The Rise of Eurocentrism
by Vassilis Lambropoulos
In the controversy over political correctness, the canon, and the curriculum, the role of Western tradition in a post-modern world is often debated. To clarify what is at stake, Vassilis Lambropoulos traces the ideology of European culture from the Reformation, focusing on a key element of Western tradition: the act of interpretation as a distinct practice of understanding and a civil right. Championed by Protestants insisting on independent interpretation of scripture, this ideal of autonomy ushered in the era of modernity with its essentialist philosophy of universal man and his aesthetic understanding of the world. After explaining the dominance of European culture through the combined archetypes of Hebraism (reason and morality) and Hellenism (spirit and art), Lambropoulos shows how the rule of autonomy has been transformed into the aesthetic, disinterested contemplation of things in themselves. Arguing that it is time to restore the socio-political dimension to the movement of autonomy, he proposes that a genealogy of the Hebraic-Hellenic archetypes can help us evaluate more recent models--like the Afrocentric one--and redefine the controversy surrounding education, Eurocentrism, and cultural politics.