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The Easternisation of the West: Or, How the West was Lost

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The cultural changes that have marked Western civilisation over the past fifty years are identified as constituting a process of Easternisation, understood as a rejection of a traditional Western worldview in favour of beliefs, values and practices that are more characteristic of Eastern (understood as Oriental) civilisations. This process is traced to the 1960s and the disenchantment of a new generation of young people, a disenchantment with society and culture that was associated with a marked ‘turn to the East.’ The populist embracing of imported oriental practices is then linked with the adoption of beliefs and practices that are ‘Eastern’ in nature rather than provenance to constitute a more general ‘rehabilitation of the natural,’ a process that received explicit recognition in a broadly-conceived New Age and Neo-Pagan movement. These cultural changes at the popular level are then shown to have been matched by fundamental shifts in the premises underlying the dominant Western intellectual and ideological traditions of Protestant Christianity, Marxism and science, all of which are shown to have undertaken dramatic revision in the second half of the twentieth century. The changes involved, such as the rejection of materialism, the ‘end of history’ and the shift from reason to insight can be seen — especially when linked with the rejection of dualism and the re-conceptualisation of the divine as immanent, rather than transcendent — as amounting to the ‘loss’ of the West as traditionally understood.

Affiliations: 1: University of York

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853110x522911
2010-10-01
2016-12-08

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