Civil Society and Lebanon: Toward a Hermeneutic Theory of the Public Sphere in Comparative Studies

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This study pursues a hermeneutic and dialogic conception of the public sphere. Through a critical assessment of the development of the closely related ideas of civil society and a democratic public sphere, Specifically, this study explores Ibn Khaldoun's notion of Asabiya and its impact on the constitution of civil society and the public sphere in Lebanon, paying particular attention to the notions of power and authority within the context of this indigenous concept in particular, and Lebanese (and Arab) culture in general. "Professor Dawahare has applied a set of complex theories to the Lebanese situation, and the result has been to better explain Lebanese politics as well as to probe new theoretical terrain. The study is comprehensive and represents a better use of theory to produce insights into one of the most complex political systems in the Middle East region than many other recent works on the subject. This book will be of interest to both social theorists and Middle East Scholars." John D. Stempel, Director The Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky
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About the author

Dawahare teaches political science at Georgetown College where he also serves as Director of the Office of College Communications. He is a former journalist.

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Published on
Dec 31, 2000
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Philosophy / Hermeneutics
Political Science / History & Theory
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is considered one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century in spite of his well-known transgressions—his complicity with National Socialism and his inability to show remorse or compassion for its victims. In The Duplicity of Philosophy’s Shadow, Elliot R. Wolfson intervenes in a debate that has seen much attention in scholarly and popular media from a unique perspective, as a scholar of Jewish mysticism and philosophy who has been profoundly influenced by Heidegger’s work.

Wolfson sets out to probe Heidegger’s writings to expose what remains unthought. In spite of Heidegger’s explicit anti-Semitic statements, Wolfson reveals some crucial aspects of his thinking—including criticism of the biological racism and militant apocalypticism of Nazism—that betray an affinity with dimensions of Jewish thought: the triangulation of the concepts of homeland, language, and peoplehood; Jewish messianism and the notion of historical time as the return of the same that is always different; inclusion, exclusion, and the status of the other; the problem of evil in kabbalistic symbolism. Using Heidegger’s own methods, Wolfson reflects on the inextricable link of truth and untruth and investigates the matter of silence and the limits of speech. He challenges the tendency to bifurcate the relationship of the political and the philosophical in Heidegger’s thought, but parts company with those who write off Heidegger as a Nazi ideologue. Ultimately, The Duplicity of Philosophy’s Shadow argues, the greatness and relevance of Heidegger’s work is that he presents us with the opportunity to think the unthinkable as part of our communal destiny as historical beings.

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