The book examines present perceptions of East and West seen through the eyes of eminent scholars from India. The interviews presented here are set in the historical context of relations between Europe and the Muslim World and analysed from a theoretical angle drawing from theories of modernity, conceptions of justice and notions of identity politics.
The book investigates challenges to the established normative order in India and Europe, which stem from ethnic, national and religious identity politics. The methodology combines qualitative methods in the form of 20 interviews conducted with academics in India, with historical and philosophical analyses.
The first section of this book reviews the history of perceptions between the Europe of Latin Christianity and the so-called Muslim world starting from the seventh century when both were just about to emerge from opposite fringes of the decaying Roman Empire. Increasingly, however, a new "civilisation" took over from within the world spanning European colonial empires: that of modernity. The second part of the book is devoted to a characterisation of that civilisation from a theoretical point of view and to an analysis of its interference with older frames of reference. One major change with the advent of modernity was modern politics, mass politics in particular. The structural changes in the public sphere of modern polities made the mobilisation of the masses the prime resource of power. In this process intellectual elites have a significant role to play by inheriting the role of the priestly classes of pre-modern times. They also inherited an ambivalent role vis-a-vis the ruling elites and a relationship of mutual dependency. Ruling elites are in need of legitimacy and depend on intellectual elites to supply the necessary ideological tools. Intellectual elites, on the other hand depend on ruling elites for the means of their subsistance. This complex relationship is the subject of the third part of the book.