Chapter

The Homo Sapiens 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/9780195679489.003.0022
The Homo Sapiens Argument

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This chapter examines another way in which human rights discourse could be considered Western. In the West alone human beings are seen as standing apart from and in radical opposition to nature and other animals. Thus, human rights are Western in the sense that this type of a concept of the human, as one who stands over against other animals and nature, is essentially Western. However, the understanding of a ‘human being’ in relation to animals which is described as Western could also be considered Abrahamic, in the sense that there might be a certain consistency to this view in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. While it is possible to regard them all as ‘Western’ religions, the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a secular document means that perhaps its conception should be considered more secular than religious.

Keywords: human rights; Western ideas; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Secular; nature; animals; Judaism; Islam; Christianity

Chapter.  1128 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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