Thursday, September 07, 2017

The Bedouin worldview .... or, Bedouin philosophy

Historically, philosophy has been articulated in an astonishingly wide —at least from today’s vantage point—array of literary forms and genres, although I’m not aware of any systematic comparative work on this score (there is a nice entry in the SEP by Eileen Sweeney on the literary forms of ‘medieval philosophy’). For better or worse, and depending on who you ask, contemporary professional philosophy has severely narrowed the “acceptable” or normative models of philosophical expression, usually within the constraints of what is considered a proper “analytical” approach (as a generic method, Buddhists arguably excel in philosophical analysis; with the Sanskrit grammarians pioneers in this regard, blurring the lines between science and philosophy). However, sometimes philosophy is expressed obliquely, perhaps embedded in material that requires some sort of distillation or—to use a more mundane metaphor—digging, to reveal itself as “philosophy” of one kind or another: moral psychology, metaphysics, ontology, ethics, epistemology, what have you. This may simply be due to the fact that those who are responsible for this material are not sages, philosophers or even intellectuals (by vocation), and yet one may discover here and there philosophical ideas, insight, even wisdom. The three works pictured above are exemplars of the phenomenon in question from the Bedouin, the material taking the form of poetry, proverbs, and law.  

I have an introductory reading list on the Bedouin here (it includes the Bailey titles pictured above).


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