Chapter

The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual: Traditionalism or Historicism?

Laroui Abdallah

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual: Traditionalism or Historicism?

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Historian and philosopher as well as Professor Emeritus at Universit Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco, he has published extensively in French and Arabic on Islam, modernity, and intellectuals of the Arab world. His publications include Islam et histoire: essai dpistmologie; Islam et modernit; and The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual: Traditionalism or Historicism?

His thesis, presented in 1974, is that Arab intellectuals, whether pietist or secular, have neglected the historical dimension in their social theories. The consequences of the ahistorical perspective is its inability to undertake causal analysis and thus from understanding how developments take the course that they do. This leaves the analyst with idealist formulations about a golden age in the past that in all likelihood was different from the way it has been depicted in the first place; or, if it did take the forms that are alleged for it, then it clearly could not be recaptured by ensuing generations because those generations live in different circumstances. Laroui thus calls for a total program that adopts a clear and consistent position toward the absolutes of traditionalist thought, the problem of minorities, democracy at the state level and at the level of local communities, unity in its real historical framework . . . in short, a program giving rational analysis of the past, the present and the foreseeable future of the Arabs.

Chapter.  3293 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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