Hourani, Albert
October 1963
Foreign Affairs;Oct63, Vol. 42 Issue 1, p126
Academic Journal
The article discusses a change in the Near East from one system of social thought to another. The old system started from the idea that there is some principle which stands above the state and society, guiding and judging the life of society and the actions of governments--it found this principle in the teachings of a revealed religion, Islam. The new system also believed that a principle existed, but it thought it could be found by human reason. In the Near East as elsewhere, men's minds have moved not only from the idea that the principles of social action are religious to the idea that they are rational, but also from the idea that there are such principles, standing above society, to the idea that society is its own judge and master, that the principles by which it should live are generated within itself, change as it changes, that its own interest is the supreme principle. The older political theories of Islam had grown up around the institution of the Caliphate--but with these new states came a new type of thought. Modern nationalism enshrines a secular principle, but in this generation the nationalism of the Near East was not wholly secular.


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