Anthony Daniels pays a visit to bookstores in Havana and Dubai and comes away with a greater appreciation of his debt to and acceptance of the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual inquiry:
Two cities could hardly be more different—in this age of globalization and cultural homogeneity—than Dubai and Havana, but recent visits to the bookshops of both taught me a lesson that I should not have expected to learn: that, accustomed as I am to deplore the superficiality and simplifications of the Enlightenment, I am nevertheless a product of it. No Enlightenment, no me: and none of my friends, either. This might be perfectly obvious, but a great deal of labor goes into the denial of the obvious: for the obvious is an affront to intellectuals, including me, whom it threatens with redundancy.
Dubai is Islamic and Havana is Marxist, of course, but both comprehensively reject the Enlightenment ideal of intellectual inquiry wherever it might lead, though Dubai is a liberal state by the standards of the region. In the bookshops of both, you get the powerful impression that, fundamentally, all questions (at least, those that relate to philosophy, history, and how life should be lived) have long been settled, and that all that needs to be known is already known, or rather has been revealed. All that remains to be done is to slot the facts into the worldview.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2002 November 04 12:00 AM Civilizations Clash Of|