Publication Types:

The Rise and Demise of Civilizational Thinking in Contemporary Muslim Political Thought

1. Englishii. Articles in an Edited Volume
Halil Ibrahim Yenigun
Debates on Civilization in the Muslim World: Critical Perspective on Islam and Modernity, edited by Lütfi Sunar, 195-225. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Publication year: 2017

ABSTRACT

This chapter is an attempt based on the emerging field of comparative political theory (CPT) to trace civilization’s trajectory throughout the contemporary era, beginning with Rifa’a Rafi ’ al-Tahtawi (1801–1873) up to and including Hamid Dabashi. Although it analyses the rise and demise of this concept, among my chief concerns is to discuss this concept’s current descriptive and normative value. I argue that for the last two centuries, the term civilization has possessed a primarily rhetorical value, for it functioned as a defensive tool that subjugated Muslims could use against the Western colonial discourse that helped justify and perpetuate colonial domination. Thus, the term Islamic civilization itself emerged as a defensive discourse constructed by Muslim apologists to counteract the project of the ‘West’, which had first constructed ‘the Orient’ as a foil to represent its distinct and inferior ‘other’. Beyond this, I maintain, civilization has had little descriptive and normative value for Muslims’ self-understanding or self-projection. Moreover, I argue that its current deployment as both a descriptive term for various Muslim cultures’ self-understanding, as well as a normative goal for Muslims to pursue a socio-political project in the form of constructing or revitalizing an ‘Islamic civilization’, is obsolete and must be overcome. Toward this end, I will pay particular attention to the work of Dabashi (Dabashi 2001, 2008), who has consistently sought to deliver a coup de grâce to this wellworn concept. Accordingly, I view all attempts to formulate a unique ‘Islamic civilization’ vis-à-vis Western civilization as futile pursuits of an outmoded way of thinking about oneself and the other. By the same token, the concept of dialogue among thinkers who draw upon diff erent ontological sources should not be considered a dialogue among civilizations, a concept that is itself a power-effect. Any truthful and reasonable theoretical endeavour that aims to establish dialogue and peace among groups of people, therefore, must first debunk such essentialist concepts. My stance can better be characterized as ‘post-Western’, a post-Orientalist overcoming of the categories of ‘Western’, ‘Eastern’, or ‘Islamic’ civilizations.

You can also find the full-text on Oxford Scholarship Online database at http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/mobile/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199466887.001.0001/acprof-9780199466887-chapter-8 (institutional subscription required).

Siyaset Etiği: Siyasetin Ahlâkı, Ahlâkın Siyaseti veya Ahlâkın Siyasette İmkânları [Political Ethics: The Ethics of the Political, The Politics of Ethics, or The Possibilities for Ethics in Politics]

2. Turkishii. Articles in an Edited Volume
Halil Ibrahim Yenigun
Güncel Yaklaşımlar Işığında Etik [Ethics in the Light of Current Approaches], edited by Rana Atabay and Oykü Iyigun, Istanbul: Beta, 2015.
Publication year: 2015

ABSTRACT [TURKISH]

Ahlâkın siyaset alanında varoluş imkânları incelenen bu çalışmada, ahlâk-siyaset ilişkisinin etik ve siyaset felsefesindeki genel seyri, Sokratik felsefeden başlayarak İslâm ve modern düşünce geleneklerindeki çeşitli uğraklarına işaret etmek suretiyle tespit edilmeye çalışılmıştır. Siyasetin erdemi toplumda gerçekleştirme mekanizmasından ibaret görüldüğü klasik görüşler ile özel ve kamusal alan ayrımı etrafında şekillenen anti-paternalist modern görüşlerin tartışılmasının ardından, siyasalı giderek ahlâktan özerkleştiren bir düşünce damarını ortaya koyma amacı güdülmüştür. Bütün bu düşünce izleğinin getirdiği noktada; siyasetin erdeminin topluma benimsetilme projesi görülmediği, siyasetin ahlâktan ayrı varlık alanının tanındığı bir durumda ahlâkın siyasette varoluşunun meşru imkânları araştırılmış ve kimi etiko-politik eylemliliklerin bu imkânlar çerçevesinde değerlendirilmesi önerilmiştir.