Monday, July 11, 2011

Hamid Dabashi on the Difference between Foucault/Zizek and Said

I am about half way done with Dabashi's book (which I will post on shortly). However, I also stumbled on his careful, critique of an abstract essay Zizek wrote about the Iranian uprising. I believe Dabshi is right in his critique of the way figures like Badiou and Zizek and many other Western thinkers will create abstract ideas divorced from the historical situation. The creative tension between solid historical/contextual work along with good philosophical/theological reasoning is a necessary must; err on one side too much and you become so contextual you have no standing to speak to a large audience and become too abstract and you speak in speculative generalities. Here is a great quote from his essay:

The problem with the European Left is that they care a little bit about just about everything, and yet there is nothing in particular about which they care deeply. This is very similar my old teacher Philip Rieff used to call “the Monroe Doctrine”—not the famous President James Monroe doctrine of warning Europeans to keep their hands off the Americas, but the little known Marilyn Monroe doctrine, named after the famous actress for having once said, “I believe in everything,”and then pausing for a moment before saucily adding, “a little bit.” The difference between European and colonial intellectuals is summed up in the difference between Sartre and Fanon, or between Foucault and Said. Sartre and Foucault cared widely about the entirety of the colonial and colonizing world, while Fanon and Said cared deeply about Algeria and Palestine, and from these two sites of contestation they extrapolated their politics and ethics of responsibility towards the rest of the world.

1 comment:

  1. Hello
    I think another different and may be most important different between Foucault-Sartre thought and Fanon-Said thought is critical originality (not view of otherness or essentialism theory) and critical creativity of new component.Yes, there is not new and all theories are components.But I think we should distinct a one use from theory for analysis and who one make a new formation of conceptions, redefine some conception, product a method or reform a method for would catch a philosophical package for analysis of a social problem(s)and this answer for this part of your text "Western thinkers will create abstract ideas". this is critical creativity. But using a theory without challenge by philosophical basis (critic) is not that critical originality i said. Pro. Said undoubtedly, has a effective theory on oriental problems.He has creative view to a social problem but he has not critical creativity or challenging by a new philosophy and bounding one part of any philosophy. In Orientallism he have had a illustrated reading from some texts by archeology of science.In fact he had role of archive browser. Of course we can see Roland Barthes, Althusser, Frantz Fanon,... of shadows. Then Said's works are creative one but are not critical creativity.
    But Dabashi is another pill indeed. A person who analysis one of the most important problems in the word and has a objective way.