Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Philospher of Terror, Again

Peter drew our attention to this recent article from the New York Times Magazine about Sayyid Qutb, the philosopher of Islamic terrorism. For those who want to go further into this issue, I suggest Roxanne L. Euben, "Comparative Political Theory: An Islamic Fundamentalist Critique of Rationalism," The Journal of Politics 59(February 1997). (Sorry, I have no electronic link to this article.) This is a serious academic article and therefore unintentionally funny in many ways and loaded with jargon but Euben explains in detail why Qutb is a nihilist, as Peter claimed. Qutb turned against reason because he understood reason to be cut off from or antagonistic to the "transcendent foundations" of existence and thus a threat to Islam and all that was good and decent in human life. What Qutb and Euben (except for one enigmatic footnote; see below) fail to ask about is whether modern reason (which Qutb knew about through his study of modern Western thought) is the same as ancient reason. In a truly academic way, I will end this blog by saying that the crux of the issue (the nature of reason, the fate of Islam and of the world) rests on what we make of Euben’s footnote 49.

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