1999: Humanism and Heroism Author(s): Edward W. Said Source: PMLA, Vol. 115, No.

7, Special Millennium Issue (Dec., 2000), p. 1946 Published by: Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/463612 Accessed: 06/07/2010 21:12
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.and the need to returnto the classical Westerncanon. the traditionalmodes of study have been abandoned to jargon and barbarism. This is specially true of the Islamic schools. as we need to look beyond Eurocentrism and the set of dominating as well as ethnocentric attitudesthat accompanyit while remaining trueto intellectualcoherenceand. SAID RECALLHERE THAT many pages. physics. language. North Africa. humanistic dignity in professing literature. except to underline the genuine intellectual predicamentthat faces us. Our profession today is riven by the chasm that separates proponentsof whateveris considerednew and progressive from those who feel that the literary text. [.) even so redoubtablyrevolutionarya figure as Copernicuswas dependent on earlier non-Europeanscientists for his major work. etc.] Parenthetically I should like here to note that much of the hubristhat I have found so repellent in the poorly informed encomiums to NOW I'D LIKETO the Western humanistic tradition from Burkhardtto Kristeller to Allan Bloom and his followers is based on a reprehensiblystubbornand deep ignorance about other traditionsin which many of the attitudes and practices associated with figures such as Ficino. mathematics.I don't want to repeat what I have said in my MLANewsletter columns over the past year. in addition to Indian and Chinese humanists who were doing what we think of ratherquaintly as Westernthings well before the West was capable of either knowing about or doing them itself. and Erasmuswere prefiguredlong before the Europeans came upon them. our greatest authors..yes. . now emeritusprofessor at the University of Pennsylvania. the death of literature. Montaigne. and disputationto the greatIslamic schools of Andalusia.1946 Special MillenniumIssue PMLA and 1999:Humanism Heroism EDWARD W. and Sicily well before a few Italian humanists seized on them as models. and culture. The recent work of George Makdisi. similarly important work by my Columbiacolleague George Saliba has shown through very convincing evidence that in the hard sciences (astronomy. for example. have recently lamented the decline of literacy. has definitively traced humanistic dialogue. editing. the canon. an abundance of articles and books. the Arab world.

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