Here's a brief extract from the current draft manuscript DOF which I try to edit when time permits (today is a public holiday in Melbourne):
Pinker asks a different question altogether: ‘Why is there peace?’ Ruling out the possibility of significant genetic change over the last few hundred years, he suggests that Western institutions of governance have reduced our innate brutality. He perhaps underestimates the key role played by philosophers of liberty in proposing and advocating these institutional arrangements. These institutions did not arise exclusively from recent ‘Western’ thought, though. These emerged by reclaiming what the West had long rejected, namely, ancient Greek thought which, in turn, had been vitally influenced by Indian thought. (Some writers claim ancient Greek to be ‘Western’, even as places like Australia held Greeks with racist contempt till recently).Freedom is now coming back full circle: back to India, from where the first ideas of liberty and critical thought emerged.But it would be best to state that the development of freedom’s institutions has been broad-based, with experiments occurring throughout history. China, India, and Arabia (though Islam) played a crucial role in its development.It is true that liberty blossomed in Western Europe (more precisely, in England) a few hundred years ago.But perhaps the most powerful influence on liberty in the 20th century was a diminutive Indian named M.K. Gandhi whose non-violent opposition to imperialism and racism played such a pivotal role in the advancement of modern freedom that without his ideas the concepts of freedom, as propounded in the West, can make no sense. It is intolerable hypocrisy to have imperialism and racism and still talk about liberty.And remember: Gandhi was merely articulating India’s genius for tolerance and critical thought, a genius that remains intact even after thousands of years of dust and sediment.
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