the law codes of ancient Mesopotamia … fit in nicely with my conviction that the Middle East is, by tradition, really part of what one might call the Greater West. It’s been pointed out before that the peoples of the Middle East have more in common with Europeans than with, say, the Chinese, whose civilisation has utterly different roots. In religious terms, the three great monotheisms are all children of Abraham, and culturally both Europe and the Middle East were both subject to the massive influence of Greek thought and tradition. In Europe this came through the medium of Rome, in the Middle East through the effects of Alexander’s empire.
In other words, whereas the Greater West can trace its traditions to Abraham, Hammurabi and Socrates, what we might call Greater China – that is, China itself and the countries which have historically under heavy Chinese cultural influence, notably Korea, Japan and Vietnam – have roots that go in a quite different direction, reaching back to Lao-Tze, Confucius and Gautama.