the study of overseas societies, and has established critique as a sine qua non intellectual stance. Through illustrations from the cultural history of Europe, the paper points to a rupture in the representational and cognitive closure, that characterized medieval Europe, regarding other cultures, which led to the awareness that, while human beings share the same features societies are instituted differently. However, from the 19th century on, foreign societies were to be gauged primarily through the lenses of ‘progress’ and ‘development’, which became the main legitimating ideas of capitalist expansion. Nevertheless, as the paper concludes, self-reflectivity is embedded in the European epistemological tradition – a tradition that needs to be advanced rather than ignored.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Education
Publication statusSubmitted - 2 Jan 2019

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