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The Birth of Orientalism (review)

The Birth of Orientalism (review) comparesNursiwithThomasMertonverysuccessfullyandshowshowtheirinterpretationofprayerisintimatelyconnectedwithsocialjusticeandresultsinsociala tion. c IanKaplowconsidersthepossibilityofabetterworldthatisbasedonNursi'sethics andunderstandingofjustice. Inbrief,thisbookisanintroductoryworkandaguidetoNursi'sviewsonjustice andtheodicy.Itisanimportantapproachtohisideasonthesetopics. The Birth of Orientalism.ByUrsApp.Philadelphia:UniversityofPennsylvaniaPress, 2010.Pp.xviii +550. ReviewedbyJoseph Prabhu CaliforniaStateUniversity,LosAngeles Withthepassageoftime,thetitleOrientalisminEdwardSaid'sfamous(ornotorious) bookofthatnameappearsincreasinglyunfortunate.GivingthetermtheFoucauldian meaning of an alienating stance taken by the European "self" toward the Middle Eastern"other,"SaidwentontoarguethattheOrientalistscholarshipundertakenby Westernscholarsintheeighteenthandnineteenthcenturieslargelyservedthepurposeofimperialdomination.ItistruethatinhisbookSaidconfinedhisattentionto theMiddleEast,butbothheandhisepigonesextendedthethesistoincludeother partsofAsia.SostrongwasSaid'sinfluenceforawhilethat"Orientalism"beganto acquirethemeaningofawillfulignoranceanddistortionoftheEastonthepartof Westerners.Evidencemay,ofcourse,befoundforthisthesisinthisparticularchapterofEast-Westinteraction,butthemoreimportantpointisthatthisparticularityis bynomeansrepresentativeofthemuchbroaderandvastlymorenuancedfieldof Orientalstudies.ThisisnotatalltodenytheimperialisttendenciesofsomeOrientalistscholarship;buttotarthewholefieldwiththatunnuancedbrushisbothinaccurateandmisleading. UrsApp's,inThe Birth of Orientalism,followsinthetraditionofauthorswho,by displaying the vast background against which the encounters between Asia and E ropetookplace,givethelietoattemptssuchasSaid'satnarrowingwhatisinfact u averybroadanddeephistory.Insodoing,hejoinsthecompanyofscholarslike RaymondSchwab(La Renaissance Orientale[Payot,1950]),WilhelmHalbfass(India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding[StateUniversityofNewYorkPress,1988]), JaravaLalMehta(India and the West: The Problem of Understanding[ScholarsPress, 1985]), and J. J. Clarke (Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought[Routledge,1997]).IncontrasttoHalbfassandMehta,Apps' accountoftheencountersbetweenAsiaandEuroperemainsEurocentricinthathe is concerned with various European reconstructions and evaluations ofAsian religionsandkeypersonagesandthemes,butnotwiththeothersideofthedialogue. Indeed, it would be false to characterizeApp's attempt as being dialogical at all, concernedasitisentirelywithEuropeanthinkersandtheirappropriationofAsian religiousideasandtexts. Theotherfocalpointofthebookisthatitisreligiousideology,ratherthanpoliticaloreconomicmotivesthat,accordingtoApp,providesthecentraldramaand agendaoftheseencounters.Eventhoughthereareafewphilosopherschosenfor PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number4October2012610­613 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress considerationlikeVoltaireandDiderot,itistheirthoughtsonAsianreligionsrather thanphilosophyorpoliticsthatisthecenterofApp'sinterestinthisbook.Needless tosay,thisisapartialhistoryofEast-Westinteractioninthisperiod.Muchelsewas examined hilosophicalideasofmonismandnondualism,questionsofcivilsoci--p etyinthestate,andmattersofraceandgender,tomentionjustafewtopics utthat --b isnotthefocusofthisbook,whichassertsthatitwasreligionthatwasthecenterof interestintheseparticulardiscussions. Acuriousfeatureofthebookhastodowithitstitle hebirthofOrientalism. --t The author is well aware that the communication betweenAsia and Europe goes backtoclassicalantiquityandtoHellenism,andheacknowledgesthat"thepresent bookdoesnotclaimtofurnishahistoryoforientalismasawhole.Itsmuchmore modestaimistoelucidatethroughrelativelyextensivecasestudiesacrucialphase oftheEuropeanencounterwithAsia:thecenturyofEnlightenment"(p.xi).Inpoint of fact,App covers, selectively, a fairly broad period of cultural history stretching fromthesixteenthtothenineteenthcenturies,althoughthecasestudiesassuchstart withVoltairein the eighteenth century andconclude withthe French scholar and authorConstantinVolney(1757­1820),whosebookLes Ruineswaswidelyreadand wasbroadlyinfluential.Ofcourse,whenthebirthofsomethingisannounced,oneis curioustoknowaboutthecreatureorcreationinquestion."Orientalism"afterSaid hasacquiredaparticularandratherskewedmeaning,namelyEuropeandiscourse aboutAsiaservingasanappendagetoimperialisminthearea.Oneoftheaimsof thisbookistoradicallyquestionanddeconstructthisdefinitionandtoarguethatthe EuropeanencounterswithAsiahadafarbroaderandmorenuancedcharacterthan thatdescribedbySaid.Butifthedefinitionof"Orientalism"isbroadened,thenitis obviousthatOrientalismtakenmorewidelytomeanEuropeandiscourseaboutthe Eastpredatestheeighteenthcentury. Avastamountofcarefulandmeticulouslydocumentedresearchhasgoneinto App'scasestudies,researchthatdemonstratesthattherewereavarietyofm tivations o andpointsofinterestintheEuropeandiscussionofAsia hemissionaryinterestof --t MatteoRicciinChinaandofRobertodeNobiliandBartholomaeusZiegenbalgin India; the cultural-historical goal of the deistVoltaire of relativizing http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

The Birth of Orientalism (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 62 (4) – Nov 2, 2012

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Abstract

comparesNursiwithThomasMertonverysuccessfullyandshowshowtheirinterpretationofprayerisintimatelyconnectedwithsocialjusticeandresultsinsociala tion. c IanKaplowconsidersthepossibilityofabetterworldthatisbasedonNursi'sethics andunderstandingofjustice. Inbrief,thisbookisanintroductoryworkandaguidetoNursi'sviewsonjustice andtheodicy.Itisanimportantapproachtohisideasonthesetopics. The Birth of Orientalism.ByUrsApp.Philadelphia:UniversityofPennsylvaniaPress, 2010.Pp.xviii +550. ReviewedbyJoseph Prabhu CaliforniaStateUniversity,LosAngeles Withthepassageoftime,thetitleOrientalisminEdwardSaid'sfamous(ornotorious) bookofthatnameappearsincreasinglyunfortunate.GivingthetermtheFoucauldian meaning of an alienating stance taken by the European "self" toward the Middle Eastern"other,"SaidwentontoarguethattheOrientalistscholarshipundertakenby Westernscholarsintheeighteenthandnineteenthcenturieslargelyservedthepurposeofimperialdomination.ItistruethatinhisbookSaidconfinedhisattentionto theMiddleEast,butbothheandhisepigonesextendedthethesistoincludeother partsofAsia.SostrongwasSaid'sinfluenceforawhilethat"Orientalism"beganto acquirethemeaningofawillfulignoranceanddistortionoftheEastonthepartof Westerners.Evidencemay,ofcourse,befoundforthisthesisinthisparticularchapterofEast-Westinteraction,butthemoreimportantpointisthatthisparticularityis bynomeansrepresentativeofthemuchbroaderandvastlymorenuancedfieldof Orientalstudies.ThisisnotatalltodenytheimperialisttendenciesofsomeOrientalistscholarship;buttotarthewholefieldwiththatunnuancedbrushisbothinaccurateandmisleading. UrsApp's,inThe Birth of Orientalism,followsinthetraditionofauthorswho,by displaying the vast background against which the encounters between Asia and E ropetookplace,givethelietoattemptssuchasSaid'satnarrowingwhatisinfact u averybroadanddeephistory.Insodoing,hejoinsthecompanyofscholarslike RaymondSchwab(La Renaissance Orientale[Payot,1950]),WilhelmHalbfass(India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding[StateUniversityofNewYorkPress,1988]), JaravaLalMehta(India and the West: The Problem of Understanding[ScholarsPress, 1985]), and J. J. Clarke (Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought[Routledge,1997]).IncontrasttoHalbfassandMehta,Apps' accountoftheencountersbetweenAsiaandEuroperemainsEurocentricinthathe is concerned with various European reconstructions and evaluations ofAsian religionsandkeypersonagesandthemes,butnotwiththeothersideofthedialogue. Indeed, it would be false to characterizeApp's attempt as being dialogical at all, concernedasitisentirelywithEuropeanthinkersandtheirappropriationofAsian religiousideasandtexts. Theotherfocalpointofthebookisthatitisreligiousideology,ratherthanpoliticaloreconomicmotivesthat,accordingtoApp,providesthecentraldramaand agendaoftheseencounters.Eventhoughthereareafewphilosopherschosenfor PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number4October2012610­613 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress considerationlikeVoltaireandDiderot,itistheirthoughtsonAsianreligionsrather thanphilosophyorpoliticsthatisthecenterofApp'sinterestinthisbook.Needless tosay,thisisapartialhistoryofEast-Westinteractioninthisperiod.Muchelsewas examined hilosophicalideasofmonismandnondualism,questionsofcivilsoci--p etyinthestate,andmattersofraceandgender,tomentionjustafewtopics utthat --b isnotthefocusofthisbook,whichassertsthatitwasreligionthatwasthecenterof interestintheseparticulardiscussions. Acuriousfeatureofthebookhastodowithitstitle hebirthofOrientalism. --t The author is well aware that the communication betweenAsia and Europe goes backtoclassicalantiquityandtoHellenism,andheacknowledgesthat"thepresent bookdoesnotclaimtofurnishahistoryoforientalismasawhole.Itsmuchmore modestaimistoelucidatethroughrelativelyextensivecasestudiesacrucialphase oftheEuropeanencounterwithAsia:thecenturyofEnlightenment"(p.xi).Inpoint of fact,App covers, selectively, a fairly broad period of cultural history stretching fromthesixteenthtothenineteenthcenturies,althoughthecasestudiesassuchstart withVoltairein the eighteenth century andconclude withthe French scholar and authorConstantinVolney(1757­1820),whosebookLes Ruineswaswidelyreadand wasbroadlyinfluential.Ofcourse,whenthebirthofsomethingisannounced,oneis curioustoknowaboutthecreatureorcreationinquestion."Orientalism"afterSaid hasacquiredaparticularandratherskewedmeaning,namelyEuropeandiscourse aboutAsiaservingasanappendagetoimperialisminthearea.Oneoftheaimsof thisbookistoradicallyquestionanddeconstructthisdefinitionandtoarguethatthe EuropeanencounterswithAsiahadafarbroaderandmorenuancedcharacterthan thatdescribedbySaid.Butifthedefinitionof"Orientalism"isbroadened,thenitis obviousthatOrientalismtakenmorewidelytomeanEuropeandiscourseaboutthe Eastpredatestheeighteenthcentury. Avastamountofcarefulandmeticulouslydocumentedresearchhasgoneinto App'scasestudies,researchthatdemonstratesthattherewereavarietyofm tivations o andpointsofinterestintheEuropeandiscussionofAsia hemissionaryinterestof --t MatteoRicciinChinaandofRobertodeNobiliandBartholomaeusZiegenbalgin India; the cultural-historical goal of the deistVoltaire of relativizing

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Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Nov 2, 2012

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