I read this volume, a series of eight interviews between Ricoeur and two intermediaries, as an introduction to his life and work. These studies are fiI read this volume, a series of eight interviews between Ricoeur and two intermediaries, as an introduction to his life and work. These studies are first personal, but also thematic - they cover Ricoeur's life from a 'WWI orphan' through his intellectual career in the United States and France, and the political turmoil of the mid-20th century.
The thematic interviews cover much of Ricoeur's own work, ranging from his appreciation of aesthetics to religion and psychoanalysis. The form of dialogue is fitting, as it mirrors his own attempts to bridge different approaches within schools of thought.
On one last note, I find it amazing that Ricoeur considers his own works, such as the three-volume 'Time and Narrative', which covers fiction between Dante and Virginia Woolf, to be 'limited in scope'.
I now feel less bewildered than when I had first heard explanations of his ideas, though I cannot call myself an expert in any sense. Still, this volume is much more accessible than his other works, and I personally found it to be an excellent place to begin. ...more
Series of interviews and encounters with scholars, sympathizers and former members of the so-called Islamic State, leading to a focus on its theologicSeries of interviews and encounters with scholars, sympathizers and former members of the so-called Islamic State, leading to a focus on its theological and moral underpinnings, and traces a long history through the margins of Islamic philosophical thought - from Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) and Ibn 'Abd al Wahhab (1703-1792) to contemporary figures such as Turki bin' Ali and the so-called caliph Al-Baghdadi, he finds moral absolutism and vast totalizing claims to return and purify a system of belief.
As it turns out, Wood does not go to Syria or Iraq, and so he interviews people on the margins of this belief, either in Egypt or the United Kingdom - and he finds a few oddballs, misfits, and 'dullards' who feel outcast. But is that the same for the executioner or the torturer on the front lines? Harder to say. ...more
Series of short pieces on human reaction to and endurance of natural disasters. These range from total resignation, to local cooperation, to grand visSeries of short pieces on human reaction to and endurance of natural disasters. These range from total resignation, to local cooperation, to grand visions of renewal and opportunity. Little preaching here, more description, and perhaps an advocacy for a more long-term approach to societal recovery....more
Political analysis from the perspective of a Saudi Western-educated businessman. He is generally supportive of the achievements of the House of Saud (Political analysis from the perspective of a Saudi Western-educated businessman. He is generally supportive of the achievements of the House of Saud (what other petro-states have made at least a serious attempt at domestic investment?) Al-Shihabi believes, not without reason, that a Saudi collapse would be ruinous for the smaller states which neighbor it on the peninsula, and he is strongly critical of the state's political arch-rival - Iran. He strongly doubts the future of the Iranian nuclear agreement, and he also notes that the Iranian government supports militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen, where a political collapse and refugee crisis would worsen KSA's domestic situation.
However, he is also critical of domestic institutions, which he views as in desperate need of reform. He balks at the enormous waste of the domestic budget on the privileges of thousands of members of the House of Saud, and calls for judicial independence, budget transparency, and freedom of expression (where the royals must be open and reactive to criticism). He notes that the royal family and the Wahhabi clerics have had a tenuous relationship, and points out areas of open disagreement (one earlier example is the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991-1992). As for the 'jihadi' threat, Al-Shihabi views it as a product of economic and social frustration, and notes that this, combined with a large youth population, creates the potential for blowback.
Useful, at the very least for understanding a different perspective. ...more
Two volumes of Confucian philosophy, focusing on metaphysics, self-cultivation, and maintaining balance, similar but not identical to the AristotleanTwo volumes of Confucian philosophy, focusing on metaphysics, self-cultivation, and maintaining balance, similar but not identical to the Aristotlean Golden Mean. I cannot understand why the translator uses Wade-Giles, but at least the end notes and essays are excellent. ...more
This is the second version of the Quran in English that I've read. (The other, if memory serves, is Abdel-Hassem's). I have been reading this deliberaThis is the second version of the Quran in English that I've read. (The other, if memory serves, is Abdel-Hassem's). I have been reading this deliberately over the last few months, and I can now say I've read enough to have some coherent responses to its presentation and design.
The chief editor, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, says in the Prologue that this volume was done in the same general manner as other volumes put out by the publishers HarperCollins, such the Study Bible or their Commentary on the Torah. That is, it presents the text along with reference notes and scholarly commentary in the same volume.
The translation is into a formal, semi-archaic English that is generally reserved for religious texts. As I can speak no Arabic of any kind, I obviously cannot comment on the integrity of the translation, but I can say that it often retains a specific rhythm, and the footnotes are useful for understanding some of the intense difficulties of translating the language. But for a sample in English, here is the famous Throne Verse:
"God, there is no god but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting. Neither slumber overtakes Him nor sleep. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth. Who is there who may intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows that which is before them and that which is behind them. And they encompass nothing of His Knowledge, save what He wills. His Pedestal embraces the heavens and the earth. Protecting them tires Him not, and He is the Exalted, the Magnificent." Surah 2:255
A distinctive feature of this volume, and one that I have strongly welcomed, is an introduction to the depth and variety of exegetical commentaries (tafsir), and how these commentaries often include citations and introductions to collections of hadiths. This book is 2,000 pages long, but the footnotes on tafsir are written in even smaller font, and can take up the entire page. One verse could have a footnote with six or seven different tafsir attached to it. The commentators themselves are a diverse, though far from complete, representation of over forty reference points - some early scholars include al-Tabari, al-Ghazali, and ibn-Kathir. The most recent commentators are ibn Ashur (Ash'ari Sunni, 1879-1973), and Tabataba'i (Shia Twelver, 1903-1981).
These tafsir include Athari, Ash'ari, Mutaridi, and Mu'tazili Sunnis, but also Shi'a, Sufi, and even Kharijites(!). While this is useful for academics who would be interested in understanding comparisons and the scope of historical and contemporary debates, I can imagine the possibility of disorientation for believers - for Christian readers, think of a Bible which uses Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Southern Baptist, Jewish, and radical extremist commentaries.
In addition, there are fifteen supplementary essays, which are introductions to a variety of topics -- the features of classical Arabic language, Islamic art, some characteristics of Quranic jurisprudence (Fiqh), study of the commentaries themselves, the use of hadith citations, and war.
While I must necessarily refrain from any comment as to whether this edition is appropriate for orthodox Muslims, (especially for those who are capable of reading the original), I could more sincerely recommend it to academics, policy makers, or religious scholars who are already more grounded in the fields of debate. It fills a massive gap in religious understanding, due to the scarcity of any Quranic commentary published in English. Where the relative importance of developing a understanding these religious ideas and concepts grows by the day, this volume presents an invaluable reference. ...more
Incredibly disappointing. I expected a better book from an author I know to be skeptical and savvy when investigating other points, but it's a shame sIncredibly disappointing. I expected a better book from an author I know to be skeptical and savvy when investigating other points, but it's a shame she is so credulous when taking a visit to China during the early Maoist period.
After her visit in 1955, the 'Hundred Flowers' campaign led to imprisonment and torture of intellectuals, one of the authors she lauds (Ding Ling) is purged and imprisoned in 1957, and the countryside spirals into famine from 1958 to 1962. And right before this, she lauds the present leadership for a government based on love.
Occasionally, there is a glimpse of the author that I am used to - some lovely description of the Beijing hutongs, some noting of political intrigue. But the work rings hollow as propaganda. If de Beauvoir had simply recited statistics about literacy and womens' employment, it would be much better. But to sing paeans to a country that would soon go right over the cliff?...more