[Solved] roxanne l euben enemy in the mirror

In a preface to the book, Euben clearly delineated two research questions underlying the whole study. First, the author analyzed the crisis of “secular liberal democracies” on the example of the United States with its voter absenteeism and decrease of active citizenship within the context of “religio-political movements [which] are galvanizing peoples into extraordinary attempts to remake the political world. ” The concern arises to the rich field of cultural theories associated with the quest for common good, faith, and authentic political as well as social structure.

Second, Euben is attentive to the contradictions and conflicts of the modern Western political theory where purely theoretical concepts of politics are interpreted and changed by people. According to the scholar, the methods of conflict resolution in regard to the abovestated tensions seem to be hermeneutics, thus, the art of interpretation and deep comparative interdisciplinary analysis. Among the issues being touched Euben listed various theories (political, social, and critical), poststructuralism, Islamic studies, anthropology, comparative politics, and Near Eastern studies.

Those controversial and complex concepts are presented in such a highly structured and contextually rich mode that the reader begins not merely to read but also to participate in the construction of meanings. Both the author and the reader are scared of “a historical and cultural vacuum” inherent in any theoretical research. Therefore, the book is filled with living examples of how political theory may be lived out. In the very beginning of Chapter I, ‘Remaking territories’, Euben named political theory of the late twentieth century postfoundational.

The term is suggestive. Within the broader context, postfoundational culture is based on such a cognitive activity which is highly reflective and arranged in complex structures. Lather (2000) referred to Spivak (1993) who, in her turn, based her concept of postfoundational culture and consciousness on Lyotard’s “idea of paralogical legitimation, innovations leading to new forms. ” In regard to political theory, postfoundational paradigm neglected “a metaphysical conception of the good” and related transcendent concepts of justice and just society.

Therefore, there is a conflict between the antifoundational political theory and the outer world wrapped around transcendent foundational issues. For example, the ceased Cold War may be conceptualized as the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” from the foundational perspective. Thus, the nationalist, ethnic, and religio-political conflicts and ideologies would have to cease.

However, recent political militarist conflicts of Iraq (which Euben was not yet aware of) and global terrorism contradict foundational principles of political theory. Euben argued with optimistic views of Fukuyama and stated that the modern political Post Cold War scene was “hospitable to the survival and increasing stridency of movements and people who reject it. ” The high pulse of modern politics is partly explained by the distortion of the key foundational principles such as justice, democracy, liberal values, natural law, and common good.

Throughout the coherent hermeneutic discourse, the author sought to prove that the catalyzers of political conflicts were neither foundational nor postfoundational concepts but the attempt of certain political parties to usurp the right to develop and sustain the abovementioned core concepts. In Chapter II, ‘Projections and Refractions: Islamic Fundamentalism and Modern Rationalist Discourse. ’ Euben analyzed Islamic fundamentalism as the issue differentiating at some points from Western fundamentalism.

Historical and cultural tradition views national fundamentalism as a complex phenomenon consisting of “the disenfranchisement and unfulfilled expectations that are endemic to modernization in a late-developing region, […] the growth of anti-Western sentiment, […] psychological insecurity and intolerance of ambiguity, […] the emergence of a particular class with particularly reactionary, conservative ideological tendencies, […] the failure of the leftist regimes and alien ideologies in the Middle East, and […] the lack of alternative channels for political expression in the context of state repression. The concepts under analysis in the second chapter of the book are reason, rationality, knowledge and power. Said (1978) was known to juxtapose the West and the East against the issue of power. The scholar defined Orient as inferior, feminine, and submissive, whereas the West was declared granted with power, masculine, and superior. In terms of political science, Said’s concept of Orientalism underlines the presence of European-Atlantic alliance as opposed to the Eastern coalition.

From the historical and cultural perspective it is understandable why the concepts of Islamic power and revival have not yet ceased into oblivion. Modern Western society still holds a view that Islamic fundamentalism is “a reactionary reflex against modernity, and […] an ‘irrational rational actor’. ” The author of the book did not provide emotionally biased assessment of those viewpoints but tried to evaluate their trustworthiness, validity, and mode of reasoning within the hermeneutic paradigm.

Additionally, Euben utilized anthropological approach to understand why Islamic fundamentalism became so popular in the East. Finally, she analyzed the political theory developed by Sayyid Qutb (1906–1966), a prominent Islamic fundamentalist. Chapter III, ‘A View from Another Side: the Political Theory of Sayyid Qutb,’ analyzed the writings and concepts of Qutb. The author of the book under analysis cited his al-Mustaqbal li-hadha al-Din, where the political scholar lamented over “a materialist civilization devoid of faith and human spirit. The Islamic fundamentalist traces the sources of degradation under the Western soil. Qutb’s theory is based on antitheses: Western atheism and secular mode of existence versus Islamic values, chaos versus order, and material culture versus spirit. An interesting framework appears when Euben, a Western scholar, offered interpretation and analysis of the political and religious concepts designed by the Eastern scholar. In his turn, Qutb cited Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Bertrand Russell, Comte, Marx, Hegel, Fichte, Nietzsche, and Alexis Carre as representatives of the Western thought.

Thus, the conceptual framework for the present analysis appeared to be rather synthetic and provocative. Euben acknowledged the grounded position of Qutb: […] rather than advocating a religious movement that somehow stands outside the political realm, Qutb’s Islamic fundamentalism retrieves and reinterprets the lessons embedded in an “original” Islamic ideal as a guide to radically restructure modern political and social conceptions of the world. Religion is thus the standard by which communities are judged, ethics are formulated, and justice is realized; it is “the final arbiter of all that is. Euben’s critical interpretation of Qutb resulted in a short discussion of hermeneutics itself. The reader is free to treat hermeneutics as either a violation of the primary sense contained in the object of analysis/manifestation of power or the attempt to reveal additional meanings from the later temporal perspective. The diachronic approach (the analysis of the issue relating to time) was also displayed in Chapter IV, ‘A View across Time: Islam as the Religion of Reason,’ made even clearer the importance of syncretism and contextual interpretation of familiar issues.

At the same time, the author attempted to increase the reliability and validity of the study by providing not only intercultural but also the-same-culture analysis of Qutb’s writings. The analysis of Qutb’s predecessors was important within the historic tradition of putting Islam “on trial because it is somehow ‘guilty’ and therefore in need of exoneration. ” Euben emphasized that Qutb declined rationalist implications of human nature and behavior. It made a sharp contrast against the Islamic views of the 19th century with its effort to revive the golden age of Islamic culture.

Whereas the Western culture seemed to decline the authority of eternal laws and principles in the form of God, higher law and universal justice, the Eastern culture constructed its everyday reality and theoretical knowledge after the principles prophesized in Qur’an. The difference is better understood on the example of Qutb’s quotation: [divine revelation] came down to be a source which human reason must consult, to be the standard in terms of which all judgments, knowledge and concepts of human reason are evaluated, and to correct the deficiencies and distortions produced by reason.

There is, no doubt, congruence and harmony between the two but on this basis alone: the absolute supremacy of divine revelation over human reason, not a posited equality or commensurability between them. Towards the end of the book, one more theoretical concept appears onto the scene, and this is truth. In search of it politics plays a great role. Relying on the texts of Qutb’s predecessors and providing their comparative analysis, Euben declined the view of Qutb’s theories as idiosyncrasy.

She stated instead that his works were the attempts to ““reenchant” a modern world defined by disenchantment. ” Chapter V, ‘Inside the Looking Glass: Views within the West,’ explored the relations of the East and the West within the modern political context. Euben developed a definition of political theory as “a field attentive to broad questions about living together rather than answers located in a specific set of canonical texts. The author utilized Qutb’s critical analysis of post-Enlightenment rational theories to discuss critically contemporary Western thought in regard to modernity and its supposed degradation (Marx’s critique of alienation; Durkheim’s critique of anomie; Weber’s critique of Occidental disenchantment; Hannah Arendt’s analysis of modern authority; Alasdair MacIntyre’s, Charles Taylor’s, and Richard John Neuhaus’s discussion of modern moral discourse; and Robert Bellah’s and Daniel Bell’s arguments regarding the decline of modern community).

Finally, Chapter VI, ‘Cultural Syncretism and Multiple Modernities,’ summarized Euben’s findings gained in result of her broad interpretative and comparative (both synchronic and diachronic) analysis. First, the author made implicit those rationalist discursive practices which defined contemporary Western social academic theories in regard to Islam and the politics in Islamic region.

Second, Euben interpreted the texts of a well-known Islamic fundamentalist writer and politician, Sayyid Qutb, to prove that Western political theories with their exclusion and neglect of divine power and authority as the rationale for social good, justice, and order, were challenged by the Eastern philosophical and political thought. Third, Euben proved that Qutb contradicted the previous Muslim writers who acknowledged the rational Western-like implication of Islam.

Finally, the author used the results of her analysis to prove the importance of diachronic investigation in regard to political theory. Modern political science returns to the issue of rationality amidst the turmoil of contemporary life. The value of the book under analysis is associated with its hermeneutic, synthetic, and grounded approach. Working at the research, the author was not aware of the perspective challenges which were brought by the juxtaposition of Islamic and Western worlds.

The lessons of September, 11, Iraq, Iran and other Islamic countries suggest that the Westerners should be more aware of the concepts permeating modern politics. Euben’s book introduces the reader to the rich world of contexts and grounded theories sustaining Islamic political and religious culture. To abstain from blind hostility and aggression, political scholars should be more aware of their opponents’ views. Besides, they should take into consideration that every political theory results in a real human action. And let it be not the act aggression but the one of collaboration.

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