What is the West?
Jay W. Cobb

Western civilization = « universal values of individual liberty » ?

The belief that the Value of ‘’individual liberty’’ is universal clearly is something from the West.

This Value derived initially from a key Judeo-Christian Belief : The freedom of choice has been given by God to each individual.

In America,very early in History, the Puritans translated Virtue into Laws.

The resulting key pillars of the modern societies/ civilization are democracy & liberalism.

In terms of structure of these modern societies, we have God (which created the physico-chimical laws of the world) who has a direct link with each Individual. Also, God provided the Resources (living & non-living) to mankind.


In terms of structure, in the Asian sphere, the traditional vision of the way in which the world works often is quite different : we have the physico-chimical laws of the world which ‘’are there’’. The human individual lives within a society which is the stable reference point for each individuals. Each individual has duties towards the stable structure. On the long run, the society is considered much more important that the individual rights.

(note : within some traditional societies, there are Gods, who always are subject to the physico-chimical laws, just like everyone/everything on earth.)

Many Animist societies have a similar structure. In Africa, these societies often have a specific « Creator God ». But these Gods, after having created the world ant its laws, usually retire in a remote place (mountain, etc).


I see no evidence that our Western mental vision/ ‘’structure’’ of the world is better than the other, in a long term perspective for mankind (& for all living beings).

Of course, with the strong ‘’promotion’’ of our Western vision on the Globe, many traditional societies are now hybrid (or have disappeared).