Throughout history and in parallels observable in the present-day, there are keen differences in the many institutions of culture, economy and polity between civilizations. But these differences, when abstracted, generally seem to share one common premise somewhere in the garbled causality links. The premise is the philosophy of Romanticism.
To give you a little historical insight, Romanticism is the philosophical movement that shaped up in a post-industrial Western Europe in the mid-18th century. It is believed to have been instigated by the poets, artists and philosophers in response to the paradigm shifts brought on by industrialization and the intimidating perplexities of modern civilization. These artists and poets thought that Romantic ideas were inherently what held the sanctity of the individual together, in attachment with their free and creative and spiritual side. Note that I use the words free and spiritual freely here – our discussion here pertains to a life philosophy, not one of epistemology or metaphysics. This idealism prompted the romantically-distraught to wage a war against the industrial establishment in their passionately-worded literature, paintings and philosophy. The cultural movement that manifested out of this collective ambition is then believed to have vastly set apart the post-industrial Western civilization from all others that were falling steadfastly into the age of industrialization.
Regressing through almost every civilization, excluding the West, one can distinctly see how the institutions of culture are designed to benefit the collective ambition of their peoples. Some markers may include those belonging to markets and society, for instance. Marriage is an apt contender to gain a deeper perspective on the lack of Romantic ideas in Eastern and Islamic cultures. I say this because the idea of wedlock adapted for the modern, post-industrial society calls upon a monogamous relationship on the part of the male subject and a hypergamous practice on the part of the female that draws upon a system of meritocratic honor. In the East, parents and extended family members are tasked with marrying off their children. This system, however contradictory to our evolutionary conditioning, orients the individual’s life decisions toward the greater prosperity of their family, and ultimately, society. Education isn’t much farther either, with much of what students learn aligning with the prevailing market scene. To these cultures, it is not the individual that is important, but the collective ambition and sustenance of their peoples. To them, the individual’s welfare is contained in their collective prosperity, rendering an ego-centric culture obsolete.
the cultural doctrine that one should live a life they want and do as they desire is unique to the West