"The non-humanist humanist" : Edward W. Said and his critical practice


Ng, Hau-man; T3]çe‡


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“The Non-humanist Humanist”: Edward W. Said and His Critical Practice

Hau Man Ng

B.A. H.K.

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong. August 2008

Abstract of thesis entitled

“The Non-humanist Humanist”: Edward W. Said and His Critical Practice

Submitted by

Hau Man Ng

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in August 2008

This thesis is a critical and historical study of Edward W. Said’s humanism; it examines the epistemic and moral foundation of his humanism theoretically and contextualizes his critical practice as a historically specific and politically conscious resistance against forms of cultural, intellectual, discursive and political oppression. As Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, Edward Said never taught anything but the Western humanities. However, his entire corpus of critical work covers a wide range of topics and topicalities which at times may appear contradictory. Despite his multifarious intellectual identities and concerns, Said has identified his entire intellectual and political work with humanism. Humanism is Said’s intellectual and moral belief; it is the foundation of his literary and political practice. Although humanism is both the beginning and the end of Said’s literary, intellectual, and political pursuits, it is seldom dealt with in itself or in relation to Said’s entire corpus of critical work, especially with reference to the crisis of Western humanism in the context of postmodernism and postcolonialism. Many studies of Said aim only at examining his intellectual history cross-sectionally rather

than genealogically. This thesis sets out to discuss Said’s humanism in order to show the continuity and coherence among some of the major Saidian themes, both in theory and in practice. What is humanism for Said? Why does he continuously advocate humanism as a praxis for intellectuals and critics? How does Said understand the human? What can we know about the human? What does humanism inform us as human beings in the world? The goal of humanism is to know our own self; to know ourselves is to know our own history—what we make and what we do. For Said, humanistic or historical knowledge can only come from criticism. How one understands the human is consequent upon one’s entire worldview. Said understands the human in terms of human existential actualities: language, knowledge, criticism, theory, and politics as historical. Each historical period or stage is understood as a whole in which all human activities intertwine with and interpenetrate one another. Said understands and judges a work of literature not just in terms of its cultural or national origin, but in close relation to its historical conditions. It is with this deep commitment to the historical knowledge of literature that Said practices his humanism. This study proposes to examine four major critical categories as classified by Said himself: literature, theory, politics, and aesthetics and attempts to show Said’s humanism through his critical practice. By mapping out Said’s humanism within the Vichian tradition of historicist/critical humanism, the thesis attempts to circumvent the crude distinction between Eurocentric humanism and poststructuralist “antihumanism.” It is hoped that a metacritical explication of Said’s critical concepts and praxis will enable us to better understand who we are and what we should do, and also to provide a meta-epistemological reflection upon what literature, aesthetics and criticism are—how they are primarily cultural and political activities of great historical, cultural and political significance to our self-understanding and self-fashioning. (500 words)

.. diploma or other qualifications............. except where due acknowledgement is made..............Declaration I declare that this thesis represents my own work.... Hau Man Ng i ... and that it has not been previously included in a thesis.. dissertation or report submitted to this University or to any other institution for a degree............... Signed ..

the personality and sisterhood of Rachel Huang. and Dr. Dr. I am always grateful for her care. I owe special thanks to Harshana Rambukwella who has generously taken the time and effort to comment on my writing and encouraged me during times of self-doubt and inconfidence. I am indebted to Dr. Thank you Amanda for her belief in me and this wonderful friendship. It would be impossible for me to acknowledge fully the intellectual and moral generosity and support of my supervisor. Q. Kerr for his locally engaged commitment to and concern for the postgraduates. Heim for his encouragement and kindness. local commitment and global vision will always be an important part in my intellectual and personal formation. my entire focus and life changed ever since.Preface This thesis taught me to be grateful for but not satisfied with what I have. generosity and support. the optimism and charisma of Tammy Ho. Tong’s critical knowledge. Throughout the years. her toughness of mind and humanist conviction have been a source of aspiration and inspiration. The friendly and congenial postgraduate culture has allowed me to share with and learn from a lot of wonderful minds. Dr. Since the days of being her tutorial student. Tong has never failed to be critically constructive and full of understanding and patience with my intellectual development. I would like to thank Prof. I would also keep close to my heart the lively and passionate company of Skye Jin. Paul Bové has led me through the study of critical theory and provided me important and personal information on Said. His encouragement and trust in me have given me strength and courage to pass through critical moments. Helen Yang has been the most caring and compassionate colleague and friend of mine. Douglas Kerr and Dr. Jiwei Ci whose philosophical acumen and teaching have deepened my interest in philosophy. Tong. Ruth Hung has been an important intellectual and personal support. who made this intellectual project possible in the first place. S. Dr. Otto Heim. Having been entrusted with this project and the opportunity to engage with the intellectual and social world. I have also benefited much from a number of courses by Prof. I owe special thanks. In a course on the foundations of Euro-American critical theory. ii . To him.

Siu Wai. Webster and Calvin for their kind words and eagerness to learn. iii . Wong Oi Ki. I am grateful to Cheong Ho for his love and sacrifice throughout the process of writing this thesis. Tso Nar.and many others: YJ. Hei and Pong for their sisterhood and brotherhood. Their support and encouragement have been so important to my earlier personal and intellectual growth. Ms. Hong. Wendy. Nar. Friendships from primary and high school have proven strong and valuable. I have also been blessed with the loving and caring spirit of several couples: Ephod and Sharon. Mui. Bonnie. for their care and expectation of me. Shun and Sarah to be there for me. Kit. Thanks to my students Denton. Wing. I am forever indebted to Nehemiah Zau’s and Wing Leung’s wisdom. Sharon Chan. Ng Chung Yiu. and for being an indispensable part of my intellectual. I am especially grateful to my high school English teacher. Wai Man. Finally to my most-respected and beloved family: this thesis is dedicated to my father and mother whose education had been cut short but whose sacrifice. Fan. Chiu Yuen. 2008 is our 20th anniversary: I am so happy to always have Panpan. Mr. hardship and spirit of generosity. musical and moral life. You all love me the most. and Pamela and Patrick. love. Jasmine. Xiaoli. faith. and Chemistry teacher. John and Joy. Ching Ping and Dawning for their warm company. Kelly. Pui Yin. etc. Yuko. Jane. integrity and moral wisdom have affected and moved me tremendously. Thank you Kin. Siu Man. special thanks to Siu Ki.

The Moral of Genealogy: Reading Said between Presence and Absence. Prologue: “The Last Jewish Intellectual” 7 2. The Dialectic of “Parallels and Paradoxes”: Said’s Critical Practice 4. Historicism and Universalism 161 Epilogue: “An Exile’s Exile”: The Question of Humanism 195 Bibliography/ 208 4 .Contents Declaration/ i Preface/ ii Abbreviations/ 5 1. The Resistance of Politics and the Politics of Resistance: Said as a Public Intellectual 71 117 5. Humanism and Secular Criticism 45 3.

Culture and Imperialism. 1994. Humanism and Democratic Criticism. Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography. On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain. Said. 1969-1994. New York: Pantheon Books. Johnson. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. The Wellek Library Lectures at the University of California. Mass. Interviews with Edward W. 2004. 2000. The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After.Abbreviations The following abbreviations are used throughout to refer to Edward Said’s works. B CI Dispossession Beginnings: Intention and Method. 1966. New York: Columbia University Press. Cambridge.: Harvard University Press. New York: Pantheon Books. New York: Vintage Books. Mass. New York: Pantheon. 1975. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge. Edited by Amritjit Singh and Bruce G. New York: Pantheon Books. 2004. The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination. Freud and the Non-European. End Exile Fiction Freud HDC Interviews Islam Late Style Music 5 . London: Verso. New York: Basic Books. Irvine. Musical Elaborations. 1991. 2006. 1993. 2000. Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. New York: Columbia University Press. 2004 .: Harvard University Press. 2004.

1983. Edited and introduced by Gauri Viswanathan. Monroe. The Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. The Pen and the Sword: Conversations with David Barsamian. Cambridge. New York: Pantheon Books. Power. New York: Knopf. and the Critic. ME. the Text.O Out of Place PA Orientalism. The World. and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Politics. 1994. Mass. Pen PPC QP RI WTC 6 . 1999. New York: Pantheon Books. Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies. 1979.: Harvard University Press. Out of Place: A Memoir. New York: Times Books. Said. The Question of Palestine. New York: Vintage Books. 2001. 1979. The Palestine Question and the American Context. 2004. 1994. 25th anniversary edition.: Common Courage Press.

” —Edward Said2 For a homeless person. is painful. 457. He rejects the ideology of home which aims 7 .”—Edward Said1 “My fate is to remain in New York. provisionality. a historically stateless and homeless people who has experienced and thought through exile as an existential condition of life. 458. PPC. But exile for Edward Said is the ground of love and justice for all humankind. In an interview with Ari Shavit on the subject of the Jewish-Palestinian tension and of home and homelessness. Said criticizes the idea of home and origin to which Zionism attributes so much significance and authority. From Amoz Oz to all these people here in America. but created. where relationships are not inherited. On a constantly shifting ground. Ibid. Homelessness or exile. irony and price. I’m the last Jewish intellectual. the return to a home is not without its contingency. All your other Jewish intellectuals are now suburban squires. Let me put it this way: I’m a JewishPalestinian. No people endures and yet triumphs intellectually and economically in the predicaments of existential. So I’m the last one. The only true follower of Adorno. by force or by will. Where there is no solidity of home.”3 1 2 3 Said.CHAPTER ONE Prologue: “The Last Jewish Intellectual” “Of course. emphasis added. it is the ultimate intellectual and critical position of an intellectual because exile implies self-criticism and nonsubjectivity. debilitating and self-sacrificial. You don’t know anyone else. cultural and intellectual exile like the Jews.. In response to Ari Shavit’s identification of his view on nationalism and exile with “jewishness.

458.” from CounterPunch. “My Right of Return. national interests. “Minorité par excellence” means “the only minority whose interests could be defended only by internationally guaranteed protection. 6 Why did Said say he was the last Jewish intellectual? What might be the intellectual and political implications of this personal statement? The Jews and the Palestinians symbolize a historically. in PPC. From Amoz Oz to all these people here in America. Let me put it this way: I’m a JewishPalestinian.”4 It is intellectually and politically so significant. to openly acknowledge here in America his intellectual and cultural indebtedness and filiation to the Jewish intellectual tradition.org. So I’m the last one. 6 “The FBI has a long. Because of his continuous fight for the Palestinian cause and challenge to American’s globalism. 2006. You don’t know anyone else. international policy and the imperialist rationale of Zionism.. created on January 13.S. “How the FBI Spied on Edward Said. which according David Price functions historically to suppress “democratic solutions to the Israeli and Palestinian problems … [and] monitor and harass American peace activists. 4 5 Ibid.” interview with Ari Shavit. I’m the last Jewish intellectual. The Origins of Totalitarianism 8 . All your other Jewish intellectuals are now suburban squires. geopolitically and identitarianly unresolved conflict and contradiction: the Jews are genealogically an indispensible participant of and contributor to Western civilization and are the historically stateless and rightless victims.html>. paradoxical and almost dramatic for a Palestinian-American intellectual. See Edward Said.org/price01132006. ignoble tradition of monitoring and harassing America’s top intellectuals.” and Said has been one of them who become an “interest” to the FBI. The only true follower of Adorno. who has been a political activist for Palestinian national self-determination and critic of the U. Edward Alexander infamously calls Said the “Professor for Terror” for his criticism of Israeli Zionism and political struggle for the Palestinian rights and freedom. 7 The Jews are deprived of the fundamental human right to have right.” Hannah Arendt. the “minorité par excellence”7 of to fortify one’s cultural identity yet rejects other cultures. (August 1989): 49-50. and he was subject to long-term FBI surveillance. clipped on February 24. 458.Said determinedly says. nationalism and identity politics. <http://www/counterpunch.S. Said was perceived by American Zionists and neoconservative critics as anti-American or anti-Western5 and a threat to the U.” Price.” Commentary 88. “Of course. 2006. Alexander. “Professor of Terror.

geographical. Said’s father. Out of Place. a discovered land of migration and affiliation. 6. a country in which Said voluntarily stayed and pursued an academic profession after his higher education. religions. Ibid. a tripartite locus of Said’s cultural.. Wadie Said. 1966). intertwine dialectically and contrapuntally to form his intellectual topography. The tension amongst different cultures. hybridity and multiculturalism.” 11 Said’s mother.. Said and his family are members of a Christian minority in the Arab world of Islamic culture and religions. For Said.Western totalitarianism and anti-Semitism. America.. was a successful businessman who “hated Jerusalem”10 and “always averred that America was his country. PPC.” 8 exiled from and deprived of a home and subject to cultural. 10. 19. the Palestinians are the “victim of the victim. identity. had been Said’s closest companion for the first twenty-five years of his life. 10 11 12 9 . Ibid. historical and political amputation. 8 9 Said. 12. Born in Jerusalem in late 1935. including his bicultural (New York: Harcourt. aesthetics and music. brought up in Egypt and Lebanon and educated in British colonial schools. languages and identities in the “formation” and consciousness of Said began with his parents: “two Palestinians with dramatically different backgrounds and temperaments [and interests]” and an affinity and aspiration to Western culture and language. who was profoundly interested in language. Hilda Said. Brace & World. 318. historical and intellectual constitution. the Palestinian and the American. The Jewish. Said.12 Said was sent to America to receive secondary and tertiary education as a schoolboy in 1951 and settled to teach English and comparative literature in America. represents for Said a place of non-identity. 9 Both Said’s parents had received schooling from either British or American missionary institutions. 289. Ibid. Palestine ceased to be the homeland of Said and his family because of the exile and dispossession that took place in 1947-8 when Said was still a young boy.

cultural.and bilingual name and mother tongues.”13 The IsraeliArab war had such a life-turning impact on Said and his intellectual formation. the crosscultural dynamics between the Israeli Jew and the Palestinian Arab and between the West and the East in general provide a historical and political context in which the genesis and genealogy of Said’s entire critical practice should be understood. cultural and intellectual reflection on his Palestinian-American identity and the reconfiguration of his life as a young professor at Columbia University. 10 . Throughout his career. not only because he was an Arab and the geopolitical existence of the Arab world was at stake. but also because what the Israeli-Arab war dawned on Said was the ironic and tragic realization that religious. 5.S. or all-Egyptian. The long and winding history of the Israeli-Arab dispute together with divergent historical. historical and political conflicts in individuals and society could culminate in existential. extermination and antihumanism. The Israeli 13 Ibid. military and political subjugation..A. together with an acute memory of the despairing feeling that I wish we could have been all-Arab. national. Said’s secular humanism arises from a critical and political reaction to and resistance against the rhetorical. geopolitical and theological interpretations should be too complicated for one to make definite moral judgment. politics and history. or all-European and American. After the war. However. or allOrthodox Christian. historical. ideological and strategic appeal to religious authority by Israel and the U. Said says: “I have retained this unsettled sense of many identities—mostly in conflict with each other— all of my life. cultural. and so on. or all-Muslim. has always been an uneasy and contradictory question that could not be taken for granted. Said prolifically wrote beyond his disciplinary boundaries to reopen the correspondences and interchanges between literary criticism. but it was the 1967 Israeli-Arab war which brought Said to an emotional. Said emphasizes and exemplifies the critical practice of secular humanism which comprehends the human world from a secular historical perspective: the human world is made historically by men and women themselves.

the home of justice. silly dictatorships of the nonwhite world will understand that what the US does it does with God’s grace.’ creating ‘the new Israel’ or the ‘new Jerusalem’ in what was clearly ‘the promised land. WTC. 21. 2004). the neoconservative humanists in the U.’ America was the site of a ‘new Heaven and a new earth. The coherent American identity upheld and fortified by neoconservative and state intellectuals is also ideologically constructed within a religious setting and dependent upon “supernatural” and “religious” authority and justification: “[Americans] were a ‘chosen people’ on an ‘errand in the wilderness. 290. it can also be changed by human 14 Samuel Huntington. Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National identity (New York: Simon and Schuster. postmodernist and postcolonial discourses and theories.” Religious references and narratives appear to be indispensable in the formation of a people and nation. as the infamous Daniel Patrick Moynihan has put it (more aggressively) a flexing of the US’s muscle.S. politics.”15 Said’s secular criticism demystifies and deconstructs the religious and dogmatic effect of culture16 by historicizing and politicizing human production (culture. does in the world is part of its defense of the Western way of life or. “Like culture. religion therefore furnishes us with systems of authority and with canons of order whose regular effect is either to compel subservience or to gain adherents.” Said. Partly as a reaction towards the Third World decolonization movement and domestic multiculturalist movement for the rights of the cultural and social minorities.Zionist movement derives from the biblical source to justify its reclamation of the “Promised Land” and its creation of the modern Jewish identity and nationality as members of the “Chosen People. context aim to rescue and defend the American national identity and cultural inheritance from the inroads of multiculturalism. For human history is made by men and women. 15 16 Said. 11 . PA.’”14 “Many of those same [state] intellectuals now say that everything the U. truth and morality be damned. and justice. 64.’ ‘God’s country. discourse and literature) as made by humans themselves.S. so that the small.

“Michel Foucault. Literary criticism’s quest for truth stems from the ahistorical and religious impulse of culture to lend an air of ontological stability and historical inevitability to the notion of human. 22.” The Final Foucault. and PhD in Harvard). in Princeton. demonstrates how Western imperial power camouflages itself as disinterested knowledge of other cultures. and cultural research of which my education has made me the fortunate beneficiary. Without conducting a self-examination of the political and historical context from which the discipline of literary criticism originates and develops. it is self-critical. Like Michel Foucault.” 17 His secular criticism subjects his own intellectual formation to genealogical examination. race.A.B. Said is conscious and critical of “the massive indoctrination to which … he has been subjected. M. 1994). and the Question of Identity.” 18 He stands at a critical distance from his existential and historical circumstances in order to develop a wider perspective of the whole humanity and world. culture. a “practitioner” of humanism. 12 . a critique of the complicity between culture and imperialism and a genealogical study of and disciplinary self-reflection on the politics and history of literary criticism. xvi. literary criticism aims to pursue apolitical and ahistorical knowledge of humanity and therefore becomes unworldly and detached from the reality of discourse and power. and draws scholarly attention to the historical and discursive formations of literary criticism. Western humanism. Said received the best of Western humanistic education and became a humanist. James Bernauer and David Rasmussen (London: The MIT Press. Rameau’s Nephew. PPC. Insofar as secular criticism is anti-dogmatic. otherwise he will be reduced to his own circumstantial constitution and determination. humanistic. He says: “I have tried to maintain a critical consciousness as well as employing those instruments of historical. eds. Educated in the Ivy League (A. 18 17 Said.effort and agency. identity and literature: “To say of such grand ideas [the Orient and the West] and their discourse that they have something in common with religious Karlis Racevskis. a discourse of truth and power. For Said. both enables and disables one’s critical consciousness. Said’s Orientalism (1978).

the differand (Lyotard). the ‘aporia’ (De Man).discourse is to say that each serves as an agent of closure. Paul Bové has given a detailed and critical account of the genealogy of the tradition of critical humanism in Intellectuals in Power: A Genealogy of Critical Humanism (New York. still inevitably repeating it. “The Genealogy of Justice and the Justice of Genealogy: Chomsky and Said vs.)” See Harold Weiss. Said does not see himself as a poststructuralist or postmodernist or postcolonialist. “While Foucault is most often seen as the spokesman of anti-humanism. no. “according to Bové he is to be seen as simply the most successful grappler with humanism. the ‘absent cause’ (Lacan) that has always haunted the truth discourse of the West. Erich Auerbach and Michel Foucault.” Philosophy Today 33. May 2004. William Spanos understands “postmodern and more precisely post-structuralist theory [as] a broadly anti-humanist theory [whose purpose] has been to think the ‘nothing’ (Heidegger). the supernatural. and effort in deference to the authority of the morethan-human. that [Said considers] to be incomplete by virtue of its ethnocentrism and lack of interest in the part of the world where [he] grew 19 20 Said. 20 In Orientalism.”19 Said’s critique of Western humanism and humanistic disciplines can be mapped in the tradition of historicist and critical humanism whose precursors are Giambattista Vico. 1986).”21 and he sees Said as a “poststructuralist critic”22 attempting to dismantle Western discourse of truth and to deconstruct Western humanism and imperialism.” Harold Weiss says. unpaginated. Friedrich Nietzsche. shutting off human investigation. the ‘difference’ (Derrida). Foucault and Bové. Spanos. but rather as a humanist tout court whose goal is to “complete work inaugurated by Auerbach. China. Martin Heidegger. 21 William V. 290. the other-worldly. Adorno et al. Politics and the Humanities. WTC. “Humanism and the Studia Humanitatis after 9/11/04: Rethinking the Anthropologos. (There can be no such thing as pure anti-humanism. 22 Ibid. criticism. 13 . Nanjing University. Said’s employment of Foucault’s notion of discourse to understand and analyze Orientalism as a discursive formation has led a number of critics to take Said’s position as poststructuralist even though neither Foucault nor Said would see themselves as poststructuralist critics.” paper presented at the International Symposium on Culture. but with the best possible results. Columbia University Press. 1 (spring 1989): 92. However.

J. 27 26 Said. eds. Aamir R. “Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism. but it would be crude and undialectical to pin down Said’s position as being antihumanistic. T. James Clifford and Aijaz Ahmad. 14 . 77. 2005). and the Question of Minority Culture. 13. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Said. 128. W. anti23 24 25 Said.up. This relationship is routinely misread in poststructuralist readings of his work as the sign of a lingering ‘humanism.” Critical Inquiry 25 (autumn 1998): 111-2. America’s politics of globalism and Jewish Zionism. Mitchell. J. HDC. J. This article also appears in Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation. T. T.”25 As Aamir Mufti says: “The relationship of Said’s critical practice to Enlightenment [or humanism] is dialectical—as expressed in his account of the dialectic of filiation and affiliation in modern consciousness. there is no overcoming of any position across historical time but only criss-crossing dialectics and relations in the intellectual space. According to Mufti. Mitchell rightly and anachronistically describes Said as a “high modernist intellectual. reciprocally. no. Said does not identify himself with postcolonialism but humanism despite the fact that many academics interpret Said as the founder of postcolonial studies and perceive his intellectual legacy as primarily postcolonial.” Critical Inquiry 31. Homi Bhabha and W. Secular Criticism. The similarity between Said and postcolonialists is that he himself has experienced the “postcolonial” difficulty of self-definition throughout his entire life.”27 Said critiques Western humanism. have misread Said’s humanist position from a poststructuralist perspective. 2 (winter 2005): 467. “Auerbach in Istanbul: Edward Said. […] [I]t has been the abuse of humanism that discredits some of humanism’s practitioners without discrediting humanism itself. contrapuntally and relationally in spatial rather than temporal terms. PPC. HDC.”23 Said prefers the anachronistic term “non-humanist humanist” 24 rather than “post-humanist” or “anti-humanist” because he is thinking between humanism and antihumanism or posthumanism dialectically. Mufti.’”26 “[A]ttacking the abuses of something is not the same thing as dismissing or entirely destroying that thing. W.

Said departs from poststructuralist practice in that his desire to dismantle the authority of the ‘subject of the West. American and Jewish culture but to fill up the absences he finds in the history of humanism and nations. Exotic Parodies: Subjectivity in Adorno. 1995). or the West as Subject’ is also a desire to replace that subject or usurp its prerogative. 28 “Crucially. ed. and Spivak (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. It is the condition of exile. anti-Jewish and anti-religious. The condition of exile and non-identity is intellectually productive and critically enabling since being at home with one’s cultural and intellectual formation could lead to a dogmatic reverence for and over-reliance upon one’s own culture and mode of thinking. The “feeling at home” with one’s culture and self could impede one’s sympathetic capacity to 28 Walter Benjamin says. behind every history of civilization. Leo Spitzer. 1969).e. “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. The “Jewish intellectual” for Said is a worldly intellectual unconfined by his or her own cultural and national consciousness and identity who traverses the cultural and intellectual space as both the insider and outsider of Western society. Asha Varadharajan. cultural and geographical displacement and alienation from one’s own cultural and national existence and consciousness. the place of the subject in Said’s discourse is that of the postcolonial intellectual. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books. Illuminations. 114. Said identifies himself with Jewish intellectuals because the Jewish condition epitomizes existentially and intellectually for him the critical state of homelessness and nonidentity in the Western world. Far from being empty. 29 15 . The purpose of Said’s critical practice is not to overthrow and replace Western humanism.American. therefore.”29 Said himself acknowledges the relation of his secular criticism to the Jewish minority and to the American cultural and historical contexts.” Benjamin. i. Erich Auerbach. 256. trans. which has produced so many Jewish thinkers and writers: Walter Benjamin. an existential. Hannah Arendt. etc. The Jews are historically a people of exile and dispossession. and intro. Said. to document the history of barbarism. in Walter Benjamin’s words. Theodor Adorno. one in which this intellectual can be at home with homelessness.

.” Ibid.. WTC. Exile. turbulent. non-Occidental exile and homelessness [in Istanbul. “owed its existence to the very fact of Oriental. affiliation with it through critical consciousness and scholarly work. Auerbach’s Mimesis. suppressed and misrepresented by the Western discourse of truth.transgress from one’s contingent and limited subjective consciousness and perspective in order to understand other cultures and subjectivities from other historical perspectives for the purpose of cross-cultural interchange and coexistence. Criticism is the product of the dialectic of filiation and affiliation30 with one’s own culture and subjectivity. Said says: “it is the fact of New York that plays an important role in the kind of criticism and interpretation which I have done. 32 33 Said. i. which is a literary and philological study of the representation of reality in Western literature. See Said. 16 . the cultural “other” that has been marginalized. and absorptive. 99.33 Said says: “What I 30 The terms “filiation” and “affiliation” are used by Said to describe different kinds of relationship between the critic and his or her culture. Said. New York today is what Paris was a hundred years ago. the capital of our time.”32 New York is the embodiment of the American experience and identity. because of exile. 31 Ibid. “Filiation” is a passively inherited relationship with the critic’s natal culture by virtue of being born within that culture. energetic. If. Said says: “We have in Auerbach an instance both of filiation with his natal culture and. 15-24. 16. xi. PPC. filiation and affiliation with one’s culture are both necessary and coextensive. Criticism requires both the familiarity and defamiliarity with one’s own culture. there is also a native tradition of resistance and liberation in America which is important to Said’s critical practice. and of which [Reflections on Exile] is a kind of record. “affiliation” is the critic’s active engagement with his or her culture through the working of his or her critical consciousness or maintaining a critical distance to his or her culture. Restless. 8. unceasingly various. According Said.” 31 Said’s entire critical practice derives from the intellectual and cultural “absences” of Western humanism.e. Turkey]. unsettling. according to Said. nationalism and exile or presence (what is authorized and represented by culture) and absence (what is suppressed and marginalized by culture) of one’s own culture. Apart from the Jewish intellectual tradition. resistant.

Said.: Wesleyan University Press. 1992). as Paul Bové says: “the intellectual life has no independent identity or history but … it is always. race or creed—to a position of subordination vis-à-vis the state. opposition to war in general. Ibid.”34 The America nation is formed out of a multicultural setting and the American republic was originally founded upon humanistic values: individual human rights. special interest groups. multiculturalism and coexistence.” 37 Said willingly chooses to remain in exile. to the generally widespread fraudulent consensus politics implemented by the media and the governmental experts in legitmation. a function of the material world in which it is inscribed. Conn. In the Wake of Theory (Middletown. justice and democracy not only for promoting individualism and independence but also communal coexistence as affirmed and protected by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. PA. to the ethic of the corporate consumerist elite. libertarian. xxvii. 27.like about New York City is its anonymity.. in all forms. The history of America is also a history of the battle between the will to a coherent American identity (primarily Eurocentric) and the will to difference. to attempts to reduce the university. freedom. because Said’s criticism is dependent on and responsive toward the historical circumstances and political conditions under which it is produced. however. the law and the individual—of whatever colour. and from it derives opposition to compromise with the State’s foreign interventionary adventures.” 35 Said embraces the “other America. and a tyrannical majority. CI. to human rights’ abuses wherever and whenever they take place. 104.”36 Said as a critical intellectual and his literary criticism are secular and worldly. the quest for better understanding of humanity and more freedom is made possible by the adversarial. in a state of 34 35 36 37 Said. 17 .” which “plays a principled role in forming the national ethos. 25. oppositional and antiwar tradition which has “always … been grounded in the very center of American life. For Said. Paul Bové.

even though he himself is existentially. despite its being made to seem pious and sentimental by the avant-garde developments in the last few decades of literary theory. with stubborn ideals. what they are committed to as scholars. Said has identified his entire intellectual and political work with humanism.”39 Said says. where relationships are not inherited.“homelessness” in New York. intellectually. is “perhaps the only ‘ism’ that. Where there is no solidity of home. and who want also to connect these principles to 38 39 Said. On a constantly shifting ground.”38 Said is not anti-Jewish or anti-American: his criticism stems from both the exile Jewish intellectual and the historically created nation of America to which he attaches great importance. emphasis added. PPC. ix. who is a refugee from Jaffa. nation and identity are historically made by humans themselves in history. therefore everything made can be critiqued. nationalism. He exhibits a consciousness that is at once critical-exilic and situational-historical. Humanism. [Said] continued to avow. Akeel Bilgrami. Although his entire corpus of critical work covers a wide range of topics and topicalities and his multifarious intellectual concerns may appear heterogeneous at times. My fate is to remain in New York. went back to Palestine and settled in Ramallah. As Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University. resisted and changed. “What concerns me is humanism as a useable praxis for intellectuals and academics who want to know what they are doing. Said never taught anything but the Western humanities. which is the raison d’être of humanistic and secular criticism: hence the importance of Foucault’s genealogy or historical ontology of the modern human subject to Said’s secularization of culture. Said emphasizes the self-creation of human beings: culture. emotionally and morally bonded with and attached to his native place and has the option to return to Palestine: “While I was writing my memoir. as Akeel Bilgrami says. But I realized this is something I cannot do. but created. literature and identity. literary criticism. 18 . Foreword to HDC. 457. my dear friend Abu Lughod.

the world in which they live as citizens. as the poet Rimbaud put it.’”41 The whole set of relations amongst human 40 41 Said. 19 . However. and the self is a vacancy.”40 What is humanism and humanistic criticism for Said? Why does he continuously advocate humanism as a praxis for intellectuals. “[S]tructuralism kicks away the twin pillars of humanism: the sovereignty of rational consciousness. what is the intellectual and political significance of Said’s humanistic critical practice in the historical and political context of contemporary literary criticism? What does it inform us as human beings in the world? Are there any limits to and presuppositions behind his humanistic criticism? Humanism is Said’s intellectual and moral belief. 6. intellectual and political oppression. and the authenticity of individual speech. literary and political practice. The advent of critical theory and postcolonial and multicultural studies in the 1960s and 1970s has critically undermined and challenged the legacy and legitimacy of Western humanism and humanistic studies or the Western discourse of truth. especially with reference to the crisis of Western humanism and humanities in the context of postmodernism. critics and academics? Why is humanism so essential in Said’s understanding of the literary intellectual and literary criticism? Also. 60. I do not think. You do not speak. will and freedom appears to be an ideological or a discursive construction. I am thought. ‘is an other.” the humanist belief in the human subject and individual consciousness. His humanism is a historically specific and politically conscious resistance against forms of cultural. Humanism (London: Routledge. Tony Davies. With the poststructuralist pronouncement of the “death of man” and “death of the author. are located elsewhere. which for the humanist had been the central substance of identity. Thought and speech. it is the foundation of his critical. how does Said understand the human? What can we know about the human? After poststructuralism and deconstruction. 1997). HDC. ‘I’. the importance of the dialectical relation of Said’s humanism to his entire corpus of critical work has yet to be fully understood. you are spoken.

216. PPC. It has become an academic pursuit of its own. imperialistic. 43 Said. the human world. Consequently. postcolonial and “avant-garde” theories have become a popular academicized and institutionalized subject itself to be taught and studied in the humanities. and they thus consider Said to be in an oppositional relationship with Western humanism. the idea of humanism and historical and genealogical studies are all too readily dismissed as unfashionable by the contemporary knowledge industry. reproduction and reception.42 Said is seen by his critics as one of the poststructuralist literary critics who challenge. Said wrote B (1975) which discussed the notion of beginning with reference to the literary and cultural theories of various French critics and theorists such as Roland Barthes.beings. extracted and extricated from its historical situation and political origin as an academic subject itself. and the critical possibilities offered by humanistic studies are thus ignored.S. academy. when “theory” is objectified. 20 . In the context of contemporary Western and international university education. Most of the criticism of Said focuses on his critique of the Western representation of the Middle East and foregrounds his cultural and biological filiation with Arab culture at the expense of his dialectical relation with Western culture and humanism. Said says: “in the years since I wrote Beginnings in the early seventies. Being one of the first literary critics to introduce French “avant-garde” theory into American academia after the publication of his theoretical and genealogical critique of Orientalism and the discipline of literary criticism. On his experience in the U. Said’s “return” to 42 After the publication of his book on Conrad (1966). … theory has become a subject in and of itself.” 43 In this academic trend of theoretical discussion. delegitimize and discredit the cultural and intellectual heritage of the Euro-American civilization as Eurocentric. many of Said’s critics discredit Said as self-contradictory simply for his advocating the importance of humanism in the context of Western society and academy. identitarian and racist. literary. Said published O (1978) which employed Foucault’s notion of “discourse” in his criticism of Orientalism. Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. and cultural and historical production have to be reexamined and reevaluated.

2005). Edward Said: The Paradox of Identity (London & New York: Routledge. Ferial J.: Polity Press. and Muge Sokmen and Ertur Basak. See Homi Bhabha and W. J. and Mustapha Marrouchi. 2002). T. More generally. has been carried out. J. They are mainly concerned with the theoretical dimensions of Said’s criticism rather than its humanistic underpinning and with Said’s involvement in Middle Eastern politics and fight for Palestinian self-determination. which inevitably extends beyond the boundaries of academia. Sylvia Nagy-Zekmi. 2001). 2000). 2007). Ferial J. Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin (London: Granta Books. Homi Bhabha and W. See Keith Ansell-Pearson. ed. Benita Parry and Judith Squires (London: Lawrence & Wishart. Tariq. 44 If we are to see Said’s intellectual history as his personal history of self-understanding and selfrealization. 2000). eds. The Edward Said Reader. Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin. Recently published books on Said after his death are also edited collections of essays by different writers and interviews with Said. 2008). Conversations with Edward Said. Edward Said at the Limits. and cross-sectionally as a literary critic or the author of his famous works such as Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993). and politics to aesthetics collectively and genealogically. Edward Said: Criticism and Society (New York: Verso.K. eds Keith Ansell-Pearson. Edward Said and the Religious Effect of Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press. literary and political criticism before his death. No systematic study of his humanism in relation to his ever-evolving criticism. T. 2006). Edward Said: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge. Paradoxical Citizenship: Edward Said. ed. Albany (State University of New York Press. 2006). Abdirahman A Hussein. Ali. theory. U. New York: Seagull Books. Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History. Sylvia Nagy-Zekmi (New York: Lexington Books. William D Hart. Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation. Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward Said. 21 . specifically. Valerie Kennedy. 1997). most studies examine Said’s literary and political criticism locally. Mitchell. eds. identitarianly. But these works do not deal specifically and genealogically with the dialectic of Said’s humanism and his entire critical corpus including his posthumously published works on aesthetics and music. Edward Said and Critical Decolonization. it is important to note that in his late career Said is attracted 44 Several monographs and edited collections of critical essays on Said and his works have been published. 2004). Muge Sokmen and Basak Ertur (New York: Verso. These books are all written before Said’s death in September 2003. Bill Ashcroft and Pal Ahluwalia. Ghazoul. While most of critical studies are devoted to his more “high-profile” and influential cultural. Ghazoul (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. it is necessary to study his entire corpus of critical work whose ever-changing topics range from literature. 1999). Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. eds.humanism is easily misinterpreted by some theoretically preoccupied critics as an anachronistic and perhaps nostalgic retreat to the tradition for authority and validation.

46 Said. From this perspective. theorization. The book is an edited collection of Said’s essays on music. The idea of late style Adorno uses to describe Beethoven’s music composed at the latest phase of his career is also applicable to Said’s humanistic criticism. In the wake of his leukemia and coming to terms with his impending death. music and opera in his posthumously published On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain (2004). and definition.45 “Art is not simply there: it exists intensely in a state of unreconciled opposition to the depredations of daily life. I would argue that aesthetics is as central to Said’s humanism and humanistic criticism as his literary and political praxis. Music has been an important theme in Said’s criticism. Edward Said’s Music at the Limits (2008) is published by Columbia University Press. HDC. 63.” 46 Said sees the possibility of artistic autonomy. For Said. the uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor. Said wrote an account of his life as history in Out of Place: A Memoir (1999) and aesthetic criticism of literature. especially his late critical works as they are antagonistic to categorization. This thesis aims to map out Said and his humanism within the cultural and historical contexts of his intellectual and critical practice in order to tease out the intellectual and theoretical underpinnings of his criticism and to show 45 Five years after his death. literature and opera. Throughout his career. Said in his later writing assumes a very strong authorial voice which I think shows his humanistic belief in the critical and individual consciousness that is not coopted by any system and the weight of discourse. which provides resistance to political and discursive hegemony. 22 . I would therefore consider Said’s aesthetic criticism and specifically his idea of late style in addition to his literary and political criticism. He believes that one should connect aesthetics with politics without reducing the former to the latter nor studying art outside its political context in the name of aesthetic appreciation. Said wrote prolifically and regularly on music for The Nation and other journals.to aesthetic criticism. humanism cannot do without the category of aesthetics. His posthumously published books on aesthetics would further illuminate Said’s conception of the aesthetics in relation to his humanism.

N.: Cornell University Press. and because it is historically created. 222. “Revolutionary Action: ‘Until Now. teach 47 Michel Foucault. individual consciousness and moral conscience to distinguish between truth and falsity. “Know thyself”: the history of the human subject As I have stated in the previous section. institutional and moral rules. as discursively constituted and informed by the discourse of humanism or regime of truth.Y. between right and wrong. imperatives and protocols. it can also be resisted and changed in history. 1977). It is hoped that an explication of Said’s critical concepts and praxis would enable us to better understand who we are and what we should do and to provide a metaepistemological reflection upon what literature and criticism are—how they are primarily cultural and political activities of great historical importance and political significance to our self-understanding and self-fashioning.’” in Language. Human beings give birth to themselves as human subjects in modern society. The subject.”47 Modern society is more repressive than ever: we have to know. it is important to first delineate the historical creation as well as deconstruction of the modern human subject and the Western humanistic discourse of truth which informs and disciplines the subject. 23 . interpret. Counter-Memory. Practice (Ithaca.his humanism through an analysis of his critical work. is constructed and represented by humanism as agent with free will. discursive. which also enable the interpretation of the subject as free agent in the act of conformism. In order to understand the relevance of Said’s humanism to the poststructuralist critique of the Western humanistic tradition. Foucault says: “humanism is everything in Western civilization that restricts the desire for power: it prohibits the desire for power and excludes the possibility of power being seized. The theory of the subject (in the double sense of the word) is at the heart of humanism and this is why our culture has tenaciously rejected anything that could weaken its hold on us. The subject is invented by Western humanism to conform to a set of epistemic. the raison d’être of humanistic and secular criticism is that humanity is a self-creation of human beings.

Frédéric Gros.and take care of ourselves as subjects in order to be free. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. sane and good. egocentric and anthropocentric perspective of humanity. The formation of the modern subject is a corollary of the regime of capitalism. The classic and noble humanistic desire for and pursuit of self-knowledge and freedom—the Delphic dictum “know thyself”48—have been co-opted and adapted by humanism to become a function of the will to knowledge/power. Knowledge of the self actually depends on the “guiding framework of the care of the self. prior to the formation of self-knowledge and the rule of “know thyself. xx. reciprocal and interdependent relationship between the individual human being and humanity as a whole and leads to the ahistorical and hierarchical classification of races. cultures and genders. you must not forget yourself. but the idea of subject is not to enlighten and free us but imprison and repress us within the regime of knowledge/power. The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France.” in Foucault. which is derived from one’s desire to care about and know oneself. just as the use of words like ohm. 50 Arnold I.” there is the “care of oneself”: “You must attend to yourself. “Introduction. The self-consciousness. we care for ourselves: the care of the self makes it necessary and imperative to know the self. However. and volt to describe electrical qualities does violence to an otherwise 48 “Know thyself” is an ancient Greek aphorism inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. gives rise to the idea of the individual self as self-sufficient and independent agent. 2005). self-knowledge and self-mastery of the human being as subject are formed within the material grid of modern political institutions and capitalistic systems of knowledge production. “Foucault’s position is that language in use is not natural. Graham Burchell (New York. discourse does violence to nature. coulomb. 1981-82. 24 . trans. According to Said. 49 Michel Foucault. 5.”49 Before we “know” ourselves. Human beings give birth to themselves as subjects but not to life. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. Davidson. it obscures the dialectical. ed. its political economy and its institutions.” 50 This individualistic. you must take care of yourself.

Four and Five of this thesis. trans. This chapter provides an explication of some major 51 52 Said. discursively and institutionally constituted human subject does violence to human being and to life itself. discourse must treat human life as an accident in order to legitimize its existence as nonaccidental. the subject comes into existence at a particular historical moment.” 51 Therefore. Chapter Two discusses Said’s historicist view of humanity and deals with this historical dimension of human production (culture. philological hermeneutics and cultural materialism. As Said says. culture and society as being historically and secularly made by humans themselves. Theodor Adorno. Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life. even the discursive formation of the human subject has its historical raison d’être. human life is not an accidental and arbitrary formation.”52 An arbitrary life cannot be lived unarbitrarily. for Said. art and criticism). 1978). Jephcott (London: New Left Books. the human subject is not an entirely arbitrary formation. the linguistically. under specific socio-historical circumstances to serve certain political purposes. and how we can think and act differently. culture. Said sees human history. Social and cultural standards and systems of value are coercive and repressive. Theodor Adorno says: “Wrong life cannot be lived rightly. Foucault’s and Said’s treatment of the historical selfcreation of the human subject and the (Orient) object is to show how we can resist and reverse power relations. worldly and secular. 39. The question as to whether there is a fixed unchanging human nature according to which human life. knowledge and society should evolve forward is a very complicated one. literature. E. is historical. natural and necessary. N. humanistic and literary criticism. which deals with the historical formation of humanity.undifferentiated physical force. I would situate and discuss this question within different intellectual contexts in Chapters Two. 289. The critique of something as arbitrary must be based upon the belief in something unarbitrary. Said’s literary “method” is a synthesis of historical perspectivism. literature and art. Therefore. Though it is created and could be changed. B. 25 . However. F.

The relation between aesthetics and politics can be understood as the tension between resistance and power. Critical consciousness. which is the epistemic and moral basis of Said’s secular humanism. politics. this chapter argues for the unity of the critical and the moral consciousness. this chapter shows that the difference between Foucault and Said is primarily a political and strategic rather than an epistemic one. circumvents the distinction between historicism and universalism. theory. The Foucault-Chomsky debate on human nature and the social function of the intellectual vis-à-vis power has attracted scholarly attention and polarization between Foucault and Said based on Said’s critique of Foucault and defense of Chomsky in “Traveling Theory” (1983). Said’s differentiation from Foucault and adoption of Vico’s historicist humanism could be understood as a situated act of resistance against the detachment of some poststructuralist literary theory and practice from worldly and political situations. this chapter will argue that in the case of Said’s late-style writing his anti-political aesthetic criticism is a form of political resistance. By demonstrating that the critique of power/knowledge is also the moral critique of “conceit” in the Vichian sense.” “secular criticism” and “Gramscian geographical consciousness” as opposed to “Hegelian historical consciousness. atomism and 26 . and aesthetics. historical and formal analysis of these four critical themes of Said demonstrates the dialectic of his belief in humanism and the historical development and intellectual trajectory of his humanism. Chapter Five resituates Said’s criticism of Western humanism within the tradition of critical humanism. Through an analysis of Foucault’s and Said’s conception of power and resistance. It proposes to examine four major critical categories as classified by Said himself: literature.” Chapter Three charts the genealogy of Said’s critical work as well as the interconnection and relevance of his work to his humanism. Chapter Four delves into Said’s idea and practice of the intellectual within the context of the debate over the role of the intellectual and human nature between Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky. part and whole. The theoretical.concepts in Said’s humanistic criticism such as “worldliness.

to examine these masters not for the purpose of understanding who they are 53 54 See Martin Jay. a literary critic and a public intellectual. cultural and political. therefore. is more complicated than something that can be simply described as “humanist-cum- poststructuralist. Said himself is made through antagonistic and paradoxical forces which require no reconciliation. 27 . 1984). Gramsci. intellectual.”53 and it does violence to Said’s life and history. culturally and geopolitically. postcolonialist or Palestinian nationalist. Said’s intellectual masters include: Vico. Adorno. MA: Harvard University Press. Adorno (Cambridge. When Said says: “I’m a Jewish-Palestinian.” he exhibits an anti-identitarian generosity of spirit.determinism. It would be important. Jews and the Palestinians are historically intertwined in such a way that it is impossible to separate them intellectually. Auerbach. The morality of Said’s humanism therefore is not based upon universal moral principles which are in turn predicated upon the belief in universal human nature. One must understand Said not in terms of his identity but in terms of his history and intellectual genealogy. Said’s position. This is what Said calls the “geographical consciousness” of history which will be discussed and elaborated in Chapters Two and Three. I use the word “geographically” because temporal and historical experience and acquisition of knowledge exist geographically rather than historically (thus “anachronistically”) in the intellectual space of the mind. 68. and Conrad. and each of these intellectual masters exists geographically and anachronistically 54 within a network of power relations with each other. who communicate with each other dialectically and contrapuntally in Said’s own intellectual symphony. Said is not simply “is. historically. there is no historical and chronological overcoming of anyone.” The simple identification between Said and one identity by the metaphorical device “is” involves “the suppression of heterogeneity in the name of identity.” Foucauldian. Said’s understanding of himself as a Jewish-Palestinian is synecdochial of his understanding of himself as a humanist. but on the historical-critical consciousness. I do not intend to resolve the paradox and contradiction of Said’s identity and criticism. This chapter crystallizes the conception of Said’s humanism as a dialectic of opposites. Foucault.

and trans. By asserting the unity of creation and knowledge.e. “In fact. Vico sets up a number of philosophical and scientific principles and the first foundational principle of his science of history is: “the world of nations is clearly a human creation. a central figure in Said’s intellectual biography and also this thesis. and not the cause. The New Science: Principles of the New Science Concerning the Common Nature of Nations. it cannot have a clear and distinct idea of itself. Vico refutes the Cartesian belief in the ability of the human rational faculty to have a clear and distinct idea of the mind through mere thinking and observation because the mind can only perceive what it itself makes and since the mind does not make itself. and its nature is reflected in the human mind.” 55 Human beings can know the human world and history because they make them. which is the knowledge of causes or how a thing is made (i. 56. therefore I am”57 that Descartes establishes is only the certainty of consciousness of one’s existence. A dialectic of Said and Vico Giambattista Vico. plays a significant part in Said’s entire humanistic practice. of my being mind. 56 Giambattista Vico. Meditations on First Philosophy. it is beyond the scope and limits of this thesis to examine each of these masters in detail. it is an attempt to circumvent both the rationalist and empiricist 55 Giambattista Vico. He is the first philosophical historian or historical philosopher to study the entire human history scientifically and natural and human science historically in The New Science (1725). for my purpose here I can only study those intellectual masters central to the understanding and explication of Said’s humanism and critical practice. David Marsh and intro. 57 See René Descartes. For his study of history.M. However. 1988). 1999). 28 . Palmer (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. it is not knowledge. On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians: Unearthed from the Origins of the Latin language: Including the Disputation with the Giornale de’ Letterati d’Italia. John Cottingham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Anthony Grafton (New York: Penguin Books. thinking is the sign.”56 The primary premise “I think. §349. 16-7. trans. and intro.but how they have become important for Said. L. the cause of one’s existence). trans. Although Vico’s science studies the empirical facts of history. ed. 1996).

homo non intelligendo fit omnia. a distinctively human opening of and opening to the world: not a distinguishable or instrumental but a constitutive faculty. consciousness. Vico says: “‘In his ignorance.”59 For Vico. §405. for Vico. 60 “The death of the author” is a poststructuralist thesis of Roland Barthes which is generally understood as an argument for the triumph of the linguistic system over individual’s will. he makes them out of himself and. feelings. by transforming himself. But perhaps with greater truth. Said does not believe in the “death of the author”:60 58 59 Vico. creativity and originality and that the power relation between language as a system and the writer is that between system of subjection and “the 29 . but when he does not understand. man makes himself the measure of the universe. Raymond Williams’s historical account of language also demonstrates that language plays an active role in making the “reality”: “Language is then. philology is the foundation of humanistic knowledge.’ … [M]an has reduced the entire world to his own body. Human beings perceive the external world through the five senses and in turn make sense of the unfamiliar (external stimuli) through extending their understanding of the familiar (the corporeal body) to the comprehension of the unfamiliar (the world). 24.” 58 Humans make the world by language which becomes the “third” realm mediating dialectically between the material world and the spiritual world. this imaginative metaphysics shows that man becomes all things by not understanding. emphasis added. Philology is the humanist’s love of words as bearing within them human knowledge. Now. Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press. By treating words as a constitutive part of artifactual reality.epistemology. Therefore. he extends his mind to comprehend things. and for Said. rational metaphysics teaches us that man becomes all things through understanding. positively. becomes them. philology transcends the binary distinction between idealism and materialism as language is the “third” realm which mediates and traverses between mind and world. thoughts. For when man understands. The New Science. a word is like a rock which is embedded within a particular historical and geological climate and circumstances and thus reflects the historical and cultural processes of that epoch. 1977). homo intelligendo fit omnia. history and life. Raymond Williams.

61 Said. 1977). therefore. sentences. “The Death of the Author. 142-8. However. For Said. Stephen Heath (London: Fotana/Collins.the author is neither completely independent or sovereign nor is he/she a passive scribe of the discourse of power. Chapters Two and Three of this thesis would study the example of how the philological reading of literary texts by disclosing the dialectical and reciprocal relationship between language/literature and world/reality. Said’s reliance on Vico’s metaphysics has profound moral implications in addition to epistemological ones. it is this philological attention to words that can contest the languages of universalism. the structuralist conception of language as a totalizing system fails to take into account the fact that words can be used as an active agent for historical and political change. the author can stand in a dialectical and antagonistic relationship to his or her historical circumstances. has been seldom examined by critics who are preoccupied with the theoretical paradigms and apparent inconsistencies of Said’s critical practice. By examining the “shades of meaning”61 of each articulation. 385. standardization and specialization and transcend disciplinary boundaries. B. 30 . Barthes. the historical context and politics of Barthes’s “The Death of the Author” proclamation itself contradict the literal meaning of the thesis as Barthes’s argument for the death of the author was also a political reaction which aimed to “free” meanings from the “sovereignty” and “intention” of the author. how it is used and challenged. can turn literary studies and the humanities as a whole into a socially meaningful and politically potent enterprise. Vico’s rejection of Descartes’s subjected subject” in Althuserrian term. which is fundamental to Said’s secular and oppositional criticism.” Image-Music-Text. In the end. Historicist philology. parataxes: a set of dialectical relationships reenacted by hermeneutical philology. A literary text is therefore both the history of the author and his or her circumstantial reality encoded in idiosyncratically and consciously chosen words. philology pays full attention to the individual particular without losing sight of the dialectical relation between the individual literary text and the worldview of that historical age concerned. trans.

etc. on the contrary. everything and everyone else becomes mere object subjected to one’s egoistic epistemic and moral judgment. nation. The metaphysical and historical shift from Platonic idealistic emphasis on the absolute True and the Good to be discovered by us to Descartes’s focus on the self as the ground of epistemological certainty lends the epistemological primacy from the ideal reality to the thinking self. it gains certainty from our common sense about what is necessary and useful to humankind. selfishness and communality are parts of human nature. moral law and order.” Vico along with other humanists.understanding of the ego (“I”) as the subject and foundation of knowledge62 is based on epistemological as well as moral reasons. people. Constant … confirm the fundamental sociability of mankind (man without society is not man.” Vico. Princeton University Press. association. §141. contrary to Occam’s contention). or even all humankind. Meditations on First Philosophy. but he argues that it is the communal nature of human beings that makes common sense. §142. Rousseau. therefore. common sense “is an unreflecting judgment shared by an entire social order. “Montesquieu. 33. According to Vico. 2002). necessary and certain. schematization. He asserts that humans only know the world by making it (through imagination. extension. and communal coexistence possible: “Since human judgment is by nature uncertain. The human world is a collective creation of the entire mankind.”63 “Unlike the individualists. Vico. The New Science. is highly skeptical of the “rational” faculty of human beings.). juxtaposition. 64 Tzvetan Todorov. Through studying the common nature of nations. See Descartes. the existence of one’s ego is self-evidently and self-verifyingly true. Vico understands that bestial instinct.”64 Descartes’s search for certainty culminates in the conclusion that as long as one thinks. 31 . 63 62 Vico. the rational ego forms the basis of clear and distinct idea. 16-7. The New Science. trans. Caral Cosman (New Jersey. irrefutable. Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism. and necessity and utility are the two sources of the natural law of nations. Epistemological primacy of the ego necessitates a moral precedence of the self over others. “What I think” becomes the only criterion by which to distinguish between truth and falsity and between what is right and what is wrong.

these principles run throughout my Science and enliven every part of my discussion of the common nature of nations.. only interpretations. §405. Walter Kaufmann and R. texts and ideas back to the material and corporeal circumstances from which they arise to serve certain human practical needs: “The anthropomorphization of knowledge. 1967).”68 The mind is inextricably linked to the body. The Will to Power. and its parts. both philosophical and philological in nature […] Like the life-blood of a living creature. Ibid. Vico.Y.”67 Vico unlocks the system of correspondence between the physical and the metaphysical. The body is the richest and most powerful source of metaphors and knowledge which provides the necessary structure and design for Vico to schematize. The New Science.: Random House.”66 Again. which pushes words. For if I 65 Friedrich Nietzsche. or from human senses and emotions. animate and unify his New Science: “To organize the material outlined in the Chronological Table [of Three Epochs of World History].Vico’s principle. Rather. 267. 85.” 65 However. Vico emphasizes the unity of mind and body and rejects the separation of intellectuality from corporeality: “But I who think am mind and body. is Vico’s project. Through demonstrating how human knowledge is constituted and fabricated by language which originally derives from “the human body. Hollingdale (N. 32 . thought would be the cause of the body. J. and if thought were the cause of my being. against which Nietzsche was later to rebel. Vico’s metaphysics stems from the physical or corporeal and his epistemic methodology is atavistic. even if civilization progresses (if that is the word) from the body to impersonal institutions. it is because I consist both of body and mind that I think. §119. 66 67 68 Said. trans. “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts. “knowing is making. I propose … the following axioms. so that body and mind united are the cause of thought. Yet there are bodies that do not think. Vico’s anti-Cartesian return to the material and physical has profound epistemic and moral implications.” in Exile.” corresponds to Nietzsche’s notion that “knowing is interpreting” or the will to power as knowledge: “facts are precisely what there is not.

33 . The first “interpretation” of the world in the earliest human civilization originates from piety not the will to power: according to Vico. The detachment of subjective meaningpositing from the objective existence of human beings and life culminates in a relativism of moral values. and organization upon human society and thereby enables communal existence.”69 Said’s literary criticism “worlds” the literary text back to the culture and society from which it arises. This socio-historical function of human piety would be further discussed in Chapter Five. when the primitive men in history saw and heard a thunderbolt. I would have [pure] intelligence.were only body. law. Said’s atavistic method of understanding the meanings of a text according to its socio-historical circumstances is predicated upon Vico’s holistic view of humanity. Common sense or meaning is socially created and mutually understood by a community. the instinct of piety in human nature. If I were only mind. posited and changed by human subjectivity but also in the dialectical correspondence between mind and body. All human civilization begins from the first age of primitivism to the second age of moderate rationalism and to the third age of overdeveloped 69 Vico. which is the fear of and respect for otherness. which resists the disjunction between the phenomenal and the corporeal. The myth about Jove is the first human thought which stems from piety and also produces fear in men and serves to discipline men’s instinctdriven behavior. The myth gives birth to political structures and institutions which bestow order. they out of pious fear of the unknown other created the sign “Jove”—“father of men and Gods”—to designate the sight and sound of a thunderbolt. causes and facilitates the transformation from primitive society to a modern society based on common reason and social law. 56. I would not think. On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians. According to Vico. Vico establishes that the common nature of all nations incarnates historically in the universal tripartite structure of the history of all nations. Meanings are not arbitrarily created. Piety is an indispensable element in the human making of an orderly communal world based upon common sense and communal interests.

§123. results in “all the erroneous views which entire nations and all scholars have entertained concerning the beginnings of civilization. “Section I Three Kinds of Human Nature. 34 . For instance. Ibid. Said’s cultural and literary critical works such as Orientalism (1978). 70 This is the “ideal eternal history through which the history of every nation passes in time.”72 The moral problem of conceit is consequent upon epistemology and historiography.: Free Press. 1997). when in fact by their very nature these origins must rather have been small. crude. 274. §916-918. it would be methodologically ungrounded and historically inattentive for any discussion of Said’s humanism to be made without tracing Said’s ideas back to Vico’s science. and magnificence of their age. the conceit of nations and scholars.” in The New Science. refinement.” 73 He accuses Said of being a history-killing cultural relativist. upsets and delegitimizes the Eurocentric humanistic curriculum founded upon Western canonical philosophical and literary works. and scholars first studied them. 71 72 73 Ibid. This thesis attempts to show how Vico’s philosophy plays a foundational role in Said’s humanism. The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past (N.. some critics take Said’s multiculturalism as cultural relativism. I would argue that a critique of the epistemic basis of Said’s humanism is also a critique of Vico’s historicist humanism. As the relation between Vico and Said is both genealogical and dialectical.Y. a violation of the principle of piety. According to Vico. and obscure. which culminates in a kind of irrational and excessive skepticism and finally returns to primitivism.intellectuality. Keith Windschuttle. Culture and Imperialism (1994) and Reflections on Exile (2000) adopt a multiculturalist and anti-identitarian worldview which challenges. one amongst the gang of the 70 See Vico. they judged them according to the enlightenment. For when nations first became aware of their origins. §349.. Keith Windschuttle says: “One of the seminal texts of the relativist movement is the literary critic Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism. history is cyclical rather than linear and progressive.”71 However. However.

can be separated from the Eurocentric versions once prevalent. as such. because he does not consider the rational faculty to be the most important 74 See Windschuttle’s “Cultural Relativism and the Return of Tribalism. which on the one hand recognized cultural variety. and Nietzsche. Ernest Gellner. which judges different cultures not according to absolute and ahistorical values and standards but based on the historical and social conditions under which a culture develops. emphasis added. Political Liberalism: From Criticism to Cultural Studies (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. provides a basis for Said’s historical and multicultural perspective. and a non-Eurocentric form of the theory may yet find favour. “The Mightier Pen? Edward Said and the Double Standards of Insideout Colonialism.’ there does not seem to be any principled means of opposing any point of view. deconstructionists. Marx. offered an ingenious solution. On the basis of such skepticism. 1996). however. who advocates a kind of regressive exclusivist multiculturalism shielding off metanarratives. Critics like James Seaton also criticizes Said’s position as a secular critic for being elusive and relativist: “Said’s own allegiance. though ranking. and the upward struggle along it endowed life and history with meaning. epistemology and anthropology.74 In addition. Perhaps the widespread support for the exterminism that Said deplores derives at least partially from the relativism that he finds so liberating. 75 35 . This imposed a ranking on cultures. which Said repudiates.” 75 Historicist humanism. which is unacceptable to Said. 270-283. and questioning the foundation of truth grounded by Western historiography.” Cultural Conservatism. All cultures were legitimate but later ones more so. yet on the other provided a basis for judgment: cultures were ranked on an evolutionary ladder. He argues that multiculturalism which justifies the relativism of value is the source of cultural conflicts in the contemporary world. even when enriched with ‘the decentering doctrines of Freud.” Times Literary Supplement. is to a secular world in which the authority of religion and even of cultures gives way to a recognition of the arbitrary.” Seaton. and poststructuralists. 3. As a historicist humanist. 1993. contingent nature of all traditions. I would demonstrate this historical perspectivism in Said’s literary and cultural criticism in Chapter Two. Said like Vico does not believe in progress. “The Critic as Exile: On Edward Said.” in The Killing of History. even exterminism. February 19.postmodernists. 179. Ernest Gellner questions Said’s disbelief in evolutionism for he thinks that multiculturalism is “ontologically” impossible without grounding itself in an evolutionary view of humanity and culture: “Nineteenth-century evolutionism.

77. like Vico. Said understands that each nation has its own history of development. “An historical phenomenon is not fully known until its effects can be described. Multiculturalism. “[N]ational differences are important. the process of observation of humans themselves and the world also to a certain extent affects and determines how humans make the civil world in history.”76 According to this view. Since the “civil world is certainly the creation of humankind […] consequently. therefore.’ that is. metaphysical and universal. No certainty of truth concerning the human mind could be attained because humans do not make but only observe their own minds. the principles of the civil world can and must be discovered within the modifications of the human mind. relativism and evolutionism do not necessarily go together.human essence and the development and refinement of such faculty to be the teleological destination of the historical development of humankind. not for their (hierarchized) uniqueness. 166. 1990). The New Science. Gramsci’s Historicism: A Realist Interpretation (London: Routledge. Intellectuals in Power. Vico’s historicist view of human culture recognizes the universal structure and property of the history of all nations or cultures. such judgment or interpretation stems from conceit. and also the universal human capacity for knowledge (human history) because humans make their own history. materially and culturally. i. Although Said is not concerned with the ahistorical structure of the mind as the basis of universal human nature. Bové. and as Vico would say. 36 . should not be judged according to ahistorical and absolute intellectual and moral standards. The modern age of reason and intellectuality is just one phase of the entire historical development of mankind. incarnates itself in human history temporally. the faculty of knowledge.e. the ideal eternal history. for their individual roles in the general drama of the transnational process of humanization. Humans can only know what they themselves have made. emphasis original. Esteve Morera. Nonetheless.”78 The science of evolution is part of 76 77 78 Vico. but for their interactive contribution to the formation of ‘humanity. §331. which is ahistorical.”77 It is ahistorical and erroneous to judge and hierarchize cultures.

narcissistic and highly developed society. One generation withers and another generation thrives: the cycle of life from cradle to grave is democratic. in contemporary egoistic. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations (New York: Norton. idea or knowledge is attained through the independent development and modification of the mind rather than through the passive intake of data and information. The Idea of History (Oxford: Clarendon Press. G. colonialism.’ like articles of commerce. “the fear of old age” is “closely associated with the emergence of the narcissistic [and conceited] personality. the free market.”79 Modern rationalism and intellectualism are therefore not restricted to Western civilization but are a historical stage to be passed through by all nations according to their own historical development. Collingwood.history: it emerges out of specific historical. 1948). the capitalistic system. 71. people cannot even tolerate the cyclical order of life and the idea of aging. Knowledge unlike commodity is irreproducible. imperialism. piety (the respect for otherness) and the ability to understand the whole truth of humanity are also dialectical. As Vico’s science demonstrates. 1978). The tripartite structure of every nation is as historical and natural as the developmental and biological growth of every human individual. His science of the entire course of human history as the temporal development of the human mind provides a democratic understanding of the entire humanity. 37 . and ultimately the care. Christopher Lasch. elitisim. However. Since the mind of a nation is historical. Vico argues that “ideas are propagated not by ‘diffusion. ideological and political conditions. globalism and progressivism. preservation and enhancement of the self. 210. The retirement of the preceding generation seems to do justice to the development of the successive generation by relaying and passing down responsibility and giving way to the growth and enhancement of the new generation. According to Christopher Lasch.”80 Narcissism is the pathology of the 79 80 R. Evolutionism can be seen as an ideology which would justify and legitimize cultural chauvinism. but by the independent discovery by each nation of what it needs at any given stage in its own development.

the conscious and the unconscious. reason and emotion. This explains Said’s deep interest in and intellectual involvement with Vico as a humanist and his historicist humanism. senses. 37. What we know and think about ourselves 81 Paul Bové. Vico did not rely exclusively on pure logic and reason to understand the entire human history since humans are not simply subjects of knowledge. The intellectual and moral generosity or magnanimity of Vico lies in his humanistic sympathetic understanding of and identification with each kind of human nature of every historical epoch (from the instinctual and poetic angle of the primitive men to the reasonable and intellectual slant of modern men) in his macro-understanding of the human history and knowledge. which circumvent the “either-or” logic of binary thinking. The human subject is a reification and subjugation of the human being by humans themselves. instinct. This contradicts the personality of a humanist who is “convinced that his [or her] personality is not limited to himself [or herself] as a physical individual but is an active social relationship of modification of the cultural environment. 38 . he does not think that the historicality of human nature is the basis of a kind of moral relativism. and therefore history could be changed and life be otherwise. paradoxes and relativism of Said’s humanistic practice is predicated upon this binary logic framed within the ungenealogical and undialectical dichotomy of self and other. Almost all criticism of the contradictions. Although Said asserts that humanity is historical and a self-creation of humankind. emotion and unconscious but a unity of all modalities. objects of the will to power. The human is after all a unity of will.”81 For Vico. reason. intellect and body. the dialectic of philology (the study of the historical particular) and philosophy (the study of universal general) unlocks a series of relationships between part and whole. emotion. In the Wake of Theory. and particularity and universality. and the corporeal and the intellectual. Vico himself reads the human as human as a human from a historical perspective which understands the human as both intellectually enabled and limited by each stage of historical development.will to subjectivity.

§916-918. See Adorno.”82 History teaches us that the concern for one’s subjectivity and freedom will not bring freedom in the real and practical sense. As Vico would say: humans take their own human perspective as the perspective of the whole world. To be critical is to maintain a critical distance to our knowledge and to search for knowledge of our ignorance. 47. intellectual development is possible through contradicting himself and his own work. ceases to exist.is determined by what is already selected and reified in the first place. according to Said. See Vico.85 Another “paradox” of Vico’s science of humanism and Said’s secular 82 This statement summarizes the nihilistic experience of an exiled Jew. Minima Moralia. The life of an exile is reduced to nonexistence once his or her nation and national identity cease to exist under the condition of exile and dispossession. emphasis added.84 To critique is to unlearn rather than relearn and to undo rather than redo for humans impose violence unto the natural order of life through imposing their subjective interpretation upon the world. negate and contradict one’s socialized. institutionalized and indoctrinated thinking. For instance. 28. we would be open to new possibilities and alternative mode of critical thinking. The whole intellectual corpus of Said is not a linear development. Said also says: “both [the philologists and philosophers] … saw what they found in texts through a purely textual perspective. as Adorno says: “Anything that is not reified. The intellectual and moral task of the humanist is not to recreate a new human nature and new world for oneself and one’s nation but to resist. cannot be counted and measured.” Said. I would discuss this conception of human history in further detail in Chapter Two. 39 . 19. With reference to Vico’s view of the anthropocentric nature of knowledge. the progressive view of history distorts the natural cyclical order of history. “Section I Three Kinds of Human Nature” in The New Science. PPC. O. By “unlearning” “the inherent dominative mode”83 and what we thought we know. Humans only see injustices based on what they know without doing justice to what they do not know. 83 84 Raymond Williams quoted in Said. it is only the concern for the freedom of others that could truly bring freedom to humanity at large. 85 According to Vico. as if that perspective was the world. the history of all human civilizations has a tripartite structure which begins from the first age of primitivism to the second age of moderate rationalism and to the third age of overdeveloped intellectuality which culminates in a kind of irrational and excessive skepticism and finally returns back to primitivism.

universalism is grounded in the Divine Providence.humanism is related to Vico’s view of the universalism of humanity. objectify. historically and materially. See Said and Raymond Williams’s discussion in Raymond Williams. Politics and Letters: Interview with New Left Review (London: New Left Books. Vico’s science also historicizes and secularizes human authority.87 The two visions of or attitudes towards the unknown. On the other hand. I would discuss the tension between the sacred and the secular in Vico’s humanism and provide a historical interpretation of Said’s adoption of Vico in Chapter Five. His employment of Vico’s historicist humanism has both epistemic and political justifications. morally. he criticizes those scholars who alienate. 252. therefore. it can be understood. Said maintains two visions of the unknown. The politics of knowledge: Said’s political legacy 86 87 Ibid. which manifests and incarnates itself in the human spiritually. reify and mystify human production such as language and the capitalistic system as something impenetrable by and inaccessible to human understanding. intellectually. §2. Said believes that since everything in human history is made by humans. are secular and critical.”86 Said is an atheist and a secular humanist. The question is: upon what authority is Vico’s universalism of humanity based? Based on what is literally written in Vico’s New Science and his Autobiography. On the one hand. 1979).. With reference to Raymond Williams. of which the former surrenders intellectually to the unknown and the latter reveres and strives to understand the unknown. At the same time. he is also aware of the inexhaustible possibilities for humans to change and improve the world. 40 . Vico calls his humanism a “study of Divine Providence revealed: a rational civil theology. Said says that no existing system of subjugation is so totalizing and hegemonic that no resistance and alternatives to that system is possible. Vico’s study of human history is a scientific and philosophical search for universal principles which govern the history of all nations.

created on June 19.S. In brief.edlabor. it is not just a job that one does or a position that one takes. House of Representatives. clipped on January 30. In 2003. U. nonsubjectivity and subjectivity. If the critic does not have to pay and sacrifice for his or her belief. Said practices an exilic criticism which necessitates the sacrifice of one’s own subjectivity. Said’s academic influence also exerts political and institutional impact and bears political and legislative consequence. Stanley Kurtz.S. on the bias and “ideological” imbalance of academic area studies. 2003.htm>. a research fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.gov/archive/hearings/108th/sed/titlevi61903/kurtz. In the academic and intellectual context of America and other parts of the world. Kurtz. morally and politically consequential. House of Representatives. criticism is existentially. anti-American and dangerous: “The ruling intellectual paradigm in academic area studies (especially Middle Eastern Studies) is called ‘postcolonial theory. freedom and imprisonment. it is not a belief worth believing and defending.” from the U. 41 . the integration of postcolonial and multiculturalist literary studies into the primarily Eurocentric humanistic curriculum of American universities and universities worldwide testifies to the intellectual influence of Said.house. <http://republicans. Moreover. Middle East Studies in particular. His critique of Eurocentric literary criticism and inclusion of multiculturalist literature are again interpreted by state and neoconservative intellectuals as an intellectual and academic intolerance and illiberalism. 2008. testified before the Subcommittee on Select Education of U.Criticism has a price to pay. and will to coexistence and will to power. Said writes criticism because criticism matters existentially and organically to him as a human being in the world.’ Post-colonial theory was founded by Columbia University 88 Kurtz concludes that significant change has to be made by Congressional intervention.S. in contemporary educational programs in American universities. intellectual. love and power. House of Representatives Web Sites. 88 Kurtz criticizes the popularity and dominance of postcolonial theory in the academy under the influence of Said and accuses postcolonial and postmodernist theories of being illiberal. “Testimony before the Subcommittee on Select Education of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce. Criticism for Said is a matter of life and death.

42 . and consequently inconsequential and insignificant. the “academic liberalism” and freedom Kurtz defends and “illiberalism” he condemns is not the same as the kind of intellectual and critical freedom Said concerns.”90 For Kurtz. Of course.91 The academy and knowledge production are situated within a network of power relations and political interests.”89 In the name of liberal education and academic freedom.” unpaginated. 2008. Kurtz’s reaction is nevertheless motivated by political interests as Said’s criticism questions and threatens the legitimacy of Eurocentric humanistic curriculum.professor of comparative literature. institutional and intellectual consequences. I want to bring the followers of [Bernard] Lewis back in. Kurtz. created on October 14. One suffers from the powerlessness and meaninglessness of life as a result of not having to pay for and not being able to judge the value and significance of what one does. Said gained fame in 1978. O.92 89 90 Kurtz. 91 92 Said. 9. Said equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires. It should be noted that a liberal and tolerant society could be more repressive and cooptative than an authoritarian and totalitarian society as everything is intellectually. and bears material. “Testimony before the Subcommittee. 2003. In that book. But the political and congressional action taken by Kurtz substantiates the underlying argument of Orientalism that there is no absolute distinction between pure and political knowledge. morally and politically acceptable and relative. Kurtz says: “I don’t want to exclude the followers of Said. Edward Said. “anti-American” and “pro-American” scholars should occupy equal space and attention in the contemporary programs of Middle East Studies.com/?q=NDk3Nzg4ZjFiMTdhOGJjOTBjN2IxNTVhNTNmYzFjZjA=#more>. “Reforming the Campus. Orientalism. <http://article. clipped on January 30. In the name of liberalism.” from National Review Online. with the publication of his book. The core premise of post-colonial theory is that it is immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign languages and cultures at the service of American power.nationalreview.

Said’s friends. This thesis sees Said’s intellectual legacy as primarily humanistic and therefore comprehends and analyzes Said’s critical practice from a humanistic perspective. and human being in the world. is particularly humanistic. These personal essays reveal a deeply interpersonal relationship that is built upon intellectual and personal conversations and humanistic mutual learning between Said and their authors. published after Said’s death in 2003 as a tribute to his academic and intellectual accomplishments and contribution. learning and writing the human as human. The ultimate concern of Said’s humanism is the human being and humanity: How have humans become what they are in history? How may a self-understanding of the historical self-creation of the human enable a better 43 . The “essence” of Said is inexhaustible as the genealogy of his past is an ongoing process in the same way as the evolution of his humanism. multiplied and diversified by his writings. In the spirit of reading. which is simultaneously reinterpreted. The past and the present. and the historical particular and the universal general dialectically depend on. Said does not speak as a professional literary critic who is concerned with teaching people how to become a professional academic but as a responsible intellectual. a humanist critic. And at the same time. reader. colleagues. In the following chapters. Said’s influence is profound and his critical legacy can not be reduced to an understanding of it as one particular form of critical practice. every critical articulation by Said relates to and revolves around his humanism. The entire corpus of critical works of Said will be analyzed and examined historically. I will discuss Said’s humanism and critical practice critically and historically. Said’s works are historically particular and intellectually diverse. redefine and rediscover each other. and an activist intellectual. there is always something “Saidian” about Said himself and his works.Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation (2005). acquaintances commemorate Said as a living presence. contrapuntally and antagonistically. No theoretical paradigm or method of reading can substitute my personal and individual experience of reading and being moved by Said.

which in turn is the condition under which a life is lived. 44 .understanding of the role and responsibility of the human in society? Said’s intellectual biography is a dialectic of his general concern for the human and his particular response. It is through the intellectual and political interaction with the historical particular that Said exemplifies what it is to be a human being. reaction and resistance to the historical and political circumstances of his time. It is the aim of this thesis to show the continuity of Said’s belief in humanism through his individual and diversified writings. a humanist and a public intellectual who is deeply anchored in and concerned with the historical material world.

Said refers to this quote by Hugo of St. the perfect man has extinguished his. theories and does not have a fixed identity—linguistic. 45 . ideas. he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong. His conglomerate cultural background—an Arab Palestinian who lived in various places in the Middle East. 1961). See Said. first to change about invisible and transitory things. the strong man has extended his love to all places. Jerome Taylor (New York: Columbia University Press. PPC. received both British and American 1 Hugo of St. very strong for me. 101. Didascalicon. Victor to demonstrate his conception of worldly criticism. I would say that’s the single strongest strand running through my life: the fact that I’m always in and out of things. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world.”2 Said is literally and metaphorically a “traveler” between cultures. The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner. bit by bit. so that afterwards it may be able to leave them behind altogether. and never really of anything for long. his history and his intellectual and critical practice: “My background is a series of displacements and expatriations which cannot be recuperated. 335.”—Hugo of St. Edward Said gives a vivid account of himself. national or institutional. but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land. Victor. therefore. 2 Said. The sense of being between cultures has been very. a source of great virtue for the practiced mind to learn. 70. CI.CHAPTER TWO Humanism and Secular Criticism “It is. trans. Victor 1 Said’s humanism In an interview with Imre Salusinszky. thoughts.

and politics. 3 A study that attempts to homogenize Said would thus undermine the ever-evolving historical and political basis on which Said conducts his criticism. It would be untrue to both Said’s history and history itself. The challenge for Said’s intellectual biographer is therefore to connect Said’s works with his humanism and organize his critical practice into a unity. It would be difficult to present a neat intellectual genealogy of Said by attempting merely to identify various dominant influences on him by thinkers that he admires or by demonstrating how they are played out and “applied” in Said’s critical work. literature. which cross and transcend cultural. and eventually settled in the cosmopolitan city of New York. disciplinary and institutional boundaries. critical preoccupations and political concerns. theory. Said holds a position that would enable critique. stayed with any thinker blindly and he constantly changed his academic topics. and his 3 I use the term “dogmatic” to refer to intellectual and political inflexibility. interviews. Said’s intellectual life is a lifelong refusal to be dogmatic.education. 46 . national. for to do so one would have to treat thoughts and theories of those thinkers as something that could be transmitted through a timeless space and be employed and reproduced at will—with no reference to their historical and contextual specificities. Within the Vichian humanist tradition. books. documentaries and political commentaries on the man and his ideas testifies to Said’s intellectual influence and his social and political relevance. critical essays. as a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Columbia—mirrors his heterogeneous intellectual interests in culture. Such a project would be unnecessary or even undesirable. absolute positions are untenable because they exclude the possibility of critique and therefore limit the human capacity to question and think differently. Most critical work on Said is mainly concerned with his influence and legacy in postcolonial studies. his active political involvement in Palestinian self-determination and the peace process. as he never followed any school of thought. which acknowledges the significant intellectual influences on Said without being reductive. The continual outpouring of cross-disciplinary academic journals. history.

one should also reserve a space for the critique of one’s belief and political position: “it must be incumbent upon those of us who support nationalist struggle in an age of unrestrained nationalist expression to have at our disposal some decent measure of intellectual refusal.5 has generated debates and controversies over the question of moral legitimacy and political relevance of Western humanism and humanistic studies. which is understood by some critics of Said in terms of a rather simplistic opposition between traditional humanism and poststructuralist antihumanism. and the humanist belief in man as rational subject of knowledge presupposed by Enlightenment epistemology. Said is a self-declared humanist who openly espouses and admires the tradition of critical historical humanism and the founders of comparative literature such as Leo Spitzer and Erich Auerbach. On one hand. and politically disinterested knowledge. which is considered to be the disciplinary and theoretical foundation of postcolonial studies. appears to carry a poststructuralist cast.criticism of Zionism and Palestinian fundamentalism. Said’s genealogical critique of Western humanism and its disciplinary manifestations such as Orientalism. “Identity.” New Left Review 171 (1988): 46-60. Humanism and the humanities. Said was critical of the hard-line Palestinian groups that threatened to orient the nascent nationalist project in a fundamentalist direction. the cultural and intellectual heritage of the Euro-American civilization. imperialistic. This apparent contradiction. While many take Orientalism as a foundational text. for it is in line with the deconstruction and disavowal of pure. have been discredited and deconstructed as Eurocentric. others trace it to the writing of the Martinequean-born psychiatrist Frantz Fanon and to many other sources. constitutes the basis of various critiques of This relates to my earlier point about Said’s refusal to be dogmatic. identitarian and racist. which attempts to expose the imperialist ideology of cultural and racial supremacy of the West by deontologizing and detheologizing both the Western subject and the non-Western object. transcendental. While committed to Palestinian nationalism as a means of achieving self-determination for the people of Palestine.4 Said is one of the first literary critics to introduce French “avant-garde” theory into American academia. 5 4 47 .” See Said. The origins of postcolonial studies remain open to debate. negation and skepticism. On the other hand. His incorporation of Michel Foucault’s concept of discourse in his ground-breaking Orientalism (1978). Negation and Violence. The following quote is indicative of Said’s belief that while one supports a particular political project or ideology.

James Seaton. 48 . Such a return is ahistorical as the cultural and political changes in contemporary social conditions would require a new historically specific understanding and Many critics of Said find his so-called “postmodernist-cum-humanist” position problematic and paradoxical.” See Seaton. historical and political inquiries and is premised upon the distinction between human beings and nature. Many critiques of Said only examine his intellectual history cross-sectionally rather than genealogically and therefore fail in the Vichian sense to begin with the genesis or beginning of the matters they examine.” Social Analysis 25 (1989): 94-114. ahistorical and anachronistic return to the classic or traditional humanism advocated by neoconservative humanists and state intellectuals in the U. between the historical world as made by humans and the natural world as made by God. In Theory: Classes. no. 172. Rosalind O’Hanlon. Review of Orientalism. Literatures (London: Verso. Discourse and Tradition in Recent South Asian Historiographies. Communities of Resistance: Gender. “Doctrines must take their beginning from that of the matters of which they treat. 164. which is not only the beginning but also the end of Said’s literary. “The Critic as Exile: On Edward Said. is seldom dealt with in itself or in relation to his entire heterogeneous yet unified corpus of critical works. 7 6 From Vico’s New Science quoted by Said in the epigraph of B. Political Liberalism: from Criticism to Cultural Studies (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. and political pursuits. Said’s humanism implicates the fundamental existential question lying at the heart of humanism: “What is the human?” or “What are we?” Humanism singles out human beings as its object of epistemological. 6 Humanism. moral. in an attempt to provide an overview of major Saidian themes. therefore. The humanism that Said avows should not be understood as a nostalgic. History and Theory 19. c1996).Said for being inconsistent and self-contradictory. he also appeals to them. “Cultures of Rule. “If Said often criticizes Western values. Aijaz Ahmad also says in his critique of Orientalism. See also James Clifford. I set out with Said’s humanism.” 7 From a philosophical and theoretical perspective.” Ahmad.S. “What is remarkable about this at times very resounding affirmation of humanist values is that humanism-as-ideality is invoked precisely at the time when humanism-as-history has been rejected so unequivocally.” Cultural Conservatism. 2 (February 1980): 204-23. Said’s humanism operates at both the philosophical and historical levels: it is grounded in a metaphysical understanding of humanity and responds to cultural. In this chapter. 1992). intellectual. for example says. historical and social changes. Nations.

i.” Metaphysics and politics also support each other: Western humanism is complicitous with Western imperialism and colonialism. Also the ahistorical and essentializing impulse of traditional humanism and its imperialist ideology in its attempt to understand and comprehend the world of cultures and peoples have led to the deconstruction of humanistic values and denial of human will and agency. For a detailed and theoretical study of Western humanism and its imperialist logic and project. history. think. 2003). It is true that humans have no fixed nature or essence because according to Vico. See Luft.8 Said’s humanism rests upon Vico’s historicism or historicist humanism. Sandra Rudnick Luft discusses the anachronism of Vico’s humanism in his time and its incompatibility with traditional humanism as well as the intellectual connection between Vico’s and postmodern thoughts. 9 How one understands the human is consequent upon one’s entire worldview. Interestingly. act. 2004). Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press. For my purpose here and in the following chapters. Said thus understands all human existential actualities: the human being. They are always in history in which they make. 1993). Historicist humanism by virtue of understanding the human as historical inaugurates a whole new tradition of humanistic studies which predicate upon an epistemology and aesthetics that are radically different from those established by traditional humanism. Spanos. The existential inevitability of historical development and change makes the reification and objectification of human beings as transcendental an epistemological impossibility. For a “decolonialist” critique of Western humanism and imperialism. language. see Franz Fanon. Vico's Uncanny Humanism: Reading the New Science Between Modern and Postmodern (Ithaca. trans.” “identity” rather than “history. the totality of the historical world as made by humans themselves. and change. criticism. The Wretched of the Earth. in a study of Vico’s humanism. politics. Human nature is human history: human history is essentially the development of the human mind. a theory or philosophy of human nature that recognizes the historical nature of humans and of all things human. London: Cornell University Press.analysis of the society.” and “fact” rather than “process. humans are nothing other than their history. see William V. 8 The term “traditional humanism” is genealogically and semantically complicated and has different connotations and references in various historical and rhetorical contexts. knowledge. I would employ this term specifically to refer to the kind of Western ontological and metaphysical thinking which is predicated on “being” rather than “becoming. 9 49 . The End of Education: Towards Posthumanism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.e. Said’s humanism is intellectually and genealogical grounded in Vico’s historicist humanism.

The historical nature of humanity obliges the humanist not only to be a historian but also to be aware of his or her own historicality. psychoanalysis. deconstruction. agency and identity in historical rather than ahistorical and identitarian terms. Historicist humanists are wary of this ahistorical thinking. semiotics. I would return to the relation between conceit and power in Chapter Five. claiming to be the most ancient civilization is the conceit of nations whilst asserting “what they know is as old as the world” is the conceit of scholars. §122-127. Said is very critical of ahistorical and decontextualized adoption and application of specialized literary theories and methods (structuralism. 10 50 . because they are both antihumanistic in the sense that they are ahistorical or even antihistorical in seeing the human being as “subject” or “non-subject” and fail to take into account the historical nature of the human being. for Said. The historical consciousness of human nature underpins Said’s critical thoughts and praxis. it is a form of power or what Vico calls “conceit” 10 that wishes to claim the status of truth by suppressing the historicality of the thinker and his or her thinking. will. formalism. which is associated with the philosophical pursuit of truth as dehistoricized entity. The New Science. and poststructuralism) which reign in the humanities since the 1970s. Said’s historicist humanism circumvents the crude distinction between traditional Eurocentric humanism and poststructuralist anti-humanism. This ahistorical mode of thinking popularized by the Cartesian conviction in clear and distinct ideas has been critically contested by Vico’s historicism. According to Vico. Said’s humanistic practice demonstrates the critical and political importance of renovating literary studies and for that matter the humanities as a whole into a socially meaningful and politically potent enterprise. See Vico. the desire to go beyond or make oneself appear to be outside of the ideal eternal history of mankind is a kind of conceit.culture. which by disclosing the dialectical and reciprocal relationship between language/literature and world/reality occupies a unique place in the history of literary and cultural criticism and theory. is to be historical and critical. To be humanistic. Ahistorical thinking is not a mere school of thought or attitude.

By the time he wrote his posthumously published book. subject for long and always shifts his locus of interest and constituency.” boundary 2 11. Though he is an exile-critic who never stays with any particular topic. self-insulation and self-alienation within the academic circle. Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004). we must be as historical as Said’s humanism intends to be. A praxis of humanism which addresses specifically social and political problems in his contemporary context: the political and ideological domination of the US as the last remaining superpower in the world. Joseph A. but because changes in his own cultural. volatile and temporal nature of history: a cluster of parallel and contradicting events transpiring in temporality not unidirectionally according to a teleological form of history but in a “back-and-forth. cultural and geographical displacements and reconfiguration. Buttigieg. “The Exemplary Worldliness of Antonio Gramsci’s Literary Criticism.” “in-and-out” manner. no. 295. cultural and political intolerance and separatism. Said’s work is written more for a political and critical constituency than 11 12 Said. not because he rejects what he was doing. Said conceives his own self as “a cluster of flowing currents. a metacritical reflection on humanism which aims to restore the social and political relevance and intellectual significance of humanism and humanistic studies. he changes his subject of criticism and even his language of criticism. elitist and neoconservative academic practice.” 11 which is probably the most proper description of the transient. Said’s critical work nevertheless stems from his historical and cultural circumstances. the US-led war against terrorism. Out of Place. 1-2 (fall 1982): 23. 51 . globalization. and institutional conditions have necessitated and motivated a whole new series of self-relocations and intellectual reorientations.In reading and interpreting Said. He is self-conscious and self-critical of what he is doing throughout his career. socio-political. Said has already moved beyond such issues as human nature and human subject and begun to reform humanism into a “philosophy of praxis” that aims at “transforming men and the conditions that surround them” 12 for the purpose of enlightenment and emancipation.

eds. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. human history or knowledge (epistemology).” Studia Philologica et Litteraria in Honorem L. The purpose of my exploration of Said’s humanism is to explain his understanding of the human (humanism). and literature (aesthetics). I will discuss Said’s humanism metacritically and theoretically in a way that is most meaningful and relevant to my own historical.14 i. In contrast the natural world can never be understood fully by humans.”15 Criticism in this sense understands through “the gathering of all the elements 13 14 15 Said. HDC. Spitzer. L.an academic or theoretical one. 52 . humanistic or historical knowledge can only come from criticism. since God made it. 11.e. Hatcher and K. Gramsci's Historicism. knowledge and creation are the same thing. A. 14. “their coming into existence at certain times and under certain conditions. The nature or truth of human or historical things is to be discovered in their genesis or making. For Said. academic and institutional contexts. This is the socio-historical context in which Said’s defense of humanism against inhumanity is most meaningful to himself at the time he produced Humanism and Democratic Criticism. which constitute the basis of his cultural and literary criticism. G. it can be understood by human beings themselves. To know ourselves is to know our own history (what we make and do) rather than seeing ourselves as a transcendental subject with an absolute and fixed nature. Morera. I shall begin with Said’s conception of human history or knowledge and move on to the issue of how criticism constitutes a basis for human knowledge. Selig (Bern: Francke Verlag. In this chapter and the following chapters. According to Vico’s verum/factum. Erich Auerbach. he alone knows it. Humanistic knowledge and criticism The goal of humanism is to know our own self. which means that we can only know what we make or “to know is to know how a thing is made. 1958). 33.”13 Since history or the historical world is made by human beings. to see it from the point of view of its human maker.

Gramsci's Historicism. must pass through in a cyclical fashion the age of primitivism. The Riddle of History (New York: Harper & Row.”17 In understanding how a thing comes into existence within a particular historical circumstance. 53 . by transforming himself. §405. The New Science. On the one hand. are echoed in the evolutionary trajectory of the history of all human civilizations. one can easily extend what one already knows to comprehend what is unknown. to high intellectuality. Vico’s postulation of natural cyclical order of history in distinct ages and epochs and the analogy between the development of civilizations and the development of the human mind from infancy to adulthood are historicist as such comprehension is an abstraction of history into a structural concept. The developmental aspects of the human mind. which evolves from an infantile state. Historical perspectivism understands that each stage of historical development is a “cultural whole”18 and as such is “necessary. moderate rationalism. human nature changes across periods and epochs. The understanding of human history has two dimensions: the historicist and the historical. Bruce Mazlish. According to Vico.e. 12. Vico. 1966). 16 17 18 Morera. 39. becomes them. Because criticism is itself a situated act. he extends his mind to comprehend things. and back again to barbarism. according to Vico. perfect in itself. Said believes that it must be performed with the historical awareness of the critical self as being without exception historical. such humanistic knowledge is always open to contestation because the faculty of understanding is itself historical and the process of understanding is always to a certain extent inventive and imaginative despite the development of human reason or rational faculties: “For when man understands.of a thing in order to form a perfect idea of the thing.” 16 However. he makes them out of himself and. i. which. to adolescence and to adulthood. but when he does not understand. with a sense of historical perspectivism in order to eschew the imposition of one’s own perspective on reality onto the subject of one’s study which is historically and culturally different from one’s own.

religion.. and intro. and metaphysics. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. ed. it stems from a particular historical circumstance and therefore all human things must be understood from the historical point of view of their human makers. science. 1957). The Use and Abuse of History.” 37. 1969). Friedrich Nietzsche. pays full attention to the forgotten.” Illuminations. That is Said’s epistemological stance in his understanding of history. 69. Vico’s historicism should not contradict historical materialism for it is the aim of Vico in his New Science to establish a dialectic of historicism and materialism or. the historical understanding can be understood in terms of a materialist view of history which. 21 See Walter Benjamin.: Liberal Arts Press. The historicist view of history is “super-historical”20 in Nietzsche’s term.e. art.21 However. 54 . culture. trans. This historical understanding enabled by Vico’s historicism is manifest in all of Said’s critical work. On the other hand. language. “Antihistorical” understanding judges culture and a literary and artistic work by the standards which are dehistoricized as absolute 19 20 Auerbach. hidden and superseded moments of history and resists to be abstracted and reified by triumphalist historiography. The historical understanding that everything human has a historical existence. according to Walter Benjamin.”19 Each historical age has its own distinct and unique perspective on reality and established beliefs which manifest themselves materially through every activity and every stratum of the social world within a particular time period: politics. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. 22 Auerbach. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken Books. Adrian Collins (N. which describes the attempt to grasp human things in terms of their essence rather than existence. in terms of identity rather than difference. 253-264. underpins Said’s humanistic criticism.”22 The historical dimension is predicated upon the historicist view of history which is in turn modified by historical and materialist examination. It is opposed to the antihistorical understanding of which Said is very critical. in Auerbach’s formulation of Vico’s historicism. i. and literature.Y. trans. Harry Zohn.and good. in terms of being rather than becoming. a dialectic of “philosophical philology” or “philological philosophy.” 33. “Theses on the Philosophy of History.

23 24 25 Collingwood. 55 . Auerbach. the text. Said’s literary criticism is integrative and synthetic as he never separates literature from culture. Culture or work of literature or art from an earlier time must not be judged as underdeveloped according to some absolute rules of goodness or beauty because everything in history has “its own raison d'être and comes into existence in order to serve the needs of the men whose minds have corporately created it. Said brings forth the concept of worldliness which. the critic.” concisely means that human production stems from. his historical criticism shows the dialectic of part and whole as the “understanding of one of these parts of human activity at a certain stage of the development necessarily provides the key for the understanding of all the other parts. Said’s life-long practice. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism.and universal rules. Historical understanding is inherently comparative because it involves the transition from one’s own perspective to another perspective on reality of a different historical period in order to understand and judge the thing in terms of its historical genesis.”24 each historical period or stage is conceived by historicist humanism as a cultural whole in which all human activities intertwine with and interpenetrate each other.”25 Based on the understanding that every human thing originates from a particular historical circumstance and is subject to cultural and historical change. politics. not national.” 32. For Said. the specific state of the human mind at a given time”. and criticism are in the world and therefore cannot be treated in isolation from the historical and material circumstances from which they arise.”23 “‘Unity’ is epochal. Said understands and judges a work of literature not in terms of its cultural or national origin but in relation to its historical period. The Idea of History. In the domain of literary criticism. 77. Intellectuals in Power. consequently the critic’s historical situatedness or historicality is also superseded by the application of absolute and ahistorical standards and values. 137. Paul Bové. pertains to and is consequent upon the world.e. related to the words “world” and “worldly. institutions because they “originate from the same conditions. i.

according to Said. Ibid. Criticism. The myth gives birth to political structures and institutions which bestow order. an integral formative part of the reality itself. Ibid.almost all humanistic criticism is literary criticism because “[h]istory’s records are primarily verbal: language itself is the foremost historical document.” 30 Take for example the sign “Jove” which is created to designate the sight and sound of a thunderbolt. As Vico’s study of primitive civilization demonstrates. Words or ideas have a material or corporeal origin in sense experiences: “[ideas] were once passionate imaginings stemming from responses to physical existence. HDC. “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts. they are. Words are created and used by human beings within certain historical circumstances.”27 and therefore “words are not passive markers or signifiers standing in unassumingly for a higher reality. 59. “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist. 56 . Said.”26 Language is a human creation which “was to make man’s impressions of the world intelligible to him. law. Human or historical knowledge. is philology: “it involves getting inside the process of language already going on in words and making it disclose what may be hidden or incomplete or masked or distorted in any text we may have before us. which is fabricated with and in 26 27 28 29 30 Said. and organization to human society and thereby enables communal existence. instead. the historical world was brought into existence by the poetic and imaginative creation of signs by the first men in history.”28 Said’s humanistic understanding of the worldliness and historicality and inseparability of words from the material reality gives precedence to the practice of literary criticism as a socially relevant and politically potent enterprise. Said.” 348. and they in turn constitute the artifactual human reality.”29 Said believes that the use and function of language are tied up with historical and material reality. The myth about Jove is the first human thought which produces fear in men and serves to discipline men’s instinct-driven behaviors.” in Exile. 87.

language is dehistoricized and dehumanized. “Vico and Aesthetic Historism. 57 . according to this historicist understanding. no. has given rise to a special condition of mind and has evoked the poignancy of time […] thus a term is converted into reconstructed history. they are no longer “mere words or unknown symbols …. a unit into a synthesis. it produces a supervening reality—the political structure in primitive society. relatively anonymous. The scientific slant on language denies human agency. Striving to achieve pure objective knowledge secured by an objective system. language then is no longer an archeological source of historical and humanistic knowledge. B.” The structuralist paradigm is “scientific” rather than humanistic. method.”32 The philological and materialist view of words as bearers of historical reality contrasts sharply with the structuralist and formalist interpretation of “signs” as discrete linguistic units within a transhuman self-sufficient “sign-system. Structuralist and formalist theories of language have resulted in certain critical practice that reifies the literary text and celebrates the aesthetic and formalistic qualities of language. When words are pushed back into the material and social fabric from which they come. and protocol. The “interpretation of myths as symbols of political and economic struggles and developments” 31 rather than as objective signs of a linguistic or ideological system reopens the dialectic between literature and historical and social reality.[T]they enact the combination of past and future woven into the historical fabric of language.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 8. 69. 2 (December 1949): 117.language. Myth. A mute term. and it aspires toward scientific precision and certainty at the expense of self-knowledge or history. can never be separated from the cultural struggles and the maintenance of political and cultural institutions which keep human beings inside order and system of meaning. Once the linguistic structure is objectified as a system independent of human making and consciousness. some of 31 Erich Auerbach. 32 Said. originates from primitive imagination and instincts and is therefore not simply a fiction that has nothing to do with reality.

those formalistic literary theories transform literary criticism into an ahistorical and apolitical academic practice. 205. political and institutional relations. or stated in terms dictated by the method. there is no As mentioned above. “Every method is a happy simplification. However. True or false? It consists in noting its scope of useful application and its failure beyond that scope. 34 35 33 Collingwood. 58 .” Adventures of Ideas (New York: Macmillan. as Alfred North Whitehead says. Men of fully-developed reason from the third age33 are prone to over-refined intellectualizing in search of certain and transcendental knowledge. and to know that one knows is to know oneself. 1967). the mind applied to reflective understanding and abstract theorizing can forget its own history and can never explain its own origin: the causes of one’s thought. For every simplification is an over-simplification. The Idea of History. 221. Method as an intellectual and applicable tool could be critically disenabling. the theoretical and abstract language produced by these theories betrays the ahistorical and scientific objective of these theoretical studies of language and literature as separate from cultural and historical transformations. But only truths of a congenial type can be investigated by any one method. Thus the criticism of a theory does not start from the question. based on the tripartite structure of history. Theory and method become their means and products in this quest for epistemic certainty. “Section I Three Kinds of Human Nature” in The New Science. Therefore. The irony is that dehistoricized and depoliticized literary criticism is itself historically situated and inscribed in cultural. It is an unguarded statement of a partial truth. §916918. But without “some knowledge of himself. otherwise it would only be “an unguarded statement of a partial truth”. his knowledge of other things is imperfect: for to know something without knowing that one knows it is only a half-knowing. the third age refers to the modern and developed social condition under which overdeveloped intellectuality is resulted. As a cultural and historical phenomenon itself. theory should be studied as history of theory. See Vico.35 when “philosophy becomes theory. The historical change of humanity in every age brings about the change to the cultural and social whole.”34 the theorist should not only produce theory but also understand how his/her historical situatedness has enabled his or her thinking.

227.”37 Said’s historical view on language affirms his belief in human will and agency. through the acquisition of culture by new classes and through the hegemony exercised by one national language over others. for Said. eds.”36 The language used by literary theoreticians and critics becomes more and more abstract and specialized.truth of the whole or of the self to be had. The Renewal of Literature (New Haven: Yale University Press. because for him even words have their histories and are constitutive of the human historical reality at large.38 Conventions of language are not merely linguistic and syntactic rules and regulations but are an important cultural apparatus in maintaining conventions of social and political life. conventions of language are adapted and resisted. As Richard Poirier states. 1971). 451. 37 Antonio Gramsci. Words. and new literary forms themselves become conventions to be challenged by later uses of language. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. 1988). Literature and language are not simply cultural heritage but are a series of resistance against tradition and convention. 59 . which is in full accordance with the abstract theorizing and intellectualizing state of mind and becomes detached from social reality and ineffective in communicating with the general public outside their own academic discourse. are more than inert “signs” having no meaning outside the system of signification but are active agents for bringing about historical and cultural changes. 38 Richard Poirier. The emergence of jargon and specialized language testifies to the notion that language is a cultural and historical phenomenon. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers. 1997). Familiarity with language as the repository of history is the first step toward challenging and overthrowing social and literary conventional forms. Concerning literature as a 36 Donald Phillip Verene. Philosophy and the Return to Self-Knowledge (New Haven: Yale University Press. as Gramsci says: “language is transformed with the transformation of the whole of civilization. 138. semantic transformation is steered by active agents. Language once co-opted and reified through institutionalization has limited social and political agency to change the material and historical reality. and trans.

456. Said states that the choice of each word. metaphor.”39 With reference to the literary text itself. The purpose of literary criticism is to understand from what historical circumstances such literary interpretation arises. 80.”43 Philological criticism aims to reopen the dialectic between literature and history by demonstrating how they inform each other: in the end literary studies are historical studies.. Literature. Literary Language and Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. “a man’s work stems from his existence and … consequently everything we can find out about his life serves to interpret the work. 129. It is itself an interpretation of the world. periods.” in Exile. “Historicist philology—which is much more than studying the derivation of words—is the discipline of uncovering beneath the surface of words the life of a society that is embedded there by the great writer’s art. Said. 42 43 Said.”41 the interpretive process of literary criticism for Said can only “begin in the individual particular”42 before gradually moving to the general. This is why Said pays scrupulous attention to and respect for the specificity of the experience of the individual writer and firmly believes in individual authority (yet not absolute sovereignty) over language and agency in challenging social and political conventions. “History. Erich Auerbach. To read a literary work is to understand how it is made from the point of view of the writer. and as Auerbach says. 37. Said.” 456. irreducibly concrete structure of sentences. and of course the historical moments in which they are 39 40 41 Ibid. and literary history is cultural history. HDC. literature was once an organic part of cultural and social reality. trans. 1965). Geography. “History. the “highly idiosyncratic. Geography. Before it entered the realm of apolitical literary theory and criticism. Ralph Manheim (London: Routledge & Kegan. Literature. 60 . human life.cultural category. Richard Poirier says: “Literature exists to challenge the inherited forms of language. Although literature and art are worldly and are “a part of the social world. parataxes” 40 are all marked with the “individual imprint” of the writer.

” boundary 2 11. The change of narrative structure symbolizes not only a transformation of aesthetic taste and style but also a significant historical and cultural change—a change of worldview. no. 47 46 Hayden White. 4.” Diacritics 6.” 47 because both criticism and literature require philological scrupulosity toward and familiarity with language. institutionalized. Gramsci quoted by Joseph A. Therefore. Said “closes the gap between creative and critical literature and stresses their similarities rather than their differences. naturalized. “Criticism as Cultural Politics. “Culture in its Sociohistorical Dimension. as according to Gramsci. The realist conception of an empirically accessible universe transmuted into a well-structured tripartite plot is overturned by the modernist anti-narrative or anti-linearity position. Criticism of a work of art cannot privilege either form or content exclusively. WTC. Buttigieg in “The Exemplary Worldliness of Antonio Gramsci’s Literary Criticism. 1-2 (fall 1982): 156. Aesthetics as a cultural and institutional category must therefore be maintained not for the sake of a kind of pure and disinfected criticism. and “unconscious” uses of language. “forming [a] critical culture” 46 to resist and challenge cultural and political hegemonies. no. The individual literary text is not written anonymously nor entirely 44 45 Said. which aims to distinguish what is art and what is not and legitimate a kind of apolitical and elitist aesthetic criticism indifferent to the cultural and historical processes.” 45 Even formal analysis is inseparable from cultural and historical analysis because technical arrangements of words and sentences. its form and structure. Said’s historical view of literary and aesthetic criticism is similar to Gramsci’s historically and politically conscious literary criticism. Terry Cochran. as Cochran’s puts it. 3 (autumn 1976): 9. 61 .” 27.located and interpreted. narrative and plot structures are bound to human and cultural struggles.”44 they can never be reduced to history and politics. to resist and overthrow rigidified. Said does not believe in historical determinism which reduces individual literary works to their historical situations. both “‘content and form’ besides having an ‘aesthetic’ meaning have also a ‘historical’ meaning. it should be responsible for.

Said.determined by the discourse of knowledge/power. formal. and syntactic levels. 37.” in PPC. morally responsible. and Antonio Gramsci whose fragmentary and episodic critical writings. could become “a body of resolved ideas that would exercise their dominion over” the critic himself and the reader. Very often even the literary form and style of criticism can also be a form of resistance to culture and system as exemplified in Adorno.”51 humanistic criticism underlines the dialectical. reciprocal and organic 48 49 50 51 Gauri Viswanathan. 62 . Auerbach. textual. history and politics or a pessimistic collapsing of individual consciousness into the material network of culture and politics.” 467.” in Exile. Literature. which results from an optimistic denial of literature’s involvement with culture. “History. Walter Benjamin.” only in such a way would literary criticism be socially relevant. “Representing the Colonized. “Introduction. 313. instead of systematic unified writings.”48 Literary criticism should be committed to reopening and establishing the dialectics of literature. Secular criticism Based on “the simple fact that a man’s work stems from his existence and that consequently everything we can find out about his life serves to interpret the work. Said. Without philological and literary criticism to discern cultural and political resistance and creation at intertextual. xiii.49 Literary criticism must not succumb to the danger of what Said calls “aestheticized powerlessness”50—political disengagement and conformism cloaked in the name of aesthetics. Literary Language and Its Public. the writing of history can easily be “hijacked by focusing on discourses of power. history. politically effective and intellectually resistant to the weight of the discourse of power. Geography. culture and politics without reducing the aesthetic category of literature to a mere function of culture and politics or privileging the aesthetic realm as culturally and politically autonomous and “disinfected.

the term “secular” means historical. RI. the ideas of “home” and “homeliness” are metaphysical rather than physical and material. WTC. 63 . metaphysical homelessness is the nonsubjectivity of subjectivity.” 54 In Said’s critical vocabulary. i. Metaphysical homelessness is a form of intellectual freedom achieved at the expense of one’s subjectivity.”52 Exile—as a disruption of the organic continuity between the past and present and of the relation between consciousness and historical existence—prompts “humanity” to become self-conscious of its own self-making or humanizing process by destabilizing and defamiliarizing one’s habitual sense of self. 60. the Text. Said contends that Mimesis—a critical narrative of humanism itself as a phase of history in which literature plays a special role—is made possible by Auerbach’s non-Occidental exile. emphasis added. therefore. 53 in order to save the self from being reduced to non-existence in an alien existential circumstance. However. The self-realization of the contingency of human existence on historical and material circumstances prevents one from taking anything for granted and seeing “things as they are but as they have come to be that way. 54 Said.relationship between human beings and their historical existential world.e. the critic’s subjectivity. 8. Metaphysical exile as the spirit of 52 53 Said. for instance. worldly or earthly. it is “a work whose conditions and circumstances of existence are not immediately derived from the culture it describes with such extraordinary insight and brilliance but built rather on an agonizing distance from it. is a dwelling house from which the critic has to remain at a distance. Exile ironically becomes for Said the enabling condition for the secular critic to perform Geistesgeschichte (“history of ideas”) on himself or herself in the state of metaphysical homelessness. “secular” in the context of Said’s formulation of secular criticism bears an anti-religious connotation with a particular emphasis on the epistemically knowable and genealogically traceable historical process of human beings making themselves and their civil world. For the secular critic. It then becomes extremely intriguing that Said in his introduction to secular criticism in The World. and the Critic ruminates on the exilic experience as the enabling condition for the critical masterpiece Mimesis Erich Auerbach wrote in exile in Turkey.

are matters having to do with ownership. disciplinary. and the imposition of force. and unquestionable. institution. identity. which aim to put a stop to historical and critical thinking and investigation. naturalized and given and establishes affiliative relations amongst things that appear to be separate entities at the expense of the dialectic of part and whole. even an idea could become a “home. 1998). hegemony.secular criticism is the eschewal of the reifying. theory. authoritative.”55 Ideas aspire towards ideology which “is drained of all living historical forces”56 and makes things appear to be sacred. 86. Secular criticism historicizes things that appear to be timeless. essentializing. Said says: “Words and texts are so much of the world that their effectiveness. The history of humankind has been disfigured by all forms of tyranny. authority. Secular criticism by virtue of historicizing. 48.” Said who is against all kinds of dogmatism and religious totalitarianism shows us that not only overarching concepts such as culture. cultural. and profession can become a “home” in which one can feel safe and secure and take it for granted. political. theologizing preponderance of culture.” a barrier to thinking historically and critically by soliciting our acquiescence and perpetuation. ideology. Secular-exilic critical transcendence according to Said cannot be understood as being predicated on an abandonment of and cynical scorn for humanity and the human world but rather on a profoundly generous love for all humankind: 55 56 Said. subjectivity. 64 . and even words and ideas. Cultural Theory and the Problem of Modernity (New York: St. WTC. power. nationality. in some cases even their use. Martin’s Press. All ideas are not naturally given but are produced in history and always affiliated with politics and power. de-reifying everything human attempts to traverse and transcend nationalistic. Exile is also the opposite of feeling “at home. which pose threats to a truly historical view of human beings and the human world of institutions and ideas. cultural. and identitiarian boundaries. institutional. Alan Swingewood. and intellectual.

globalization of various cultural and ethnic communities. a source of great virtue for the practiced mind to learn. standardization of all forms of human life. the strong man has extended his love to all places.It is. including the assimilation. the discovery of what people believe to be true in different cultures and periods by a historical perspectival and sympathetic understanding allows a better way to see and understand the reality of our own culture and time. Humanistic knowledge is achieved through the transition from one’s own perspective and selfhood to another in order to understand things from the point of view of the maker across cultures and epochs. therefore. commodification. The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner. bit by bit. the perfect man has extinguished his. 65 . Victor cited by Auerbach to exemplify the non-nationalistic and non-egoistic spirit of humanistic studies. but we are nevertheless continuously faced with the threats of forgetting our own history posed by modernity’s reification. It may be true that our existence and sense of self are not always endangered by geographical exiles and dispossessions. homogenization. 335. he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong. Said.”58 It is therefore the job of the secular critic or the critical humanist historian to inventory and preserve the history of humanity. Victor quoted by Said in CI. not by rejecting them. “Whatever we are. so that afterwards it may be able to leave them behind altogether. but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world. Ibid.57 Said quotes this passage by Hugo of St. marginalization. we became in history. Said says that only by being able to transcend and go beyond one’s limited subjectivity with a proper and generous love for mankind can “a historian begin to grasp human experience and its written records in their diversity and particularity. CI. otherwise he or she will remain committed more to the exclusion and reactions of prejudice than to the freedom that accompanies knowledge. But note that Hugo twice makes it clear that the ‘strong’ or ‘perfect’ man achieves independence and detachment by working through attachments. 335-6. and 57 58 Hugo St. first to change about invisible and transitory things.

” trans. HDC. 66 . Auerbach. is an indispensable part which contributes to the historical development of humanity as a whole. Said evokes the Goethean and Auerbachian notion of Weltliteratur—“a universalist conception of all the literatures of the world seen together as forming a majestic symphonic whole” 61 —which “does not merely refer to what is generically common and human.59 a truly historical view of humanity is essential to save us from historical extinction and impasse. O.60 and to not be himself by reserving a critical distance from his history. “Philology and Weltliteratur. With the whole of mankind as its humanistic horizon. and is ‘knowing thyself’ as a product of the historical process to date. which has deposited in you an infinity of traces. having its own course of historical development. As an exile himself. 25. Such a view understands that each cultural and national community in the world. without leaving an inventory.”62 The encounter of cultural and historical differences in both geographical and metaphorical exile enables one to achieve self-consciousness. “Philology and Weltliteratur. 60 Paraphrase of a quote by Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks: “The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is.only in history can we remain the way we are and develop therefrom”. 61 62 Said. being forced out of his homeland in Palestine with his whole family because of the Zionist movement. Edward Said and Maire Said. Centennial Review 13 (1969): 6. Said is extremely conscious of his heterogeneous historical and cultural situations.” 2. Said’s work predicates on a large humanistic horizon which concerns the truth about humanity and history of humankind.” See Said. 95. 59 Erich Auerbach. and therefore partake in the struggle for a new culture. There is always a very personal dimension to his critical work whose subject matter is always himself: to know himself by inventorying the infinite traces deposited in himself by history. emancipation from nationalistic assumptions and mystification of human cultures. Starting from his own personal perspective and circumstance. rather it considers humanity to be the product of fruitful intercourse between its members.

Secular criticism opens up new possibilities for the development of human civilization; it engenders differences rather than consolidates one’s nationality by suppressing or dissolving differences and contradictions in favor of oneness and identity. The present multiplicity of global human conditions all over the world makes it impossible for anyone to think in monolithic terms. The interaction and interconnection between different cultures due to cultural and social actions—empire, travel, trade, globalization, modernity, technology—urges every culture to redefine the self not in terms of an ontologically stable entity but as a volatile historical process interweaving with the larger network of world history in action. History redeems mankind from reification. As Benjamin says: “To be sure, only a redeemed mankind receives the fullness of its past—which is to say, only for a redeemed mankind has its past become citable in all its moments.” 63 Based on this notion of “historical” redemption, Said sees historical criticism as a redemptive and recuperative project whose aim is to provide a “multiperspectival, dynamic, and holistic way of representing history and reality.”64 The writing of history has been faulted by the corrosive nature of culture, imperialism and colonialism based upon the belief in absolute standards in judging and comparing human nature and cultures, and in history as progress towards an affirmed identity; the imperialist and triumphalist territorial and intellectual appropriation and domination encroach upon the historical presence and geographical existence of the native, the colonized, and the dispossessed. Said himself has lent voice to dispossessed Palestinians who face the threat of nonexistence by the triumphalist history of Israeli Jews who attempt to anchor their existence in textual history and public memory when the actual material and geographical place of the Palestinian is lost. In the end, how we view, interpret, and write history will determine how critical resistance to the dogmatic effects of culture, power, ideology, theory, language, and ideas can take place in history and how humanistic
63 64

Benjamin, Illuminations, 254. Said, HDC, 111


criticism could provide humanistic models of coexistence among various cultures. Said’s secular criticism rests on the secular notion that man makes his own history and man is his history and that nothing in the human world is given or natural, everything is made by human will and choices. The truth about human history is that it is an ever-changing and dynamic process in which multiple “centers” of individual, historical, cultural, the decentered geographical consciousness interact and struggle for power, hegemony, knowledge, and freedom. It is not determined unidirectionally, onedimensionally by some transhuman and transhistorical force, be it discursive, political or linguistic. The history of human cultures and society according to Said has to be comprehended materially and geographically as exemplified in Gramsci’s geographical conception of history rather than the Hegelian or Lukácsian understanding of history as a temporal process in which contradictions and differences will be resolved and a new identity achieved and consolidated. Humanity in general and the human mind in particular are historical. In the temporal sense, an historical event that happened in the past cannot exist physically and materially in the present; however, in the spatial or geographical sense, ideas, experiences, and feelings generated by that past event can coexist dialectically with present thoughts and experience. The mind in this sense is both historical and geographical. Therefore, a geographical conception of history entails comprehending the temporal process of history geographically without privileging the present over the past and self over the others. Gramsci sees history as a collective cultural and political struggle and contest over hegemony and territory between different opposites: the ruler and the ruled, the center and the periphery, the majority and the minority. His historical consciousness transcends binary thinking and does not give precedence to identity over difference or stability over instability: “His terms always depart from oppositions—mind vs. matter, rulers vs. ruled, theory vs. praxis, intellectuals vs. workers—which are then contextualized, that is, they remain within contextual control, not the control of some hypostasized,


outside force like identity or temporality which supposedly gives them their meaning by incorporating their differences into a larger identity.”65 Gramsci’s critical or geographical consciousness which foregrounds the movement, processes and volatility of human history and geography is secular, i.e. antireifying and anti-identitarian. It makes possible the historical presence of subaltern groups66 and subsequent political resistance against the ruling class through rewriting the history of social and political reality. History is therefore not a finished and settled past memory in which battles are won and lost forever. Because the past and present would feed off, remake, and contradict each other dialectically in the geographical mosaic of the human mind to produce new ideas and understandings, which will change, make and become history. Therefore, history is “still unresolved, still being made, still open to the presence and the challenges of the emergent, the insurgent, the unrequited, and the unexplored”67 as long as the historical and geographical consciousness of human beings persists. Postmodernist and poststructuralist theories of history and human agency are revolutionary and politically resistant; however, once these theories were academically neutered and extracted from their contexts, the postmodernist understanding of history and agency is susceptible to becoming totalizing, unsecular, and unhistorical. History is not simply a record of a political tug-of-war between the powerful and the weak in which the former always wins and the weak incorporated and homogenized by the powerful. Different cultures might not coexist in one sovereign space but they can in the intellectual space complementarily and contradictorily on equal footing to achieve better self-understanding. Cultures can only exist in relation with each other, and such relation is intellectually productive. Intellectual and cultural eclecticism forms the basis of multiculturalism and intercultural coexistence. This is the underpinning premise of Said’s conception of crosscultural studies. The egalitarian spirit of the Gramscian geographical
65 66 67

Said, “History, Literature, and Geography,” 467. Ibid., 468. Said, HDC, 26.


consciousness resonates with the magnanimous attitude of Vichian historical perspectivism and Goethian Weltliteratur. Human agency is made possible by the human capacity to be conscious and critical of what humans themselves make; the self-consciousness of how they make humanity enables the human freedom to choose alternatively and make new history.68 Changes of history and historical changes prevail as life endures. History is being made and unmade by human beings—how we understand and view history determines how we view the present conditions and future developments of humanity, and the meanings of the past are continuously redefined by the present. A secular history is and should be “the history of the unceasing overthrow of the objective forms that shape the life of man.”

Secular criticism is the ceaseless process of performing

Geistesgeschichte (history of idea) on our own self, historical realities, products, ideas and institutions for the purpose of self-understanding, selfmaking, self-unmaking, self-remaking and self-emancipation.


“In short, Vico seems to be saying, only when man ‘knows,’ that is, when his reason controls his brute passion, or, to put it even more succinctly, when man is self-conscious, is he ‘free’ and able to make his own history.” See Bruce Mazlish, The Riddle of History, 48.

Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics, trans. Rodney Livingstone (London: Merlin Press, 1971), 186.


Said. historical.”—Edward Said1 “Orientalism is theoretically inconsistent. Ibid. “Men make their own history [and] what they can know is what they have 1 2 3 4 Said. Said.. intervene and change human history. epistemological. and cultural research of which my education has made me the fortunate beneficiary. cultural.”—Edward Said3 “Late style is in. 71 . 24. B. I attempted to go beyond the crude distinction between traditional Eurocentric humanism and poststructuralist antihumanism by explicating Said’s notion of humanism as central to his engagement with all aspects of human life: the existential. Late Style. but oddly apart from the present.” —Edward Said4 In the last chapter. emphasis original. According to humanism. and I designed it that way.CHAPTER THREE The Dialectic of “Parallels and Paradoxes”: Said’s Critical Practice “Humanism … engenders its own opposite. which in turn is the sole activity in which human beings can exercise their critical faculty and consciousness and thereby express themselves as active agents whose thinking and action make and interpret. PPC. 80. literary and aesthetic. xvi. humanistic. 373. emphasis original. self-knowledge is the most valuable form of knowledge that is constituted by self-criticism.” —Edward Said2 “I have tried to maintain a critical consciousness as well as employing those instruments of historical.

and theoretical interpretation of literary texts very often divest both the text and criticism of their “aura” in Benjamin’s terms. the advance toward the administered world. formalism and structuralism. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno.” Adorno and Horkheimer state in a philosophical critique of the history of Western humanism. histories and cultural and political spheres and towards the specialization and systematization of human knowledge. rather than to accelerate. We need to ask: “Can one divide human reality. 7 Walter Benjamin. “Knowledge” like art has become mechanically reproducible.: Standford University Press. Various spheres and domains of human life are made separate from one another. xii-xiv. Social and human relations are obscured and hidden. 72 . such as the American New Criticism. is sinking into a new kind of barbarism. methods and systems. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr and trans.”5 For Said. Enlightenment ideology and bourgeois civilization. geographies. Intellectual labor has also become professionalized.” in Illuminations. which are antihumanistic not only because they seem to inhabit a timeless. and specialized. methodical. but also because they are reproducible and reusable and therefore their practitioners no longer stand in an organic relationship with their criticism. Calif. O. other-worldly vacuum not made in history. In an attempt to “explain why humanity. as indeed human reality seems to be genuinely divided. instead of entering a truly human state. institutionalized. 217-251.7 Said’s humanism is in every sense antagonistic toward the compartmentalization of the human world into different “independent” but in reality interdependent cultures. however indirectly.made. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. semiotics.” The Enlightenment and modernity of humanity culminate in the reification. “[W]hat matters today is to preserve and disseminate freedom. commodification and administration of mankind. Within the capitalistic mode of production. anything that obstructs the historical inventorying of one’s self or history is an oppression to human agency and freedom. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. We live in what Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer call an “administered”6 society—life itself is reified and compartmentalized. the organic relationship between man and his labor or work is lost. Edmund Jephcott (Standford. ed. The quest for objective and certain knowledge has given rise to all sorts of theories. Systematic. 2002). into clearly 5 6 Said. 5.

10 11 12 73 . The transition from one’s subjectivity to another’s in the act of humanistic understanding can be a form of intellectual and existential freedom not to be narrowly understood as the privilege of subjectivity or agency. O.”11 criticism must “interpret man’s work (as a laborer. 10. xvi. histories. or whatever) as radically and organically connected with what man is.”12 In this chapter. Said. B. 45. engineer. societies. PPC. Said’s humanistic criticism is deeply anchored in human actualities and experiences. I shall contextualize Said’s intellectual formation and critical practice in his own worldliness to demonstrate how Said’s criticism is “personal. Said. ages or cultures and fosters a hybrid. Said. Said. and survive the consequences humanly?”8 Said’s critical practice presents a strong case for the intellectual possibility and moral urgency to be “critical of humanism in the name of humanism. literary critic. humanistic.” 10 Historicist philology requires the critic to move beyond one’s limited perspective to the author’s own and to interpret a literary text re-evoking and recreating the whole writing process under the historical and existential circumstances that enable the writing of a particular text. 17.” and “individual” stemming from his own 8 9 Said. HDC. traditions. In “order to see man as the true origin of social change. mobile identity or magnanimous subjectivity that is open to include the foreign other. Most important of all. PPC. even races. and cultural research of which my education has made me the fortunate beneficiary.” “subjective. This kind of intellectual practice— moving from the interpreter’s point of view to the author’s and to that of another historical and cultural domain—produces non-coercive humanistic knowledge for the purpose of mutual understanding between two persons.different cultures.”9 He says: “I have tried to maintain a critical consciousness as well as employing those instruments of historical. 41.

(London: Penguin. Although these topics can be conceptually categorized. It is the aim of this chapter to foreground the intertextuality. that capitalism is the final destination of human history. The End of History and the Last Man. they are not separate academic concerns.”14 showing 13 Dexing Shan. My translation. The explication of Said’s actual humanistic practice presents a living example to substantiate Said’s argument against such antihumanist theses as “the death of man” and “the end of history. not from politics or economics. 2000). nationality. trans. 11.e. theory. and the seemingly omnipotent global presence of the US.” in Edward Said. 1992). Though these “theoretical” formulations seem to emerge from a different context to that of Fukuyama—i. but rather from “intellectual” concerns about meaning and language—one can sense a close parallel 74 . and aesthetics. politics. “Introduction (1). and the human being.. profession—making his critical work metacritical and self-referential. Peng Huaidong (Taibei Shi: Li xu wen hua shi ye you xian gong si. the literary critic. 14 This is a rather crude and triumphalist assertion of the neo-conservative philosopher Francis Fukuyama who argues in the aftermath of the disintegration of the USSR. In an interview with Dexing Shan. Said’s work typically begins with and reflects on topics that are of existential and experiential relevance to himself: the Palestinian experience. the intellectual. to demonstrate the historical reasons of his intellectual and historical shifts of interests and to relate these topics to his idea and practice of humanism. Said classifies his intellectual inclinations and critical practice into four different phases chronologically: literature. interrelatedness and interdependence of these topics and the intellectual and political necessity to enact a humanistic praxis that is predicated upon the dialectical and reciprocal relations between things and people. Francis Fukuyama. exile.cultural experience rather than from a school of thought or theory that is dynastically inheritable and reproducible. political. 13 This chapter would follow this intellectual trajectory to establish an organic relation between Said’s personal experience and critical practice. and aesthetic periods in “An Interview with Edward Said. 124-5. theoretical. Xiang guan he chu: Sayide hui yi lu (Out of Place). What makes his criticism “Saidian” is that it is underpinned by an all-encompassing self-consciousness in every sense of the word “self”—identity. It is not coincidental that these assertions about the end of history and the erasure of the human are echoed in certain types of structuralist and poststructuralist criticism. See also Said’s categorization of his intellectual career into literary.” in Interviews.

narrative. the affiliation between literature and politics. 16 Said. Written at the time when New Criticism and high formalism were the dominant forms of critical practice. historical. aesthetic. 15 Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966). 289. self-exile. and truth and power.how critical consciousness and individual resistance may be enabled at various levels—textual. an “aporia” in which no human subjectivity is possible. selfdefinition. 75 . See Said. is an attempt to go beyond contemporary literary theories and methods such as psychoanalysis and formalism by situating Conrad’s writing in the context of his historical circumstances and accounting for the existential complexities of Conrad’s life. His criticism is based on the understanding that Conrad’s fictions are written as a result of Conrad’s own self-conscious efforts and choices to “rescue meaning from his undisciplined experience. and the history of ideas and institutions. such as the question of identity. 4. 15 Said mentions the formalistic culture reigning in the literary faculty at his time as a Harvard graduate student in literature in his memoir. Said’s first and only monograph devoted entirely to a single writer. Said studies Conrad’s literary works from a secular humanistic point of view. Various themes and problematics of Conrad’s personal and literary life that Said deals with in the book. both as a man and a writer. the exilic critical consciousness. self-consciousness. cultural—because of the human capacity for understanding oneself and human history without succumbing and conforming to a predetermined set of discursive rules imposed by culture or institutions. literary. structural.” 16 He circumvents between the neo-conservative urgency to declare capitalism's triumph and the attempt to dehistoricize and deny human subjectivity and displace the human into a linguistic vortex. foreshadow Said’s later intellectual and critical preoccupations with colonial and orientalist writing. Out of Place. Joseph Conrad: Existential and literary criticism Joseph Conrad is the only English language writer who has a particular claim on Said’s life-long critical attention. political. Fiction. subjectivity and history. language and reality.

Said treats Conrad the man and his work as an organic whole. etc—have so much to do with Conrad’s life and experience of history. Since the attribution of Conrad’s stories to unconscious desires or forces beyond himself is not entirely based on and justified by historical and materialist interpretation. tragedies. narrative structure. The premise that Conrad’s writings are a series of linguistic. and the supernatural. exilic. It may be agued that Said’s continuing fascination with and attachment to Conrad and his works are perhaps more personal. 76 . geographical. because Conrad’s life resonates with his own and Conrad is a unique and complex novelist and thinker. existential and intellectual than academic.”18 but also reveals the antagonistic relationship between reality (the life of the writer) and literature. Said shows that formal elements in Conrad’s fiction—syntax. He feels an immense affinity to Conrad. fantasy. therefore psychological criticism is beyond the scope of Said’s historical or biographical critique of Conrad’s fictions. exist in some sort of stable or at least consistently identifiable form. and spiritual. 40-41. Said. he is more interested in the dialectical and antagonistic relationship between Conrad the writer and his environment. By examining Conrad’s personal letters and his shorter fiction together. HDC. structural and thematic choices actively and consciously made by Conrad himself in reaction to his historical context enables one to understand Conrad’s thought from his perspective and how his fictions are made through examining his writings and historical reality. ix. Said’s conflation of fiction and non-fiction in his study of Conrad not only unsettles “the assumption that literary objects.psychoanalytical terms such as “mythic” or “unconscious”17 to describe and explain Conrad’s strange and eccentric tales which tap into the inner aspects of human psychology. Said does not deny the validity of psychological interpretation which generally treats Conrad’s stories as fabricated by the unconscious. cultural. lyrics. Conrad’s rootless. linguistic. However. adjective. provides 17 18 Said. which is marked by a series of dislocations. characterization. and fragmented life. metaphor. or novels. Fiction.

23 the binary distinction between the objects represented and the language used for that representation becomes questionable. “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist. Fiction. when the linguistic medium of thinking. “Language. an idea is never simply an “idea. is reflected upon. he is an outsider to British culture.” 348. 4. language. For Conrad. his identity.19 At the very beginning of Fiction. political. According to Luft. Sandra Rudnick Luft. reality itself is constituted by language. there is no mindindependent reality to be represented by language. nothing can and should be taken for granted. Conrad’s difficulty with and uncertainty about himself.”20 As Said says: “language that a man speaks …makes the man and not man the language. 14.him with a peculiar and unsystematized vision on the world. Said identifies the problem of writing in an acquired language in Conrad—“[Conrad] was a self-conscious foreigner writing of obscure experiences in an alien language. As a Polish writer. 20 21 22 19 Said. Sandra Rudnick Luft underlines the constitutive nature of language in the making of humanity and society. as was its relationship to reality: its power to make or break facts.”22 Thinking and writing are primarily linguistic activity.” 21 In her study of Vico’s humanism. continents. the British empire he serves and the English language he speaks and writes. The realization that “truth” is artifactual human creation enables Conrad to see that truth has not only epistemological value but also moral. Therefore. human subjectivity and existence are “always inseparable from the concrete linguistic and social practices of humans in-the-world.” and “the imperialism of ideas … easily converts itself into the imperialism of Although Conrad was one of the most accomplished English writers of the 20th century.” This was a consequence of his learning the English language relatively late in life. and military value. his spoken English was never what could be termed “standard. cultures”. profession and language are reflected in his difficult. Vico’s Uncanny Humanism. and paradoxical literary form and content. to invent whole regions of the world.” has become “an issue. too. and he was only too aware of this. Said. to essentialize races. idiosyncratic. 77 .

483. cannot see any alternative to what Said calls the “cruel tautology”26 of the West. One must also recount that Conrad’s critique of the “civilizing mission” of colonialism is at best ambiguous. 78 . like Marlow a potential authorial surrogate in the narrative. an unselfish 25 belief in the idea—something you can sacrifice to. Heart of Darkness. as Marlow begins his tale aboard the Nellie on the river Thames. a passage which Said uses as an epigraph in his later work Culture and Imperialism (1993): The conquest of the earth. The British version seems to be redeemed to some extent by its civilizing mission. xviii. colonialism is an overmastering system of domination. Said sees in this passage examples of both Conrad’s profundity and limitation. Conrad.27 23 24 25 26 27 Said. Epigraph of Said’s CI extracted from Joseph Conrad. 140. which mostly means the taking away of it from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves. vividly captured in the tormented figure of Kurtz. Fiction. The framing of the narrative also suggests this. Said. What redeems it is the idea only. the lights of London in the distance evoke a civilisational space and the darkness that surrounds the people aboard the ship resonates with another darker space: that of Africa. For Conrad. is a man of his time and is unable to see an independent Africa or Africans defining their own subjectivity. not a sentimental preference but an idea.” 24 It is this consciousness of the intimate link between power and knowledge that Conrad expresses in a passage in Heart of Darkness. however critically distant from British imperialism and colonialism. Conrad. An idea at the back of it.” easily understood as a reference to the so-called “civilizing mission” of colonialism that animates and justifies this project. It is an “idea.nations. Exile. Conrad here ironizes and critiques the colonial project as a process of economic and military exploitation and at the same time exposes the role knowledge plays in this exercise of power. is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. CI. Said. There is a conscious attempt on the part of Conrad to portray Belgian imperialism as cruder and crueler than its British counterpart. While critiquing a system of domination that enforces terrible material and psychic suffering on natives and colonialists alike.

ontological. Ibid. 12-3. “Truth” is impossible without the exertion of the will to subjectivity. undertaking to save themselves by the compromising deceit of egoism: nothingness on one side or shameful pride on the other … either one loses one’s sense of identity and thereby seems to vanish into the chaotic. Conrad chooses “to consider the facts of his life as an historian. according to Huizinga. This Conradian and Saidian awareness of the absence of ontological stability in subjectivity and identity underlines the dialectic of knowledge and 28 29 30 31 Said. subjectivity or identity. undifferentiated. as if the actual facts are not yet determined. 13. Conrad enlisted every sphere of experience in the task he had designated for himself. Always the restless seeker after normative vision.Conrad’s particular perspective on imperial conquests seems to imply that the will to truth is the will to power.” 31 It is this self-consciousness and skepticism in Conrad that have drawn Said in the first instance to a critical examination of Conrad. equally oppressive.” 30 Conrad’s self-awareness epitomizes the modernist consciousness which calls into question traditional beliefs in every aspect of human existence. Said says: “Conrad’s especially anxious interest in the history and dynamics of political existence is remarkable. or epistemological... 11. the man and his ideas. Unwilling to succumb to the violence of the will to identity over difference. 15.29 Conrad’s postrealist fictional characters. Marlow and Falk exemplify such dilemma as they “are faced with the terrible dilemma of either allowing themselves to vanish into ‘native obscurity’ or. and anonymous flux of passing time. Ibid. Yet he was never simply content with the psychological problems of his own existence. considers his subject.. or one asserts oneself so strongly as to become a hard and monstrous egoist.” 28 This explains why the structures of experience of Conrad and his fictional characters are arrested by the modernist “either/or” dilemma. 79 . be it existential. Fiction. Ibid.

political. historical. In order to understand and construct all possible worldly and historical conditions that motivate and enable the writing of fiction. 196. HDC. Fiction. Auerbach. ideology. 17.” 34 Therefore. Fiction. Said’s literary criticism of Conrad’s fiction affirms the humanistic value of literary texts. and human beings and their work. human consciousness and human existence.” and “identity. 37. One can see Said’s later idea of the exilic critic already taking shape in his analysis of Conrad as a literary and intellectual figure: the critic should disclose the operations of these dialectical transactions by remaining skeptical and resistant to the certainty of “truth.”33 The worldliness—the cultural and historical thickness and density—of Conrad’s fiction cannot be exhausted by one single interpretation underpinned by one particular theoretical stance. 32 33 34 35 Said. which is the efficacy of individual consciousness to remain “in an unresolved dialectical relationship with [social. Literary Language and Its Public.” “subjectivity. Said’s transition from a textual and existential analysis of Conrad’s life and the “either/or posture”35 in Conrad’s work in Fiction to his political and discursive criticism of European imperialism and la mission civilisatrice in his Culture and Imperialism (1993) demonstrates an enlargement of his interpretive historical perspective. Said. 64. Said. and aesthetics of Conrad’s time. and economic forces]” 32 and to intervene and control reality like Conrad did with his fiction in which “the chaos of his existence” is transmuted “into a highly patterned art. the worldliness of Conrad’s novels is exemplified through endless interpretations and rereading from an ever-enlarging historical perspective to encompass the culture. politics.power. literary interpretation of Conrad’s novels has to be synthetic.” and the idea of seamless totality and reality which is the teleology of imperialism. as Auerbach says: “everything we can find out about his life serves to interpret the work. 80 .

“Criticism as Cultural Politics. no. “Linguistics and the Archeology of Mind. Comparative Literature (December 1970): 765-790.”38 The point of doing criticism is not to look for 36 Said wrote several essays on Foucault and other theorists specifically during the 1970s and 1980s. attempts to overthrow its perceived and often accepted belated secondariness in relation to the literary text by arguing that literary meaning is not determined or fixed by an origin (whether it is the sovereignty of the author. “[M]eaning is imposed rather than found.The nexus of literature. “Michel Foucault.” MLN. 2 (fall 1984):1-11. “Molestation and Authority in Narrative Fiction. culture. no. despite the fact that during the 1970s he wrote extensively on literary criticism in relation to theories from different academic fields ranging from philosophy. no. and literary forms). “Michel Foucault as an Intellectual Imagination. J. 6. theory and politics Said who has been seen as a literary theorist or postcolonial theorist does not believe in theory by itself. psychology to cultural studies in his second book Beginnings: Intention and Method (1975) and various essays. Davld Couzens Hoy (Oxford: Blackwell. 1927-1984. Hillis Miller (New York: Columbia University Press. 37 38 Said. 85. situates criticism in a relationship of adjacency and complementarity which emphasizes “the lateral and the dispersed rather than the linear and the sequential. The distinction between the notion of origin as having an authority and determining power over what comes after it and the concept of beginning as an enabling act of will to displace and challenge what comes before it (tradition. Vol. which parallels Vico’s distinction between sacred and secular histories.” review of The Archaeology of Knowledge and “Discourse on Language” by Michel Foucault. Hayden White. ed.” Raritan 4. 149-155. no. Diacritics 4. “An Ethics of Language. convention.” in Aspects of Narrative: Selected Papers from the English Institute. Said is concerned with elucidating the function and goal of criticism and how criticism can become a worldly. by defining criticism as an on-going process of beginning and beginning-again. 47-68. and “Foucault and the Imagination of Power. 1 (March 1971):104134.” 37 Said. 36 In Beginnings. historical and political enterprise that bears upon forms of human and social action. 81 . 2 (1974): 28-37. 3 (autumn 1976): 8. No. the text itself or language). 1 (autumn 1972): 1-36.” in Foucault: A Critical Reader. “Conrad and Nietzsche” (1976) in Exile. no.” Diacritics 6. 1971). They are: “Notes on the Characterization of a Literary Text.” International Philosophical Quarterly 11. 1986). 357.” boundary 2 1. B. ed.

to open it up toward historical reality.” 124. institutionalized. because they have been transformed into an apolitical.”42 This critical turn in Said from 39 40 Said. “An Interview with Edward Said. According to Said. will always have to take into account the text’s and its own situatedness or worldliness and will need to reinvent and reconfigure its scope. “An Interview with Edward Said. Said says to his interviewer Te-hsing Shan. that is to say.” 132-3. Said wrote Orientalism (1978). 41 42 Said.”41 After Beginnings. and focus by paying full attention to the occurrence of cultural and social phenomena. he soon becomes discontented with theory and theoretical criticism.” in Exile. Said goes “as far as saying that it is the critic’s job to provide resistances to theory.” See Said. 87-88. although Said in Beginnings acknowledges the radical and critical spirit of structuralist. the Text. In his The World. which is a human act in history. Therefore. “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts. Said. Criticism. toward human needs and interests. premise. “I have a great impatience with the theoretical writing in the ‘80s and ‘90s. theoretical writing which has no particular object. post-structuralist. 242. compartmentalized and highly specialized study of theory as a subject in itself in the process of academic and institutional neutering.40 Said sees in this tendency towards a totalizing abstraction and generalization the danger of replacing close philological reading of heterogeneous realities in the text with a mechanical application of theories.what is given and presented there in the text but to invent new meaning in it. to point up those concrete instances drawn from everyday reality that lie outside or just beyond the interpretive area necessarily designated in advance and thereafter circumscribed by every theory. toward society. Orientalism is the first text of his entire critical corpus “that combines the political and the intellectual and scholarly. the Critic (1983). WTC. and deconstructionist theories and the innovations in literary criticism advanced by them.39 Criticism must be able to see the text not as a finished object with a fixed originary meaning but as a historical process which has material existence and consequences for the world and the meaning of which is continually redefined by the present historical conditions. 82 .

and politics. ethnic and national identities and his being-in-theworld becomes insurmountable. Said’s understanding of and reflection on his own biculturality and his sense of intellectual and moral obligation to the human rights and self-determination of the people who are threatened and oppressed by cultural extinction and dispossession are transmuted into an intellectual and critical project whose aim it is to understand and improve the conditions for intercultural relations. Orientalism is therefore an ensemble of these activities that manifest materially and ideologically in this particular perspective on the Orient. Within the cultural configuration of the West. In the introduction to Orientalism. 83 . the Oriental subject. which prompts Said to confront the question of self-definition as an Arab. an American citizen. theory and politics in isolation from each 43 See Said.literary and theoretical studies to a more political and cultural criticism is attributable to the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli war in 1967. representation. of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a factor in the life of all Orientals. 25. and an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University. The paradox of his cultural. Said mentions that there is a personal dimension to his beginning a critical examination of Orientalism: “In many ways my study of Orientalism has been an attempt to inventory the traces upon me. makes it impossible for one to think and speak about literature. O. he lives and works in a country which provides him with the most ideal and necessary kind of intellectual freedom and yet threatens his Arab identity and culture by way of its almost unconditional support for Israeli nationalism. Said identifies “Orientalism” as a predominant Western way of perceiving and representing the Orient which pervades all kinds of cultural and political activities. The episteme of Western culture. an interlocking grid of thought.” 43 The disjointed relationship between his own history as a Palestinian and the Western representation of the Orient prompts him to reflect on the relationship between representation and reality and the epistemological. historical and cultural processes through which representations of the Orient and its culture are arrived at.

. political subjugation of the Orient.other.. the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought.”46 By studying and analyzing Orientalist representations cross-nationally and cross-disciplinarily.”44 For Said. and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. genres. By demonstrating that culture. Ibid. Said challenges the institutionalized and specialized forms of theoretical criticism that compartmentalize literature into different nations. […] [A]s much as the West itself. 84 . nation. 4-5. the West and the East help to define each other: “the development and maintenance of every culture require the existence of another. different and competing alter ego. The distinction between pure and political knowledge thus appears to be ideologically motivated and serving specific political interests. imagery. Ibid. styles and fail to account for how Orientalist representations 44 45 46 Ibid. identity.”45 The interdependence of cultures forbids one to only talk about one’s own culture without acknowledging the other: “The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture.. just as the Occident itself is not just there either. made and remade by human beings rather than natural and ontologically stable. Said is demystifying all the religious and hegemonic effects of culture and imperialism that solicit unquestioned veneration towards the self and hostility towards the other. periods. It is not merely there. the notions of the Occident and Orient are historically constituted. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other. One would not go very far in advancing mutual understanding and communication by taking Orientalism as an anti-Westernist critique of the West’s cultural. 331. The existential necessity of the national will to power and identity manifest in the discriminatory and exclusive nature of culture should not supersede another more fundamental necessity of the dialectic of the self and the other. therefore. intellectual. geography. 2. Said says: “the Orient is not an inert fact of nature.

and deployment. space. The New Science. 85 . “speech stands as it were midway between mind and body. circulation. i. the signifier and the signified. 49 The realist believes that the text is a representation of the world and that an objective reality is accessible through reading the text while the structuralist holds that the so-called reality is totally constructed by the text. authorship and discipline and exerts authority over a very different range of 47 48 Ibid. subjectivity and objectivity. Both of these positions fail to account for the “worldliness” of the text. §1045. and thereby the opposition between realist and structuralist theories of literature. Orientalism also draws criticisms which accuse Said of being theoretically and methodologically inconsistent and ambivalent in this particular text.”47 Orientalism is an actual and material example of how literature is a human activity inseparable from society and politics and how literature like every other human action can have material consequences of great significance to humanity. Said goes beyond the kind of literary criticism that is parochially concerned with textual details and shows how the materiality of the text. its writing circumstance. constitutes its meaning. the text mediates between the mind (consciousness) and the world (existence). Like language.” See Vico. How then is Orientalism an example of Said’s actual practice of humanistic and secular criticism? Said sees Orientalism as a vast system of knowledge about the Orient that operates in writing separated by time.e. 49 By worlding. pushing Orientalist texts back to their historical contexts of inception. mind and body. 48 The view of language and literature as mediator allows Said to transcend the epistemological distinction between rationalism and empiricism. Vico says.in their myriad forms are interconnected by a common “style of thought. i.e. publication. There is a world inside and outside the text: the Orientalist writing reveals the way the Orientalist understands his or her world in which he or she writes and at the same time influences the world in which his or her work is read and interpreted. reproduction. Textuality cannot be analyzed and theorized without reference to historical and social experience. However.

52 53 Said. 2004). and I designed it that way: I didn’t want Foucault’s method. 54 Samir Amin quoted in George Snedeker. 3 (1993): 314-57. 80.” Southern Review 26. as I would argue later. he adopts/adapts 50 Michel Foucault’s notion of discourse as the very material consequences of a body of systematized textual knowledge. Clifford’s criticism is representative of various similar criticisms of Said’s “poststructuralist-cum-humanist” position. Michael Dutton and Peter Williams 51 criticize Said for his “failure” to align with Foucault’s antihumanist position in his belief in the “determining imprint of individual writers” 52 instead of the anonymity of literary and knowledge production which is discursively determined and produced. He says.” Said does not believe in totalizing and deterministic theory which claims to explain and assimilate everything.: University Press of America. History and Theory 19. The Politics of Critical Theory: Language/Discourse/Society (Lanham. “Translating Theories: Edward Said on Orientalism. 86 . Review of Orientalism. James Clifford identifies Said’s “self-contradictory” methodology in his use of Western tradition of literary criticism to criticize its humanistic disciplines. Said is not interested in proposing discourse as a totalizing scheme that evacuates human will or agency. As I use the dual terms adopt/adapt specifically because. he is aware of the dangers of discursive “determinism. 2 (February 1980): 204-23. no. Md. O. Imperialism and Alterity.writers. “Orientalism is theoretically inconsistent. or anybody’s method. 55 Said. to override what I was trying to put forward.”55 Said is less concerned with employing Foucault’s theory of discursive domination to make a circular argument about the ubiquity and irresistibility of power of discourse than with finding alternatives to the Orientalist mode of knowledge production based on unexamined and uncritical use and dissemination of Orientalist discourse.” 51 50 See Michael Dutton and Peter Williams.”54 Said’s critique of Orientalism is not “theoretical. 45. To put it colloquially. In Orientalism. See James Clifford. no. 23. PPC. 53 It is perhaps this “theoretical inconsistency” of Orientalism which leads Samir Amin to see Orientalism as being untheoretical: “Said has not gone far enough to the extent that he is satisfied with denouncing Eurocentric prejudice without proposing a theoretical explanation of Orientalism.

Williams is a potent source of intellectual influence to Said who states that one of the purposes of writing Orientalism is to advance “the process of what Raymond Williams has called the ‘unlearning’ of ‘the inherent dominative mode. analyzed. 48. “Places of Mind. For example. The Politics of Critical Theory.” in Edward Said: A Critical Reader. which therefore always potentially contains space for alternative acts and alternative intentions which are not yet articulated as a social institution or even power.’” Said. so that by definition it cannot exhaust all social experience. and he affirms in Orientalism Williams’s view: “however dominant a social system may be. Orientalism is not a mere extension of “Foucault’s conception of a discourse into the area of cultural constructions of the exotic.: Blackwell. Said’s counter-hegemonic and counter-discursive critical project predicates upon an untheorized notion of critical consciousness and subjectivity that is ceaselessly anti-reifying. 252. 28. criticized and resisted individually and collectively. 58 57 Snedeker. 87 .”57 His constant shift of intellectual interests and concerns testifies to this possibility of alternatives. politics and 56 Tim Brennan. 77.” 58 Since the discursive system is constructed. In the end. See Said and Williams’s discussion in Raymond Williams. O. Instead of reading solely for the discursive structure in the text. the literary critic must also identify how resistances have been and can be carried out at various levels in various interpretations. Erich Auerbach. Mass. Michael Sprinker (Cambridge. Antonio Gramsci and Raymond Williams are all important intellectual and theoretical sources of Said’s Orientalism. for Said the purpose of analyzing Orientalism “is to identify a domain for struggle and resistance. Occupied Lands: Edward Said and Philology. Social and historical process and experience must be understood and interpreted not within a rigid theoretical framework but an ever-evolving theoretical structure. maintained in actual historical circumstances by the material practice of political and imperial domination.”56 Vico. 1992). the very meaning of its domination involves a limitation or selection of the activities it covers. Said is intellectually close to Raymond Williams. Politics and Letters. ed. anti-systematizing with a keen awareness of one’s own worldly affiliation with culture.Tim Brennan observes. it can be known.

“Introduction. 1993). much less capacity for showing what the true Orient and Islam really are. O. The question of true or false. In demonstrating the notion of the “Orient” as an ideological and textual construct by Orientalist discourse which corresponds to no ontological reality. As Viswanathan observes that Orientalism “produces a whole field of study in the form of comparative religion. whether it is to rearrange human desires 59 60 61 62 Said. O. literary studies. imperialism and colonialism reflects the Orientalists’ failure to examine their own place in the world. Francis Barker et al. 88 . 180. or subjective or objective appears to be less important than the question of how representation of the Orient is made and invented.”60 Literary and cultural studies should make use of historicist philological skills in reading and interpreting literary and cultural texts in a non-nationalistic spirit and from a genuine historical perspective without hierarchizing different cultures and literatures.” in PPC. xiv-xv. Said says that he has “no interest in. (Colchester: University of Essex. eds.” The Politics of Theory.” 62 All humanistic knowledge is subjective in the sense that one can only interpret history and culture from one’s own perspective in one’s own historical circumstance. Said. Dennis Porter. The complicity between Orientalism. Said’s criticism of Orientalism also exemplifies the possibility of mining the critical resources and historicist methods of literary criticism to critique the practice of the humanistic disciplines. 15. and anthropology.institutions. “Orientalism and its Problems.”61 This stance troubles critics like Dennis Porter who fears that “Orientalism in one form or another is not only what we have but all we can ever have. No interpreter can assume the role of a passive observer outside history as if the object of observation is not changed nor brought about by that very act of observing. so that its productive value—its establishment of academic disciplines—is really an ironic outcome of negative perceptions of the nonWestern world. 331. Gauri Viswanathan. for what purposes and ends. Said’s humanism sees Orientalism as “a kind of willed human work”59 which is produced historically for specific cultural and political purposes.

and also between politics (empire) and culture (as a way of life). “The Politics of Knowledge. The politics of Orientalism is to dehistoricize the representation of the Orient in such a way that the Orient appears to be objective and ontologically stable. Said has further demonstrated the interrelatedness and interdependency between different cultures.” the subaltern. elitist. French and other European canonical literary texts. In Culture and Imperialism. but rather how a text is written and how one reads it and for what purposes that are actually important. nor would doing Third World literature make one a liberalist or pluralist. or racist. Returning to English. 385. Representation therefore should not be the privilege of the Orientalist vested with institutional authority but also that of the “Oriental. Reading English novels does not make one Eurocentricist. and the colonized.” in Exile.63 The point of doing literary criticism is to relate it to other areas and concerns. the chairman of the National Endowement for the Humanities and later Secretary of Education under the Reagan Administration. worldly and nonnationalistic work of literary criticism is responsive and counteractive to the neoconservative nationalistic efforts in defending a homogenous and triumphalist American identity through reclaiming and reviving traditional and canonical humanistic studies. Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington. Said demonstrates that it is not what and who one reads that matters. imperialist. as exhibited in the works of the Straussians like Allen Bloom. This cannot be done without some form of violence imposed on the Orient which is to be assimilated and suppressed by the larger discourse of Orientalism. or so adulterated that students graduate knowing little of their heritage … Great works. This secular. diluted. Said has 63 64 Said. without being narrowly confined by one’s own national.for domination or liberation. a course of studies in which the humanities have been siphoned off. William Bennett. The urgency of finding one’s own voice against a dominant and repressive discourse and as a form of cultural and political resistance is taken up as a major theme in Said’s Culture and Imperialism. urges the American academy to restore the cultural inheritance of traditional humanistic curriculum: “[W]hat we have on many campuses is an unclaimed legacy. important bodies of knowledge and 89 . 64 In Culture and Imperialism. institutional or academic contexts.

PPC. Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National identity (New York: Simon and Schuster. xi-xxviii. society and discourse as human activities rooted in discontinuous geography. 2004). CI. “To Reclaim a Legacy: Report on Humanities in Education. 116. See also the reactionary works towards multiculturalism. 1984). which is a sort of hands-off sort of thing.. as Said admits in the introduction to Culture and Imperialism that he did not focus on native resistance against empire and decolonization movements in Orientalism. assimilation. moral and political traditions of our [American] civilization. as we have been neglecting. 90 . 65 Said. and cultures. That’s not what I would imply.” Said.broadened the scope of his critical attention to include European literature and postcolonial literature in order to open a two-way dialogue between the West and the East and show the intertwining of their histories.” This emphasis on what one reads rather than on how one reads is unsecular and dogmatic according to Said. 16. as a humanly willed and therefore a humanly contested/contestable system of domination. culture. He is also self-critical of the flaws of O in an interview (1991): “I think one of the great flaws of O is the sense that it may have communicated that there is no alternative to that. races. then we will jeopardize everything we care for. i. occupation. Said thinks of history.65 From Orientalism to Culture and Imperialism.” Chronicle of Higher Education (November 28. differentiation of territories—goes hand-in-hand with the imperialist and orientalist discourse which is not so much a transhuman system that is beyond human control. 1987) and Samuel Huntington. The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Soul of Today’s Students (New York: Simon and Schuster. Like those geographical thinkers— such as Gramsci and Williams—before him. the ontological separation of humankind into different geographies. If we neglect. Geography—the movement. The tremendous mobility of world populations in the 19th to the 20th centuries prevails today (partly as a legacy of imperialism and the economic and socio-geography it created) and powerful methods of inquiry constitute the core of the humanities and sustain the intellectual. antihumanism and postmodernism by Allen Bloom. if we permit the fragmentation of the humanities to continue. reconfiguration. See William Bennett.e. this core and rationale of the humanities. This is in part a response to the criticism that there is a lack of alternative modes of understanding and representing other cultures and a theory of resistance in Orientalism. we do not see any overarching theoretical framework in conceptualizing the ontology of imperialism and colonialism.

very self-consciously in Culture and Imperialism.” 66 Said. novelist. the metropolitan economy are seen as dependent upon an overseas system of territorial control. gradually. Then there is the hierarchy of spaces by which the metropolitan centre and. he thus demonstrates the coextensiveness of territorial boundaries and discursive boundaries. historical. 2 (winter 2005): 401. and a sociocultural vision. 69. economic exploitation. scientific writing: “There is first the authority of the European observer—traveler.”67 According to Said. which preserves and enhances itself through the conquest of foreign land and resources. Said. Said resists the detachment of both theoretical discourse of postcolonial society and the discourse in postcolonial society from geographical realities by pushing back postcolonial culture. ethnographic.” Critical Inquiry 31. without these stability and prosperity at ‘home’ … would not be possible. The geographical consciousness of the West as the metropolitan center and the non-West as peripheral locality defines the cultural and historical consciousness that has shaped and grounded European literary. scholar. historian. has become a way of life and given rise to a culture that is enabled by and in turn supports it. 91 . ironies and contradictions within this phase of history. literary criticism has often overlooked this 66 67 Paul Bové. Said criticizes orientalism and colonialism through demonstrating how geographical governance is achieved through cultural and discursive indoctrination. abandons jargonistic and abstract language and a coherent linear narrative structure in order to describe and represent as faithfully as possible the physical and geographical actualities and discontinuities that shape our life and consciousness. CI.resists any ahistorical and ungeographical accounts or linear and progressive historical narratives that would settle the intercultural tension. “Continuing the Conversation. and that “politics has to do principally with occupying and leaving territory. after decolonization and territorial handover when postcolonial and poststructuralist theories seize the attention of the academic scene. merchant. In Orientalism. history and discourse to the material geography from which they stem. Empire.

PPC.: Princeton University Press. i. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton. without. Dipesh Chakrabarty. seen contrapuntally. literary and cultural.e.”69 For Said. That can’t be reduced to a kind of simple reconciliation. cultural. as I say.J. more than one awareness. To interpret the literary and cultural history of Western literature and culture in all its complexities of affiliation with other cultural and territorial histories. literature critically. travels and interacts with other cultures and traditions. 61. insideness and outsideness. and achieving intellectual. 2000). “the whole of secular human history. the need to reconcile them … More than one culture.’” 70 This contrapuntal reading is comparative which 68 Said uses this musical term to “mean things that can’t be reduced to homophony. and historically instead of objectifying and transfixing them as pieces of unchanging reality for purposes of strengthening national and cultural identity. and literary histories. Said’s contrapuntal reading erases the ontological and national distinction between self and other as separate histories and connects past and present. would call into question the validity of the habitual Eurocentric attitude that sees other cultural and literary histories as what Chakrabarty calls “variations on a master narrative that could be called ‘history of Europe. identities. 27. both in its negative and its positive modes. not only theory but history. 92 . Said introduces a contrapuntal or counterpoint reading68 that places the Western imperial history of domination alongside the history of resistant movements of the colonized. it allows us to look at history. Said’s critical strategy is to understand under what historical and material circumstances things have come into existence. culture. 69 70 Said. Various national. eliciting cultural veneration. power and resistance so that multiple histories.“hidden” spectacle of imperial struggle over territory that forms a constant but unacknowledged background in much of western (especially British) canonical literature from the 19th century onwards. CI. literatures can be seen as cohabitating on a larger historical field. thereby “dehierarchizing” the hierarchical thinking of culture and race. presence and absence. the polyphony of many voices playing off against each other. or moral hegemony. genealogically. cultural. 99. […] And so multiple identity.” See Said. N.

For a discussion of Gramsci’s idea of aesthetic criticism.” 71 Said’s analysis of native resistance which takes place in many different forms is focused on the emergence of a new literary phenomenon that aims to resist as well as to enter the dominant imperial discourse by “writing back” to the empire. “The Exemplary Worldliness of Antonio Gramsci’s Literary Criticism. 74 Said. Said is very 71 Aamir R. T. Mufti.”74 Such attitudes are a consequence of the native resistance and the rise of chauvinism and xenophobia. Buttigieg. is transformed in a literary movement that makes it impossible to comprehend the literary in isolation from the political and the cultural. The rewriting of Western canonical novels such as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness by Ngugi wa Thiongo in The River Between and Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North from the perspective of the colonized not only destabilizes Conrad’s Eurocentric and essentializing vision but also reveals how history. 73 Said is very critical of the total collapse of the literary into the political. can be reinterpreted and rewritten and how history is “an agonistic process still being made. Homi Bhabha and W. which is primarily political. Mitchell (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Criticism which falls prey to the danger of the “politics of blame” is “unable to distinguish between good writing and politically correct attitudes. “Global Comparativism. The native struggle and resistance.” in Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation. 2005). 1-2 (fall 1982): 21-39. when traveling across temporal and spatial boundaries. 25. 115.” 384.”72 Such a perspective displaces the notion of “History” as a master narrative that encodes a Eurocentric worldview and opens up the notion of “histories” that allow for the remaking and reinventing of the world by formerly oppressed peoples. see Joseph A.” boundary 2 11. J. HDC.according to Mufti would allow us to “come to understand that societies on either side of the imperial divide now live deeply imbricated lives that cannot be understood without reference to each other. as if a fifth-rate pamphlet and a great novel have more or less the same significance. 72 73 Said. no. rather than finished and settled once and for all. 93 . eds. “The Politics of Knowledge. Yet like Gramsci.

Conrad. clipped on September 29. Aesthetic value and pleasure should not be compromised by political and cultural considerations. “Edward Said: Controversial Literary Critic and Bold Advocate of the Palestinian Cause in America. <http://guardian. 76 As Said has shown. does not write with the same sanguine and reductive vision but a worldly pessimism and a heightened sense of self-and-national-consciousness. 94 .”77 Said discerns two ironic “visions” in Heart of Darkness—one as conventional imperialistic and the other self-consciously anti-imperialist 75 76 Said. CI. created on September 26. Said not only demonstrates how imperial ideology. for instance.uk/israel/Story1049931. fantasy. suggesting that. whatever his gifts as a writer.com. 2007.co. CI. 77 Said. the work of great writers like Conrad always resists reductive attempts to be subsumed under the rubric of politics. his political attitudes must make him despicable to any African. they always remain irreducibly art. Contrary to the assumption sometimes made about him. The positional in-betweeness of Conrad’s attitude towards the experience of empire exemplifies the modernist paradox: the extreme critical awareness of the danger of the complicity between instrumentalist thinking and imperialism does not translate into a sympathetic understanding of the victims of imperialism and “a fully realized alternative to imperialism. His novels. 25. 75 Although all great works of art are involved with politics in various ways. amongst many other modernist colonial writers. Said says. 165-6. intellectual and aesthetic amputation.critical of Chinua Achebe’s criticism of Conrad as a racist who dehumanizes the whole African population and his reduction of aesthetics to politics. In his rereading of Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness in the context of imperial conquest. 2003.00. Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. “Where African writers such as Chinua Achebe dismissed Conrad as a racist. danger saturate Conrad’s work but also identifies an aesthetic realm that remains impenetrable by politics.” in GuardianUnlimited. Said saw such reasoning as amounting to spiritual.html>. he did not consider that the hidden political agendas and attitudes of cultural supremacy that he regarded as informing the canons of western culture from Dante to Flaubert necessarily diminished their artistic integrity or cultural power. rather than “the pleasure of imperialism” as implicated in. ambition.” Malise Ruthven. communicate both the inevitability and brutality of the British colonial project.

but to “see them in their context as accurately as possible … because they are extraordinary writers and thinkers whose work has enabled other. or ironies in Said’s critical work.”79 As such. Said. 80 In Conrad’s writings. inconsistencies. One is bound to find dissonances. They express themselves tentatively in various literary and art forms and point towards an emergent structure.” For Williams. contradictions. Freud.that can only be realized in Conrad’s circular narrative forms “which draw attention to themselves as artificial constructions. Austen and others in the context of imperialism is not to blame their authors for their Eurocentrism and complicity with imperial ideology. alternative work and readings based on developments of which they could not have been aware. because it is a worldly-situated critical praxis that is responsive and sensitive to the change of historical and social circumstances rather than 78 79 80 Ibid. they are very much products of their time and thus of dominant modes of thinking that characterized their work. for example. and it is this self-critical consciousness that attracts later postcolonial writers to utilize these texts as sites for “writing back. that textual unease about colonial domination foreshadows an emerging critique and the ultimate dismantling of colonial authority. For a critical discussion of “structures of feeling. 128-135. 29. structures of feeling are emergent ideological/social forms that are yet to achieve a cohesive or definable form. and as such they cannot be “named” as a specific ideology or classconsciousness. 1977).” see Raymond Williams. 24. The same attitude should apply to our reading of Said whose writing is written at specific junctures in history for particular constituencies. Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press.”78 Said’s intention in reading these works of literature by Conrad.” One can also see in Said’s engagement with these texts something of Raymond Williams’s conception of “structures of feeling. Said’s interest in these writers rests primarily in their self-consciousness. but they also stand in a hesitant and at times uneasy relationship to these dominant modes of thinking. 95 . Kipling.

96 . Intellectuals in Power. Auerbach saw the downfall of Europe. With reference to Mimesis as “an attempt to rescue sense and meanings from the fragments of modernity with which. from his Turkish exile. otherwise that critical detachment can easily slide into political non-interference. xiii. Said’s criticism studies the ensemble of human activities and interactions of existential circumstances which make human existence and human work possible. 115-6. Political activism: The specific and local fight for universal justice The concerns of a literary critic are often thought to be different from those of a political activist. humanistic and secular criticism must also be politically committed to the quest for non-coercive human knowledge and freedom. HDC. which unlock the system of correspondences between knowledge and politics. professional and national horizons. Criticism therefore requires a critical consciousness that is pre-compartmentalized in order to be able to see what is included and excluded by one’s institutional. literature. fully exemplify his humanism.”82 81 82 Bové. Said’s criticism occupies a unique place in literary and cultural criticism because it stems from his personal experience as a Palestinian exile and “his organic relationship to an oppressed and homeless people.”81 He has relied on the critical resources and skills of literary criticism and discourse analysis to deconstruct the dogmatic and institutionalized ideas in order to advance intellectual and political freedom. and art.” Said says: “the scholar must reconstruct the history of his own time as part of a personal commitment to his field. and his experience of homelessness and dispossession in turn enables him to be wary of the damages and ravages inflicted on the colonized and marginalized by the dominant discourse of imperialism and nationalism from which he remains at critical distance.an abstract theoretical exercise whose authority rests on internal coherence and historical consistency. and Germany’s in particular. His worlding and politicization of history. but they are not in Said’s critical praxis. For Said. Said.

His oppositional criticism and his reconstruction of Palestinian history and identity function much in the same way as the postcolonial rewriting of Western novels as “the voyage into” the heart of Western consciousness. he wishes to bring the two into mutual acknowledgment of each other’s existence. 84. The gap between the language of representation and the historical experience of people in the Middle East is huge. RI. It is not Said’s purpose to glorify the Palestinian culture and people and exclude the Israel’s. the disadvantaged. the powerless.”84 Said has demonstrated that literature begins not only “in the 83 84 Snedeker. 97 . Said. which continue with and extend the arguments put forward in Orientalism from the domain of literary representation of the Orient to contemporary historical and media representations of Palestine and Islam. 41. In his fight for the national and political self-determination of the Palestinians as “the poor. However.” 83 Said’s book After the Last Sky (1986) portrays the diversity of Palestinian people and life in the form of a photographic essay to remind the Western world that they are a people with a history. The Politics of Critical Theory. Middle Eastern politics provide a counter-narrative to master narratives. Islam. the voiceless. According to Said. Said’s works on Palestine. Said continues to write about the Palestinian experience and narrate the history of dispossession and resistance without denying in Snedeker’s words “historical reality in the name of methodological rigor. the life of the Palestinians and that of Israelis have intersected in such a way that any attempt to separate them into two states on one land would not end in peace. the unrepresented. The Question of Palestine (1979) and Covering Islam (1981) are polemical and political works.For the Palestinian whose existence has been systematically encroached by the Israeli-Zionist confiscation of land and possession and whose history has been wiped out by Israeli triumphant history. because historical representation has become an existential necessity for the Palestinians deprived of political representation and self-determination.

88 87 98 . your nation designates as okay. For a detailed and critical discussion of the politics and political affiliations and appropriation of an emergent and fastdisappearing world language—I. 80.”86 Said’s moral universalism in this context is unmistakable. Everyone lives life in a given language. see Q. 93. Said.” in Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulation. 331-54. absorbed. Tong. 1999). everyone’s experiences therefore are had. linguistic and political universalism by Western scholars 88 of which he is self-consciously wary. “The Bathos of a Universalism: I. A. finds it not only difficult but almost impossible to rationalize his bilingual and bicultural identity and consciousness into a harmonious unity. “[I]f you wish to uphold basic human justice you must do so for everyone. not just selectively for the people that your side. A. 87 However. As I would discuss Said’s moral universalism in further detail in Chapters Four and Five. Lydia H. The basic split in my life was the one between Arabic. and so trying to 85 86 Said. and recalled in that language. ed. and English. While these scholars attempt to unify an array of linguistic identity into one linguistic identity. Richards’s Basic English—one of the examples of a linguistic universalism pursued by Western scholars. The search for the originary language and construction and implementation of a world language in hope to eliminate cross-cultural misunderstandings and conflicts have been historically in the West an idealistic academic and political enterprise. Said’s fight for universal justice is a situated and political resistance against universal injustices in society. his execution of such idealism is different from the kind of imperialist rationale and tactics masked by Western humanism’s self-avowed ideal of a universal humanity as manifested in the pursuit of. Richards and His Basic English. my native language. Liu (Durham and London: Duke UP. your culture. for example. Linguistic differences amongst cultures have been interpreted by Western linguists and scholars as communicative barriers of cross-cultural understandings. Said. HDC.individual particular”85 but also in the fight for universal justice. RI. a multilingual and multicultural individual living both Arabic and English as his mother tongue and native culture. Said reflects on the problem of language. “More interesting for me as author was the sense I had of trying always to translate experiences that I had not only in a remote environment but also in a different language. S. the language of my education and subsequent expression as a scholar and teacher. In the beginning of Out of Place.

Said says: “The goal of interpretation is to learn how to connect things with each other—different 90 cultures. to connect cultures by the humanistic spirit of interpretation and sympathetic understanding rather than through an enforced globalized language. xi-xii. His vision of a universalism is predicated upon a dereified perspective of reality and identity which demonstrates the dialectic of the universal general and the individual particular disconnected by the undialectical thinking of binary opposition. it is at once general and particular. “The Uses of Culture. he surrenders to the irreconcilability of his split linguistic and cultural identity. I will return to this theme of irreconcilability in the last section on Said’s aesthetic criticism of this chapter. Said.produce a narrative of one in the language of the other—to say nothing of the numerous ways in which the languages were mixed up for me and crossed over from one realm to the other—has been a complicated task. different historical periods. individual consciousness is no mere product of language. not to say the complex realities about culture and nation. One must also take account of the motive behind the will to understand different cultures.” that is. Language does shape one’s consciousness.” in End. cultural. If universalism of humanity is not grounded in a universal tongue. what is it grounded in? Said has demonstrated through his personal cultural experiences and critical practice that there are so many dissonances even in the consciousness and identity of an individual situated within a particular cultural and historical setting. To Said. different peoples. However. but what is more important to Said is the moral and intellectual dimension to that understanding. There is for sure a linguistic dimension to achieving cross-cultural understanding. Out of Place. 143. and historical. it is most morally valuable and intellectually productive for one to be generous and scrupulous enough in spirit and intellect in the process of interpretation to surrender one’s 89 90 Said. whether it is for political and cultural domination and coercion or mutual understanding and coexistence. 99 . In counteracting Huntington’s clash-of-civilizations thesis.”89 In the end of his memoir. national.

subjectivity to assume fully another not only for oneself but also the other. 216. These essays are later collected in four volumes: The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination 1969-1994 (1994). 100 . Said’s political writing on Middle Eastern politics and the relational dynamics between the Middle East and the West disperses into essays and reviews published very often bilingually in Arabic and English in periodicals and newspapers in both the Arab and Western worlds. The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After (2000). Universalism achieved through globalization requires utmost intellectual skepticism and “biculturalism” that defines Said’s intellectual vision. The unique human capacity for sympathetic interpersonal transition or even transgression from one individual experience to another is itself an exemplification of the universal human quality in transcendence of tongues and cultures. and they are written in a highly accessible non-academic language and aimed at a much more general public and wider non-Western constituency. They are Said’s commentaries on and critiques of particular historical events. political figures or organizations. 91 Partha Chatterjee.”91 It is therefore an intellectual challenge to comparative literary studies whose avowed universalism is nevertheless based upon a hierarchical system of languages and literatures. representations and narratives. and From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map: Essays (2004). which are written for a Western readership. Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process (1995).” in Edward Said: A Critical Reader. as Chatterjee says: “It is the very biculturalism of intellectuals in postcolonial countries—a necessary biculturalism which they have to work hard to acquire—which enables them to see through the sham and hypocrisy of today’s myth of global cooperation. “Their own words? An essay for Edward Said. The essayistic and journalistic form and structure exemplify local and specific intellectual and political struggle and resistance against general authoritative discourses. After The Palestinian Question and Covering Islam. and overarching institutional system and protocol. The very form of the essay as the ideal form of criticism for Said.

55. There is always the possibility to transgress.like Adorno before him and Said is itself resistant to the totalitarian view of reality. Music. Although these books exhibit an impressive intellectual breadth covering a wide range of literary figures and critical methodologies. then the accusation implicitly contains the conception of truth as something ‘ready-made. truth and power: Adorno says. 101 . It is only from the particular point of view of an exile-Palestinian that Said can produce historically particular and marginalized knowledge of Palestinian national history and politics as opposed to the representations of Palestine by Zionist and Western imperialistic writers. Adorno. the critical form par excellence […] If the essay is accused of lacking a standpoint and of tending toward relativism because it recognized no standpoint lying outside of itself. “The Essay as Form. no matter how powerful. no theoretical totalization. as Said exemplifies in The World.” New German Critique 32. can exhaust all the alternatives or practices that exist within its domain.”93 Political resistance against power should be based upon metacritical and metatheoretical reflections on the public role of the critical intellectual. the Text. (spring-summer 1984): 166. W.”92 The absence of standpoint is “a secular attitude” which according to Said “warns us to beware of transforming the complexities of a many-stranded history into one large figure. Said in his actual politically oppositional practice mainly writes about the question of Palestine and the Middle East because he himself is a Palestinian and an organic part of that dispossessed and stateless community. or of elevating particular moments or monuments into universals. Representations of the Intellectual (1994) and Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004). No social system. 93 Said. no historical vision. Said’s essays on Palestine.’ a hierarchy of concepts. and the Critic (1983). the Palestinians and the Middle East serve as historical documentation of everyday life of the Palestinians superseded and overshadowed by the “authoritative” cultural 92 Theodor. “The essay remains what it always was.

Intellectuals in Power. Aesthetic subjectivity and resistance: Said’s late style Said’s description of Beethoven’s late style composition has self-referentially foreshadowed his own late style: Beethoven’s late music “constitute[s] an event in the history of modern culture: a moment when the artist who is fully in command of his medium nevertheless abandons communication with the established social order of which he is a part and achieves a contradictory. 102 . at the precise points where their own conditions of life or work situate them.’ the ‘specific intellectuals’ arise defined by expertise in their own fields and engaged. he charts his own intellectual topography thus: “I think the periodization is that first there has been an interest in existential problems of literary production. ed. Beginnings.’”94 Said thus emphasizes a universalism of humanity not actualized through a common discourse but a common existential and intellectual responsibility and tie to one’s own cultural and historical community. emphasis added.” 95 Although Said has been interested in the category of aesthetics and as an accomplished classical pianist himself writing regular music criticism for The Nation and public lectures such as the Wellek Library Lectures.discourse and representation of the Middle East by Western mass media.” in Apocalypse Theory and the Ends of the World. Malcolm Bull (Oxford: Blackwell. Upon the request of the interviewer to periodize and categorize his intellectual career. “Adorno as Lateness Itself. like the proletariat. Said exemplifies Foucault’s idea of the “specific intellectual” as opposed to the universal intellectual in engaging local struggles: “With the passing of the universal intellectual. in local struggles against power and oppression ‘within specific sectors. Then there’s [the] theoretical period. where the whole question of project was formulated. And third. alienated relationship with it. Said. 235. there’s a political period which 94 95 Bové. ‘the rhapsodist of the eternal. 268. 1995). 96 it is not by mere coincidence that he occupies himself largely with the aesthetic in the late phase of his intellectual trajectory. 96 This series of lectures is later published as the book Music.

The aesthetic is not a place of retreat and political withdrawal for Said who never sees aesthetics as a separate social and cultural domain from politics.includes Orientalism. I would further argue that Said’s late aesthetic criticism is no less a philosophically and politically conscious and oppositional act than his political writings.”98 His final return to the realm of the aesthetic is manifestly a self-conscious act. [Said] began work on [Out of Place]. and continues for several years. through demonstrating how Said’s aesthetic writing arises from the historical conditions of the last phase of Said’s life and by showing the intellectual and political significance and implication of Said’s late style. the one I am in right now. 99 Said. In the following. Covering Islam.” 124-5.” unpaginated.”99 The aestheticization of his irrecoverable past and dwindling present as a memoir in face of a life-threatening disease and 97 98 Said and Te-hsing Shan. However. When he began to undergo chemotherapeutic treatment in March 1994. I’m writing memoirs. “In his final years. I have written a book on opera which Cambridge will publish. Plus. he took a conscious decision to withdraw from political controversy and channel his energies into music. at the age of 55. So it’s the return to the aesthetic. Ruthven. though passionately concerned with the unfolding Palestinian disaster in the wake of 9/11 and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. I am now doing more work on music. I am going back toward the aesthetic more. 103 . and I’m also writing a book on what I call the ‘late style’—that is to say. I hope to provide a more nuanced understanding of the politics of Said’s move to aesthetics and of the aesthetics of his political criticism. Out of Place. the style of artists in the final phase of their career. The Question of Palestine. 216. he realized that his life approached its last phase which admitted no possibility of return to his old life. and. In 1991. “In May 1994. Said was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). “An Interview with Edward Said. Said's health grew ever more fragile.”97 An obituary of Said says. And in the last period. “Edward Said: Controversial Literary Critic and Bold Advocate of the Palestinian Cause in America.

encroaching death signifies not an unwilling withdrawal from intellectual and political discourse but an exigency to comprehend and make sense of the incomprehensibility of the two greatest forces of human life—life and death. He says: “This record of a life and ongoing course of a disease (for which I have known from the beginning no cure exists) are one and the same, it could be said, the same but deliberately different.”100 A medical cure requires full knowledge of the disease; Said’s memoir is an existential and humanistic search for meanings of a life for which he has also known from the outset no full understanding exists. The memoir is again a self-inventory like Orientalism of the whole life of an individual not only as an Arab intellectual in America: how Said has become in history who he is. The very act of Said writing his memoir exemplifies the fundamental problematic, paradox and irreconcilability of human existence that defines the “late style” of Beethoven, Adorno, Said and many others: how can one bridge the distance between one’s past and one’s present, writing and historicizing as narrator and living as character, thinking as outsider and being thought as an insider, controlling as a master and being controlled as a slave, and ultimately speaking truth to power and being constituted by power? And what is the nature of that distance— temporal, geographical, cultural, ideological, imperial, metaphorical, formal, or fictional? Although Said in the preface to his memoir has stated that the purpose of his memoir is to answer “the need to bridge the sheer distance in time and place between [his] life today and [his] life then,”101 his final words communicate a sense of disillusionment with and emancipation from that idea of a distance and the need to bridge the past and the present to form a synthesis in the Hegelian sense:
I occasionally experience myself as a cluster of flowing currents. I prefer this to the idea of a solid self, the identity to which so many attach so much significance. These currents, like the themes of one’s life, flow along during the waking hours, and at their best, they require no reconciling, no harmonizing. They are ‘off’ and may be out of place, but at least they are always in motion, in time, in place, in the form of all kinds of strange combinations moving about,
100 101

Ibid. Ibid., xii.


not necessarily forward, sometimes against each other, contrapuntally yet without one central theme. A form of freedom, I’d like to think, even if I am far from being totally convinced that it is. That skepticism too is one of the themes I particularly want to hold on to. With so many dissonances in my life I have 102 learned actually to prefer being not quite right and out of place.

The late-style writing of his memoir is concomitantly a return to the aesthetic and the subjective. Circumventing his long-term academic and critical concerns for the politics of history-writing, and the ontological and epistemological question of subjectivity in the memoir, Said delivers, as Paul Bové observes, “as he always does in his later writings, a very strong authorial voice that clearly incarnates qualities of mind and humanity that stand as an example of how interesting, how profound, how generous, and how lovingly contentious a fully human being can be.” 103 Said takes full authorial responsibility for his subjective perspective and memories in his memoir: “Much as I have no wish to hurt anyone’s feelings my first obligation has not been to be nice but to be true to my perhaps peculiar memories, experiences, and feelings. I, and only I, am responsible for what I recall and see, not individuals in the past who could not have known what effect they might have on me.”104 “[T]o write, to be, an alternative through exile and subjectivity, albeit exile and subjectivity addressed to philosophical issues.” 105 In this memoir Said is highly self-conscious of the subject “I.” Such selfconsciousness is not ordinary but unprecedented; the excruciating illness and impending mortality caused in Said an acute and painful awareness of the present with the self as his sole concern. This is why lateness “is being at the end, fully conscious, full of memory, and also very (even preternaturally) aware of the present. Adorno, like Beethoven, becomes therefore a figure of lateness itself, an untimely, scandalous, even catastrophic commentator on the

102 103 104 105

Ibid., 295; emphasis added. Paul Bové, “Continuing the Conversation,” 405; emphasis added. Said, Out of Place, xii-xiii.

Said, “Timeliness and Lateness,” in Late Style, 15. This is a revised version of the previously published essay “Adorno as Lateness Itself.”


present.”106 Without the feeling of being an agent, one’s self disintegrates, and it can no longer hold itself together. But the feeling of physical pain and degeneration ironically makes one more aware of one’s self. This is the pain I am feeling; it is me who feels the pain so debilitating. Rousseau says, “I feel, therefore I am”—the capacity of feeling pain, be it physical or psychological, also seems to form the basis of subjectivity in addition to the existential need to be an agent. The corporeality rather than intellectuality of being supports and welcomes the idea of the human subject and also determines one’s selfconsciousness. Both lateness and exile pertain to the disjunction and discontinuity of the “organic” continuity between the past and the present in both temporal and geographical senses. From the abyss between the past and the present—the suspension of time—originates the subjective-aesthetic experience and expression which resists rationalizing, theorizing and historicizing. The irreconcilable gap between old work and late-style work thus permits no secular and genealogical criticism. Said rhetorically questions: “But what of artistic lateness not as harmony and resolution but as intransigence, difficulty, and unresolved contradiction?”107 And on Adorno’s resort to the aesthetic, he says, “Fixated on the new music’s absolute rejection of the commercial sphere, Adorno’s words cut out the social ground from underneath art. For in fighting ornament, illusion, reconciliation, communication, humanism and success, art becomes untenable.” 108 Said’s late style itself exemplifies every aspect of lateness: radical anachronism, anomaly, discontinuity, unpredictability, irreconcilability, contradiction, nondefinition and resistance. The reference to such notions as “preternaturalness,” “unearthly serenity,” “the uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor” in his elaboration of late style and the aesthetic109

106 107 108 109

Ibid., 14. Said, “Timeliness and Lateness,” 7. Said, “Adorno as Lateness Itself,” 276; emphasis added.

“Preternaturalness” is a paraphrase of the word “preternaturally” which appears in “Timeliness and Lateness,” 14; “unearthly serenity” is mentioned in the book cover of


seems to contradict his secular criticism, which circumscribes itself within the domain of the genealogically traceable and epistemically accessible and outside the domain of the supernatural and unworldly. Although these notions have religious connotations, Said’s allusion to these words should not contradict his secular criticism for he uses them to convey a quality of anachronism and untimeliness rather than a sense of supernaturalness. “Late style is in, but oddly apart from the present.”110 This profound statement on aesthetic late style and the temporal dimension of humanity alone strikes one as a powerful revelation on the many paradoxes and contradictions inherent in human existence in all its aspects. Struggling with the transience and finitude of life and existence, late-style work by the artists is beyond time and theory simply because these artists realize that above what they love and strive for, namely art and power, there is still something of a higher order— eternity. Certainly, we are inside power and history, but power, culture and history are in turn inside the framework of time. “Death has not required us to keep a day free.”111 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”112 The indifference of time and death to all of us all has always been the most detrimental blow to our subjectivities. That sense of meaninglessness and powerlessness is lucidly captured in “Ecclesiastes,” the only book in the Holy Bible in which man, the “I,” speaks about the understanding of and frustration with life from his point of view. The binary distinction between birth and death, good and evil, intelligence and stupidity, wisdom and ignorance, labor and rest, love and hatred, happiness and grief with a valorization of the former at the expense of the latter eventually negate each other and amount to nothing and meaninglessness because all these differences are subsumed and unregistered by the greatest distinction of all: Life and Death. There is “a time
Late Style; and Said refers to art as “the uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor” in Said, HDC, 63.
110 111 112

Said, “Timeliness and Lateness,” 24; emphasis original. Samuel Beckett, Proust (London: Calder, 1965), 17; emphasis added.

Quoted from the book of “Matthew 6:27” in Holy Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001); emphasis added.


finite. the self’s unmaking is another affair. Life itself is meaningless. It is the impending and indifferent death which prompts Said to inventory his past and reflect upon his life in his memoir. Said. being ephemeral.for everything. “Introduction.” 115 Timothy Brennan also rightly observes: “In fact. in addition. thereby to resist the indifference and meaninglessness of death. value and purpose of life. historical. By the effort of man alone.” Late Style. lateness includes the idea that one cannot really go beyond lateness at all. and lateness has its playful as well as its tragic aspects. to people there are not many tomorrows to be had. imposing value judgment upon everything in life.” Late Style. Wood.” Michael Wood states: “This is precisely what keeps us in time even when we seem to be out of time. lateness is the idea of surviving beyond what is acceptable and normal. The inevitability of lateness testifies to the inevitable desire for eternity. Said says. 114 115 108 .”113 In both the Taoist and Nietzschean senses.”114 In commenting on Said’s interpretation of Adorno’s view of “lateness. but man. Late Style.” but everything faces the same ending. turns out to be no god elevated from the repetitiveness and physical and biological necessities of life and death. either by creating a disruption or straining the existing tension between the past and the present. xiv. The only way to achieve this is to suspend time itself. emphasis original. life cannot be made meaningful. Caught in the ever-disappearing present. and late style comes close to that. “Introduction. xvii. Time is indifferent to the binary distinctions from which men derive meaning. “For Adorno. artists have to transgress and contradict their subjectivities in the past and present in hope to project a late/different subjectivity beyond the present onto the distant future. they have to create tomorrow: “Explorations of the making of the self can go until the very end. 13. throughout [his] career [Said] embodied this very dilemma: Is it possible to be 113 Michael Wood. fetishism of the self is the finitude of art. Man wants to be god bestowing meanings. vulnerable.

How subjectivity can be out of time and find the aesthetic. The history of human thought. is a history of self-knowing or self-critiquing activity which. Under self-examination. culture and history. We can never know the ultimate self/subjectivity since once thinking is being thought. 2005). subjectivity itself extends beyond the present towards the future. “Resolution. be it Marxist or historicist-humanist. turns subjective thinking into objective thought. knowledge. 49. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. inaccessible. through knowing how the bourgeois subject or man is formed under various economic. culture and history. J. We are both finite and infinite: finite because our thoughts are historically and politically conditioned. ad infinitum. to understand it further requires a higher order of subjective thinking. eds.” Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation. and political conditions. it turns its observed subjective activity into something that is its opposite—objective activity. the intellectual enquiry into the question of how one can be simultaneously inside and outside time would illuminate the same dilemma pertaining to the domain of power. rule and theory. it becomes mere thought.inside and outside at the same time?” 116 Since time encompasses and transcends power. and infinite because our thinking can ever reflect upon its own thinking and therefore turn thinking into an object of thinking. socio-historical. as Adorno says: “if the object 116 Timothy Brennan. When self-reflective thinking examines itself. The ever-expanding objective account of how our thinking is historically and discursively determined thought testifies to the very existence of subjectivity or subjective thinking since the existence of objectivity is predicated upon subjectivity. 109 . culture and history as time encompasses all these categories like power and history. as its best channel of expression are difficult questions. subjectivity therefore remains paradoxically elusive. It is perhaps because of the “pressure” of time due to his impending death that Said had lately preferred the “theory” of time (timeliness and untimeliness of late style) to his earlier predilection for theory of power. T. and resistant to total understanding. especially music. But by virtue of the adaptive and developmental capacity of critical thinking. Homi Bhabha and W.

one may argue that the answer to the question of whether the political encompasses the aesthetic or vice versa seems to rest on the ground of preference rather than epistemic evidence. Adorno. History and Class Consciousness. as Akeel Bilgrami says: what matters to Said is the “truly unique human capacity. and therefore.: Continuum.” 119 “[S]elfknowledge as constituted by self-criticism” is nevertheless an objectification of and produced by the thinking self. The antagonistic relationship amongst the aesthetic and political is a result of their battle for domination and control. the capacity to be self-critical. theory and definition remain as “the objective forms that shape the life of man” to be overthrown unceasingly by self-critical thinking.”120 Because of this subjective capacity to be self-critical.” in Exile. while 117 Theodor W.”117 Seen in this light.lacked the moment of subjectivity. Said. subjectivity is not an undesirable addition to the objective qualities of reality. knowledge. Andrew Arato & Eike Gebhardt (N. The quest for knowledge objectifies and alienates the world and humanity. 497.’” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. will transform into a temporal distance between the past and the present and also a formal one between the aesthetic and the political. 186.” in HDC. best eliminated if we want reliable knowledge. eds. The fact that this perspective may be (and usually is) collective makes it no less ‘subjective. however definitive their performances may be. emphasis original. “Subject and Object. which is intellectual at first. like pianists. 509. neither pianist nor essayist can offer final readings. “Foreword. 110 . “Remembrances of Things Played: Presence and Memory in the Pianist’s Art. A work of art as the emanation of thinking cannot be fully understood by definitive interpretation or reading: “essayists. Above all. xi. 118 Infinite thinking produces infinite interpretation while interpretation or criticism can never exhaust thinking as it is infinite and indefinite.Y. concern themselves with givens: those works of art always worth another critical and reflective reading. 229. the elimination of subjectivity in favor of objectivity does not necessitate reliable knowledge: “An epistemological category.” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. human beings can establish a critical distance with themselves. 118 119 Georg Lukács. 120 Akeel Bilgrami. its own objectivity would become nonsensical. 1987). There can be no knowledge without a perspective from which it is gained. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt in the reader also mention that according to Adorno. This distance.

and therefore represents the metaphysical of everything physical in the world. 1956). The Will to Power. schema and paradigms onto the world makes the world finite and exhaustible by categories of knowledge. trans. Nietzsche quotes Schopenhauer’s argument for music as the immediate embodiment of subjectivity: “music is distinguished from all the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy of the phenomenon [since it is pure form without content]. 1967). words dilute and brutalize. by the former he meant a scientific theory whose very objectivity symbolized its own reification. 123 Schopenhauer in The World as Will and Idea. trans. 327. 122 Friedrich Nietzsche. The Birth of Tragedy.” 121 “Words” in this context refer to the categorization. Francis Golffing (New York: Anchor Books. words make the uncommon common. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books. Only the Aesthetic rendered 121 Friedrich Nietzsche. words depersonalize. The imposition of signs.”123 Said also adds a valuable piece of observation to his discussion of Lukács’s formulation of class consciousness: “we should note that several years before History and Class Consciousness Lukács had argued that only in the realm of the aesthetic could the limitations of pure theory and of pure ethics be overcome. I quoted by Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy. the adequate objectivity of the will. This is why Said in following Adorno aligns with Nietzsche and Georg Lukács in advocating a return to the aesthetic from the scientific and theoretical. J. 99. more accurately. 96. or.”122 for art comes as a remedy when science reaches and becomes aware of its limits.the quest for art subjectivizes and personalizes. reification and subsequently limitation of the world. systematization. by a latter a Kantian subjectivity out of touch with everything except its own selfhood. and the thing-in-itself of every phenomenon. 111 . but is the direct copy of the will itself. its thralldom to objects. Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy (1872) has criticized the limits and epistemic presuppositions of science and argued for “man’s tragic dependency on art. as Nietzsche says: “[c]ompared with music all communication by words is shameless. data. Walter Kaufmann and R.

refuses to bear the ideological message that it is intended to convey. Late Style. between the aesthetic and the political is consciously created and sustained by the subjective consciousness. Hence.”128 Said emphasizes on the paradoxical relationship between art and politics rather than their connections and differences. by its very existence. coming after it.the meaning of experience as lived experience—der Sinn des Erlebnisses—in an autonomous form: subject and object are thereby made one. 63. Late style not only expresses Said’s view on aesthetics but also power and politics.”125 Critical consciousness in the form of art born out of culture. 233. Said therefore agrees with Adorno that “there is a fundamental irreconcilability between the aesthetic and the nonaesthetic that we must sustain as a necessary condition of our work as humanists. For Said. protagonistic and antagonistic. history and power nevertheless has the freedom to choose between being inside and outside.” unpaginated. Said. art paradoxically derives. HDC.”124 “Lateness … is a kind of self-imposed exile from what is generally acceptable. While Said speaks vehemently about “speaking truth to power” and resistance against power. spatial. the fact that art is political does not mean that it is reducible to politics but resistant to politics. WTC. the uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor. Ruthven. In fact. according to Said. temporal.”126 The unbridgeable distance.” 127 Ruthven also observes: “In a brilliant essay on Die Meistersinger that grapples with Wagner’s anti-semitism. 112 . 16. Art is not simply there: it exists intensely in a state of unreconciled opposition to the depredations [and reification] of daily life.” Said approves Pierre Boulez’s aesthetic view on Wagner’s music: “Wagner’s music. the very nature of the aesthetics is antagonistic to the political from which. at home and in exile. Ibid. “Edward Said: Controversial Literary Critic and Bold Advocate of the Palestinian Cause in America. he also takes a 124 125 126 127 128 Said. Said. be it formal. emphasis added. “however. and surviving beyond it. and in time or out of time.

To establish a distance and relationship requires two or more points. But to develop from that critical beginning. 1997). institution. resistance. subjectivities which correspond to and react towards each other. metaphorical. ed. it differs from the mutually exclusive relation between truth and falsehood. Foucault says. imperial. and formal. geographical. “Sex. Resistance and power are an action-andreaction pair in the language of physical mechanics. 113 . The answer to the question of the nature of that distance that Said always refers to is relational or dialectical which encompasses different modalities. we are constituted by power relations. 130 Said. and the Politics of Identity. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press. It is neither possible nor necessary for human beings to live in a political and historical vacuum in which there is no power. his critical practice and late style begin to make sense.forgiving and sympathetic view of power as his intellectual predilection for exile demonstrates that power is productive and enabling. 168. positions. HDC. For a humanist’s situatedness in the humanistic discipline and discourse would only provide a reference point from which the humanist begins and engages with his or her critical inquiry.” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. Resistance really always relies upon the situation against which it struggles. Power can only be exerted upon freedom while freedom can only be experienced through and in power. Said. The antithetical relationship between resistance and power does not negate the fact that power and resistance necessitate each other in actual existence. cultural. it exists only in the form of resistance which exists only because there is power. namely temporal. the humanist requires another point of 129 Michel Foucault. in the form of the aesthetic or the political. therefore. and between right and wrong. All the apparently contradictory statements Said makes about himself. exists only in a relation to power. 77. ideological. “resistance is a part of this strategic relationship of which power consists. The fact is intellectual freedom does not come after nor prior to resistance against power.”129 Therefore. coercion. Power. prefers to be a “non-humanist humanist”130 rather than a humanist without internal self-contradiction.

the politics of aesthetics and the aesthetics of politics. the non-subjectivity of subjectivity and the subjectivity of non-subjectivity. discursive.”132 As Gauri Viswanathan says. The musical motif “counterpoint” concisely exemplifies Said’s critical position. The entire corpus of Said’s critical work can be viewed as a life-long symphony in which multiple selves. 414. art and criticism for Said are an “interplay between the new and the customary without which (ex nihilo nihil fit) a beginning cannot really take place”:131 “Historically you cannot find an instance of great art in the Western tradition which hasn’t been involved in politics. Said 131 132 Said. His powerful oppositional criticism is enabled by his exile. and institutional formation. freedom and resistance. Literature. This is why Said says that the human mind is so indefinite and subjectivity always irreducible to transhuman cultural. With greater power comes greater resistance: exile produced by power becomes paradoxically the state of maximum self-consciousness. PPC. Paradoxes are parallel to each other as are parallels paradoxical. all happening in the intellectual dialectic of past and present. 114 . the beginning of ending and the ending of beginning. “Far from rejecting these works as despicable products of modern Orientalism. Said. We cannot speak of nonhumanism or antihumanism without being situated in the context of humanism. the same applies to the nonhumanism of Said’s humanism and humanism of his nonhumanism.self-situating which is critical of and antagonistic towards that beginning point of reference. xvii. Each dialectical crossover between two coordinates will generate exponentially new points which will in turn engage in criss-crossing power relations with all coordinates coexisting together from beginning till end. the morality of Nietzsche’s immorality and immorality of his morality. Said was first an exile by force and latter an exile by will. There is the resistance of power and the power of resistance. B. histories. and the historicality of geographical consciousness and the geographicality of historical consciousness. cultures and theories understand and interact with each other.

Said employs literary techniques and forms to resist against the disintegrating and alienating cultural forces which prevent him from understanding and inventorying himself throughout his life or similarly. systematic and overarching mainstream historical narratives of Palestine and Palestinians in the West. I would contend that both Said’s memoir and episodic essays on Palestine are a form of resistance which is historically specific and politically oppositional. Said addresses solely himself. In the case of memoir. what is the politics behind Said’s conception of intellectual resistance within the aesthetic and musical? And why did he remain at a critical distance from Foucault although they both believe that resistance is only possible through changing power relations? The very aesthetic form of his resistance would exemplify the dialectical connection between the aesthetic and the political without actually arguing in the abstract how the two domains are radically related. the asymmetrical power relation between these domains can always be reversed. literary and formal nonsubmission and 133 134 Viswanathan. certain subjectively chosen formal elements refuse to be interpreted within one set of critical paradigms and parameters. What is interesting and significant here is the formal difference between Said’s autobiographical treatment of himself as history and his historical and political essays on the history of Palestinians. Said suggests that various domains are connected and their hidden relations have to be revealed. With his subjectivity threatened by the indiscriminate totalitarian system of death.” in PPC. 115 . xvi. 134 For it is perhaps his very own selfhood being oppressed. Aesthetics is not to be subsumed interpretively within the theoretical and critical discourse of power. in the case of the history of Palestine and Palestinians. The memoir is yet a unity and a formal and literary synthesis of Said’s history. “Introduction.”133 In the end. The past and the present coexist contrapuntally with each other without being reduced to each other. The memoir is a dialectic of the part and the whole. he writes episodically and fragmentarily against the unified. precisely because they are different and not reducible to each other. The memoir thus provides an aesthetic. Said’s memoir is made up of eleven essays not chronologically ordered which demonstrates his geographical consciousness rather historical consciousness. however. The aesthetic in this way can resist the political.is clearly fascinated by them. and he resorts to the formal integrity of the memoir for rescuing his fragmented subjectivity. and he believes their aesthetic value is not compromised but rather defined by the political interests that determine their writing in the first place. rather than the Palestinian or the Orient. the private and particular.

resistance to the weight of silence and absence. like the late music of Beethoven exiled from the materiality of the audial and musical. 116 .

209. ed. 247. Said criticizes Foucault and his followers for turning theory that could be potentially insurrectionary into a self-enclosed discourse that is not readily penetrable by the open scrutiny of the critical consciousness. M. A. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Fons Elders (London: Souvenir Press. Sheridan Smith (New York: Pantheon Books.” in WTC.CHAPTER FOUR The Resistance of Politics and the Politics of Resistance: Said as a Public Intellectual “[W]hat is critical consciousness at bottom if not an unstoppable predilection for alternatives?” —Edward Said1 “[T]o speak is to do something—something other than to express what one thinks. “Traveling Theory. His specific criticism of Foucault embodies his more general criticism of the substitution of genuine critical and intellectual reception and reflection by theoretical and methodological paradigms and protocols in critical and theoretical practice. 1972). after making a critical distinction between theory and the critical consciousness. Michel Foucault.” —Michel Foucault2 (I) Foucault and Said: The intellectual debate over the intellectual In his essay “Traveling Theory” (1983). Said refers directly to the intellectual exchange between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault that transpired on Dutch television in 1971. trans. 117 . 1974). 3 The exchange is collected in Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind. 3 The telling contrast between 1 2 Said. to translate what one knows.

As Harold Weiss observes with reference to Paul Bové. “Intellectuals at War: Foucault and the analytic of power. 2000). 118 . 233-4. See Bové’s In the Wake of Theory. it is impossible to attack humanism and the privileged subject without at the same time “repeating the privilege of the intellectual subject. It should be noted at the outset that the difference between them is not simply that Said is defending a humanistic position in alliance with Chomsky’s liberal humanism while Foucault is antihumanistic as he denies the existence of human subjectivity and dismisses the prophesying role of the intellectual as being anti-democratic and perpetuating the authoritative structure of humanism against which the oppositional intellectual rebels.” Edward Said and the Religious Effect of Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press. the intellectual genealogy of Bové’s later works shows that he is still a strong defender of Said’s humanism. 4 Paul Bové. Hart. 5 See William D.4 William Hart on the contrary criticizes Bové’s Foucauldian antihumanistic misinterpretation of Nietzsche’s humanism and sees Foucault and Bové as less politically progressive intellectuals than Chomsky and Said. There is no clear-cut distinction between humanism and antihumanism. Paul Bové later in his Intellectuals in Power: A Genealogy of Critical Humanism (1986) is critical of Said for overlooking the fact that intellectuals cannot be outside the regime of truth and for investing too much significance in the figure of the intellectual and thus thereby reproducing and preserving the authoritative structure of the humanistic tradition himself. “The Responsibility of the Secular Critic. Said takes a position to affirm Chomsky as a politically engaged and responsible intellectual and criticizes Foucault’s position as politically ineffective and intellectually passive.5 The battle between Saidian humanism and Foucauldian antihumanism can go on and on but the implications behind the multifold arguments and theoretical justifications generated in this debate go beyond the simple opposition between the two camps.” in Intellectuals in Power.Chomsky’s liberal humanist position and Foucault’s radical and skeptical stance on humanism and humanistic values on topics such as human nature and the role and responsibility of the intellectual makes this debate become something of enduring interest to academics and critics. Nevertheless.

this debate on intellectual responsibility and agency may be resolved not by taking sides with Chomsky-Said humanism or Foucault-Bové “antihumanism” or by defending either of them. c1992).since even genealogy itself gains its ‘authority’ from the very humanism and asceticism it attacks. can be enlarged. discursively. Said and Frank Lentricchia (New York: P.”6 After all.”7 In the following.” 88. 119 . Lang. they both participate in the human desire. particularly their views on the relation between power and knowledge or truth and the social responsibility of the intellectual. capital and institutions. if possible. “The Genealogy of Justice and the Justice of Genealogy. on some firm 6 7 Harold Weiss. Chomsky and Said converge on the view that the intellectual should provide resistance and opposition to oppression. that is to create … a humanistic social theory that is based. it is also impossible to talk about intellectual and political resistance to oppressive power structures without rescuing the intellectual’s subjectivity from the theory of subjectivity that merely considers how the subject is constituted within the systems of discourse. I will demonstrate that the difference between Said’s and Foucault’s understanding of the power/knowledge complex is not an intellectual or epistemic but rather a historical and political one. Foucault. Through this comparative analysis. I will examine the philosophical and political orientations of Said’s and Foucault’s intellectual projects. Situational Tensions of Critic-Intellectuals: Thinking through Literary Politics with Edward W. political and intellectual. quest and struggle for freedom and they are both profoundly concerned with the political and moral questions of what a free human being is and how human freedom. and institutionally constituted. Ben Xu. but by grounding intellectual and political resistance to power and domination in a theory of the subject that demonstrates that “subjects are both constituted and constitutive. Chomsky claims that the intellectual’s job is to “try to create the vision of a future just society. 52. Therefore. Although Chomsky strongly believes in a universal human nature while Foucault sees that the human subject is historically. However.

on the occasion when Stein wished to visit her childhood home in Oakland.” therefore. Gertrude Stein. California. 1974). Stein expresses the historical transitoriness and temporal hiatus of everything material. Foucault’s theoretical position is more complicated than an antihumanist one. Therefore. she found out that the house was not there anymore. truth. 172. it is not a matter of whether something is there because nothing is simply there: “there is no there there. Nevertheless.and humane concept of the human essence or human nature. there is no mere existence nor essence. In the secular world.”8 Foucault views this quest for better human nature and postulation of a better society as too utopian and idealistic because it is precisely this assertion of reason. Upon arrival. “there” is there in space but it is no longer “there” in time.” in Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind. Everybody’s Autobiography (London: Virago. and politics. every essence/existence is firmly situated and thoroughly enmeshed in the worldly network of institutions. 1985). freedom and subjectivity. ed. there is no truth. He is not simply asserting that because power is everywhere. It is impossible for criticism of humanism to circumvent the discourse of humanism and disavow humanistic ideals not only because criticism of humanism also valorizes the humanistic pursuit of subjectivity. power. but also 8 Noam Chomsky. Fons Elders (London: Souvenir Press. “There is no there there” appears in Gertrude Stein's book Everybody's Autobiography. Chomsky’s and Foucault’s different epistemic positions imply also their diverse political and strategic stances as political conditions and intentions are implicated in their understanding of human nature.”9 Foucault is a theorist of the subject who concerns the history of how human beings are made subjects. the “antihumanist” belief in the constituted human nature and the “humanist” belief in the constitutive nature of the subject alike demonstrate that the desire and search for freedom and subjectivity is as real and inevitable as the socio-historical forces which “make” them and is also the motif and motivation behind cultural and political processes and movements. However. intellectual and metaphysical between past and present. and justice as the ideals and telos of intellectual pursuit rather than as functions of the power/knowledge complex that is the problem. “Human Nature: Justice versus Power. The movement of time changes the intellectual and geographical landscape of the “there. 9 120 .

as Said does. Despite the disagreement between humanism and antihumanism. The raison d’être of criticism itself within the structure of human science is the belief that things should be and could be different from what is dictated by the status quo. I would look at Foucault’s relation to humanism in hope to gain a better understanding of Foucault’s theory of the human subject. they must share some common moral values in order to allow any argument and debate to take place. based on what grounds of value judgment and evaluation does Bové take Foucault’s less direct and perhaps less paradoxical derivation of the subjective and authorial intellectual for legitimation and authority as something “positive”? In this chapter. 35-6. Intellectuals in Power.10 However. the antihumanist critique of humanism as an ideology and discourse cannot exempt itself from also being an equally ideologically charged discourse. he cannot escape the inevitability of self-referentiality and self-valorization. Bové prefers Foucault to Nietzsche and Said because Foucault does not replicate as much of the authoritative structure of humanism: Foucault does not adopt Nietzsche’s conception of the “heroic” intellectual or ground intellectual and critical practice in the critical consciousness in an attempt to legitimate critical practice. Antihumanism like humanism views subjectivity and the desire for a free human being as an existential necessity and inevitability. 121 .because such criticism derives its authority and raison d’être from the discourse of humanism. and ultimately to ground intellectual and political resistance and opposition against power in an understanding of the human being that makes resistance possible. instead of evaluating and interpreting Foucault in light of Said’s critique of him or Bové’s defense of him. Even the genealogy of good and evil cannot escape applying such moral judgment and evaluation upon itself: the “moral” of its intention and motivation. similarly. Even though Foucault tries hard not to repeat the authorial authority by avoiding attributing representative and prophetic prerogative to the intellectual. If there is a law or force determining the conduct and action of human beings in the way the movement of physical 10 Paul Bové.

All the discourses on power and freedom make sense only because they are understood in human terms. Power is relationships of power because power entails acting. 12. “[I]f there are relations of power throughout every social field it is because there is freedom everywhere. They exist only in human relations and interpretations. even if. Foucault’s understanding of the human subject is not a simplistic one and not even absolutely an antihumanistic one.”11 says Foucault. Contrary to the common view of Foucault as an antihumanist in denial of human subjectivity and freedom.” in The Final Foucault. 122 . It is an existential necessity for humans to understand and see themselves as subjects rather than objects. and subjectivity in order not to misread Foucault and tease out the possibilities and ways of intellectual and political resistance in Foucault’s theoretical work. with or without a capital letter. Power exists only when it is put into action. individual and intellectual freedom. of course. According to Foucault. “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom: an interview with Michel Foucault on January 20. 12 Foucault says. which is assumed to exist universally in a concentrated or diffused form. Foucault is one of them. criticism of that human conduct and action debunks and delegitimizes itself as well as reducing itself to mere observation. and self-criticism. Freedom is what defines human beings and differentiates them from other things in the world.” See Foucault. power and freedom do not have independent existence12 and therefore should not be reified. 1984. choose and act alternatively. self-inventory. as the source of their own action. “something called Power.bodies on the earth is conditioned by gravitational force. The most severe critics of the humanist subject are very often motivated by the strongest desire for human subjectivity. does not exist. Humanistic and moral criticism is predicated upon the fact that human beings have the freedom to think.” Critical Inquiry 8 (summer 1982): 788. deliberate. and acting in turn 11 Michel Foucault. We must critically reevaluate the culturally and historically conditioned assumptions concerning the relationship amongst power. it is integrated into a disparate field of possibilities brought to bear upon permanent structures. Foucault’s theory or genealogy of the modern subject does not deny the existence of free and critical consciousness that can perform self-reflection. “The Subject and Power.

14 The indelible presence of power concomitantly validates the existence of the subject because even one’s subjectivity requires the freedom of will and deliberation of another subject. There is no power relation between a subject and object because it is not a reversible relation. A relation of power is a relation of power because it is reversible. in torture there is only a relation between a subject and an object (I-It relation) rather the power relation between two subjects (I-Thou relation). 123 . cannot be synthesized and reduced.”13 According to Foucault. We cannot imagine a human world without power just as we cannot imagine a 13 14 Ibid. There can be no subject without power and freedom. In this case. and only insofar as they are free.involves acting upon or to someone or something. however asymmetrical their power relation is. therefore. in the Hegelian sense. anything that does not possess freedom is just a thing. the feeling of power is radically suppressed or even annihilated because one’s significance. “Power is exercised only over free subjects. Only within the relationships of power amongst subjects do we become what we are and understand our own self and others. No one is absolutely free or unfree. Power is absent in torture because there is no power relation in this situation. 1985). the only situation in which there is no power is torture because it is not a relation of power in which both the subjects are free. superior position requires the acknowledgment of the other with a will that is free to the extent that such acknowledgment is the outcome of conscious deliberation and comprehension rather than an enforced conformism and choiceless or unconscious servitude. not a human being.. The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford University Press. For more details on the philosophy of pain and torture. and therefore it is not a relation. The absence of power in torture underlines another important aspect of power which is the fact that it is the feeling of power rather than power per se that matters. to a single subjectivity (the master self) since the master’s experience of power is dependent upon the reaction and resistance of the slave. an object. Freedom is what makes the exercise of power possible. 790. Even the relation between master and slave. see Elaine Scarry.

“he valorizes the free circulation of power relations. The more open the game. 79. 124 . we can no longer see power as something that garners absolute control and domination over everything and therefore allows no possibility for freedom and social change. Power and freedom necessitate each other in relationships of power.” 93. while he castigates their coagulation. Foucault is concerned with the issue “of the individual both objectified and utilized (constituted) by discursive and institutional power-structures.. Foucault is antagonistic towards the objectification of power as simply a system of domination: as Weiss argues. When power is understood as relations of power in which there is reversibility of power and resistance. “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom. Foucault’s position is paradoxical: “The basic problem for Foucault is to reconcile his notion of subjectivity or individuality as constituted by power (as the condition of possibility of …). If humanism tends to reify the human subject.”15 In Chapter Two.”16 The fluidity and mobility of power relations are the key criteria for the reversal of strategic relations of people which are rigidified and stabilized through institutionalization. according to Weiss. reversible. with the notion of an individual opposing power (as oppression).” 20. unstable. 15 16 17 Foucault. “The Genealogy of Justice and the Justice of Genealogy. Therefore.”17 However. as Foucault says: “the more that people are free in respect to each other. keeping them fluid. Ibid. structure and system. the more attractive and fascinating it is [because there is a greater sense of power]. how we can be in and of power. antihumanism hypostatizes power. all the while accompanied by a normative call to struggle against those forms. Weiss. Foucault’s discussion of the microphysics of power is not antihumanistic because he discusses power and freedom in terms of relations of power which are understood in human terms.human world without freedom. I describe poststructuralism as antihumanistic because it is prone to explaining the historical formations of the secular world such as institutions in transhuman or nonhuman terms. the greater the temptation on both sides to determine the conduct of others.

specifically with regard to Orientalism as a discourse of power. “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom.” 18.” power relations are seen as something bad in themselves and as entrapments from which one must escape. where things could be reversed. Said holds the same view on power as Foucault does. there is necessarily the possibility of resistance. passion. 78. of ruse. power relations are the only medium through which one can resist power and reverse the power relations: “We are always in this kind of situation [of power struggle]. All human relationships are inscribed in relationships of power. It means that we always have possibilities. 125 .” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. But you can always change it. of escape. “in the relations of power. The disagreement between Chomsky and Foucault on the legitimacy of appealing to the universal structure of human nature and ideal of justice as a justification and basis for political struggle and social change originates from 18 19 20 Ibid. and the Politics of Identity. based upon the conviction that “power is evil. of sexual pleasure. that is not evil. intellectual and political resistance is not something marginal or external to but central to Foucault’s metaphysics and analytics of power and genealogy of the modern subject. and there is no point where you are free from all power relations. Foucault.”20 For Foucault. the association of power with transcendental evil is also full of cultural and ideological presuppositions..and still work against it. However. of strategies that reverse the situation—there would be no relations of power. every individual is situated in a power relation with others. “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom. It should also be noted that not only is the equation of power with absolute good ideological. for if there were no possibility of resistance—of violent resistance. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press.” 12. Michel Foucault. “Power is not evil”: “To exercise power over another. “Sex.”18 But resistance and reversal of power relations inhere in relations of power. 167. Power. 1997). ed.”21 As I have attempted to show in Chapter Three. 21 Foucault. there are always possibilities of changing the situation. Contrarily. in a sort of open strategic game.”19 Therefore. We cannot jump outside the situation. That is part of love. as Foucault himself states.

WTC. Foucault. Resistance cannot equally be an adversarial alternative to power and a dependent function of it. Genealogically speaking.” In “Kentyoku to chi (‘Pouvoir et savoir’). from domination to rebellion. 3. ultimately trivial sense. is not neutrally and simply a weapon against that power. there is a distinction to be made—as. truth. Even if the distinction is hard to draw. values and ideals such as justice. the intellectual as the privileged subject are invented as instruments of the will to and struggle for power. However. 246. “The [power] struggle is everywhere … at every moment. 24 Said. 57. we move from rebellion to domination. Strozier. vol. They are not some transcendental ideals and telos outside the relations of power.” Dits et écrits. then everything that resists it is not morally equal to power. 2002). it is all this perpetual agitation that I would like to try to bring out.”24 Said’s defense of Chomsky affirms the exigency of goal-oriented and ideal-committed political action and resistance. Said believes in the possibility of non-coercive 22 Robert M. The combat in which Said and Foucault are locked is also the combat between truth and power. Subjectivity. it still does not provide us with the necessary epistemological justification for his humanistically committed gesture which is epistemologically challenged by Foucault’s understanding of the “will to power” as the metaphysics of humanism. emerges out of the discourse of knowledge and power. and Identity: Historical Constructions of Subject and Self (Detriot: Wayne State University Press. 23 Foucault says. 126 . the Subject—the bedrock. for example. except in some metaphysical. and therefore “there is no position outside discourse or power-knowledge. Unlike Foucault who sees the coextensiveness of resistance and domination in power relations.their different conceptions of power relations. the ethic of and care for the subject. the first principle of humanism—according to Strozier’s understanding of Foucault.”22 Consequentially. 404. Chomsky does when he says that he would give his support to an oppressed proletariat if as a class it made justice the goal of its struggle.23 Said in “Traveling Theory” aligns with Chomsky’s refusal to view resistance as a political struggle within power relations and assert resistance’s independence from power: “If power oppresses and controls and manipulates.

1972-1977.”25 Thus the intellectual resistance to power is not to speak truth to power but as Foucault states: to “constitute a new politics of truth. ed. because. 27 Hannah Arendt.knowledge and the intellectual’s responsibility of speaking “truth to power” that is different from the kind of “truth” produced and instrumentalized by power and is exemplified in his genealogical study of Orientalism.”27 To be Nietzschean or Foucauldian 25 26 Bové. Foucault’s radical skepticism of the self-evident value of truth seems to be saying that truth is more dangerous than power and it is truth itself that is the ultimate intellectual question. Intellectuals in Power. The Human Condition. Bové says. one cannot help asking what should “a new politics of truth” be. “it is the linkage of the very power of truth (including that produced by ‘oppositional intellectuals’) with the network of oppression and resistance that forms the hegemony of the present that must be struggled against. intro. and trans. 234. I am sympathetic to Foucault’s skeptical attitude towards the sovereignty and legitimacy of the intellectual as the visionary and conscience of humanity. “Truth and Power.” in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. determine.”26 However. Michel Foucault. For Foucault. which we are not. 1980). and define the natural essences of all things surrounding us. But the same questions remain—how can power relations be changed so as to achieve desired changes in the social and political economy and towards what ends? Foucault sees that the idea of the leading intellectual as the visionary of a better society based upon certain conceptions of human nature is antidemocratic and a threat to people’s struggles because the vision of the leading intellectual is itself a product of the regime of power/knowledge and thereby a perpetuator of the authority and legitimacy of that regime. as Hannah Arendt says: it is “highly unlikely that we. 133. Margeret Canovan (Chicago: The 127 . should ever be able to do the same for ourselves—this would be like jumping over our own shadows. who can know. In contrast. and in what direction is our resistance moving and for what purposes? We have also seen that Foucault understands the importance of altering power relations. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon Books.

and refutable. relative. implicit or explicitly. similarly and ironically. 10. 1998).28 However. How can the intellectuals as humans themselves be situated outside the regime of truth and be able to imagine and formulate a human nature and normalcy of human behavior and conduct? The intellectuals do not hold the privilege of. 28 Foucault. the creator of a machine who has specific and exclusive knowledge of the optimal conditions for the optimal operation of the machine because he made it. as Chomsky says: “always some conception of human nature.about this: intellectuals and the masses are not in a relation of the creator and the created but only in one of the dominator/subject and the dominated/subjected. underlying a doctrine of social order or social University of Chicago Press. we realize that human beings can know only what they themselves make.” 126. 128 . But at the same time. meanings and values are made. if there is. for instance. “Truth and Power. the same applies to “otherworldly” authority as it is not made by humans and cannot really be known. There is a uniquely human desire to differentiate human beings from other things and to search for higher ideals and values that could provide meanings for human life. I think Said would agree with Foucault’s questioning of the intellectual’s status and identity as he himself has done in his critique of the authority and legitimacy of the Orientalists because such skeptical scrutiny is a self-conscious and self-critical refusal to appeal to the quasi-theological authority presiding over the humanistic enterprise of Orientalism. and they are therefore secular rather than sacred. Foucault’s idea of the “specific” intellectual engaged in local political struggle against power with specific expertise in his or her own field is to counteract the “universal” intellectual who proclaims to be the master of truth and justice. Anything or any “truth” that is transcendentalized is considered to be unsecular or theological and therefore having more to do with ahistorical impulses than with critical consciousness. The dilemma is that no worldly authority should be authorized as it is made by human beings and therefore ideological.

the individual mind registers and is very much aware of the collective whole. the idea of the Orient and the whole institution of Orientalism have become unsecular. 29 Noam Chomsky. the Text. paradigms. The basic thesis underlying Said’s criticism in Orientalism is that the Orient (the world). Said identifies his criticism with “secular” criticism as opposed to religious criticism. 30 Said. are attempts to secularize human institutions by historical and genealogical hermeneutics. and serving “as an agent of closure. and the Critic. and systems. the ability of critical consciousness to critique.”30 That is to say the appeal to other-worldly authority is to make power relations irreversible and resistance futile and impossible. and effort in deference to the authority of the more-than-human. 290. desire. which examine the historical formation of the institution of literary criticism. His Orientalism and The World. the other-worldly. These three entities are secular and worldly in the sense that they are humanly and historically made.change. On language: Chomsky's Classic Works. and the Orientalist (the critic) are situated within the material reality of culture. Therefore. 70. WTC.” He continues: “Like culture. shutting off human investigation. and interests. religiously inclined. 129 . 1998).” 29 to what kind of authority does the justification for some conception of human nature appeal? It is now time to turn to Said’s humanism and humanistic criticism for an answer. politics. Orientalism (the text). criticism. the institutionalization and naturalization of Orientalist studies as an authoritative source of knowledge of the Orient has lent an air of ontological stability to the Western idea of the Orient. Language and Responsibility and Reflections on Language in One Volume (New York: New Press. secularize and historicize its own worldly situation and constitution is the foundation of intellectual resistance against power: “On the one hand. the supernatural. Said’s humanism is inscribed in his belief that despite being situated within the relations of power amongst cultures. According to Said. religion therefore furnishes us with systems of authority and with canons of order whose regular effect is either to compel subservience or to gain adherents. institutionalized and authorized.

e. not resistance independent or outside of power relations which would be unworldly and ahistorical.. History. 1991). Such interpretation would lead to criticism similar to that of Foucault’s conception of intellectual resistance. experienced. Power functions through historically emergent and constituted institutions. For a similar critique of Said. 165-67. responsive and resistant to the historical conditions under which power functions. White Mythologies: Writing.”32 However. felt.context. a sensitive response to the dominant culture—that the individual consciousness is not naturally and easily a mere child of the culture. Postmodernism and Its Critics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. The historical and material existence of human beings entails their situatedness within the network of power relations. The resistance of critical consciousness against power is simultaneously dependent on. The reversible nature of the power relation between the powerful and the powerless for Foucault is the dialectical interaction between the critical consciousness and power for Said. lived and understood through intellectual and political resistance against power. but a historical and social actor in it. if the binary thinking which polarizes power and resistance finds Foucault’s or Said’s idea of resistance paradoxical. On the other hand. Foucault and Said in turn see such binary opposition between power and resistance misleading and limiting. 127. 1990). As I said in Chapter Three. see John McGowan. as Robert Young questions: “how Said separates himself from the coercive structures of knowledge that he is describing. i. how we can be inside and outside of cultures and to that of Said’s critique of orientalism. but they are not merely that because of the critical consciousness which is transcultural and transhistorical. 15. Robert Young. and the West (London: Routledge.”31 Said seems to be saying that humans are cultural and historical beings. Freedom is enabled. authorities and discourses which in turn determine the socio-historical formation of the human subject. 130 . precisely because of this awareness—a worldly self-situating. or situation in which it finds itself. it is impossible and unnecessary for humans to live outside history and power in order to be truly free. It is the dialectic relation between resistance and power which 31 32 Ibid.

Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism are written based upon the premise that it is possible to achieve intercultural communication and mutual understanding because the human capacity for self-understanding is only possible if the self is situated within relations to others. i.e. As I have mentioned in my discussion of secular criticism in Chapter Two. The dialectics and two-way dialogue between different cultures and histories demonstrated in Orientalism. the nature of the relation between different subjectivities for Said is affiliative rather than filiative. stands in an irreconcilable and dialectical power relation to everything. On the one hand. he thinks that culture and language do not originate from an origin passively but are actively created by the secular process of beginning and beginning again.makes the power relation between resistance and power reversible. the secular critic. Said is critical of the idea of origin. On the other hand. it is ahistorical to conceive history as a progressive process towards an ultimate human nature. due to the ahistorical. that some cultures are subsumed under others in terms of identity and history. Culture and Imperialism and Said’s other writings is implicated in the dialectic of different individual critical consciousnesses. Since for Said the relation between two subjectivities and cultures is dialectical without the overcoming or overshadowing of one by the other. In addition. it is only in history. the conception of history as progress towards an ideal human nature is faulty to Foucault and Said. undialectical and synthetic impulses of imperialism. it is also ahistorical to see history as filiative.” the 131 . Said. Said emphasizes time and again that cultures are historically and differently made and remade by people individually and collectively without ontological stability because of the capacity of critical consciousness to reflect upon its thinking and worldly location. as enabled by an origin from which everything descends and derives its legitimacy. as a self-inventory of “an Oriental. Orientalism is written in Western critical and theoretical language and for a Western audience but it is at the same time for Said himself. but not in the intellectual geographical consciousness. since human nature is historical and history a continual struggle against power.

His critical consciousness is the foundation of humanism. and that nothing that goes on in our world has ever been isolated and pure of any outside influence. 95-6. Ibid.”34 The Goethian concept of Weltliteratur 35 —“the study of all the 33 34 35 Said. a historicist discipline. he would not be able to write Orientalism: “I have tried to maintain a critical consciousness. cultures are dependent upon each other for the continuous historical process of deeper self-understanding which will in turn lead to change and improvement in cultures and society. Said’s work would be orientalist.” Auerbach discusses the Goethian understanding of Weltliteratur as one of the purposes of philology. which studies all kinds of literature in the world as a whole in transcendence of genres. with the Western Said defeated by the triumph of Arab Said (decolonization and nationalism). [ …] This is to say that every domain is linked to every other one. O. therefore. As an Arab brought up in a Western colonial culture. emphasis added. In the essay “Philology and Weltliteratur. Without the Arab Said resisting being co-opted by the Western Said (imperialism and colonialization). Accordingly. and it connects different domains and periods: “humanism is sustained by a sense of community with other interpreters and other societies and periods: strictly speaking. xxiii. HDC.cultural other. and cultural research of which my education has made me the fortunate beneficiary. Said himself demonstrates that cultures are not mutually exclusive. and without sustaining an dialectical yet unreconciled relation between the Western Said and the Arab Said. humanistic. his work would be nationalist and xenophobic. as well as employing those instruments of historical. Said’s Orientalism is a rejection rather than an assertion of cultural and moral relativism (East is East and West is West). institutions and cultures.” 33 That critical consciousness exists in the dialectical relation between two or more locales. The latter is in turn predicated upon the belief in the ontological hierarchy of cultural identities. 26. 132 . A critical and moral distinction must be made between the will to self-understanding and the will to conquest and assimilate the other. one of the translators of Auerbach’s essay. Said. there is no such thing as an isolated humanist. often refers to Weltliteratur as exemplar of his holistic and historicist humanism. See Said..

periods.literatures of the world as a symphonic whole that could be apprehended theoretically as having preserved the individuality of each other without losing sight of the whole”36 is possible for Said because the critical consciousness is at once particular and general. 170. and world pictures. are reductive. xxiv. both the totalizing view of humanity as united by a transcendentalized and transcultural human nature and the Epicurean atomist view of human beings as mere free-floating atomic entities existing in a random. Based upon the belief in the individual critical consciousness. 133 . O. Said’s humanism conceives individual human beings as self-orbiting wheels self-conscious of innumerable criss-crossing dialectical relations between individual particular orbits and between each individual orbit and the general movement of the giant wheel of the historical epoch: the orbits of individual wheels will contribute to changes in more general movement which will in turn bring changes to particular orbits. The entire human race can be comprehended as a meaningful whole through understanding individual histories dialectically and collectively as a whole. WTC. to social class and economic production. Said says: “We are not scribblers or humble scribes but minds whose actions become a part of the collective human history being made all around us. and meaningless world. writers and to transit “from one realm. Said. 80. 68. one area of human experience to another”39 is twofold: to achieve cultural and 36 37 38 39 Said. Said. HDC.”37 It is therefore important to see “culture and art as belonging not to some free-floating ether or to some rigidly governed domain or iron determinism. to diffusing ideas. to accomplishing certain things. Said. but to some large intellectual endeavor—systems and currents of thought—connected in complex ways to doing things. as an arbitrary discursive and interpretive formation. HDC. values. to force.” 38 The aim of Said’s emphasis upon fostering and practicing humanistic and philological hermeneutics to understand other cultures. In other words. orderless.

The truth about human beings is that they become what they make and they make to become other than what they have become. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. according to both Vico and Said. The human self-referential quest for human nature would be like the paradoxical act of “jumping over our own shadows” due to the circularity of the cause and effect of this truth of humanity (the goal of humanistic understanding is to obtain this truth of humanity and in turn the unity of humanity is the reason why humanistic understanding is possible).social coexistence and to search for the higher truth concerning humanity as a whole across cultures and historical epochs. For Said.”40 The moral and epistemological dimensions of humanism are coextensive with each other. Because of the dialectic of cause and effect. Human progress cannot be equated with scientific progress which is the moving towards a better understanding of and more precise definition of the essence of the natural world. the movement of the history of civilization. therefore. and yet at the same time humanity is not merely constituted by history because the critical consciousness can reflect on. a new understanding will create new historical conditions. require new historical understanding and consciousness. respond to and make history. and only by the understanding of its whole course may one obtain it. This unchanging and absolute truth according to Vico never resides in history: “Only in the entirety of history is there truth. this new understanding in turn will modify the critical consciousness itself. In the human world. The critical consciousness forever confronts its own findings and truths at a distance. emphasis added. and higher truth concerning humanity too is subject to historical changes. once higher truth is comprehended through connecting cultures and histories by the critical consciousness. Said has followed Vico’s historicism in asserting that humanity is historical as human beings are always inside history. 134 . and the past and the present. which will. The cause (the producing of truth by the critical consciousness) and effect (truth produced) are dialectical. The epistemic 40 Auerbach.” 37. is spiral rather than circular or uni-directionally progressive.

disputable. Human subjectivity. underlying a doctrine of social order or social change” is correct for Said only if that conception of human nature is situated within a dialectical relation with social change. theological) and historicism (the human. and arguable. provisional. Chomsky’s statement that “[t]here is always some conception of human nature.” 43 Subjectivity in the form of critical consciousness is within secular history yet not reducible to it because of its capacity for self-reflection. To return to the question of Chomsky’s and Said’s conception of human nature. HDC. human knowledge or self-knowledge is inevitably “undermined by the ‘indefinite nature of the human mind’” which makes humanistic knowledge “radically incomplete. mathematical science out of it. dialectical and geographical critical consciousness which emphasizes on the non-subjectivity of subjectivity and the nonessential nature of human nature. it would be the historical.” 41 There is always something beyond mere emotional expression. incomprehensible and irrational production of human subjectivity. “has to be recognized and in some way reckoned with since there is no use in trying to make a neutral. Ibid. Subjective thinking itself resists to being fully understood by historical or genealogical hermeneutics. intellectual articulation. secular) be insurmountable. Ibid. If there is a human nature for Said. If as Said asserts relations of irreconcilability and antagonism between cultures must be maintained by our critical consciousness. therefore. The problem with Chomsky’s idealism is his thinking of the relation 41 42 43 Said.perspective is always historical and subjective. insufficient. which is both a “tragic flaw”42 and constitutive element of humanistic knowledge and criticism. 135 . Because of the subjective indefinite nature of the human mind. 12. implicit or explicitly. not only would the conflict between truth and power but also that between idealism (the religious. humanism must confront the indefinite. theoretical and historical formulation about the human mind and subjectivity.

between truth and power within the framework of binary opposition. the notion of historical progress or human nature. “Traveling Theory. “In today’s criticism and theory. will. because the appeal to that kind of authority of truth is the closure of critical consciousness. having faith. 209. For Said.”46 Even the antihumanistic attack on humanism requires a goal and target of criticism. Even one’s own subjectivity is to be resisted. as far as Said and Foucault are concerned.” 247. 136 . Said is very much aware of the danger of truth being instrumentalized by power. even as a tentative measure for the ethical value of opposition. to translate what Said. There is the non-subjectivity of subjectivity and the subjectivity of non-subjectivity in both Said and Foucault: “what is critical consciousness at bottom if not an unstoppable predilection for alternatives?” one knows. is necessary to intellectual practice and resistance: “It isn’t at all a matter of being optimistic. love. The idea of truth as truth outside power and discourse or as mere instrument of power inside power is undialectical and will mislead people to question the authority and legitimacy of truth outside power. O. however. xv. The authority to which Said’s secular criticism appeals would be: the worldly authority of critically conscious resistance to every kind of authority including its own. Because of the dialectical and reversible nature of intersubjective power relations. there is no outside otherworldly and transcendental authority to be relied upon in the speaking of truth to power. becomes the surest indication of theoretical naivety and 44 45 46 44 and “to speak is to do something—something other than to express what one thinks. as Ben Xu observes. The Archaeology of Knowledge.”45 Antihumanism cannot totally reject humanism. Foucault. but rather of continuing to have faith in the ongoing and literally unending process of emancipation and enlightenment that … frames and gives direction to the intellectual vocation. For Said. Like Foucault. to be is simultaneously becoming and not becoming oneself. and goal. Said. which are humanism’s ideals inscribed within its subjectivist discourse.

Foucault avoids the question of whether human nature exists. 137 . It is against Foucault’s rejection of humanistic ideals and purposes as mere functions of power that Said charges Foucault of failing “to take seriously his own ideas about resistances to power. 132. dishonest and elitist. intellectual and political resistance and opposition are the prevailing motif inherent in his theoretical discourse. Said still identifies his criticism as humanistic and continuously avows and practices humanism. Situational Tensions of Critic-Intellectuals.”47 Xu has just described the difficulty of intellectual resistance in today’s postmodern society: we no longer know what we are opposing and for what purposes. 81. Many would acknowledge Foucault for his honesty in his substitutive sign for the metaphysical ‘will to power. 246. Said. And as a consequence. With reference to Said’s valorization of the traditional role of the intellectual in speaking truth to power and imagining alternatives to the regime of truth at the expense of being critical of this regime as the ultimate cause of hegemony and oppression. for while employing Foucault’s theory of discourse in his Orientalism. In the Wake of Theory. WTC. the political goal of being radical or oppositional becomes ambivalent or even self-contradictory.”48 But if we look at Foucault’s intellectual biography humanistically and genealogically. Bové says: “Nietzsche and Foucault more generally tell us that it is the linkage of the very power of truth (including that produced by ‘oppositional intellectuals’) with the network of 47 48 49 genealogical deconstruction of the modern subject and disclosure of humanism as “merely a Ben Xu. Bové. the ‘radicality’ or ‘oppositionalness’ of ideas begins to be seen as a value by itself and not determined by the possible social changes it is likely to promote. he historicizes human nature and the idea of justice which according to him serves as the apparatus of power and mask of injustice.has been abandoned without a second thought. Deprived of any possible context of evaluation.’”49 The view of Foucault as a radical antihumanist intellectual would be coextensive with the criticism of Said as self-contradictory.

“The Responsibility of the Secular Critic. The politics behind “Traveling Theory” and other essays in which Said historicizes and politicizes Foucault’s theory of power in spite of his actual agreement with Foucault’s understanding of resistance is that Said concerns the political effectiveness of his criticism in specific historical situations rather than the epistemological correctness of Foucault’s theory in abstraction. while Foucault relies on epistemological ground to attack politics. William Hart’s distinction between Said and Chomsky as “political radicals” and Bové and Foucault as “epistemological radicals”52 repeats the binary opposition between epistemology and politics. Critique is practiced only when the appropriation of truth itself is at stake. The dialectical relation between epistemology and politics in this case is coextensive with that between Foucault and Said.”50 But in accordance with Foucault’s and Said’s conception of the power relation between resistance and power as reversible and dialectical. for example. not simply morals or attitudes. which does not lead to a more proper understanding of the relationship between Foucault and Said. Intellectuals in Power. as long as individual consciousness stands in an antithetical relation to this regime. “Truth and Power. Hart.oppression and resistance that forms the hegemony of the present that must be struggled against. knowledge and power. Foucault. Not to struggle against this regime and its affiliations is inevitably to reproduce and extend it and the misery it causes. In criticizing Foucault’s antihumanism.” 133. Said employs politics to critique epistemological theory. calling into question the seemingly highest ideals we have and desire—is not critical at all. “a new politics of truth”51 will emerge and in turn be counteracted by a new critical consciousness produced in relation to the new politics of truth.” 131. but they hold different political positions and execute different political actions. 138 . 234. Foucault and Said hold more or less the same epistemological views on subjectivity. there would be no position outside the regime of the knowledge/power complex. On the other 50 51 52 Bové. To imagine alternatives within it without at the same time struggling against it—by.

Said’s purpose is to contextualize and historicize Foucault’s theory. dissemination and institutionalization. Bové was writing at a time when humanism’s will to power and its regime of knowledge/power ought to be unmasked in order to expose the injustices and antihumanism of humanism. we can historicize Bové’s value judgment and preference for Foucault’s less paradoxical and indirect repetition of humanism and contextualize Said’s contradictory and direct legitimation of humanism by grounding his criticism in the critical consciousness and moral role of the intellectual. epistemology without political and historical consideration is powerless. his humanism addresses the historical and intellectual situation in which the historical commitment. revolutionary spirit and political effectiveness of the theory of knowledge/power have been neutered by academic and ahistorical application. the politics behind Orientalism in which he adopts Foucault despite his actual resistance against Foucault’s determinism is that without subjecting the aesthetic and literariness of orientalist literature per se but only the discipline of orientalist studies to the analytics of knowledge/power. Said has been writing to respond to the historical conflicts between humanism and antihumanism. When we are able to see the parallel of the antihumanism of Said’s humanism and the humanism of Foucault’s antihumanism. Foucault’s theory of power has been reproduced in the academy but the revolutionary impulse and historical engagement of Foucault’s work cannot be reproduced. under particular historical circumstances in order to maximize the political effectiveness of both Foucault’s theory and his own criticism. Said’s humanism must be read in the context of Foucault’s theory of power and resistance but it would be equally reductive to read Said as mere Foucauldian or anti-Foucauldian. the 139 . Said preserves an aesthetic domain for the resistance against not only the knowledge/power regime but also the totalizing explanatory power and determinism of the theory of power. According to Said. while political activism without epistemic understanding and grounding is dangerous. In actual resistance against power. whether by directly employing or politicizing it.hand.

poststructuralism. Those who do not allow for the possibility of human agency and subjectivity are being hypocritical and apocalyptic. and I suppose. The two labels Humanism and Antihumanism have acquired various ideological and cultural connotations through multiplying ramifications and applications. therefore. It should be noted once again that the deconstruction of the modern subject as a bourgeois myth does not and should not nullify and delegitimize the desire for subjectivity as an existential necessity. Said’s humanism is to counteract the degradation of the theory of power to an epistemic justification for political withdrawal and intellectual indifference. “Power and Sex.nonsubjectivity of the intellectual who “doesn’t know exactly where he is heading nor what he will think tomorrow. have received through ‘theory’ in the last thirty years: structuralism. Effectively they’re all weightless … they all represent 53 Foucault. every human production. is valuable for its resistance against its environmental determinants. Humanism is only meaningful in the context of oppressive power.” 161. feminism. as Said says: “Look at the result of all the massive infusion that American literary. theoretical but also professional “positions” which they take without being organically related to the historical and political circumstances that have given rise to the needs for them to take their positions. semiotics. Marxism. The poststructuralist critique of the bourgeois subject is only possible if it is underpinned by a better understanding of what freedom really is or should be like. all of it. however ideologically situated and co-opted.”53 should not stop the public intellectual from making firm and unambiguous political and institutional decisions and executing immediate action on an everyday basis. deconstruction. The bourgeois myth registers this desire and is an ideological and material manifestation of this desire. albeit it has in the end become a repressive regime. On the other hand. Freedom achieved without resistance to power is not valuable. according to Said. critical. cultural studies in general. absolute freedom in absence of power is illusory and impossible. 140 . and they have become for some not only intellectual.

When genealogically examined. Therefore. professionalization. The relationship between humanism and antihumanism is not one of exclusion. 141 . and analysis of their historical or genealogical formations would be a useful way to prevent these schools of thought becoming mere “positions” following academic neutering. The association of transcendence with criticism has led many critics to find Said’s Orientalism repeating the “objective” and 54 Said. Said historicizes and politicizes Foucault. My purpose here is to propose an alternative and hopefully more dialectically productive way of reading Said and Foucault on the issue of intellectual and political resistance that circumvents the binary opposition between humanism and antihumanism. humanism and antihumanism are merely antagonistic and contradictory. Moreover. Despite Said’s own disagreement with Foucault’s political position and the totalizing tendency of his theory of power. cultural. discursive transcendence for both Foucault and Said.academic choices and a lot of them are not related to the circumstances that originally gave rise to them. because he is indebted to him: Said’s historical and humanistic criticism is an act of showing his indebtedness to intellectual figures of great importance to him including Foucault. institutionalization. Foucault’s theory of power and dialectics of power and resistance (freedom) are essential to the understanding of Said’s notion of humanistic resistance. PPC.”54 The question of how ideological meanings of these paradigms of thinking and writing can be critically examined requires urgent attention. one cannot make value judgment and decide which one of these schools of thought is better or more right. 113. It is important to note that there is no historical. it would be more theoretically plausible and applicable instead of critically challenging to mount a critique of Said’s humanistic position within the theoretical framework of Foucault’s analysis of the regime or discourse of power-knowledge. they exist within the same context of power relations. intellectual compartmentalization. which topples the foundation of humanism. and reification.

” 57 However. HDC. more positive images of the Arab that Said recommends implies an ability to transcend prevailing ways of perceiving the world. “Edward W. emphasis added. 109. but Said never explains how exactly such transcendence is possible.” According to Vico.” Vico.56 Said time and again reminds us that history is continuously made and remade individually and collectively by men and women. 142 . Said: Political Critique. Said’s humanism is founded on this distinction which is in turn genealogically based upon the Vichian notion that human or historical knowledge is possible because we can only know what we make. then how is anyone. The New Science. not by supernatural or transhuman forces: “human history as made by human action and understood accordingly is the very ground of the humanities. 10. and we cannot know the natural or theological because it is made by God.“neutral” authoritative structure of orientalism itself: “as Said claims. polarizing and exclusivist binary opposition between humanism and antihumanism. §349.”55 If there is anything we should go beyond. humans can have more “certain” historical knowledge of history than scientific knowledge of nature because they make history: “For there can be no more certain history than that which is recounted by its creator. The idea of critiquing “outside” of or in transcendence of discourse is a linguistic and conceptual misinterpretation underpinned and rigidified by binary thinking. it would be the intellectual trap of the undialectical. people always create reality through already in-place discourses. Spikes. insofar as Said’s humanism appeals to human Michael P. instead he makes a distinction between the secular and humanistic and the religious and supernatural and defines his critical practice as combating the sacred with the secular.” Understanding Contemporary American Literary Theory (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press: 2003). The epistemic principle of Vico’s New Science is that “knowledge and creation are the same thing. Said makes no distinction between truth and power in order to identify his criticism with truth. (II) Vico and Said: atavism and historicism Throughout his career. 57 56 55 Said. able to get outside those discourses in order to offer a critique of them? […] The fabrication of less inflammatory. Said included.

subjectivity, he also appeals to the indefinite, uncertain, contradictory, paradoxical, indefinable, the almost mystical, as his late-style writings exemplify. There is something about the human mind that escapes total comprehension, which constitutes the “tragic flaw” of humanistic knowledge. According to Said, such a “tragic flaw” of human knowledge can only be “remedied and mitigated by the disciplines of philological learning and philosophical understanding … but can never be superseded.” 58 Said’s recognition of these qualities of subjectivity paradoxically admits the irrationality, preternature of human imaginative and material production into the domain of secular and rational humanistic understanding and knowledge: “Like Vico, Said wants to see all these myths and images as human productions, therefore accessible to rational understanding, because they are man-made in the first place. But to inhabit a regime of these images is precisely to be beset by the irrational, by the mysterious forces of the alienated productions of the human imagination.”59 The supernatural, which is outside the epistemological domain circumscribed by Vico and Said, nevertheless, exists coextensively with the human historical world, and the same applies to the natural world also. If according to Vico, human beings can acquire full and perfect knowledge of the human world but never the natural and supernatural world because they do not make them, then there is always something incomplete and imperfect about historical knowledge or self-knowledge because we cannot answer epistemic and existential questions that fall outside the epistemically accessible domain, such as questions that Stephen Hawking reiterates: “Why are we here? Where do we come from? How did the universe begin? Why is the universe the way it is? How will it end?” 60 Human knowledge and language are historical, thus historicist scholars provide

58 59 60

Ibid., 12. W. J. T. Mitchell, “Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism,” 470.

Steven Hawking, quote from Steven Hawking’s Universe, in PBS.org, clipped on January 21, 2007, <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/hawking/html/home.html>.


diachronic studies of knowledge; however, how would it be possible to provide an ultimate account of the origin or raison d’être or meaning of knowledge and language self-referentially within the system of knowledge and language without considering the raison d’être of the intellectual capacity for acquiring and producing knowledge and language or the desire for knowledge, freedom and power? These unresolved questions all go back to the first question of metaphysics: “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?”61 Instead of saying that there is always the ahistorical dimension inside and outside human history that we humans just cannot validate epistemically, it seems that the ahistorical and the historical dimensions of humanity exist only within a dialectical relationship with each other as the ahistorical human desire for power, freedom, justice and eternity would not exist if it were not situated within the historical and temporal world of encumbrances and ephemerality. However, as I would show in Chapter Five, universalism is to a certain extent irrelevant to historicist humanism even though a universalist conception of human nature has often been a popular intellectual pursuit. Having discussed the intellectual dynamics and relationship between Said and his intellectual predecessor Foucault in the previous section, I would, in the following, situate Said in the intellectual genealogy of Vico’s humanism in order to understand and analyze not only the intellectual relationship between Said and Vico but more importantly the intellectual, historical and political meaning of Said’s grounding of his humanism in Vico’s historicist humanism in the postmodern context of Said’s criticism. As I have attempted to show in Chapters Two and Three, Said’s literary criticism exemplifies and substantiates the materiality of language and historical situatedness of literature. Such historical and material critique of human production is based

See Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 19. Nihilism, which believes in the meaninglessness of being, is a self-deception and is never one of the answers to this question. One can impose value judgment upon what are already there in existence and compare which is better or worse, however, such judgment cannot be made upon existence and non-existence; according to the nihilists, human existence is no different from or is even better than non-existence but how would non-existence make no difference or be better to them if they had never come into existence?


upon Vico’s material and dialectical view of human language and knowledge. Knowledge of human beings (self-knowledge) and of the natural world are both pursued by humans themselves; human beings who are both the manipulators and dependents of nature are also part of nature and must study nature and discover natural laws in order to survive in and develop from it. There are scientific principles and laws inherent in the physical world and our own corporeal body. The human body, according to Vico, is man’s most immediate reality and first piece of knowledge, from which the tree of human knowledge evolves. According to Aristotle, we derive knowledge from the information filtered by the senses. 62 As Said in his essay “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts” observes, “[a]lthough Vico’s style is a very learned and bookish one, what it frequently describes is quite physical.”63 The body which furnishes Vico with all sorts of imagery, metaphors and analogies in understanding human history and institution is Vico’s first source of knowledge. Language is the mediator between the body and the mind, as Vico says: “speech stands as it were midway between mind and body.”64 Vico’s materialist perspective on human language has demonstrated the dialectical relationship between the natural and historical dimension of humanity. According to Vico, the origin of language is anthropomorphic and human knowledge anthropocentric. The following excerpt from New Science expresses Vico’s view on the relationship amongst the natural (body), the historical (knowledge production), and language:
Noteworthy too is the fact that in all languages most expressions for inanimate objects employ metaphors derived from the human body and its parts, or from human senses and emotions. Thus, we say head for top or beginning; front or brow, and shoulders or back, for before and behind […] And countless other examples can be cited in any language. All this follows from Axiom I: ‘In his ignorance, man makes himself the measure of the universe.’ And in the examples cited, man has reduced the entire world to his own body. Now, rational metaphysics teach us that man becomes

Vico quotes Aristotle in The New Science, “Nihil est in intellectu quin prius fuerit in sensu.” (Nothing goes to the intellect without passing through the senses), §363.
63 64

Said, Exile, 83. See Vico, The New Science, §1045.


all things through understanding, homo intelligendo fit omnia. But with perhaps greater truth, this imaginative metaphysics shows that man becomes all things by not understanding, homo non intelligendo fit omnia. For when man understands, he extends his mind to comprehend things; but when he does not understand, he makes them out of himself and, by transforming himself, 65 becomes them.

Vico tries to reconstruct the lost dialectical links amongst human knowledge, language, and physical and material origins of human production. This is contrary to the structuralist and poststructuralist views on language and methodology of linguistic studies which attempt to sever the dialectical relationship between human intellect and physical nature and deconstruct the ontological stability, independent existence of nature, and the referential and representative function of language in the web of discursivity and textuality. Poststructuralist linguistics has turned language as a dwelling-house of being in the Heideggerian sense into a prison-house. The Vichian and poststructuralist views on language may both seem to imply that words, texts, and discourses are made by humans and are historical. However, their theoretical directions and emphases are contrastive. On one hand, as Said observes, “The anthropomorphization of knowledge, against which Nietzsche was later to rebel, is Vico’s project, even if civilization progresses (if that is the word) from the body to impersonal institutions.”66 On the other hand, the poststructuralist methodology alienates human production and institutions from critical agency and subsumes literary and discursive production to the determinism of epistemic and discursive rules that “cover every instance of authorial flair, thus reducing the originality of any writer he reads to a deliberate accident occurring within the latent, ordered possibilities of all language.”67 From a historical point of view and in accordance with Vico’s tripartite structure of the history of human civilization which emerges from the primitive and poetic mind (age of gods), the moderately reasonable (age of heroes), to the obsessively intellectual (age of man), the
65 66 67

Ibid., §405. Said, “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts,” 85. Said, B, 294.


which offer spectacle of a world from which nature as such has been eliminated. 1986). through eating habits or moral laws. History. outside the claims and counterclaims for scientific validity or technological progress. Paul Rabinow (Harmondsworth: Penguin.” in The Foucault Reader. Rather such theory and method manifest the distinctive theoretical-historical perspective from which poststructuralism accounts for how human beings have come to be what they are and act as they do. “Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism. economic. emphasis added.” 470.” which must “be sought elsewhere. 1972). viii-ix. a world saturated with messages and information. ed. that the body obeys the exclusive laws of physiology and that it escapes the influence of history. it is broken down by the rhythms of work. has its “deeper justification. T. 147 . The Prison-House of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press. as W. and. and political) that they have wrought. whose intricate commodity network may be seen as the very prototype of a system of signs. Mitchell says: “Suppose Vico’s deeper lesson was that human beings finally cannot sustain a knowledge/power relation to their own creations but find themselves caught up as victims in the terrible systems (social. as Foucault observes: “We believe. J.poststructuralist’s theory and method are not antihumanistic.”68 Devoid of ontological stability. The body is moulded by a great many distinct regimes. Genealogy. in any event. poststructuralist theorization of the human reality. “Nietzsche.” 68 70 our own consciousness and Frederic Jameson. 69 Michel Foucault. 70 See Mitchell. rest.” 69 Suppose the poststructuralist diagnosis is accurate and valid. it is poisoned by food or values. […] Nothing in man—not even his body—is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition or for understanding other men. It lies in the concrete character of the social life of the so-called advanced countries today. but this too is false. it constructs resistances. 87-8. human material and corporeal reality no longer serves as an epistemic and scientific basis for knowledge. and holidays. according to Jameson. Despite Frederic Jameson’s criticism of Structuralism for its lack of historical consciousness.

As 71 72 Foucault. self-creation rather than self-discovery. 168.” i. and our very belief in and understanding of universal human nature. Both Vico and Foucault are the intellectual predecessors of Said who is highly conscious of the historical contexts and political subtexts of Vico’s and Foucault’s critical work.e. B. Foucault. justice is responsible for the repression of human agency and freedom. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. Foucault writes to deconstruct and resist institutional. Robert Hurley and others (New York: New Press. Wilson in an interview with Michel Foucault. as Foucault wagers. 1994). The heyday of modern civilization becomes the beginning of a new barbarism and skepticism. trans. Foucault’s theory is not to lay down rules or to prescribe formulas for resistance.self-knowledge are constituted by the historically emergent regime of power/knowledge. would be erased “like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea” once the arrangements of human knowledge crumble. truth. Said’s connection with Vico and Foucault in this context would be meaningful only if the connection is understood within the historical context of his intellectual and political reference to Vico and Foucault in his humanistic criticism and practice. but to conceive resistance as “a creative process.” 133. to create and recreate. Said himself also writes within a particular historical context to a targeted public constituency for specific purposes. authoritative. “Truth and Power. 387. discursive and transhuman regimes of truth and various cultural and ideological practices.”71 If the idea of man. ed. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books. 1997). Vico aims to establish the philosophical and common law of humanity that is concomitant and coherent with his faith in Christianity. 73 148 . to change the situation. Gallagher and A.” 73 in order to allow for the “work of freedom. 72 then what would allow the idea of man to be drawn and human knowledge rebuilt on rocks rather than sand? Tinged with nihilism and with disavowal of higher ideals for the role of the privileged intellectual. Paul Rabinow. Foucault thinks that the intellectual’s job is not to distinguish the true from the untrue but to replace the regimes of truth with a “new politics of truth.

The Idea of History. because there are observable and distinctive laws in human history. As Collingwood says: “A truly historical view of human history sees everything in that history as having its own raison d’être and coming into existence in order to serve the needs of the men whose minds have corporately created it. It is therefore significant. Said makes a conscious effort to distance himself from Foucault in his later critical work. which crystallizes his early interest in Vico. context in his “manifesto” of humanism in Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004). It is important to understand the political and strategic value of this effort made by Said whose purpose is not to disagree with or refute Foucault’s theory of knowledge/power but to address at the historical moment his worldliness or situatedness with regard to the historically emergent in US society and the US academy.”76 Vico’s atavistic effort in inhabiting the “poetic” and “imaginative” mind of primitive men from whence latter civilizations evolve and his etymological method of “retro-signification. context. Said diagnoses in his late lectures on humanism74 that the major intellectual and political question we are faced with today is not how to deconstruct and resist the hegemony of power and injustice but how to rescue and create meanings of human and cultural life after deconstruction.”77 which drives 74 HDC is a posthumously published work of Said which consists of a series of lecture on humanism in the U.S. “Etymologie et Ethymologia (Motivation et 149 . “Conclusion: Vico in His Work and in This” (1975) in B. he published a number of essays on Vico: “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist” (1967). “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts” (1976) in Exile.75 Vico’s study of the history of humankind in New Science is to discover and reinvent meanings for humanity.S. nothing that happens in history is accidental. Said is already profoundly interested in Vico and in his early academic career. etc. As a postgraduate student at Harvard. for Said to retrieve and use Vico in the postmodern U. the difference between Said and Foucault is political and strategic rather than intellectual and epistemic.discussed and demonstrated in the previous section and Chapter Three. 77. This term is used in Pierre Guiraud. For Vico. and not incidental I think. 76 77 75 Collingwood. after the use of Foucault’s discursive framework in Orientalism.

150 . after the sight and sound of the thunderstorm. as Vico’s narrative tells us.” Poétique II (1972): 407.meanings of signs back to physical bodies from which they are generated.”79 This dialectic of word and political and institutional materiality exemplifies Said’s humanistic notion that “every domain is linked to every other one”80 and that the relation between words and the natural and corporeal reality is not arbitrarily made. senses and instinct. moral sentiments. It is an existential necessity and inevitability for the first men to conjure up the idea of “Jove.” 85. language is the epistemic hiatus between humanism and natural science. Mythical imagination and sign production is the beginning of political institution and social order: “the concept of concrete realism in primitive language and myth are extremely suggestive of modern tendencies [which are alluded not] to certain parties or countries. xxiii. “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts. and finally political structures and human institutions (marriage. In a state of abject intellectual poverty. therefore.” a divine being. disciplines. 78 79 80 See also Said. Auerbach.” 117. What is significant about Vico’s historicist humanism is that language as the third medium is able to bridge the gap between the natural and the secular/historical and thus to participate in the dialectics between the physical and the historical. Historicist hermeneutics thus circumvents both the New Historicist’s and New Critic’s interpretive approaches. family. the first men in the earliest stage of human civilization cannot act otherwise but in the way they did upon the encounter with natural phenomena and in accordance with their bestial impulses. but to trends of thought and feeling spread all over our world. “Vico and Aesthetic Historism. O. powerful in imagination. limited in vision and knowledge yet highly motivated by instincts and bodily needs. society) begin to evolve. for Vico. Said. which as Kiernan Ryan says: “contrive to make material history vanish: the one by Rétromotivation).78 demonstrate that the raison d’être of cultural and linguistic formations is not exhausted by the will to power but grounded in physical reality. and from that very idea of Jove to the myth of Jove.

severing the work from the world, the other by reducing the real to the written.”81 Said’s intellectual affinity and final return to Vico, who along with Foucault also inspires him into beginning his book on Beginnings in the first place, 82 I would argue, are justifiable, because Vico’s atavistic effort in showing the dialectics amongst the natural, the historical and language allows for a greater possibility of resistance to and reversal of power relations. Said’s own intellectual trajectory validates what he says at the beginning of his career: history is not progressive or teleological; criticism as “beginning is basically an activity which ultimately implies return and repetition rather than simple linear accomplishment,” and “beginning and beginning-again are historical whereas origins are divine.”83 After wrestling with poststructuralist theories in the early phases of his intellectual career, Said in the end puts forward his theory of humanism, which is based upon the Vichian historicist humanism. In his critique of poststructuralist theory-based tendencies and politically withdrawn sentiments, Said has found that there is something incomplete and unsatisfying about the idea of man as a historical invention. Though Foucault’s notion of discourse and its historical contingency have been such a cogent theoretical underpinning to his deontologizing of the Orient, Said needs to think of humanism as providing a way forward. If, according to Vico, human beings can only know what they make, the natural world is another dead end for humanism in addition to the supernatural. Nonetheless, Vico admits that the body is the first source of

See Kiernan Ryan, “Introduction,” New Historicism and Cultural Materialism: A Reader, ed. Kiernan Ryan (London: Arnold, 1996), xiv.

After conceiving structuralism as beginning a new critical project in Chapter Five “Abecedarium Culturae: Absence, Writing, Statement, Discourse, Archeology, Structuralism” in B, Said criticizes it for its deterministic and almost totalitarian view of language as a system which allows for no possibility of authorial intention and invention. In Chapter Six “Conclusion: Vico in His Work and in This,” Said converges the insights from Vico and Foucault to substantiate his criticism of Structuralism and humanist belief in the possibility of creating for oneself a critical beginning that is discontinuous from and affiliatively not filiatively related to tradition and convention of language, discourse and culture: “Writing is the act of taking hold of language (prendre la parole) in order to do something, not merely in order to repeat an idea verbatim.” Said, B, 378.

Ibid., xvii.


human knowledge, and he relates the human to the natural, hence, the historical with the ahistorical. Critical consciousness rationalizes and intellectualizes but refuses to be treated the same way by humanism. Said believes that when the body (the natural, material, irrational, incredible) disappears on the horizon of theory, theory itself loses its worldly anchor, becomes unworldly and leads to an aporia or dilemma in which humanity can be everything and simultaneously nothing. The theory of power, for instance, tends to overshadow the power of resistance. Foucault’s theory can be a theoretical and epistemological ground for powerful political resistance against authority in power and oppression. The theory of discourse has been employed, for instance, by the feminist movements to overthrow patriarchal authoritative structure and ideology. Radical feminism goes so far as to say that heterosexuality is an ideology perpetuating men’s power over women, an inculcated political desire and inclination, instead of a natural and biological disposition. Into what forms of human existence do these radical feminists attempt to transform society? How would they be justified to speak for and defend their own interests, rights, and identities when the theoretical bases they employ to deconstruct society, sexuality, gender reduce every single human conduct and action as politically and ideologically determined? How would their choice of homosexuality be exempted from being an ideology and be legitimized? Once again, Said’s reinvocation of Vico’s humanism should not be seen as a refutation of Foucault’s deconstruction of the idea of man, but should be sympathetically, historically and politically understood as Said’s approach to our moral dilemmas in the practice of literary criticism. The purpose of Said’s employment of Vico is to remind us that there was, has been and still is a concrete material world in which one must anchor one’s thinking and work. The belief that everything is ideological should self-critically reflect upon itself since the belief in ideology is also inevitably ideological. If according to Foucault, anything that can and should be known is determined by the regimes of truth and the distinction of truth and falsity is far less important than the


conditions of the regimes of truth that allow such distinction to be made, Said’s criticism of the dehistoricized and apolitical use of Foucault’s theory by Foucault’s followers in “Traveling Theory” implies that theory is also part of history and ideology which cannot totalize reality. Said makes a crucial distinction between theory and critical consciousness. Critical consciousness must not be framed by theory; it historicizes and politicizes the origin, peregrination and application of theory. Through self-reflection, it

contextualizes and situates theory in history and evaluates its political efficacy in its worldly reception, transformation and institutionalization. Like Foucault who leaves no theoretical groundings and prescription for intellectual and political resistance, Said refuses to theorize critical consciousness in order to open up an intellectual domain which is uncircumscribed by the interpretive reach of theory. His most concrete description of that domain is perhaps in this description of humanism: “Humanism … is the means, perhaps the consciousness we have for providing that kind of finally antinomian or oppositional analysis between the space of words and their various origins and deployments in physical and social place, from text to actualized site of either appropriation or resistance, to transmission, to reading and interpretation, from private to public, from silence to explication and utterance, and back again, as we encounter our own silence and mortality—all of it occurring in the world, on the ground of daily life and history and hopes, and the search for knowledge and justice, and then perhaps also for liberation.”84 Said is aware of the vulnerability of a theory of critical consciousness that could become an academicized and institutionalized act of conformist consciousness and thereby become a mere function of power. Theory born out of a critical consciousness can in turn frame and disable that consciousness without maintaining the tension or distance between the two. Similar to his rearticulation of Vico, Said is politically and strategically more sympathetic with Chomsky than with Foucault on the issue of upholding universal justice and speaking truth to power as the intellectual’s

Said, HDC, 83.


responsibilities and duties. He and Chomsky have coauthored a book aimed at critiquing the U.S.’s acts of aggression against humanity in the Middle East.

As a linguist, Chomsky has developed his theory of innatism concerning human mental/linguistic abilities. The meta- or trans-historic universal structure of the human mind is the basis for linguistic acquisition and justification for universal humanistic values such as morality, justice, truth, and equality. He grounds his belief in universal human nature in the natural and ahistorical of which Foucault is skeptical. The epistemological presuppositions of their different fields of study which enable Chomsky and Foucault’s findings, their positions and beliefs, are too fundamental and important to be simply embraced or dismissed. Moreover, objectives and methodologies of natural science and the humanities are interpenetrable and dialectical, and the separation between the two disciplines is ideological. Adorno says: “although art and science have separated from each other in history, their opposition is not to be hypostatized. The disgust for anachronistic eclecticism does not sanctify a culture organized according to departmental specialization. In all of their necessity these divisions simply attest institutionally to the renunciation of the whole truth.”86 Foucault thinks that one should study science historically, and he has studied history scientifically. Science studies and explicates both nature and humans as machines—to discover and develop natural and scientific laws and principles. Foucault’s writing of the “history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects”87 corresponds to the scientific study of human being by treating humans as subjects subjected to the microphysics of power as opposed to the microphysics of physics, chemistry and biology. His theory of power is the underlying mechanics which determines and constitutes human

Noam Chomsky and Edward Said, Acts of Aggression: Policing “Rogue” States (New York: Seven Stories, 1999).
86 87

Adorno, “The Essay as Form,” 156.

See Foucault, “The Subject and Power,” in Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, eds. Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 203.


and therefore he refuses to be didactic and prescriptive intellectually and politically. Foucault and Said are both justified in taking their positions. It is as a resistance against the transhuman and transindividual systems of language and power that Said’s humanism emphasizes the individual and the particular. it is politically urgent and effective to have faith in our critical and intellectual agency. discourse. to prescribe is to limit rather than to free critical thinking. For him. One might be intellectually and politically sympathetic with either Foucault or Said and subsequently either criticize Foucault for his radical skepticism in humanity or reject Said for his faith in humanity. and if everything is contained within the domain of theory and operates in accordance with the rules and laws within the mechanisms of language. and wars. The historical participates in the transhuman system as much as the latter conditions the former. 155 . Perhaps. Said’s humanism is a reaction towards the deconstruction of man rather than a simple return to traditional humanistic values for authority. Both Foucault and Said believe that human beings are capable of self-creation and achieving intellectual freedom in the process of reacting to and resisting external constraints. discursive and political determinacy. but it is possible for one to identify with both of them if one attempts to understand their differences historically. The difference between Foucault and Said concerning the question of humanity and the role of the intellectual is that Said is more willing to invest value and hope in human capacity to make society a better place. and episteme. while Foucault cautiously leaves open the question of human nature and insists on the importance of historicizing it. Said believes that as humans situated in the political turbulences of international and intercultural misunderstandings. In the postmodern world devoid of faith and hope in humanity. Foucault is critical of the “human”: its historical contingency. Said is historically situated in the time span between modernism and postmodernism and like Foucault is skeptical of worldly authority.self.consciousness and its epiphenomena. conflicts. If everything in the historical world is created by humans and therefore accessible to human understanding.

gender.’ which is not simply Hegelian but philological. individual differences and the unity of individual differences are related yet irreducible to each other. however. Said’s humanism is not individualism at the expense of multiculturalism nor universalism motivated by and resulting in totalitarianism.” Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation. Similarly. if scientifically or mathematically or logically represented. according to Timothy Brennan’s interpretation of Said. the idea that the whole of humanity is made up of different individuals should not make the particular historical differences amongst individuals less important. the more overarching the system is the more attentive we should be to the individual particular. one can never attain a heap of sand nor a non-heap by either repetitively adding or removing a single grain of sand. Said sees the relation between individual part and whole not as hierarchical or 88 89 Timothy Brennan. and appreciate its singularity in order to resist and circumvent totalizing identitarian terms and categories. for Said. which however paradoxically is what enables the choice of words by the writer himself or herself. 54. Therefore. Such generic categories as race. 156 . The tension between the individual and historical particular and universalism of humanity and humanistic ideals and values is dialectical and relational: “individual parts can be said to make up a whole greater than a mere sum of its parts. discover. Breaking down human life into smaller analyzable and separable parts influenced by biological. the secular critic or writer stands in a dialectical relation to each single word and subjects it to critical examination and distinction. Like Adorno. Each of the consciously chosen words is to challenge the writer’s worldview in totality.89 For instance. “Resolution. and cultural forces does allow us to understand ourselves better. psychological. and class tend to eliminate individual uniqueness and difference.our critical consciousness cannot be just constituted linguistically or discursively.” which. but that self-knowledge cannot supersede and substitute life itself. environmental. “leads away from a monadic consciousness to a relational ‘group consciousness. However.” 88 To put it simply. to invent. this becomes the “Sorites paradox”: a heap of sand is certainly made up of multiple grains of sand.

’”90 It is necessary to demonstrate how various domains are inter-connected and reveal their hidden relations because they are all parts of humanity. see also John McGowan. Nevertheless. and precisely because they are different.” 112. But in the end. Postmodernism and Its Critics. paradigm. authoritatively say what is right and wrong about the views a text presents. “McGowan argues that there is a conflict between Said’s implicit appeal to universal. humanity and the humanities.” Spikes. and justice is not based on any theory.’ fictitious unities presided over by Hegel. Said assumes that he can definitively. an inferior status in the construction of the whole. however much he may designate it a driving moment in the process. Said affirms humanism for the same simple reason as Tzvetan Todorov. or episteme but on his love for human life. Late Style. “Edward W. interest. aesthetics and politics stand in a relation of power with each other in such a way that one can use aesthetics to resist politics and thereby reverse the asymmetrical power relation between them. for Said.dynastic but dialectical: Adorno’s Minima Moralia is. freedom. Said: Political Critique. desire but have tragically and self-defeatingly found that humans are nothing more than machines programmed by various autonomous systems and functions. all of them in some way assaulting suspicious ‘wholes. Such a view circumvents the opposition between universalism of humanity and cultural relativism detected by critics as self-contradiction of Said’s humanism. Humanists and scientists might have set off to search for knowledge about themselves and the world out of love. ‘The conception of a totality through all its antagonisms compels him [Hegel] to assign to individualism. 157 . 165-67. socially and historically conditioned. transcendent notions of the good and his explicit assertion that all values are culturally relative. “a cascading series of discontinuous fragments. Said’s humanism and his firm belief in critical consciousness as foundation to morality. who says: 90 Said. Michael Spikes says. The above is Said’s “theory” about both the individual and humanity as a whole. whose grand synthesis has derisive contempt for the individual. 15. yet he also maintains that concepts of rightness and wrongness vary in different societies and historical periods. irreducible to each other. certain formal elements refuse to be interpreted within one set of critical parameters.

”91 Scientists and poststructuralists may have successfully explained the operational mechanism of the natural and human world. criticism is an act of love. For Said (as for R. tells a happier story: Gramsci’s pessimism of the intelligence. What is certain is that Foucault and 91 92 Tzvetan Todorov. or technological discoveries demonstrate that various human intellectual and physical capacities are replaceable by machineries. P. since thought would not deserve to be examined separately if it were not free but only the mechanical product of a cultural community. whatever human qualities or capacities resist to being replaced would provide us with insights into the values of being human and a humanist. 7. 1952). profession. or the biological necessities of the species.” “discontent. The ultimate “betrayal” of the intellectuals is not the co-optation by power. 158 .” “powerless. I am already committing myself to the humanist family. or nation. Blackmur. a social class. One can align with humanists or poststructuralists. see also Said.” Said. optimism of the will. a historical moment. but the disingenuousness of their love for the real subject of their studies: individual life and humanity. Pen. 29. “The Critic’s Job of Work. medical. but disregarded the “tragic. as Walter Benjamin has observed with regard to the disappearance of art and the aura of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. reputation. P. Brace. faith. “optimism of the will” in addition to the “pessimism of the intellect. institution. Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism.92 It is also an act of courage.“By choosing to study thought in itself. Blackmur). When scientific. Both Said and Foucault see the dialectical and coextensive relation between power and intellectual resistance whose importance and exigency they both affirm.” Language as Gesture: Essays in Poetry (New York: Harcourt. but after all.”93 No one would want to fight an unwinnable war. Palestinians know that the odds are against them—their own confidence in the justice and truth of their cause. it is a matter of belief and faith that determines the theoretical groundings on which to say which position is right or wrong. on the other hand. See R. 93 A slogan charged with revolutionary spirit by Antonio Gramsci to which Said refers in his Institute For Palestine Studies Papers: “Rationally.” and “meaningless” sentiments we have if we see and treat ourselves in the same way as they do. PA.

hope and freedom are circular: “The fundamental paradox of education is that you must serve and submit to authority—the authority of tradition. passion. After the intellectual distinction between truth and falsehood. between “fighting against more oppression” and “fighting for more freedom. Althusser and Derrida. VT: Ashgate. Different words lead to different ramifications. there would be no other sound justification of the authority and value of Said’s humanistic criticism. the idea of emancipation. the ideal of justice. And what makes you defiant. the idea of enlightenment. ed. attitudes and actions. if it were not for the faith in the value of critical consciousness. They 94 Said. Resistance.”94 Said chooses to be different from Foucault rhetorically. “Citizenship. even defiant. who. philologically and disciplinarily for his humanistic belief in the political effectiveness of criticism and in the dialectic of philology and politics.Said chose. however minor. There is still a political difference. what makes it possible for you to build a bridge across the abyss [of immutability and impossibility to go beyond the authority of tradition] that so many people are defeated by.” in Rewriting Politics: Cultural Politics in Postmodernity. 32. one still has to make a number of political and moral choices between hope and despair. and Democracy. which of course is where the bridge leads you. what they believed is good for human beings and disseminated their beliefs. in face of what they both knew. is hope and a belief in a great idea. love and hatred. he says: “have became prisoners of their own language. Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth (Burlington. 2007). and hope for the enlargement of human freedom. And this hope for more freedom for Said will bring actual freedom. faith and skepticism. of learning itself. Said is antagonistic to and rebellious against the very authority of his own discipline which has entrapped Lacan. 159 . His scrupulous and critical attention to the worldly agency and efficacy of words registers his attitude. Such choice is an act of a free will. [and] what they were really doing was producing more work in fidelity to what they’d done before. of the scholars and scientists who went before you and in a sense made you possible—and at the same time you must somehow remain critical.” Having dismantled and rejected all sorts of worldly authority.

Furthermore. the pursuit of humanism as a lost cause sounds paradoxically religious. maintaining a kind of loyalty to their readers. above all. but Said.. who sees himself as the “only true follower of Adorno. who expected more of the same.”95 In face of postmodernism. 160 . 167. 553. quoted in Said’s “On Lost Causes. 458. who neither superscribes his conscience nor permits himself to be terrorized into action. is in truth the one who does not give up. thinking is not the spiritual reproduction of that which exists. As long as thinking is not interrupted. Its insatiable quality. the uncompromisingly critical thinker.” in Exile.” 96 has found comfort and “meta-theoretical” justification for his belief in his fight for Palestinian self-determination and existence: “In contrast. the resistance against petty satiety.were maintaining the integrity of their work and. it has a firm grasp upon possibility. Adorno. rejects the foolish wisdom of resignation. Ibid. humanism has become a lost cause. PPC.”97 With both Adorno and Said’s distaste for worldly authority. 95 96 97 Said.

Said. “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist. neither blind nor empty.” “silence” or “nothing. 4 Said. intellectual. Spanos. It is a difficult task. gave me the incentive to find my territory. “Edward Said’s Mount Hermon and Mine: A Forwarding Remembrance. not socially but intellectually.” which resides in all creative critical writing. 74.” 351-2. no. the conceit of the philologists. Out of Place.”4 Spanos identifies the intellectual absence in Mount Hermon. 1 2 3 Theodor Adorno. but two hundred years ago Vico did it.” boundary 2 28.CHAPTER FIVE The Moral of Genealogy: Reading Said between Presence and Absence. William V. which is described by Said as racially discriminatory. have their own inescapable human logic—to rephrase from Ernst Cassierer—and it is their job to perform on themselves a continued Geistesgeschichte that eschews both intellectual positivism. the conceit of the philosophers. neither atomistic nor consequential. out of place in nearly every way. and universal systematizing. Mimima Moralia. philosophical and paradoxically “religious” richness of “absence. Historicism and Universalism “The morality of thought lies in a procedure that is neither entrenched nor detached.3 William Spanos has foregrounded the semantic.”—Theodor Adorno1 “The humanities. 161 . properly considered. 231.” —Edward Said2 In an essay on the personal exchanges and mutual past he shared with Edward Said at the American Puritanical school Mount Hermon. Echoing what Said says in his memoir: “The fact that I was never at home or at least at Mount Hermon. humanistic. 3 (fall 2001): 157-189. morally hypocritical.

“I need to put this absence [of Spanos’s critical and theoretical engagement with the movement of Kierkegaardian existentialism] in terms of a fundamental and. For Edward. who was teaching English literature at the same time Said was studying at Mount Hermon. Said says: “I’ve always been interested in what gets left out” and “the tension between what is represented and what isn’t represented”: 8 his whole corpus of work lends a voice to what is suppressed 5 6 7 For Said’s detailed personal remembrance of Mount Hermon. Spanos says. “Edward Said’s Mount Hermon and Mine. Spanos.and intellectually Eurocentric and conservative. 225-249. This was the Christian—specifically Kierkegaardian—existentialist thought […] It is this marginal—I am tempted to say spectral—momentum that Edward says nothing about in his remembrance of Mount Hermon. 162 . that not only redeemed my two otherwise benighted years at Mount Hermon but inaugurated the transformation of my sense of calling.” 180-1. Intellectual and historical absence has been an important motif in both Said’s and Spanos’s criticism.” “Edward Said’s Mount Hermon and Mine. telling difference between Edward’s experience at Mount Hermon and mine. 8 Said.” 161. Spanos. however. to me. Spanos depicts Said as the Palestinian/American oppositional intellectual who. see Out of Place.7 What is so significant about Said’s and Spanos’s personal accounts of Mount Hermon is that they demonstrate how the idea of absence plays such an important role in Said’s and Spanos’s intellectual formation and reflection. peripheral and inadequately practiced by its proponents. and that eventually coalesced to ‘shape’ the identity that has determined my intellectual labor ever since. Late Style. of my relationship to being. it was the presence of such a momentum. transforms the absence of his intellectual presence in Said’s biographical account of Mount Hermon— his anti-Mount-Hermon-ethos talk at Mount Hermon Convocation inspired by Kierkegaardian existentialism—into an historical and intellectual presence for himself. thanks to Edward’s memoirs. it was essentially the lack of any redeeming momentum at Mount Hermon that precipitated the redemptive intellectual identity that was to determine his future work. indeed. xix.5 as the site of genesis of the intellectual trajectory of Said’s critical practice. Said’s humanistic and secular criticism is a critical response to this intellectual absence in American education. was leading both a resistant American academy and the even more resistant American media into recognition of the not-sopromising land of American-style globalism. “through the sheer force of his humane intelligence and awesome historical sense. For me. I now realize.”6 As a response to the presence and absence of Said’s memoir.

In the previous three chapters.’”11 I would further argue that these two poles of humanism are interrelated because the critical and epistemic dimension of humanism is at bottom a moral one.10 Bilgrami argues that the two poles of humanism are linked because the “Other” is “the source and resource for a better.e. more critical understanding of the ‘Self. The End of Education: Towards Posthumanism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Akeel Bilgrami contends that Said’s humanism has two poles or dimensions: epistemic (the human search for selfknowledge and what sets the humans apart and capacity for self-criticism) and moral (the concern for whatever that is human). the 9 Spanos’s use of the word “specter” or “non-being” in the Heideggarian sense summarizes and represents whatever that is unfamiliar. x. history and discourse. Historical and critical consciousness is the foundation of justice and cultural coexistence. certainty and uncertainty.by Western humanism. suppressed.” 10 11 Akeel Bilgrami. territorially. I have attempted to establish that to be humanistic is to be historical and critical. xii.. unrepresented.9 Said and Spanos have demonstrated that it is the job of the intellectual to fill in the historical absence and to maintain a tension or dialectic of presence and absence. Ibid. annihilated and absent in writing. “Foreword. being and non-being. I would delve into the absence of Said’s critical humanism. imperialism and Zionism. c1993) and “Humanism and the Studia Humanitatis after 9/11/04: Rethinking the Anthropologos. By mapping Said’s humanism within the tradition of critical humanism or negation and reading Said’s humanistic criticism as a moral critique and the problem of Western humanism and epistemology as fundamentally moral rather than epistemic. See William Spanos. Said’s humanism is predicated upon the belief in the ability of critical consciousness to attain self-knowledge. i. and center and periphery in order to prevent oneself from being totalized and tautologically or circularly validated by a particular discourse. culturally and politically repressed by the truth discourse of the West. Spanos’s poststructuralist criticism of Western humanism provides a theoretical account of the haunting emergence and deconstructive presence of the spectral other or “non-being” historically.” in Said’s HDC. freedom and justice. 163 .

This is why Vico. and presence and absence. historicality and universalism. The imperialist 164 . and so we invent them.epistemic basis. properly considered. the desire to go beyond or make oneself appear to be outside of the ideal eternal history of mankind is a kind of conceit. shrug their shoulders at progress. let us say in the natural or social sciences. 13 “The inescapable condition” or “human logic” pertains to the 12 13 Said. according to Said. The New Science. Conceit and Humility: humanism as will to power and humanism as will to coexistence In his early writing on Vico’s historicist humanism. “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist. becomes an increasingly abstract instrument: it has merely passed from poetic barbarism to a barbarism of reflection. According to Vico. Based on the premise that the critical and the moral consciousness are a oneness. The second potentiality is for the mind to see itself everywhere in these studies. but two hundred years ago Vico did it. history. claiming to be the most ancient civilization is the conceit of nations whilst asserting “what they know is as old as the world” is the conceit of scholars. The discussion of the moral foundation of Said’s humanism provides an opening for me to establish a deeper connection between Said’s humanism as critical negation and as Vichian historicism. and universal systematizing. the conceit of the philosophers. scorning its ‘poetic’ origins. nature and intellectual and political implication of the moral of his secular humanism. the conceit of the philologists. Conceit is a moral rather than intellectual or epistemic condition and problem. Thus the mind recognizes itself eternally in the history and the course of these studies … Yet the mind realizes that its inescapable condition is that it is human. Said has already identified conceit as the cause of humanism’s preponderance to positivism and universalism: We need physics. What passes for progress.” 351-2. See Vico. I would demonstrate how the critical consciousness. It is a 12 difficult task. logic. have their own inescapable human logic—to rephrase from Ernst Cassierer—and it is their job to perform on themselves a continued Geistesgeschichte that eschews both intellectual positivism. or a state in which the mind. and many later humanists in his spirits. thereby constituting the foundation of his humanism. §122-127. is either increased certainty. law. and literature. circumvents the dichotomy between history and philosophy. The humanities.

” Albert Einstein. reify and objectify the cultural other is therefore a form of power and conceit. 233. and Foucault. and what therefore serves as a basis for their actions.” 37. literary criticism and humanism is situated within the history of critical humanism presided over by Nietzsche. “what the peoples believe to be true … (although this is only the outcome of their erroneous and limited knowledge). assimilate. “Geometry and Experience. and as far as they are certain they do not refer to reality.18 My purpose here is not to recount the genealogy of Said’s critical humanism but to contextualize his humanistic criticism within the larger setting of the critique of Western humanism as “merely a substitutive sign for the metaphysical ‘will attempt to conquer. ed.” 14 therefore as far as the observable laws of history refer to the reality of the mind. they are not certain. This is a paraphrase of Albert Einstein’s statement: “[A]s far as mathematical propositions refer to reality. Paul Bové has given a detailed and critical account of the genealogy of the tradition of critical humanism in Intellectuals in Power: A Genealogy of Critical Humanism.15 Certainty is a moral conceit. emphasis added. 165 . Auerbach. a public confession of uncertainty. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. “Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism. Mitchell.” 469. Carl Seelig (New York: Wings Books. HDC.historicality of the human mind and humanity as a whole. Said’s genealogical critique of Orientalism. resistance against certainty and acknowledgment of the inescapable human logic or “tragic flaw”16 of human subjectivity are different forms of what Mitchell calls “ethical gesture”—“a kind of deferral of authority. they do not refer to the reality of the mind. 1954). as far as they are certain. which is the motif pervading the negative critique and deconstruction of Western humanism. institutions and expressions … is subject to historical change. At each stage of the development of mankind. Heidegger. Ideas and Opinions. 14 15 Auerbach. understand.” the 1921 lecture to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. systematize.”17 Said’s and Spanos’s interest in the “absence” in Western humanistic discourse and their transformation of this absence into the cultural and discursive presence of the marginalized and dispossessed imply the critique of conceit. ontologize. they are not certain. 12. 16 17 18 Said.

from Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966) to Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004). The Orientalist studies the history of the Orient without self-critically and selfconsciously examining his or her own discipline which is historically situated in the material grid of politics.”20 In other words. Foucault and Said by identifying the critique of the will to power as fundamentally the critique of conceit. As I have mentioned in Chapter Two. culture and capitalism. Because of conceit. The New Science. and political efficacy of the theory and understands literature.’”19 and to read the “moral” of genealogy or the critical genealogists like Nietzsche. In the Wake of Theory. All Said’s critical works. are a persistent critique of the ahistorical and antihistorical impulses of literary criticism and various forms of imperialism. §122. Western imperialism and its cultural and literary manifestations are based upon the ahistorical and undialectical binary logic which distinguishes between and dichotomizes the center and the periphery and the self and the other. human knowledge is anthropological. Heidegger. 166 . 132. These impulses are manifestations of the will to power which attempts to attain absolute authority or dehumanize targeted cultural or racial subjects by suppressing the historicality of humanity. self-referential and self-centered: “Another property of the human mind is that. these kinds of antihistorical mentality are a form of conceit in the Vichian sense. the human mind does violence and injustice to the unfamiliar through interpreting the unfamiliar based on what is familiar to the mind. Vico. art and culture as domains of human activity elevated from politics and the history of imperialism. Despite the fact that all human knowledge exists to serve the human and the creation of knowledge is inseparable from the application of knowledge. when people can form an idea of distant and unfamiliar things. the literary critic applies a theory without understanding genealogically the historical emergence.to power. geographical and cultural peregrination. they judge them by what is present and familiar. according to humanists like Vico and Said there is still a “moral” distinction to be made between two kinds 19 20 Bové.

and Orientalism’s complicity with imperial power. In his first book The Birth of Tragedy (1872). once it has been proved beyond question that the Antipodes can never be reached by such a direct method.. whilst the latter attempts to comprehend the whole humanity by overthrowing and modifying one’s own view of reality.21 “not for the purposes of knowledge. Said’s critical genealogy of Orientalism and the discipline of literary criticism is genealogically linked to Foucault’s and Nietzsche’s criticism of power and truth. The former attempts to know the whole truth about the whole world and to unify the whole of humanity by imposing absolute standards and values upon others. Every science has its limits. imperialist antihumanistic and antihistorical colonization and repression. what person in his right mind would want to go on digging—unless it were for the accidental benefit of striking some precious metal or hitting upon a law of nature? For this reason. but for the practical. Because of conceit. I would quote Nietzsche at 21 Nietzsche says. Within the tradition of critical humanism. there is also a moral cause of these problems at the inception of humanism. 167 .e. egotistical ends of individuals and nations. and it is out of conceit that science can retain its optimism in its search for truth and in the reliability of science itself. subjectivity or knowledge. dared to say that the search for truth was more important to him than truth itself and thereby revealed the innermost secret of inquiry. 22 Ibid. i.” The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche’s philosophy is a critique of humanism as the will to power. “Moreover. most honest of theoretical men. Lessing. As Western humanism or epistemology culminates in moral problems like racial inequality and injustice. Nietzsche has already contended that the humanistic and scientific endeavor to search for truth is self-centered. 94. human beings see themselves as master of knowledge of the whole of humanity without realizing they are parts of the whole. 92-3. for the sake of the self instead of truth itself.of motivation behind the epistemic genesis or two epistemic perspectives: the will to power over others or the will to master and the will to coexistence amongst others or the will to serve. to the surprise and annoyance of his fellows.” 22 Nietzsche makes a distinction between the optimism of science and the tragic pessimism of art.

spurred on by its energetic notions. Science motivated by the will to power over and knowledge of the whole world attempts to account for the world of phenomena within the scope or circle of scientific and theoretical framework and paradigm. realizes how logic in that place curls about itself and bites its own tail. strong in the belief that nature can be fathomed. knows no sharper incentive to life than his desire to complete the conquest. The widening scope of scientific inquiry and knowledge is made possible and plausible by the principle of inclusion which is not possible without the principle of exclusion. […] Whoever has tasted the delight of a Socratic perception. who.e. 168 . to the end of producing genius. This positive attitude toward existence must release itself in actions for the most part pedagogic. considers knowledge to be the true panacea and error to be radical evil. What is most dangerous of all is that the scientific scope or paradigm is underpinned by presuppositions and delimitations which make scientific inquiry a circular process. a scientific result or effect is predetermined and dictated in the first place by scientific assumptions and exclusions which in turn are validated by the result. When the inquirer. For instance. before reaching the mid-point of his career. i. the remedy of art. Socrates represents the archetype of the theoretical optimist.length here in order to show the philosophical implications of the scientific zest and quest for knowledge: As against this practical pessimism [because of the politics of knowledge]. to 23 make it tolerable. quite apart from the fact that we have no way of knowing how the area of the circle is ever to be fully charted. which requires. experienced how it moves to encompass the whole world of phenomena in ever widening circles. the positivistic and materialist view of human consciousness accounts for the cause and effect of consciousness materialistically excluding the metaphysical dimension of consciousness and thus reducing it to mere material existence and denying the possibility of freedom which exists insofar as the 23 Ibid. come up against some point of the periphery that defied his understanding. 94-5. to weave the net absolutely tight. he is struck with a new kind of perception: a tragic perception. exercised upon noble youths. For the periphery of science has an infinite number of points. having pushed to the circumference. But science. To such a person the Platonic Socrates appears as the teacher of an entirely new form of ‘Greek serenity’ and affirmation. approaches irresistibly those outer limits where the optimism implicit in logic must collapse. Every noble and gifted man has.

26 Spanos says. From this perspective. is “not rational but based on myth. the pessimism of art in the form of tragedy is anti-reifying and anti-objectifying. and also Basic Writings from Being and Time 169 . art does not aim at attaining certainty. Ralph Manheim (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2005). Michel Foucault. trans. “Humanism and the Studia Humanitatis after 9/11/04: Rethinking the Anthropologos. A.e. Nietzsche’s critique of the optimism of science is also a critique of the conceit of human beings. He argues. Heidegger discloses the complicity between Western humanism and Western imperialism since the Romans’ reductive adoption of Greek philosophy following the conquest of Greekspeaking countries by the Romans. Spanos. trans.. The End of Education: Towards Posthumanism. 146. Unlike science. 514. 1977). “the humanist paideia—its celebration of culture against anarchy—is implicated in the imperial political project. 26 27 Nietzsche. according to Habib. xviii.metaphysical realm of consciousness exists. 102. When science meets its own limits. Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. art for Nietzsche does justice to what is excluded and deemed as uncertain by science. on a ‘deeper wisdom’ ineffable in words and concepts but expressed in the structure of tragedy and its images. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon. trans. William Spanos also draws upon Heidegger’s and Foucault’s genealogies of modern humanism in tracing the development and ramification of humanism to a Roman origin. i. Parmenides. Habib. Tragedy.” unpaginated. Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison. 1992).”24 In the Parmenides lectures. “Heidegger (following Nietzsche) is pointing … to the Romans’s reduction of the Greek understanding of truth as aletheia (unconcealment) to veritas (the adequation of mind and thing. for Nietzsche. The Use and Abuse of History. 41-2. correctness).”27 The epistemic gaze of the Romans is at 24 M.25 Nietzsche preceding Heidegger has already identified two extreme truth-seeking perspectives of the Greek and the Romans.” See Spanos. R. A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present (Malden. Heidegger discusses aletheia as “unconcealment” and veritas as “correctness” in An Introduction to Metaphysics. 28-73. 1959). art comes to the rescue to set us free from scientific paradigm and convention. The genealogy of humanism from Greek to Roman shows how the politics and interests of the Roman Empire reform Greek humanistic studies and the humanist epistemic perspective. MA: Blackwell Pub. 25 Martin Heidegger.

the non-being or nothingness of being in Heidegger’s terms.”28 The distinction between seeing truth as “unconcealment” and seeing it as “correctness” is a moral rather than an intellectual or epistemic one: the former unanthropocentric perspective aims to understand or “unconceal” reality by deconstructing what the human mind has constructed to comprehend and represent reality. and imperialism materializes humanism by creating an imperially and capitalistically administered world in which humanism finds its dwelling place and strongest political vanguard. History is written from “a metaphysical or logocentric perspective that looks back retrospectively from the end (in both senses of the word)—from after or above the temporal process. The conceit of Western humanism results in imperialism. 1976). Further reference to the transition from aletheia as “unconcealment” to veritas as “correctness” can be found in the article “Platons Lehre der Wahrheit” in Gesamtausgabe. and intro. 28 Heidegger. ed. To commanding. vol. 170 . David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper & Row. (1927) to The Task of Thinking (1964). 41-2.once imperial and transcendental: “Imperium means ‘command’ … The imperium is the command in the sense of the disposing order. from an essentially imperialist point of view which . Parmenides. 203-238.e. it culminates in an ahistorical and antihistorical worldview of humanity.” i.’ … That is only possible through constant surmounting in relation to others. as Spanos observes. 9. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. while the latter anthropocentric and egoistic disciplines and “corrects” the mind according to the “truth” constructed and perpetuated by power. as the essential foundation of sovereignty. belongs ‘being above. “exclude[s] or repress[es] or forcibly accommodate[s] the differences that would disrupt the identity of that which is being produced. 125. Because this imperialist metaphysical thinking also determines and governs how history is written. Wegmarken. 127. ed. Western imperialism and humanism are coextensive with each other because the same moral imperial attitude pervades in both: imperialism in the form of regime of domination and governance and humanism in the form of regime of truth and discipline are made possible by the will to power over difference at the expense of the other. 1977). who are thus the inferiors.

presence and “Truth” made visible by the humanistic-imperialist horizon but in terms of what is made invisible outside the horizon: will to coexistence. As Said says. Said. for Said. “is non-contradiction.” 247. Said. The End of Education.e. and one’s moral attitude towards one’s knowledge and oneself determines not only the shifting of this line but also the entire perspective of reality. to reflect upon and look at life not in terms of the will to power. “Traveling Theory. For Said. “History. the epistemic quest for self-knowledge and moral search for coexistence.”30 which is the new thesis of the Hegelian progressive dialectic of world history in which contradictions are resolved. The epistemic and moral perspective of Western humanism is underpinned by the moral imperial will to exclude rather than include. i. and between self and other. 20. I would contend that the two poles of Said’s humanism. one does not only have to sustain a symmetrical power relation with alternative thinking and other subjectivities but also maintain a relation of power with one’s own subjectivity: “In the case of Foucault’s own relation to himself. Having established the connection between the epistemic and the moral basis of the will to knowledge and the will to coexistence. of his self29 30 31 Spanos. absence. or rather contradiction resolved. The attitude of seeing oneself as the servant of truth is identical with seeing oneself as servant of others while the master-of-truth perspective entails the understanding of oneself as master of others. the unfamiliar. Literature. nothingness. or explained (taught). and Geography. There is a line between what one knows and what one does not know. For both Foucault and Said. humanism or humanistic education is to nurture the unique self-critical ability and foster a critical culture. in order to be critical and moral. “what is critical consciousness at bottom if not an unstoppable predilection for alternatives?”31 I would thus say the critical attitude—to include rather than to exclude. 171 . and the other—is at bottom a moral attitude. to totalize rather than multiply and diversify reality.interpreted. are interconnected. between presence and absence.”29 Identity.” 463.

1985). a concomitant effort to involve others. Minima Moralia. “Archéologie d’une passion. The anti-subjectivity critical spirit of Foucault and Said implies Todorov’s conception of active humanism as opposed to passive humanism which mainly concerns the justification and protection of individual freedom and rights rather than social or communal relation and coexistence. ‘this effort to modify your own thinking and that of others … seems to be the intellectual’s raison d’être. In turn. and the Question of Identity. The intellectual requires constant self-critical redefinition of what is the “socially responsible mode of intellectual behavior. Here. as its corollary. In the Wake of Theory. as Bové says: “It is only that negative [critique] that makes possible the defense of life. 30. and love. or it must be given a broader meaning. the problematization is similar.perception as intellectual in particular. Rameau’s Nephew.’” 32 Foucault says that we write and critique in order “to be other than what we are. on the acceptance of the particular human being (other than self) as the ultimate goal of our actions. Consequently. Intellectuals in Power. 33 32 Foucault in an interview with Charles Ruas. “[a]ctive humanism … is based on the finality of the you. 39.”36 Said does not want exile but he chooses to be in exile: it is part of morality to counteract and contradict one’s own desire and intention. “Michel Foucault. 88. 223. since humanists favor not moral injunctions but the value of human attachment. 172 . 104.” 33 in order not to disseminate and perpetrate what we already know to influence and overcome others. The effort to ‘make oneself permanently able to remove oneself from oneself’ … has.”34 Said in following Adorno’s selfexiled morality—“It is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home”35— echoes Foucault’s anti-subjectivity criticism. Bové. friendship. Adorno. such a ‘morality’ intervenes in ‘politics’: the affairs of the country are no longer conducted in the same Karlis Racevskis. 34 35 36 Bové.” in The Final Foucault. even the term morality is no longer adequate. They both affirm that it is only by surrendering your own dwelling house—subjectivity—that you can have free life.” Magazine littéraire 221 (July-August.

”39 Bové believes that Said would be “nothing if not committed to the power of resistance and optimism that human struggles for freedom can be achieved.”38 and Foucault states. Luther H. Michel Foucault. love. On the other hand. “The purpose of the intellectual’s activity is to advance human freedom and knowledge. eds. Based on Todorov’s active humanism. Said says. Said’s homelessness at home and Foucault’s removal of oneself from oneself are moral acts of love for the sake of others. 17. 10. comes proximally to expression: the ‘nothing and nowhere. Heidegger says. Said and Foucault seem to imply that freedom is exile and selfremoval achieved through resisting the power of one’s own subjectivity while home.” 404. 41 37 38 39 Tzvetan Todorov. 32. “In anxiety one feels uncanny. as evidence. Here the peculiar indefiniteness of that which Dasein find itself alongside in anxiety. or that subjectivity is nonfreedom and imprisonment as a result of submitting to the power of one’s own subjectivity.”37 The act of consideration and involvement of other subjectivities is moral not because it is dictated by moral laws or injunctions but it is based on love for others. Patrick H. “my role…is to show people that they are much freer than they feel. some themes which have been built up at a certain moment during history.’ with all its obviousness—into the average everyday of Dasein. Martin. Huck Gutman. as Dasein 173 . “Continuing the Conversation.. that people accept as truth.”40 The view of humanism’s search for self-knowledge and coexistence as a united quest for freedom would further substantiate my contention that humanism’s will to knowledge or truth and coexistence is fundamentally a moral will. Hutton (London: Tavistock Pubns.manner if we decide to take it into account. 1988). Said. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault.’ But here ‘uncanniness’ also means ‘not-being-at-home’ … This character of Being-in was then brought to view more concretely through the everyday publicness of the ‘they’. emphasis original. Heidegger also sees exile or being not-at-home as the primordial existential condition of humanity. subjectivity and freedom. Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism. RI. which brings tranquilized self-assurance—‘Being-at-home. 40 41 Bové. and that this so-called evidence can be criticized and destroyed. One has to put Said’s homelessness at home and Foucault’s removal of oneself from oneself in the context of their intellectual activities in order to unlock the correspondences amongst morality.

According to Foucault and Said. The most fundamental power relation between power and resistance against power (freedom) exists not between two subjects but within the individual himself or herself: freedom is nonsubjectivity and inclusion of others (absence. non-being or specter). therefore to hold on to the self is to serve and submit to power while to remove from oneself and involve others is itself an act of freedom resulting in more freedom. 42 43 Spanos. exists only in human relations. Freedom is a choice informed not by power and subjectivity but self-sacrificial love for the sake of others. nothing. HDC. transiting from one’s subjectivity to other subjectivities. “Humanism and the Studia Humanitatis after 9/11/04. not the master or overlord. Nothing else is meant by our talk about ‘uncanniness. Being-in enters into the existential ‘mode’ of the not-at-home. trans. the former is self-sacrificial while the latter is to sacrifice others in terms of freedom.Spanos in discussing Heidegger’s view of humanity affirms the moral responsibility of human beings: “care (Sorge) is the fundamental ‘existential’ structure of human being’s being. 233.” unpaginated. anxiety brings it back from its absorption in the [familiarized] ‘world. It is this primordial condition … that renders human being. Dasein has been individualized.”42 When we understand the goal of humanism as morality is the other and that “such a ‘morality’ intervenes in ‘politics. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson (London: SCM Press.’” we can identify love and power as the two great forces in human society and politics and juxtapose them to understand how freedom is made possible. like power. interpreting the text through a two-way dialogue instead of one-way interrogation (humanistic and philological criticism)43 and removing oneself from oneself (the raison d’être of criticism). one’s own subjectivity is a form of power to be resisted by being homeless at home (secular criticism). but individualized as Being-in-theworld. but the care-taker of being. Love. 92. 174 .’” Being and Time. 1962).’ Everyday familiarity collapses. The difference in motivations (love and power) distinguishes between Said’s and Zionists’ criticism of the former PLO leader Yasir Arafat even though they might use the same falls. Said.

One must rid oneself of the conceit of scholars (boria 44 For instance. one cannot be truly wise. 22. 45 Vico. There is a dialectic and circularity of conceit and ignorance and of humility and wisdom. Said. that from this it must be concluded that ‘he who is not pious. antihumanistic and antihistorical).” he criticizes for the interests and freedom of the Palestinians at large not for the sake of deprecating Arafat. Vico in concluding his magnum opus The New Science says: “In sum. and unless one is pious. Piety. “[Arafat] is of course a genius at manipulating selfinterest and the power of his security forces. all the observations contained in this work lead to one conclusion. My New Science is indissolubly linked to the study of piety. He is saying to the reader that if one is to gain that noetic vision of the whole which is rendered visible by this science. If there is to be poetic wisdom. cannot be truly wise.’ he is saying something more. emphasis added. Vincenzo says: “The answer to this question is already implied in our examination of the sense in which Vico’s science is a science of piety. 175 .language. when we see Said individually and genealogically within the critical humanistic tradition. In an explication of Vico’s understanding of the connection between piety and wisdom. which is “the search for alternatives” by removing oneself from oneself. The New Science. 44 Criticism. “Piety” in religious context would mean the fear of and respect for a supernatural being while in the secular context the humbling of oneself in relation to the other and respect for the other. Joseph P. End. when Said says. one must have no share in the conceits which are the cause of all the errors and distortions of this whole. Said is against all forms of conceit (imperialist. is the archaic human response to that which is other than man. But when Vico says further. One would not have true knowledge and understanding of humanity and the world as well as individual and communal freedom if one does not humble oneself in relation to the other (culture and individual). there must be piety. I believe that by this statement Vico is saying that those people who think they know actually do not know the whole truth and those who know that they do not know would be able to know the whole.”45 The concept of “piety” is to be historically contextualized and understood in the context of secular humanism. §1112. we saw. is therefore an act of love instead of an act of the will to power. The unity between critical knowledge and morality of Said’s humanism mirrors the unity of wisdom and piety in Vico’s New Science. In short.

Vincenzo at the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy in Boston. clipped on December 15. as the understanding or vision of the totality of humanity is impeded. 176 . bring about communal coexistence. Said himself did not go as far as to acknowledge the connection amongst wisdom. No human beings can.”46 “Piety” is a moral attitude which subordinates oneself in relation to the other. The concern for one’s freedom (i. subjectivity) will not bring freedom in the real and practical sense. Vincenzo says: “The loss of poetic wisdom …is due to man’s conceit which necessarily forgets all exteriority or otherness. The moral and intellectual cause and effect of conceit are circular. Said’s secular humanism is founded upon Vico’s historicist humanism as established and exemplified in The New Science. it is only the concern for the freedom of others that could truly bring intellectual and moral freedom to humanity at large.e. Such conceit thus imprisons man to the confines of his own subjectivity. This insight leads not only to an understanding of the New Science as a science of how philosophical piety functions to render the whole intelligible it also leads to a recognition of how impiety or conceit distorts and fragments the vision of the whole. by virtue of merely focusing on and caring for one’s own subjectivity.htm>. Massachusetts from August 10-15.edu/wcp/Papers/Hist/HistVinc.bu. the certain and the established beliefs and presuppositions of our time. prohibiting any ingress into what is common to all”47: the loss of piety necessitates intellectual and moral failures on the part of the human in the search for knowledge of humanity and communal coexistence. whereby one nation sets itself up above and beyond the ideal eternal history. “Vico’s New Science: The Unity of Piety and Wisdom. morality and 46 A paper entitled “Vico’s New Science: The Unity of Piety and Wisdom” presented by Joseph P. Moral humility is required in the humanistic and epistemic search for knowledge to constantly reexamine the premises. In his paper on the Vichian unity of piety and wisdom. The paper is taken from the homepage of Paideia Project On-Line. 47 Vincenzo. and. 2007. the conceit of the nations (boria delle nazioni). 1998. <http://www.” unpaginated.delle dotti) which impertinently extends familiar modern categories and modes of thinking into unfamiliar ancient times and places.

His humanism emphasizes the rationally understandable. “Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism. Said.” 48 As I have established that what Said implies by a critical attitude is at bottom a moral attitude. and. moral aporia and relativism and political indifference of deconstruction and poststructuralism in their understanding of humanity and human production and institution. just as doing criticism and maintaining a critical position are critical aspects of the intellectual’s life. 11. genealogically traceable transferable knowledge of humanity or human history as it is made by men and women “according to the principle formulated by Vico in New Science.”51 Vico’s humanism is thus a science which counteracts the arbitrariness.”49 This is why Said is so antagonistic towards the epistemic indeterminacy. His secular humanism is anti-dogmatic and anti-religious: “This is a poignant irony. 77. 30. according to Mitchell. 177 . to be recalled for the benefit of people who maintain that criticism is art. Vico frequently reminds his readers in The New Science and his Autobiography that his study of the common law of all nations or the ideal eternal history of mankind is more importantly a study of Divine Providence revealed: a 48 49 50 51 Said. Mitchell.” 470. his humanism is a fight against the arbitrariness of humanistic and philological criticism. emphasis original. irrationality and randomness of human history.”50 With the belief that everything in history has in Collingwood’s words “its own raison d’être and comes into existence in order to serve the needs of the men whose minds have corporately created it. humanism and humanity. it ceases to be interesting. The Idea of History. I would further maintain that insofar as Said’s humanism is underpinned by a moral attitude. therefore. Collingwood. That at bottom is a critical attitude. HDC. he sees these kinds of thinking as “the rise of skepticism and the resurgence of superstition. and who forget that. WTC.philosophical and religious piety. the moment anything acquires the status of a cultural idol or a commodity. Said’s humanism is grounded in Vico’s New Science. and sympathetically epistemically knowable.

even through these different and contrary ways. to a certain extent Vico’s religion is historically and politically determined. that would be irrelevant to the study of historicist humanism. 53 178 . However. Concerning the universalist and ahistorical character of Vico’s science. Max Harold Fisch and Thomas Goddard Bergin Ithaca (N. because Vico’s faith in God and study of the entire course of human history are historicially situated in response to the intellectual. my translation. trans. Therefore.” According to Huang’s observation. Viewed in this aspect. Vico’s belief in religion and universalist principle can only be understood historically. Vico’s New Science is both a “humanism of religion” and a “religion of humanism. From a historical perspective. human history is not an arbitrary temporal development of humanity but operates according to the moral laws and principles defined by divine providence.rational civil theology.” The New Science.” The question of the degree and nature of the “religiosity” of Vico is beyond the critical focus of this thesis.” He says: “Absolute philosophical principles are implicated in the Vichian historical and evolutionary consciousness. God ordered and arranged human institutions so that this same self-interested led people. overemphasize the historicality of Vico’s science at the expense of its unchanging philosophical principles. overstress Vico’s originality at the expense of the eclecticism of his science. Vico also mentions that the purpose of his study is to subordinate Platonic philosophy to Christian faith. and that law exists in nature. 1944).Y. 105.52 According to Vico. historical and political conditions of his time. See Wenfei Huang. I shall show that this social nature is the true civil nature of humankind. my work becomes a rational civil theology of divine providence. This role of divine providence is the first of the principal topics studied in my New Science. Weike “Xin ke xue” zhi zhong gu xing (Taibei: Gua Li Taiwan da xue chu ban wei yuan hui. But by His providential care. If people were left to pursue their private interests. §2. 2000). In my New Science. 122. sympathetically and strategically. I do not see Said’s anti-religious secular humanism contradictory to Vico’s humanism or Said contradicting himself by predicating his secular humanism upon Vico’s humanism.53 And Said’s adoption of Vico’s historicist humanism is a historical and strategic act against the inhumanity of the postmodern and posthumanist political situations of his time. Wenfei Huang sees “no contradiction between the evolutionary property of historicism and unchanging eternal character of Christianity in Vico but only misinterpretation viewed from the slanted perspective of historicism. they would live in solitude like wild beasts. although Said studies 52 Vico coins this phrase to represent his humanism: “Since original sin caused people to fall from a state of perfect justice. it might be argued that religion is an inherent part of Vico’s science. human intentions and actions generally follow different and even contrary paths. to live with justice like human beings and to remain in society.: Cornell University Press. 155. Intellectuals after Vico heavily influenced by Romanticism and secular humanism strongly uphold the flag of Vico’s anti-Enlightenment historicism and overlook the essence of the reverence for Christian faith of his science. The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico.

55 54 179 . One might argue that insofar as Said’s humanism is a fight against the arbitrariness of humanistic and philological criticism. Said like Foucault did not See Said’s “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist” and “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts. as opposed to absorbing it passively. reactively. and that it can be understood rationally according to the principle formulated by Vico in New Science. 11.55 What Said concerns are the human capacity for self-knowledge and self-criticism and how we can apply this self-critical ability to understand literature. 54 he has not dealt with Vico’s belief and faith in God’s Providence. which according to Vico himself makes his New Science or the scientific study of the laws and principles of human history possible. to see it from the point of view of its human maker. to put it differently. or rather. he thus historically contextualizes his adaptation of Vico’s humanism for specific purposes: “For my purposes here. which sees human history as an arbitrary and transhuman formation. we can know things according to the way they were made. to know is to know how a thing is made. and dully. it is based upon certain unarbitrary hermeneutical and moral principles. the core of humanism is the secular notion that the historical world is made by men and women. that we can really know only what we make or. humanism and humanity. what is the secular and moral foundation of his humanism and how does his moralcritical consciousness operate in understanding and criticism such as philological hermeneutics and literary criticism? The dialectical mediation between historicism and universalism The tension between the historical particular and the universal general has been an important motif in Said’s secular criticism.” Said. emphasis added. which is to say that as human beings in history we know what we make. His formula is known as the verum/factum equation. So far I have been reading Said’s critical-moral humanism as a form of resistance against the unsecular interpretation of history. From another perspective. or the connection between the religious dimension of Vico’s humanism and his secular and critical humanism. culture and politics and to fight against intellectual dogmas and hegemonies.” Clearly Said is mainly concerned with humanism as a historical discipline. According to Said. his secular humanism is also critical of the idea of universalism and determinism. historical knowledge based on the human being’s capacity to make knowledge. Hence Vico’s notion also of sapienza poetica. and not by God. HDC.and writes about Vico’s New Science in various essays.

In other words. critical consciousness connects different cultures. political process.. In The World. Ibid. a series of texts. which is the foundation of his humanism. theory is the researcher’s domain. class consciousness is thought thinking its way through fragmentation to unity. the Text and the Critic. Said identifies critical consciousness as the site of emergence of class consciousness. the individual writer. apparently disconnected things are brought together in perfect correspondence: economic. At bottom. totality. the place in which disparate. Said discusses and exemplifies the oppositional and resistant agency of critical consciousness.. WTC. between world vision and texts in their smallest detail.deny or reject the existence of universal moral principles based upon a universal human nature. This is why Said is very critical of intellectual specialization and 56 57 58 Said. Said says: “the theoretical enterprise. Ibid. The idea of unity and coherence pervades Said’s humanistic and secular criticism: “[Critical] [c]onsciousness goes beyond empirical givens and comprehends. Said goes beyond the question of universalism or universal humanity by his discussion of critical consciousness. By contextualizing critical consciousness historically within the Marxist-Lukascian conception of class consciousness.56 According to Said. between a determinate social reality and the writings of particularly gifted members of a group.”57 On the theory of coherence. 235. 180 . 232-3. while Foucault circumvents the question of a fixed and unchanging human nature by a genealogical study of humanity. histories and literatures and comprehends the world in terms of relation and historical process within a fragmented and commodified capitalistic society. 233. without actually experiencing. an interpretive circle.”58 To do criticism is to connect the disconnected and to relate parts to the whole. history. and society as a whole—precisely those unities that reification had both concealed and denied. is a demonstration of coherence: between part and whole.

culture. In all of their necessity these divisions simply attest institutionally to the renunciation of the whole truth. Literature by virtue of being placed in the world has specific meanings and values that “place restraints upon what can be done with them interpretively. psychoanalysis into the field of literary study has made the reading of literature a scientific experiment rather than a personal voyage into the literary text to establish not only a two-way communication between the reader and the writer across time and space but also the dialectical relationship between the individual writer or text and the whole humanity at that specific historical moment. The disgust for anachronistic eclecticism does not sanctify a culture organized according to departmental specialization.academic compartmentalization: “The division of intellectual labor. A literary text cannot be treated as a scientific object without historical specificity. poststructuralism. which has meant increasing specialization. 181 .” 156. method and technical jargon which lack the humanistic and historical perspective required for the reading of the historically specific literary text. 40. Literary interpretation for Said is not arbitrary. post-structuralism. 228.” 61 As every domain is interrelated (nature. science.”60 Adorno also sees intellectual specialization as a rejection of whole truth: “although art and science have separated from each other in history. Adorno.. Ibid. 59 60 61 Ibid. their opposition is not to be hypostatized. further erodes any direct apprehension one might have of a whole field of literature and literary study. The humanistic literary reading and study is predicated upon the understanding of literature as a product of the human mind which stems from a particular historical and social existence whilst critical theory produces ahistorical theoretical framework.”59 The intrusion of critical theories such as semiotics. conversely. the historical situatedness of any text determines one’s interpretation.. and Lacanian psychoanalysis has distended the literary critical universe almost beyond recognition. the invasion of literary discourse by the outre jargons of semiotics. “The Essay as Form.

even though Vico himself tended to think in terms of a generalized unity of mankind. The unity 62 63 64 Said. Said. and eternal common humanity. as Mazlish says: “it was Vico who first stressed the evolutionary aspect of humanity.”62 The goal of Vico’s scientific study of the evolution of human history is the unchanging philosophical principles inherent in history. it requires constant selfexamination in order to tease out its own assumptions and premises which render certain domains of human activity invisible and negligible on the humanistic and institutional horizon. idiosyncratic problem and a very strong interest in human collectivity. We cannot separate humanistic criticism and scientific development because the consequences and implications of both humanistic and scientific research. As a result. Said considers individual texts as a whole. Vico was able to subvert the previous domination of thought by natural law. and to substitute for it the main outlines of historicism. are to be investigated and laid out in humanistic discourse. projection and materialization of the human mind itself: “history is human will understood both temporally and absolutely.”63 Human beings will the human world into existence. 55. 182 . The entire history of mankind is a creation. B. psychological. reflection. The Riddle of History.politics and literature). Like Vico. Bruce Mazlish. and who treated each stage in that evolution as a whole. or cultural configuration. political and cultural. moral. ethical and ecological problems brought about by scientific innovations and failures. B. If humanism fails to respond to the social. as he says his book Beginnings is a “combination in intellectual work of a special. unchanging. he is interested in human collectivity. we would benefit from making a deeper relation between science and humanism. 357. 361.”64 History is the temporal understanding of human will because the historicality of the mind determines the historicality of humanity or human history whilst the absolute understanding of human will entails that the human mind or will is a unity or a whole possessing an absolute character. social. with its emphasis on a fixed.

perfect in itself. 66 67 68 Auerbach. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. the whole course of human history. Still. each of the stages of historical development is necessary. it is true. works exclusively within history.” See Auerbach. this natural course of history has been ordained by Divine Providence which. Vico’s and Auerbach’s philosophical philology or philological philosophy 68 attempts to unlock the correspondences between the human 65 I have previously contended in Chapter Four that the idea of truth as truth outside power and discourse or truth as mere instrument of power inside power is undialectical since the power relation between resistance and power is reversible and dialectical. in spite of continual change. the whole of human history is a permanent Platonic state. the idea of critiquing “outside” of or in transcendence of discourse is a linguistic and conceptual misinterpretation underpinned and rigidified by binary thinking. it is Divine Providence. la commune natura delle nazioni.65 As Auerbach says. Human history is therefore Divine Providence expressed historically and temporally while Divine Providence is histories understood in entirety and unity: “Only in the entirety of history is there truth. exploring the particular certa [the certain. Thus the truth for which philosophy is searching appears to be linked with philology.” 33. is the subject of Vico’s work. and only by the understanding of its whole course may one obtain it. which therefore.”67 In Said’s discussion of the philological criticism of Auerbach and Leo Spitzer. and good. 37. 183 . may be called as well a philosophical philology as a philological philosophy—dealing exclusively with mankind on this planet..” 37. “According to Vico. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism.of human histories across epochs is an eternal Platonic state which must not be understood outside but inside human history. Auerbach summaries Vico’s work in these two interchangeable phrases: “This connection [between historical epochs]. Ibid. emphasis added. not from without. or the established] as well as their continuity and connection.”66 Vico’s New Science is both a humanism of religion and a religion of humanism—“ideal eternal history” and “rational civic theology”—achieved through establishing a dialectical relation between the individual particular (history or philology) and the universal general (science or philosophy). There is no “outside” position vis-à-vis power relation. the two philological humanists allude to the notion of the whole truth or Divine Providence as internal logic or inner force of history and a literary work. Again.

in consequence.nature of every age and all human activities and expressions of that age concerned.”71 These humanists have yet to give a “definite” account of what that inner force of history and literature is. Leo Spitzer. in the depth of the workaday world and its men and women.” and “life-giving center. nonetheless. emphasis added.J. when. 184 . the sun of the solar system. as animated by inner forces and in a constant state of development. economy. what is animated by inner force. 1948). as a piece of history whose everyday depths and total inner structure lay claim to our interest both in their origins and in the 69 direction taken by their development.J. 71 70 Said. 19.: Princeton University Press. 111. so that each epoch appears as a whole whose character is reflected in each of its manifestations. in both a more concrete and a more profound sense. HDC.” 70 The dialectic of the historical particular and the universal general is established through viewing and representing history and reality from the historicist perspective which according to Said is “multiperspectival.” “inward form. 2003). they accept the conviction that the meaning of events cannot be grasped in abstract and general forms of cognition and that the material needed to understand it must not be sought exclusively in the upper strata of society and in major political events but also in art. N. material and intellectual culture. trans. and what. N. intro. is universally valid: then it is to be expected that those insights will also be transferred to the present and that. Leo Spitzer also refers the inner forces of history or literature or the whole truth of a work of art as “the inward life-center.” in Linguistics and Literary History: Essays in Stylistics (Princeton. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. finally. the inner force or whole truth of human history manifests itself omnipresently in every domain of a 69 Erich Auerbach. the present too will be seen as incomparable and unique. emphasis added. of the incomparability of historical phenomena and of their constant inner mobility. because it is only there that one can grasp what is unique. Auerbach uses inner forces instead of outer forces because these forces work only inside history and can only be understood historically. when they come to appreciate the vital unity of individual epochs. and also to understand the whole truth of the entire historical development: [W]hen. 444. in other words. dynamic. Willard R. and holistic. Edward Said (Princeton. “Linguistics and Literary History.: Princeton University Press. [people] come to develop a sense of historical dynamics. in other words. Trask.

Auerbach and Said exemplify their philosophical understanding of the relation between the human mind and human knowledge. The mind. the principles of the civil world can and must be discovered within the modifications of the human mind. of rediscovering them in its own ‘modifications’.writer’s life and the whole human society. “Vico’s Contribution to Literary Criticism. Knowledge does not exist externally. no scientific proof that it has worked. Auerbach refers to this capacity of the mind as “magnanimity”: “a state of mind capable of recreating in itself all varieties of human experience.”73 Said also states: “There is no guarantee that the making of this connection [between details and life-giving center of a work of art] is correct. “Vico and Aesthetic Historism. Vico says. the “entire development of human history. But all of them uniformly and unequivocally believe that the whole truth of humanity is comprehensible by the human mind because human history or humanity is made by humans themselves. 65.”75 and Said and Foucault call 72 73 74 75 Vico. is historical. 185 .”72 therefore Auerbach says. the understanding of the inner force as the meaning-giving source or center of human history and production requires infinite stages of subjective interpretation which can never be definite and are always subjectively flawed. There is only the inner faith of the humanist ‘in the power bestowed on the human mind of investigating the human mind. And consequently. is ahistorical. is potentially contained in the human mind. the unique capacity of the human mind for modification and development in the process of understanding and selfunderstanding. emphasis added. which expresses itself through continual changes in time.” 34-5. Auerbach. HDC. The New Science. therefore.’”74 The philological details of Vico. as made by men. but rather is potentially contained within the mind and can be understood through the modification of the mind. Said. §331.” 118. emphasis original. Auerbach. “The civil world is certainly the creation of humankind. which experiences historical change in the course of modifying itself in the process of understanding and self-understanding.

psychological and sensual. “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist.this the critical capacity of the mind to modify one’s subjectivity through searching for alternatives and removing oneself from oneself. because it has made a mythos of itself.”76 Every human production within a certain historical period is interconnected with each other and is characterized by a particular perspective of reality of that historical period. Said. as Nietzsche was to say many years later in The Use and Abuse of History. Intellectuals in Power. 186 . unity is historical and “epochal. emphasis original. Moreover. according to Said.”77 The “inner forces” or “inward form” of a literary work that Auerbach and Spitzer talk about correspond to the unity of the mind. it neutralizes or renders its power impotent by perceiving the myth as a myth. a oneness underlying the modalities. When this is done the whole immanent structure leaps into view. the study of the universal general and the philological hermeneutics of a literary text are only possible because unity is individual. Unity is anti-arbitrary and anti-atomist yet not necessarily universal. is a weakness that must be overcome. Said’s interest in and concern for the relations amongst different domains and modalities of human life should not be confused with the idea of unity as an ahistorical universal character of humanity.” 350-1. And the unity of the mind is achieved through the working of critical consciousness. As I have suggested in my discussion of Said’s historicist humanism in Chapter Two. 137. 76 77 Bové. each of the modalities is interrelated for the mind is itself a unity or a oneness: “It is always the mind with which Vico is concerned. the myth is a rational civil theology. Vico calls this ideal eternal history. moral. or God’s providence revealed. like reading the Autobiography and the New Science as narratives. When it realizes that what passes for myth is only a concession to the historic sense which. Although there are multiple dimensions or modalities concerning the human mind such as the intellectual. Its modalities are the objects of historical criticism which means that man’s mind is to be read as a continuing book with a central mythos to it. Yet the mind is unity. as courses and re-courses over a series of crises in intellection and self-consciousness.

a subject Said discusses at some length in taking Auerbach’s exile in Turkey as metaphorically paradigmatic of all oppositional critical work. 89.According to Vico. moral. Literary Language and Its Public. as Said says: “it is what one remembers of the past and how one remembers it [with what kinds of attitude. and the mind is a totality which manifests itself throughout these modalities. the mind must view a textual or cultural whole synthetically and holistically from as many perspectives as possible: cultural. literary and perhaps musical. intellectual. As Auerbach says. by a process of research and re-evocation. This phrase is taken from Bové who says. “a critical attitude toward one’s own culture requires more than ‘critical detachment. be understood by men. geographical. finitude and historicity. Said’s critical attitude or “attitude of alienation” 81 78 79 80 81 Auerbach. The “whole immanent structure” of the mind becomes visible only when the mind forgets its own subjectivity. It requires an attitude and experience of alienation. Auerbach’s magnanimous capacity. 187 .” 118. aesthetic. it has to be synthetic. the “entire development of human history. of its genius … a genius pervading all human activities and expressions of the period concerned. However. xxxv. as made by men.” 78 Thus. 37. Said. political. In the Wake of Theory. “Vico and Aesthetic Historism. as an understanding of every historical stage as an integral whole. psychological and sensual. Humanistic criticism is always subjective. since the entire development of human history is the human mind understood historically.”80 All modalities of the individual mind. “a man’s work stems from his existence and … consequently everything we can find out about his life serves to interpret the work. the re-evocation is not only analytic. The statement that “the mind is unity” sheds light on the very connection between wisdom and morality. Exile. the mind or critical consciousness would not attain a full understanding of itself if it merely examines and studies itself as history. are connected. is potentially contained in the human mind and may therefore.” 79 who you are informs and determines how and what you read and write. emotion and feeling] that determine how one sees the future.” Bové. Auerbach.’ It requires some substantial dissatisfaction with current values.

the respect for and embrace of otherness. to love and include the other. Adorno. No knowledge. relativism and determinism. no utterance worth making and cherishing.” 83 The moral of Said’s humanism is a dialectical mediation between the historical particular and the universal general. Autodidacticism: the individual basis of morality and knowledge Humility. In other words. principle. Said’s summary of his humanism as “a stubborn conviction that must. without which there can be no real literature. 80. Therefore. Morality exists in thinking rather than transcendental moral principles: “The morality of thought lies in a procedure that is neither entrenched nor detached. Said begins with individual critical consciousness whose active thinking. epistemology and morality are not to be understood in terms of epistemic and moral principles but in terms of the moral of individual thinking and critical consciousness. choosing and acting circumvents the dichotomy between historicism and universalism. neither atomistic nor consequential. philology and philosophy. HDC. neither blind nor empty. it is subjectivity achieved through suspending. Minima Moralia. The moral-critical consciousness is not a position or a doctrine. 188 . 74.towards oneself and Foucault’s counter-subjective spirit are not exclusively a cognitive capacity but fundamentally a moral capacity to forget the self. without refuting the existence of epistemic and moral principle upon which his humanism is predicated. like Foucault’s genealogical criticism. system or freedom is possible without the active participation of the critical consciousness. necessitates that the care for truth is coextensive and concomitant with the care for others. no human history and agency fit to protect and encourage” 82 implies that humanism and humanistic knowledge are founded upon individual critical consciousness. The moral attitude towards the other pervades the humanist’s quest for coexistence and 82 83 Said. choosing and repositing between binary opposites. that can only begin in the individual particular.

external Reason is not the foundation of humanism. Such a way of caring for truth. The 84 Akeel Bilgrami. rather than to adopt an excluding attitude and say that he may have his own sort of truth or right on his side. Moreover.”86 The “loss of external Reason” is valid and acknowledged. “Secularism and Relativism. as the relativistic pluralists do when they say that they may have their own sort of moral truth on their side. 84 The care for truth cannot be separate from the care for others and vice versa as they both originate from piety for otherness. Intellectuals in Power. 85 86 Bové. “Secularism and Relativism. even if it is a bitter and vexed dispute. humanistic understanding and morality.’” 85 I do agree with Bilgrami’s suggestion that inclusiveness and exclusiveness are a moral attitude which bears upon one’s quest for truth and coexistence: “When one is in a moral dispute with another. however. The latter is what the relativist pluralist says. as I said. itself reflects a caring for others [prerequisite of coexistence]. 189 . it is far better to have an attitude of inclusiveness toward one’s foe that makes one strive to share the truth as one sees it with him. “the interchange among different cultures … is dialectically necessary to the increasingly rapid development and articulation of ‘humanity. Bilgrami. An excellent read for anyone who is puzzled by the impasse and indeterminacy of relativism defining the postmodern age and interested in looking for alternatives (humanism as suggested by Bilgrami). therefore. as Bilgrami argues.” boundary 2 31. a humanist value. Said’s humanism adheres to the attitude of inclusion or inclusiveness rather than exclusion or marginalization. The very existence of the exilic critic’s love for truth and justice (care for others). 166. That is the point of the talk of ‘brotherhood’ as a value.truth. which in this specific sense is missing in the relativist cast of pluralism. caring enough to want to convince them of the truth. 2 (summer 2004): 196.” 195. no. forestalls: the slide from an acknowledged loss of external Reason to a relativism about values [as it involves] seeing that appeal as an assertion of a value of caring about the truth (as one sees it and judges it) [an humanism-enlightenment’s pursuit] rather than showing an indifference to others who disagree with one. and therefore the attitude of inclusion applies to both epistemology and human relation.

everyday. The human mind is universal and yet individual: understanding of the whole only begins in the individual particular as individual consciousness is the only medium through which one can perceive and comprehend the whole. Said also assigns an equal status to both context (general) and text (particular).” 88 Said. he seems to have been convinced of his individuality and strength of mind from his earliest days.” In fact. Bové also mentioned that as Said’s colleague at Columbia University. In a course on the foundations of Euro-American critical theory here in the University of Hong Kong. like the work of women. 358.foundation of human understanding and coexistence is not external to the mind and humanity but works internally within the human mind. and most of the time his Autobiography is an account of this self-learning. The recognition of individuality is a form of justice against injustice produced by the indifference of institution.”88 To appreciate individuality is also a form of justice. rhetoric and discourse): even each word is to be examined contrapuntally with other words so that cultural and ideological connotations can be revealed and dehierarchized by putting these meanings in a more balanced power relation with each other.” in B.” Said. “Conclusion: Vico in His Works and in This. Said often told him to “write more. The autodidactic property of mankind is the basis for Said’s ideal of participatory democracy which emphasizes democratic intellectual participation by individuals in the making of history. to 1 p. That is why Said underlines the autodidactism 87 of humanity as the entirety of human history is potentially contained within the human mind. Said himself is an autodidact who emphasizes writing as an autodidactic process of learning and self-learning. or blacks and servants—but which had been either denied or derogated. See also Said’s “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist. In the end. 190 . the 87 Said exemplifies this autodidactic property of humanity through Vico: “Everything [Vico] learned. It was always a matter of opening and participating in a central strand of intellectual and cultural effort and of showing what had always been. part of it. system and power. “The Politics of Knowledge. and democracy is “never a matter of replacing one set of authorities and dogmas with another.” in Exile. Paul Bové said that Said strictly maintained a habit of writing and wrote from 5 a. nor of substituting one center for another.m.m. though indiscernibly. Said’s macro-democratic thinking begins at the micro-particular level which is not simply individual but philological (the individual particular parts of literature. he learned for and by himself. write more. 381.

and labor. it teases out the power relations between the systems of subjection and the subjected subject and transcends the binary opposition between the true and the false: “Although [Foucault] traced with great patience the discursive systems of sciences of life. power. democracy is not simply a political state or system established prior and external to its participants but it is an attitude towards others adopted and practiced by the participants themselves. If everything is political. identity politics and subjectivity.spirit of democracy lives in individuals. Genealogy aims to undermine authority in power and any appeal to transcendental authority by showing how power operates in the materiality of language and discourse. Foucault’s genealogy of human morality demonstrates that morality is historical and that since the history of morality itself is not teleological. his aim was not to unveil the truths they had discovered or the falsities they had propounded. Said is concerned with the genealogy of humanity. Like his predecessors of critical humanism. once again. Democracy is universal openness to individual participation bestowed with equal recognition and political and institutional power. For Said. it was the effective operation of these disciplines—how and around what concepts they formed. and yet his humanism maintains a critical tension between Foucault’s negative critique of humanism and Vico’s scientific study of human history. Rather. It does not concern the truth and falsity of things. language. where they developed—that 191 . then nothing is morally neutral. The question of morality is also the question of humanity. Said’s critical work is influenced by both Foucault’s and Vico’s philosophy. the moral distinction between good and bad is inapplicable to morality itself as a historical formation. From this perspective. Critical consciousness and moral consciousness are a unity: how you think depends upon your moral attitude. how they were used. democracy rests on the individual’s democratic thinking which is predicated upon a geographically-decentered consciousness to circumvent centralizing discourse. On one hand. The system and institution of democracy therefore must be challenged and modified by the individual and historical consciousness.

History is not created or produced by men. The Foucault Reader. “Vico’s New Science: The Unity of Piety and Wisdom. 91 92 Said. “[human ideas] were once passionate imaginings stemming from [pious and fearful] responses to physical existence. the sign “Jove”] does not occur out of sheer human doing or making.” 91 Human history seen in this light is not solely a human creation but directed and participated by exterior force— the Divine Providence: “The poetic word [e. 192 .e. but occurs as a result of man’s fantastic and archaic response to that which is exterior to man. Vincenzo. “Vico on the Discipline of Bodies and Texts.” unpaginated. it is piety as the primordial form of human moral regard for the other which unites the intellect. and even brought into existence by the regimes of power and knowledge. “Vico’s New Science: The Unity of Piety and Wisdom.was Foucault’s prey.”89 Foucault has demonstrated that our consciousness and subjectivity including our conscience (the sense of justice) and emotion (the sense of happiness and self-esteem) are controlled.” 87. Vico introduces an alternative genealogical perspective of understanding human history: “primordial piety—fear of the mythic other”—is “the origin of the most rudimentary [political and moral] institutions of humanity” and “poetic wisdom.” i. the earliest form of human wisdom from which human reason and morality develop. Viewed from the perspective of the will to power as an existential necessity of humanity. Vincenzo. but arises out of man’s response to the particular manner in which divine providence makes it claim on man from time to time in human historicity. On the other hand. 89 90 Paul Rabinow. 90 Said also says.” 92 It is not a matter whether will to power/knowledge or morality comes first to exert control and determination over one or the other: according to Vico. determined. According to Vico. they out of pious fear of the unknown other created the sign “Jove”—“fathers of men and Gods”—to designate the sight and sound of a thunderbolt. Foucault’s understanding of the formation of human civilization and history is instructive. to that which surpasses and ultimately uses man’s desires to design the course and recourse of human historicity. 12.” unpaginated.g. when the primitive men in history saw and heard a thunderbolt.

historicity and universality.” 350. 193 . “Vico: Autodidact and Humanist. home and exile. No matter how one contextualizes. As discussed before. Said’s genealogical and moral humanism circumvents the Foucauldian and the Vichian genealogical perspectives of the beginning and development of humanity and morality: the former views humanity and morality as functions of the will to power while the latter as functions of moral attitude of piety. The genealogy of Said’s humanism underlines an “inner force” or “genius” which animates his long-standing multifaceted and multifarious criticism. History stems from human existential circumstances in which human beings respond and react to exterior forces. a oneness underlying the modalities. His literary criticism is organically linked to his existence and his passion and compassion towards his subjects of study which separates him from academics who write for the academic position they assume.emotion and sensuality of humanity and enables the formation of the early form of human wisdom for later historical development. If there is something so unarbitrary about the historical and intellectual formation of Said’s humanistic criticism. presence and absence. morality is not a mere function of discourse of power but exists in one’s critical consciousness. and political passions. his existence as a literary critic.” not only “because it has made a mythos of itself”93 but also because between self and other. His critical practice entails a dialectic of his historical existence and moral-critical consciousness. cultures and theories. historicizes and deconstructs his humanistic thoughts and praxis. optimism and 93 Said. intellectualized and theorized as a concept but instead be realized through thinking between ideas. there is something indelibly “Saidian” about Said himself. “[T]he mind is unity. historically specific details. Morality should not be discussed. The unity of his works is unmistakable yet full of particular rhetorical flairs. humanist and public intellectual has its raison d’être that can only be sought in his history.

pessimism. a unity of piety. which chooses. intellect. filiation and affiliation. politics and aesthetics and theory and praxis. 194 . morality and emotion. deliberates and re-posits itself. it is Said’s mind.

”—Edward Said1 “Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible. Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy (New York: Simon & Schuster. Confined and conditioned by perspective. 195 .EPILOGUE “An Exile’s Exile”: The Question of Humanism “[H]umanism is not a way of consolidating and affirming what ‘we’ have always known and felt. culture and intellectual formation. morally and emotionally. orientation and results of the intellectual inquiry. in search for meanings of humanity. Frankl2 Every intellectual inquiry begins with a series of questions. questions transform and educate us intellectually. upsetting. Prior to changing and exerting effects upon the world. 154. Viktor E.”—Viktor E. and reformulating so much of what is presented to us as commodified. questions also delimit and determine the scope. uncontroversial. and of changing himself for the better if necessary. packaged. new possibilities and alternatives. and uncritically codified certainties. questions enable human knowledge by focusing critical attention on the search for answers. 1984). emphasis added. 28. How one asks a question entails why one asks that 1 2 Said. Frankl. their questions are ultimately humanistic. Humanism is an existential and philosophical question concerning all humanity. HDC. For humanists and “antihumanists” alike. Arising from specific historical and political situations and crises. but rather a means of questioning.

“meaning is imposed rather than found. socially and institutionally imposed meanings of humanity. it is of great intellectual and political significance to understand humans in terms of subjects and knowledge as power. public intellectual and political activist philosophically reflect and historically remodify his understanding of humanism and humanity.4 Criticism is a historical and ongoing process of the will to meaning. and aesthetics—is the question of how the studies of literature. PPC. and thereby deconstruct the culturally. In the age of 3 4 Hayden White. language. theory. thinking and acting in relation to specific historical conditions. Said. In the case of Edward Said. capital and ideology. politics and aesthetics enable us to achieve a better understanding of ourselves and to search for possibilities of thinking. From the beginning to the end of his career. The historical transition of Western humanism from modernism to postmodernism is a replacement of the Enlightenment question of why and how humans could be free as a modern bourgeois subject by the postmodern question of why and how humans are unfree as subjected and disciplined subjects. Underlying each phase of Said’s intellectual and critical practice—literature.question. If. even when he employed Foucault’s theory of discourse in his critique of Orientalism. It is important therefore to ask questions which can enact new forms of meaning. selfcriticism and cross-cultural understanding. living and acting. As Hayden White argues.”3 and relations are created rather than inherited. human beings still have the freedom to question the status quo and the system or in the least be emotionally and intellectually discontented. “Criticism as Cultural Politics. politics. Said believed in the human capacity to make and change history and in the agency of self-understanding. the questions he raises for himself as a critic.” review of B. It is therefore important for us humans to know the reason why we ask that question that we ask in the first place. 457. theory. human beings are powerless and life meaningless in face of power. according to poststructuralist antihumanism. 8. Historically and politically speaking. 196 .

a Palestinian and. In concluding this study of Said’s humanistic practice. a human being. for Said. exile and extermination are the intellectual and existential site of alternative meaning production and creation.posthumanism and epistemic.” in WTC. emphasis original. Viktor Frankl in his Man’s Search for Meaning first recounts his personal experiences and observations of Jewish people in a Concentration Camp and identifies the will to meaning as an existential necessity as opposed to Alfred Adler’s Nietzschean notion of the will to power. the Jews were denied everything. an Austrian-Jewish psychiatrist. 5. cultural and moral relativism. I think. “[W]hat is critical consciousness at bottom if not an unstoppable predilection for alternatives?”5 Said’s humanistic critical practice is a historical and intellectual search for an alternative to the established mode of thinking and articulation. 247. existence. powerlessness and meaninglessness. Exile is a state of displacement. why Said emphasizes the secular process of beginning and beginning again as “the first step in the intentional production of meaning” 6 in history and criticism. “Traveling Theory. Said and 5 6 7 Said. intellectually and physically. subjectivity and humanity. it becomes politically urgent and historically necessary to ask the set of questions which seek to create and construct new meanings of life. I examine Said’s self-determining and self-fashioning of the meaning of exile in relation to the “will-to-meaning” experience of the Jews in a Nazi death camp observed and analyzed by Viktor Frankl. B. existentially. for the Jews. Although Said’s experience as a Palestinian exile in America could not be compared with that of the Jews during the Holocaust. Instead of concentrating on the question “why suffering?”. home. As experiences of human suffering and crisis. nonsubjectivity. Said. 7 Throughout this thesis. As a people of exile. 197 . culture. It is the denial of one’s identity. I have discussed the intellectual importance of exile to Said’s humanistic and secular criticism. Said and those Jewish prisoners who managed to survive the concentration camps both demonstrate that they can only survive and triumph intellectually in the absence of the right to be. This is.

is hope and a belief in a great idea. friendship. Said believes that hope and freedom are circular: “The fundamental paradox of education is that you must serve and submit to authority—the authority of tradition. the idea of enlightenment. the ideal of justice. Through changing their attitudes toward inevitable suffering. which of course is where the bridge leads you. Said’s humanistic criticism derives its critical and moral agency from an exilic attitude in spite of the debilitating effect of exile on his subjectivity. And what makes you defiant. of learning itself. Said. what makes it possible for you to build a bridge across the abyss [of immutability and impossibility to go beyond the authority of tradition] that so many people are defeated by. the idea of emancipation. it is part of thinking and the will to meaning. Man’s Search for Meaning. human beings have at least the freedom to react to it emotionally. The originary act of man understanding himself presupposes that man is able to understand and what he attempts to know is worth knowing. even defiant. No matter how totalitarian a system is. “Citizenship.” 32. 133. The critical watershed of Said’s intellectual 8 9 Viktor Frankl.” 9 The often quoted slogans of Gramsci “pessimism of the intellect” and “optimism of the will” entail that we have to be critical and skeptical not only of the status quo administered by the authority in power but also the fallibility and presumptiveness of our intellect and yet simultaneously be hopeful about the freedom of the will to choose differently and alternatively. Faith does not contradict reason and wisdom. Resistance.the Jewish intellectuals seek to answer the question “how can I make suffering meaningful?” Said’s notions of secular criticism and the exilic critic provide a constructive and meaningful interpretation of exile as a critical attitude of “magnanimity.” sympathy and trans-subjective understanding. family. and Democracy. 8 the Jewish prisoners create meanings out of their suffering by harboring and maintaining unconditional faith in love. the future or God. 198 . of the scholars and scientists who went before you and in a sense made you possible—and at the same time you must somehow remain critical.

But we decide and determine what questions to ask. 154. “could not be projected better than in that phrase”—“commanding knowledge combined with ardent faith.”12 Frankl’s existential analysis emphasizes the indelible freedom of choice. PA. morality and feeling): if a theory does not affirm moral principles and bring hope and happiness to the world of human beings. 199 . Man’s Search for Meaning. There is always a dialectic of hope or faith and better understanding and more freedom in Said’s works. As Viktor Frankl writes. Dispossession. greed and aggression produces more knowledge of these things than merely analyzing and surrendering to them. J. humans are helpless and powerless. 30. humanism and democratic criticism. Mitchell. the distinction between the rich and the poor. W. the wise and the fool is meaningless. xiii. injustice. which stands in an antagonistic relation to the randomness of the historical particular and the determinism of 10 11 12 13 Said.” 470. says Said.10 The struggle for Palestinian self-determination and social justice here and in America. feel and act. which is reflected in Said’s view of the potentialities of critical consciousness in understanding.transformation from a scholar of English and comparative literature to a public intellectual and political activist is first initiated and motivated by an emotional response towards the political and cultural disfigurement of the Arab world. as Mitchell says: “Vico’s ‘rational civil theology’ is the best name for Edward Said’s religion of reading and writing. wisdom.” 11 The overcoming of power. resisting and changing history and society. who we are and can become. Said. Viktor Frankl. From the point of view of death. “Secular Divination: Edward Said’s Humanism. “Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible. I do not intend to argue for a hedonist view on theory but a unity of all modalities concerning human life (piety. from the point of view of suffering. how to think. and of changing himself for the better if necessary.”13 The critical consciousness is the active will to meaning. T. it is incomplete and morally flawed.

What has been kept in focus in this study is the intellectual importance and historical relevance of Said’s humanism and critical practice to our contemporary cultural. It is neither an institution nor. 165. all the time. 16 the critical consciousness is only realized and materialized in history and society through the critic’s choices and actions. Humanism grounded in the critical consciousness is at bottom a moral-critical attitude. Ibid. 200 . it examines the epistemic and moral foundation of his humanism and contextualizes his critical practice as a project of resistance against forms of cultural. according to Said.the universal general. academic and political conditions and current theoretical and critical preoccupations.”15 Said says: “Criticism exists only because critics practice it. Exile. to offer resistance to the great reductive and vulgarizing us-versus-them thought patterns of our time. as distinct from separating or partitioning. and abandons fixed positions. is to understand and critique “in a worldly and integrative. localities. 50. intellectual and political oppression. at the same time. theory or idea.”14 And the critic is a traveler between cultures. humanism resists to be transfixed and objectified as concept. 14 15 16 Said. mode and. a discipline”.. To do this with dedication and love as well as a realistic sense of the terrain is … a kind of academic freedom at its highest […] To join the academic world is therefore to enter a ceaseless quest for knowledge and freedom. Said’s humanism and criticism will continue to generate new critical questions and theoretical ramifications in the future to come. for it can only be realized and practiced by individuals. Humanistic criticism. This thesis is a study of Edward W. traverses territory. strictly speaking. theories and positions: “the traveler crosses over. New critical questions are needed to address and respond to another historical moment and a different cultural and geo-political context. Said’s humanism. HDC. Said. 404. which actively seeks and creates meanings in what we think and do.

Glenn Gould.” 17 Gould embodies and manifests the individuality and subjectivity of the intellectual in the unique aesthetic and musical domain uncircumscribed and untheorized by the system of power. history and geography. the music and piano performance and interpretation of the Canadian pianist and composer.” in Late Style. and their influences on Said would need to be theorized and historicized. convention and 17 Michael Wood. exemplify intellectual freedom and autonomy. R. P. In theory. Raymond Williams’s Marxist literary criticism and cultural materialism all contribute to Said’s humanistic practice. civil and political functions of the discipline of English Studies in Hong Kong from the colonial to the postcolonial era. It would be of theoretical and philosophical importance to extend the scope of the critical genealogy of Said’s humanism to encompass not only Said’s intellectual and humanistic masters from the past but also his contemporary Euro-American and Arab humanists and intellectuals. 201 . seeking to question and remake the relation of music to the social world of performance. there are a wide range of critical questions and concerns to follow this research project. This Saidian project is meaningful to me as a student of English Literature in Hong Kong.The critical questions raised and discussed in this thesis are both for understanding Said and myself. Theodor Adorno’s negative dialectics. a literary critic and poet at Princeton University from the 1940s to the 1960s. xvii. Moreover. whose literary criticism and autodidactism have exerted a great influence on Said. The meaning of English education is and needs to be continuously redefined by both the past and the present. For example. because Said’s humanistic practice of self-inventory and self-criticism enables me to reflect upon the specific genealogical and geo-political formation and the cultural. Blackmur. “Introduction. Wood says: “Said specifically identified this task as that of the intellectual—in this perspective Glenn Gould. Also. is Said’s model of the intellectual. Nietzsche’s will-to-power metaphysics. Richard Poirier’s literary criticism.

location of production.” in Critical Zone 1: A Forum of Chinese and Western Knowledge. Apart from the theoretical and philosophical continuation of the project of Said’s humanism. 202 . Tong and Douglas Kerr suggest. What does it mean to be an intellectual and academic in China in the midst of the intellectual and economic need to open the national gate to the West and the national will to power and identity? From 18 According to Said. S. S. intellectual. would need to reorient questions of humanity. “there has been an overwhelming amount of interest in the developments of the Western humanities. the question of humanism will also need to be reexamined. See Said. The Glenn Gould Reader. Tong. in attitude and in policy. moral.”19 Said’s humanism and critical practice are historically situated in the U. morality. recontextualized. no. Tim Page (New York: Knopf. Glenn. Wang Shouren and Douglas Kerr (Hong Kong and Nanjing: HKU Press and Nanjing University Press. in particular in contemporary critical theory or critical knowledge more generally. 1 (summer 2001): 1-16. national and geopolitical conditions in China.” PMLA 115. See also Glenn Gould’s own writing and interviews in Gould. 3 (May 2000): 285-290. since the liberalization of China toward the world. “The Music Itself: Glenn Gould’s Contrapuntal Vision. no.” Vanity Fair 46. 2. “Introduction: Difference and Convergence in Globalization. no.” Raritan 20. academic and political issues and problems in the West. all these are consciously chosen to maximize and enhance the freedom of Gould’s own intellectual expression and to produce music and musical understanding in the highest order. 127-128. and intellectual and ethical responsibilities toward historical. eds. to address the specific intellectual. choice of musical pieces. Glenn Gould is an intellectual because every choice of his intellectual and musical articulation and production is subject to Gould’s determination and discretion: from the musical instrument. 3 (May 1983): 97-101. medium of expression. “Glenn Gould.18 Said’s discussion of Gould provides a special angle from which one can understand the importance and function of music as an aesthetic category to Said’s humanism.S. S. cultural. Q. Q. for instance. In the context of China. intellectuals and critics in China. the Virtuoso as Intellectual. 2004). and “Presidential Address 1999: Humanism and Heroism. 19 Q. 1984). ed. redefined and reevaluated in other historical and geo-political settings.protocol. Tong and Douglas Kerr. who are experiencing the force and momentum of modernity and postmodernity at the same time.

As intellectuals and humanists.the perspective of language as a form of cultural capital. knowledge and identity stems from his personal experience of biculturalism and bilingualism. For cultural amphibians like Said. “The Last Jewish intellectual. we could not and perhaps should not prescribe certain directions and goals or utilitarian values as policy-makers and state intellectuals do. knowledge and criticism. philological and cultural criticism. 203 . languages and identities are intellectually more productive than their separations. Said’s humanistic and secular criticism demonstrates a dialectic of historical circumstances and critical self-reflection and repositionings. culture. diagnose and articulate emergent “structures of feeling.” the discussion provides a historical and theoretical overview of Said as a Palestinian intellectual and critic in America. In fighting against intellectual powerlessness and political indifference. but show the intellectual and critical potientialities of this Saidian project.” morals of thoughts and subcultures. Said’s humanism affirms human agency and the political effectiveness of literary. academic and economic resources be reallocated and redistributed in the context of multilingualism and multiculturalism? There are so many uncertainties concerning the future development of China. Vico’s historicist humanism and science of history provides a philosophical basis on which Said ramifies and historicizes the function and meaning of humanism in the contemporary context of postmodernism and postcolonialism. how should national. His antagonism toward religious discourse and the ontologizing of humanity. Said’s reinvention of humanism is historically linked to the question of the human subject and the postmodern experience of the crisis of meaning. but we can. by a historical and disciplinary self-reflection and most importantly self-criticism. In face of new historical development. In Chapter One. and theory and praxis. the interplay and interpenetration of cultures. it is important to combine critical knowledge with critical imagination in hope to achieve a dialectic of tradition and modernity. There are many critical possibilities and historical localities which are beyond the scope of this thesis.

Human nature is human history: human history.” contextualizes Said’s humanism and secular criticism within the Vichian humanistic and philological tradition. Said therefore understands the human in terms of human existential actualities: language. the totality of the historical world as made by humans themselves. theory. This chapter also underlines the importance of aesthetics to Said’s humanistic criticism. According to Vico. but in close relation to their historical conditions. Said’s philological and secular criticism is cross-disciplinary and opposed to the compartmentalization of the human world into different cultures.” and also politics and aesthetics. Said’s critical practice shows how one can and should connect 204 . formal and theoretical analysis of Said’s major and representative critical work to show the dialectical connection between his historically situated critical work and his belief in humanism. and politics as historical. knowledge. as made by humans themselves. and histories and to the specialization and institutionalization of human knowledge. especially in his late career. criticism. is essentially the development of the human mind. This chapter proposes to examine four major critical categories as classified by Said himself: literature. humans are not simply “are”—they are nothing other than their history. the discussion demonstrates how Said’s humanism circumvents the crude distinction between traditional Eurocentric humanism and poststructuralist “antihumanism. Vico’s historicism or historicist humanism is a theory or philosophy of human nature that recognizes the historical nature of humans and of all things human. From this historical perspective. theory. geographies. “Said’s Critical Practice. Said judges culture and literature not just in terms of their cultural and national origins. and aesthetics collectively and genealogically. Through explicating Said’s literary and cultural criticism in Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism in accordance with Said’s formulation of humanism and literary criticism. Chapter Three.e. i. “Humanism and Secular Criticism.Chapter Two. Since each historical period or stage is understood as a whole in which all human activities intertwine with and interpenetrate one another.” is a combination of literary. politics.

The most severe critics of the humanist subject are very often motivated by the strongest desire for human subjectivity and freedom. Foucault is one of them. political and strategic response and reaction toward unworldly and historically detached critical theories and criticism such as the poststructuralist view of language and literature. knowledge and identity as the metaphysics of Western humanism.” resituates Said’s idea and praxis of the public intellectual within the famous Foucault-Chomsky intellectual debate on human nature and the role and responsibility of the intellectual vis-à-vis power. The 205 . I have also discussed how Said’s distancing of his humanism from Foucault and adoption of Vico’s historicism is a historically specific. power and resistance are two sides of the same coin. “The Moral of Genealogy. which define and reinforce each other. According to Foucault. political and strategic. Contrary to the common view of Foucault as an antihumanist in denial of human subjectivity and freedom. Finally. Foucault to Said is also a moral critique of the conceit of the will to power. disciplinary. Both Foucault and Said see freedom and resistance as inherent part of rather than external to the regime of knowledge/power. Said’s return to aesthetics and literary writing is no less a political resistance against system and the weight of discourse than his literary and cultural criticism and political fight for Palestinian self-determination. “Said as a Public Intellectual.aesthetics with politics without reducing the former to the latter nor studying art outside its political context in the name of aesthetic appreciation.” first establishes that the tradition of negative critique of Western humanism from Nietzsche. Chapter Five. This chapter attempts to show the intellectual and epistemic connection between Said’s humanism and Foucault’s philosophy and that the difference between Said and Foucault is primarily historical. Foucault’s understanding of the human subject is not a simplistic one and not even absolutely an antihumanistic one. Chapter Four. Said’s critique of Foucault and defense of Chomsky in “Traveling Theory” has drawn much critical discussion which often situates Said in an oppositional relation to Michel Foucault.

Yet there is no epistemic foundation for Said’s humanism and moral criticism. this chapter then examines the epistemic and moral basis of Said’s humanism.”20 To return to where I began in this concluding chapter. upsetting. every individual has to address the existential necessity of finding meanings and deal with the sense of meaninglessness and powerlessness in life in one way or another. ideology and power. emphasis added. determining meanings and choosing attitudes freely and actively. 206 . Based on this observation. uncontroversial. it is of great intellectual and existential importance to ask critical and constructive questions that are based on and confirm the conviction in the freedom of choice and determination of meaning. HDC. The value and meaning of humanism for Said lie in its being “a means of questioning. 28. Ironically. In face of situations and senses of meaninglessness and powerlessness. giving away their last piece of bread. packaged. it is this absence of moral basis and principles that enables Said’s self-determining of the meaning of humanism. They 20 Said. they are again achieved through questioning subjectivity. Humanism and morality exist only in dialectical thinking and critical repositioning. one may find comfort and encouragement in Frankl’s tragically optimistic statement of human freedom: We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others.” rather than “consolidating and affirming what ‘we’ have always known and felt. and reformulating so much of what is presented to us as commodified. Although I have not been through the traumatic experience of exile and the existential exigency of the will to meaning in suffering like Said and Jewish intellectuals. and uncritically codified certainties. Learning to ask the right question is perhaps more important than the search for an answer.discussion demonstrates that the critical consciousness and the moral consciousness are a oneness. The need to answer the question of humanity and humanism gives life a purpose.

may have been few in number. to choose one’s own 21 way. Man’s Search for Meaning. but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. 86. 207 . 21 Viktor Frankl.

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1927-1984. Diacritics 4. New York: Pantheon. ____________ (1979). ____________ (1983). no. no. ____________ (1972). 209 . 1979. The Palestine Question and the American Context. and the Critic. ____________ (1979). no. 2 (1974): 28-37. New York: Vintage Books. 2 (fall 1984): 1-11. 1 (autumn 1979): 65-74. Mass. 1983. “An Ethics of Language. 1 (spring 1972): 2-8. ____________ and Eugenio Donato (1979). ____________ (1981). ____________ (1983). The World.” Review of The Archaeology of Knowledge and “Discourse on Language” by Michel Foucault. Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies. 3 (May. Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. 1975. ____________ (1975). 1983): 97-101. The Question of Palestine. Literature and Society: Selected Papers from the English Institute. the Text. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ____________ (1978). “Michel Foucault as an Intellectual Imagination. 127-128.” boundary 2 1. Said.” Diacritics 2. no.” Raritan 4. 1 (autumn 1972): 1-36. “The Music Itself: Glenn Gould’s Contrapuntal Vision. Edited and with a preface by Edward W. “Michel Foucault.” Vanity Fair 46.____________ (1972). 1979. 25th anniversary edition. no. 2004. ____________ (1984). New York: Times Books. 2004. 1980. boundary 2 8.” The Problems of Reading in Contemporary American Criticism: A Symposium. no. ____________ (1974). Beginnings: Intention and Method. New York: Basic Books. ____________ (1980). “Eclecticism and Orthodoxy in Criticism. “An Exchange on Deconstruction and History. Orientalism. Cambridge.: Harvard University Press. 1978.

1988): 46-60. Configurations. 1990): 81-97. ____________ (1986).____________ (1984). “Michael Walzer's Exodus and Revolution: A Canaanite Reading. 2 (1987): 27-64. Photographs by Jean Mohr. no. 210 . “Kim: The Pleasures of Imperialism. New York: Columbia University Press. “The Imperial Spectacle. “Narrative.” The Black Scholar (March. Edited by Davld Couzens Hoy. “Identity. 1991. 2 (winter 1987): 82-104. 1986. 1989): 17-18. ____________ (1986). The Wellek Library Lectures at the University of California. ____________ (1990). Polygraph 4 (1990): 9-34. Oxford: Blackwell.” Grand Street 6. “The Satanic Verses and Democratic Freedoms.” New Left Review 171 (September-October.” The Nation. Negation and Violence. “Figures. “The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile.” New Left Review (March-April. ____________ (1989). Transfigurations. “Untimely Meditation.” Raritan 7. ____________ (1986). “Foucault and the Imagination of Power.” Lecture given at the Conference of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies at the University of Kent. New York: Vintage. 2003.” The Nation.” Harper's Magazine 269 (September. “Andras Schiff at Carnegie Hall. Text by Edward W. 38-42. England. 1984): 49-55. After the Last Sky: Palestinian live. no. ____________ (1987). Said. Geography and Interpretation. ____________ (1991). 1989. on August 25. ____________ (1989). ____________ (1987). 802-804. no. Musical Elaborations.” In Foucault: A Critical Reader. ____________ (1988). ____________ (1990). 2 (winter 1986): 86-106. December 25. in Canterbury.” Grand Street 5. August 1. Irvine. 1993. ____________ (1989). 1989.

(July 1. ____________ (1999). Braziller. edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer. 1994. “Adorno as Lateness Itself. no. by Paul Lawrence Rose.” Special Topic: Ethics and Literary Study. Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process.1 (January. New York: Knopf.” In For Rushdie: Essays by Arab and Muslim Writers in Denfense of Free Speech. ____________ (1993). ____________ and Jon Whitman (1999). ____________ (1994). 1993. ME. 1969-1994. New York: Pantheon Books. November 6.” In Apocalypse Theory and the Ends of the World.: Common Courage Press. Preface by Christopher Hitchens. 1995. 1999): 106-107. New York: G. ____________ (1995). Edited by Anouar Abdallah and others and translated by Kevin Anderson. PMLA 114. by Edmond Michotte. and Richard Wagner’s Visit to Rossini and An Evening at Rossini’s in BeauSéjour. London Review of Books 15. Wagner: Race and Revolution. Culture and Imperialism. The Pen and the Sword: Conversations with David Barsamian. 211 . 1994. “Edward Said’s Presidency. Monroe. 1994 ____________ (1994). “Why Listen to Boulez?” The Nation. “The Importance of Being Unfaithful to Wagner. no. 3.____________ (1993). Edited by Malcolm Bull. 1994. ____________ (1995). New York: Vintage. 548-551. ____________ (1994). 1995. 1999. New York: Pantheon Books. Out of Place: A Memoir. ____________ (1994). Wagner Handbook. Kenneth Whitehead. The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination. Oxford: Blackwell. ____________ (1995). The Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. “Against the Orthodoxies. edited by Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski. New York: Vintage Books. 1993): 11-12.” Review of Wagner in Performance. 1995.

Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. “Presidential Address 1999: Humanism and Heroism. Memory. In Eqbal Ahmad. 3 (May. 2 (winter 2000): 175-192. Cambridge. ____________ (2001). 1 (January. In Relocating Postcolonialism. no.” Special Topic: Globalizing Literary Studies. 1 (summer 2001): 1-16. 2003. “Glenn Gould. no. ____________ (2002). Foreword to Eqbal Ahmad. 2000. ____________ (2000). the Virtuoso as Intellectual.” In Ireland and Postcolonial Theory. “In Conversation with Neeladri Bhattacharya. 2002. Confronting Empire: Interviews with David Barsamian.____________ (2000). and Ania Loomba. 2001. 2000.: Harvard University Press. London: Granta. Mass. New York: Pantheon Books. Said. 2000): 285-290. 212 . October 22. 2001. Edited and introduced by Gauri Viswanathan. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. ____________ (2001). ____________ (2000). Politics. New York: Pantheon Books. Edited by David Theo Goldberg and Ato Quayson. “Invention. 2002.” PMLA 115. no. PMLA 116. 2001): 64-68. Edited by Clare Carroll and Patricia King.” Critical Inquiry 26. 2000. 11-13. Cambridge. Power. no. Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society. “The Clash of Ignorance. and Place. Mass. ____________ (2000). New York: Pantheon Books. ____________ (2000). ____________ (2001). ____________ (2000). “Afterword: Reflections on Ireland and Postcolonialism. “Globalizing Literary Study. Suvir Kaul. ____________ (2002). by Eqbal Ahmad and David Barsamian.” The Nation. and Culture: Interviews with Edward W.” Raritan 20. South End Press. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Confronting Empire: Interviews with David Barsamian. The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After. ____________ (2000).

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