Beyond Orientalism explores the confluence of contemporary Western (especially Continental) philosophy, with its focus on otherness and difference, and the ongoing process of globalization or the emergence of the “global village”. The basic question raised in the book is: What will be the prevailing life-from or discourse of the global village? Will it be the discourse of Western science, industry, and metaphysics which, under the banner of modernization and development, seeks to homogenize the world in its image? In Said’s work, this strategy was labeled “Orientalism”. Or will it be possible to move “beyond Orientalism” in the direction neither of global uniformity nor radical fragmentation?
After discussing the broad range of possible “modes of cross-cultural encounter” in a historical perspective, the book develops as a preferred option the notion of a deconstructive dialogue or a “hermeneutics of difference” which respects otherness beyond assimilation. This hermeneutics is illustrated in chapters examining several bridge-builders between cultures, primarily the Indian philosophers Radhakrishnan and J.L. Mehta and the Indologist Halbfass. The remaining chapters are devoted to more concrete social-political problems, including issues of modernization, multiculturalism, and the prospects of a globalized democracy which bids farewell to Orientalism and Eurocentrism.