Talal Asad Quotes
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"The notion of "humanity" as a form of transcendence derives, I think, from the conviction that intellectuality possesses an absolute power, from the demand that our best behavior depends on our ability to think abstractly, in terms of a universal rule, about something called humanity, that we need to understand humanity abstractly so that we can act responsibly towards those who represent it."
"Agency has become a catch word. In a way, this intoxication with ‘agency’ is the product of liberal individualism. The ability of individuals to fashion themselves, to change their live, is given ideological priority over the relation within which they themselves are actually formed, situated, and sustained."
"You should never employ your intellect but only that it is not essential to exercise it in order to live a humane life. Language permeates all of life, of course, and one's mind is essential to it, but that does not mean intellectuality should transcend all of life."
"For the law, the clarity of language and the finality of judgment is crucial, because you have to decide a case one way or another - whether it is criminal or civil or whatever. In ordinary life, you do not have to decide things with absolute finality. You do not have to decide on a theory in order to behave in a certain way towards other people."
"Certainly in order to understand the natural world one needs clarity, logic, and the capacity for theory building. But that understanding tends to improve because and to the extent that it is provisional, hypothetical, when it looks for disconfirmation in the particular rather than final proof as a universal."
"In liberal society we claim that freedom of speech is sacred and therefore has an absolute character. But we know (or should know) that "free speech" inhabits a structured space: not only is "hate speech" legally forbidden in liberal societies, but there are also laws protecting the circulation of copyrighted material, and the reproduction of trademarks and patents without explicit permission."
"You do not need intellectuality for deep faith. You do not need it for behaving humanely towards people whether fellow Muslims or non-Muslims. You do not need a concept, a theory, you do not need intellectual arguments for justifying a way of living that is already in place in order for it to proceed."
"Believers are often thought of as people who have some kind of private conviction or repudiation of something, whereas "the faithful" refers to a relationship, which was also incidentally the earlier sense of "faith" in premodern, preliberal Christianity. This is not to say, incidentally, that "faith" refers simply to external behavior as opposed to internal belief but that it refers to an act."
"The Genealogical Science is a wonderful account of how old-fashioned race science has come to be re-defined by resort to the most recent developments in genetics. But this book is not simply another story of the ideological uses to which science may be put. Nadia Abu El-Haj has provided the reader with a very detailed analysis of the historical entanglement between science and politics. Her study should be required reading for anyone interested in the sociology of science-and also for those dealing with Middle Eastern nationalisms. This is a work of outstanding value for scholarship."
"I'm not criticizing how people experience what they might call spirituality. I am interested in looking critically at something else - at how people use their language to articulate theories about something they call religion, to say, for example, that "in Islam religion and politics necessarily go together," or to insist that "violence has no place in religion," to universalize it."
"I do not think there is such a thing as a "clash of civilizations." When I say that Muslims as Muslims cannot be represented in the West, I was being ironic, and also referring to the fact that ninety percent of the time when people talk about "the problem of Muslims" in the West, it is to complain about the fact that Muslims have not "integrated.""
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