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Original scientific paper

Towards an Analytic, Fārābian Conception of Orientalism

Anthony R. Booth ; University of Sussex

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In this paper, I attempt to develop what I call an ‘Analytic, Fārābian’ conception of Orientalism. The motivation for this conception is that it helps us with the task––identified by Wael B. Hallaq––of going beyond ‘rudimentary political slogans’ attached to the theory of Orientalism and instead to identifying Orientalism’s underlying ‘psycho-epistemic pathology’ (Hallaq 2018, 4). In order to do this properly, according to Hallaq, we need to find a methodological alternative to that which makes Orientalist discourse possible. Hallaq identifies the underlying problem as a commitment to secular humanism, and the solution its abandonment. However, I think the problem is a deeper one, which can roughly be stated as follows: how can we accept the pervasiveness of ideological influence without abandoning the idea that our theories aim (and to some extent succeed) at representing objective reality—such that we can say that Orientalism is a real phenomenon, and not merely something we happen to believe is a phenomenon. Conceiving Orientalism from within a Fārābian epistemology and using analytic tools to understand it (which I argue constitutes a unique and distinctive kind of fallibilism) makes head-way here where other conceptions fail.


analytic philosophy/theology; Fārābian epistemology; Orientalism

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