Chapter

The Cultural Argument

Arvind Sharma

in Are Human Rights Western?

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195679489
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081714 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195679489.003.0003
The Cultural Argument

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This chapter analyses, in the cultural context, the claim of human rights being Western. It could be argued that human rights are closely associated with a democratic society, and a democratic society basically presupposes the existence of a sizeable middle class, just as the emergence of Buddhism might presuppose a certain kind of monastic tradition. (The origin of Zen Buddhism and the this-wordly orientation of Chinese culture have been brought into the discussion in this chapter.) Such a middle class could have arisen anywhere, but it arose first in the West and its emergence led to the evolution of democracy and of human rights. The fact that the rise of capitalism also coincided with such democratization fits in well with the idea that it is the unique congruence of different forces, which produced the cultural ethos in which human rights developed in the West.

Keywords: human rights; democratic society; middle class; West; Zen Buddhism; Chinese culture; capitalism

Chapter.  2398 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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