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Cultural Difference In The Histories: Ethnocentric Or Cosmopolitan (Essay Sample)


Mid paper about portfolio questions about worldview



Visions of Difference Portfolio Questions, Part 1, Set 1

5.2. Herodotus’ standpoint on cultural difference in the Histories: ethnocentric or cosmopolitan

Britannica School defines cosmopolitanism as “refers to a cluster of ideas and schools of thought that sees a natural order in the universe (the cosmos) reflected in human society, particularly in the polis, or city-state.” “Ethnocentrism is based in a belief in the superiority of one’s own culture over others, and it too may be transient and superficial” (Britannica). Herodotus criticizes the ethnocentric tendencies of other people likes like the Scythians and Egyptians who were proud and did not adopt Greek culture and failed to learn from them, yet he did not expect the same for the Greek. In book 1, Herodotus pointed out that the Persians treated Asia as their own together with the tribes and barbarians there, why Europe and the Greeks are a separate race. However, he does this to highlight the differences between the Greeks, and others, including the, settled an urbanized such as the Persians who are similar to Greeks in some ways.

The ancient historian differentiated Greek and the barbarians, and he focused on what was wrong with other cultures and showed that he was ethnocentric, despite traveling to many places and encountering a new culture. Herodotus wrote, “The Scythians have an extreme hatred of all foreign customs, particularly of those in use among the Greeks” (4.76). Scythians and the Egyptians avoided foreign cultures, but the Persians were more eager to adopt foreign cultures, but still maintained ethnocentrism. Herodotus appears to suggest that even if people adopt foreign cultures and practices, they may still see their cultures as more superior. Herodotus experienced cultural displacement trying to differentiate the Greeks and the barbarians after encountering people of diverse culture while trying to be objective in describing the different cultures.

Herodotus recorded and recounted his experiences about foreign peoples, including geography and their cultures where the barbarian had a variety of customs, and he uses Greek assumptions when judging the foreigners. On the one hand, Herodotus appears to endorse cultural relativism that each culture is unique, but he makes assumptions about the barbarians and emphasizes ‘otherness’ when describing the barbarians by contrasting the Greek and the barbarians, Herodotus emphasizes Greek ethnocentrism, even as he developed an interest in foreign cultures and people, unlike most Greeks. Even the foreign people who evaluate the Greek customs in the Histories tend to exaggerate and remain ignorant b

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