Thursday, November 17, 2005

How the factor of civilization and religion affected the relation between the West and Islamic world today

The wealth of human civilizations is rooted in its great diversity – especially, in the era of globalization. At the same time, however, the differences in cultural identity are often the cause of misunderstandings and the potential roots of crisis and conflict.
The main problem in today relation between the West and Islamic world is the deficiency of mutual understandings, or rather to say, it was and is rooted in the sense of distrust, suspicious and hatred. For instance, given its “crusader mentality”, Islam is often associated with terrorism and violation of human rights as far as the West is concerned. These images of scimitar-wielding hordes easily spring to mind when the concept of Islam is mentioned; while for Islamic world, the West is the corruption of morality, cultural arrogance and avaricious hegemony in force; and these diametrically opposed images become even sharpened after the September 11, 2001.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What is the significance of the ideas of Enlightenment for our time?

''The intellectual power, honesty, lucidity, courage, and disinterested love of the truth of most gifted thinkers of the eighteenth century remain to this day without parallel. Their age is one of the best and most hopeful episodes in the life of mankind.’

~ Isaiah Berlin

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Through the Eye of Enlightenment

Through the Eye of Enlightenment
Eighteenth Century Views on Man
Throughout societies, throughout time, man has questioned. And, no matter how abstract or indifferent his analysis may attempt to be, his eye will eventually fall upon himself and speculation as to the exact character of man. So it was, by necessity, that man created ideas on his own nature during the Age of Enlightenment, the historical period after the Renaissance was over in its entirety. These particular ideas would have the power to shake and reshape the world, starting during the late eighteenth century, when the European monarchies, having grown to almost unimaginable heights, would begin to be questioned to the very core, and in many cases, fall. The Enlightenment saw revolutionary political and religious philosophy, venomous satire, and statesmen who would forever change the face of government. As the realm of philosophy is often too abstract and shows its impact elsewhere, four works of the latter two types will be considered instead in speaking on eighteenth century man’s views on himself. The single most important pair of documents in American history, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, will be considered first, and then the great French satirist Voltaire’s considerably less serious views on man from the novellas Candide and Zadig will be discussed. The uttermost seriousness of ideas and the parody of men will then be seen to form a more satisfying Aristotelian mean between extremes.

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