Humanism and Democratic Criticism

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Columbia University Press, 2004 - Philosophy - 154 pages
7 Reviews

In the radically changed and highly charged political atmosphere that has overtaken the United States -- and to varying degrees the rest of the world -- since September 11, 2001, the notion that cultures can harmoniously and productively coexist has come to seem like little more than a quaint fiction. In this time of heightened animosity and aggression, have humanistic values and democratic principles become irrelevant? Are they merely utopian fantasies? Or are they now more urgent and necessary than ever before?

Ever since the ascendancy of critical theory and multicultural studies in the 1960s and 1970s, traditional humanistic education has been under assault. Often condemned as the intolerant voice of the masculine establishment and regularly associated with Eurocentrism and even imperialism, the once-sacred literary canon is now more likely to be ridiculed than revered. While this seismic shift -- brought on by advances in technological communication, intellectual specialization, and cultural sensitivity -- has eroded the former primacy of the humanities, Edward Said argues that a more democratic form of humanism -- one that aims to incorporate, emancipate, and enlighten -- is still possible. A lifelong humanist, Said believed that self-knowledge is the highest form of human achievement and the true goal of humanistic education. But he also believed that self-knowledge is unattainable without an equal degree of self-criticism, or the awareness that comes from studying and experiencing other peoples, traditions, and ideas.

Proposing a return to philology and a more expansive literary canon as strategies for revitalizing the humanities, Said contends that words are not merely passive figures but vital agents in historical and political change. Intellectuals must reclaim an active role in public life, but at the same time, insularity and parochialism, as well as the academic trend toward needless jargon and obscurantism, must be combated. The "humanities crisis," according to Said, is based on the misperception that there is an inexorable conflict between established traditions and our increasingly complex and diversified world. Yet this position fails to recognize that the canonized thinkers of today were the revolutionaries of yesterday and that the nature of human progress is to question, upset, and reform. By considering the emerging social responsibilities of writers and intellectuals in an ever more interdependent world and exploring the enduring influence of Eric Auerbach's critical masterpiece, Mimesis, Said not only makes a persuasive case for humanistic education but provides his own captivating and deeply personal perspective on our shared intellectual heritage.


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Review: Humanism and Democratic Criticism

User Review  - Ormond College Library - Goodreads

Katrina Renard: As I am in the midst of programming and content design for 2012, it was particularly interesting to note Said's belief that the critical study of literature is important in developing ... Read full review

Review: Humanism and Democratic Criticism

User Review  - Andrea - Goodreads

Said's series of lectures on the continuing importance of the humanist tradition...thought provoking and running counter to much of what I had previously imagined humanism to be. And I confess it inspired me with an immense desire to read Mimesis by Auerbach, heretofore inconceivable... Read full review

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Humanism and Democratic Criticism
Humanism and Democratic Criticism. Edward W. Said. May, 2004 Cloth, 192 pages, ISBN: 978-0-231-12264-1 $21.95 / £14.95 ... book/ 978-0-231-12264-1/ humanism-and-democratic-criticism

Edward Saidís Humanism and Democratic Criticism: Bridging the Gap ...
Edward Saidís Humanism and Democratic Criticism: Bridging the Gap Between the Humanities and the Public Sphere in the Post-9/11 World ... proposals/ 260/ manage_workspace

In ''Humanism and Democratic Criticism,'' Edward Said writes an impassioned apologia for a cosmopolitan, playful and rigorously inquisitive brand of ... gst/ fullpage.html?res=9C0CE4DA1F3CF930A15756C0A9629C8B63& sec=& spon=& pagewanted=print

Times Higher Education - Engaged on every front
Keeping people out was never Said's idea of how literary and cultural studies should advance, as Humanism and Democratic Criticism argues. ... story.asp?storyCode=189977& sectioncode=5

Human, all too human.("Humanism and Democratic Criticism," "Power ...
("Humanism and Democratic Criticism," "Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said")(Book Review) from Nation, The in News provided by ... p/ articles/ mi_hb1367/ is_200405/ ai_n6382768

Matthew Abraham - Introduction: Edward Said and After: Toward a ...
This special issue brings together a range of insights about the potential Edward Said's work, particularly his Humanism and Democratic Criticism and his On ... journals/ cultural_critique/ v067/ 67.1abraham.html

University of Chicago Press - Edward Said's Humanism - 10.1086/430975
Said's last book, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, is, among other things, his attempt to trace the evolution of his own thinking from his training as an ... cgi-bin/ resolve?id=doi:10.1086/ 430975

Edward Said
She argues for the singular importance of Humanism and Democratic Criticism in articulating a vision of humanism for the new millennium that is consciously ... ebooks/ 0-522-85357-9/ index.html

The Claremont Institute - Palestinian Authority
Humanism and Democratic Criticism is not about Israelis and Palestinians, or Islam and the West, or "the humanities" in any serious sense. ... publications/ crb/ id.1226/ article_detail.asp

Al-Ahram Weekly | Books Supplement | The last book
Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Edward W Said, New York: Columbia University ... Humanism and Democratic Criticism is the last book Edward Said wrote; ... 2004/ 698/ books698.htm

About the author (2004)

Born in Jerusalem in 1935, Edward W. Said was one of the world's most celebrated, outspoken, and influential public intellectuals until his death on September 24, 2003. He is the author of more than twenty books that have been translated into thirty-six languages, including Beginnings (1975); The Question of Palestine (1979); the internationally acclaimed Orientalism (1979); Covering Islam (1980); The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983); After the Last Sky (1986); Musical Elaborations (1991); Culture and Imperialism (1993); Out of Place: A Memoir (1999); Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (2001); Power, Politics, and Culture (2001); and Freud and the Non-European (2003). He began teaching at Columbia University in 1963 and became University Professor of English and Comparative Literature there in 1992. He was a past president of the Modern Language Association and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Royal Society of Literature, and the American Philosophical Society. Said was the recipient of numerous prizes and distinctions -- including twenty honorary doctorates -- and he was first U.S. citizen to receive the prestigious Sultan Owais Prize.

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