A spectre haunts Westren thought: loss of meaning. All the disciplines of modern discourse have entered into a holy conspiracy to welcome the new daemon: Epistemology and Sociology, Political Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology, Ethics and Phenomenology. With its faith evaporated, its power faded, its mission civilisatrice aborted, Westren civilisation today displays all the symptoms of an acute identity-crisis. Indeed, the West today is a civilisation of countless means that knows naught of any single cause. It treads endless paths and asks umpteen questions but of one definite goal or a unique answer it has no inkling. The hang-over of civilisational atheism and secularism, moreover, is finally taking its toll on the Westren psyche to the extent that the apocalyptic is re-entering its consciousness. Once the envy of the world, Westren man today is profoundly miserable, haunted by the fear that his civilisation, the pinnacle of human achievement, is now facing a certain doom - challenged not by the hordes of alien barbarians but threatened to the core by the worms of inner decay.
The loss of certainty, in
the ultimate philosophical and religious sense has thus become the central
theme of our times. Indeed, to elaborate upon this motif in a mood of profound
self-doubt and despair has become the calling of every oracular voice in
the West. One such voice, for instance, is the following that belongs to
Andre Malraux: "I believe", Malraux once confessed in a moment of genuine
spiritual anxiety, "that the civilisation of machines is the first civilisation
without a supreme value for the majority of people. There are traces
of values - many.... But the distinguishing characteristic of a civilisation
of action is, undoubtedly, that everyone be possessed by action.
Action against contemplation; a human life, and perhaps the instant,
against eternity ..... It remains to know whether a civilisation can
be merely a civilisation of questions or of the instant, if it can
for a long time base its values upon something other than a religion" (all
emphasis has been added).
The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. By Hans Blumenberg (trsl. by Robert M Wallace). MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. & London, 1984. Pp 676.
Relativism and the Social Sciences. By Ernest Gellner. Cambridge University Press, 1985. Pp 200. £22.00 (Hdbk)
The Politics at God's Funeral: The Spiritual Crisis of Western Civilisation. By Michael Harrington. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York, 1983 (Paperback ed. by Viking Penguin Inc., 1985). Pp 308.
The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. By Jean-Francois Lyotard (trnsl. by G Bennington & F Jameson). Manchester University press, 1986. Pp 110. £8.95.
The Return of Grand Theory
in the Human Sciences. Ed. by Quentin Skinner. Cambridge University
Press, 1986. Pp 215.
In order to understand Blumenberg's work, it goes without saying, one must be fully acquainted with Karl Loewith's earlier study, Meaning in History (Chicago, University of Chicago press, 1949). Unlike his other contemporaries, Loewith cast his thesis in a historiographical mould and delivered a scathing indictment of the notion of `Progress' through theology. Focussing on the eighteenth-nineteenth century `philosophers of history' - Voltaire, Turgot, Hegel, Marx, Proudhon and Comte - he argued that the idea of progress, which informs all our theories about scientific, technical and economic growth, was achieved through the `secularisation' of the Judaeo-Christian patterns of eschatology. Despite the irreligious, even anti-religious posture of the champions of progress today, thus, Loewith assured, the only possible source of the modern notion of a single, unified, evolutionary Weltgeschichte could have been the Christian view of history - centered absolutely on the unique Incarnation and gazing resolutely on the Final Judgement. Though the modern mind has now abandoned the Christian idea of creation and consummation, Loewith writes, `it has not made up its mind whether it should be Christian or pagan. It sees with one eye of faith and the other of reason. Hence its vision is necessarily dim in comparison with either Greek or biblical thinking'. The modern mind is thus `bastard' because it is half-pagan, half-Christian. (It might as well be added that Loewith was no apologist of Christianity. By advancing the `secularisation thesis', he was in fact tacitly pleading for the renunciation of the idea of progress in favour of the cyclical cosmos of Stoicism).
Blumenberg's magisterial refutation of the `secularization' theory, presented at the Seventh German Philosophy Congress in 1962 and elaborated in the form of the present work in 1966, is above all a tour de force of historical scholarship. It is against a formidable and meticulous account of the intellectual origins of the modern world that Blumenberg salvages the notion of progress from the charge of `illegitimacy'. The `future' which modern idea of progress anticipates, he points out, is not an eschatological event dependent upon a transcendent intervention, a closing down of the workshop of history so to speak, but the product of an immanent process of development whose main actor is man. Progress for the modern man thus is a forward looking constructive effort rather than a passive anticipation of the apocalyptic that is its meaning in the Christian eschatological schema. True enough, there is a continuity between the Christian motif of eschatology and the notion of progress but, he argues cogently, it is a continuity of problems rather than solutions, of questions rather than answers. In reality, this cognitive transition, and the new intellectual opening that it proved out to be, could only have come about by the pre-modern mind making an about-turn in the blind alley of Christian dogma. Blumenbergs therefore makes it a point to demonstrate that all the distinguishing notions of modernity are related to their Christian precedents only antithetically. It was to the `problem' of the pre-ponderence of the theme of divine omnipotence, for instance, that the modern virtue of `self-assertion' arose as a response. Struggling against the tyranny of `theological absolutism' and the concomitant cognitive `impossibility of escaping a deceiving God', moreover, the self-confident and self-reliant modern man came of age. Not only does the historical narrative of the genesis of the modern age provide a firm refutation of Loewith's secularisation thesis, Blumenberg concludes, modernity itself is sui generis and legitimate in every meaningful sense.
That the nineteenth century `philosophers of history' constructed a welthistorisches schema which, by its historicist exaggerations, did come close to the defunct eschatological plans of the Christians, is not denied by Blumenberg. However, his explanation is that even in abandoning the Christian `answers' to the problem of the meaning of the total history of humanity, modern thinkers did cling to the questions themselves. `It was this compulsion to "reoccupy" the "position" of the medieval Christian schema of creation and eschatology - rather than leave it empty, as a rationality that was aware of its limits might have done - that led to the grandiose constructions of the "philosophy of history"', notes Blumenberg's American translator, R.M. Wallace. Censuring these pseudo-Christian, pseudo-modernist, excessively historicising notions of `inevitable progress' - inherited even by Marxism - Blumenberg in turn posits the proper notion of `true' modernity, namely possible progress. Being true to Enlightenment's vision of Philosophy as an emancipatory discourse, Blumenberg thus concludes by re-affirming his faith in the `legitimate' tenets of progress. The principle motive of the book thus proves out to be a demonstration of the fact that modernity's problems do not arise from its logical inconsistencies, that modernity is not an arbitrary commitment, nor that it is a `secularised' version of Christianity. In fact, he pleads that modern science and philosophy be expurgated of the `illegitimate', logically insoluble, problems that have been forced upon it by its religious past. There is also a cautious note of hope, re-affirming the possibilities of science and philosophy in its relation to man's legitimate self-interests.
No doubt, Blumenberg has succeeded in mustering a masterly thesis, blending philosophical reflection and historical scholarship in the true Germanic and Hegelian tradition that is known for its contemplative stance around the value of totality rather than for of any apologetic defence of a parochial commitment. Hence, even if much of the detailed and protracted historical argument, indeed its presentation in a highly convoluted Teutonic syntax which gets even more entangled in translation, remains largely out of reach for the non-specialist, the overall impression is one of coming into contact with a very rewarding work. Its adroit demolition of the Loewithian rampart, accomplished mainly by the cannonade of historiographical fire, commands respect. (One really wonders why do Christian - and Muslim - apologists ever bother to appropriate modernity to their respective traditions when the spiritual, intellectual and emotional abyss separating the theistic ethos from that of secular humanism forever yawns right in their face with impunity! Perhaps, vis-a-vis modern science and philosophy, the religious man always feels some acute sense of inferiority at least concerning his own intellectual apparatus; otherwise how could one account for the earnestness with which some Christians proclaim their spurious gospel of secularism?)
Despite all these gratifying traits of Blumenberg's study, one finishes it in a mood of profound disappointment. Leaving aside the moral discomforts of the deterministic doctrine of progress - sufficient for the religious man to renounce it completely only on those counts - its most compelling refutation has come from the `progress' of history itself! Indeed, not unlike nineteenth-century science which had no premonition of the problems of science in the twentieth century, Blumenberg's ideological model of modernity is squarely located in a pre-relativistic Newtonian universe of fixed cognitive categories and congealed thought. It shows no awareness of the crisis of knowledge and legitimation which has been the principal rationale behind the transition of `high modernism' into `postmodernism'. Indeed, postmodernity nullifies modernity precisely on the same grounds as the latter repudiated traditionalism, namely, by discrediting the metadiscourse of modernity, science, in the manner of the latter's earlier refutation of the Christian theodicy. Lyotard's brief, though very densely argued, statement on the status of knowledge in the age of postmodernism presents and situates the problem of legitimation in a masterly fashion. Coming as it does from the Gaulic side of the great intellectual divide of European intellectualism, the French philosopher's politically specific and concrete analysis also provides a counter-poise as it were to the Germanic idealism of Blumenberg. Without conceiving itself in this fashion, it succeeds in presenting as devastating a refutation against the Blumenbergian defence of progress and modernity as the latter himself demolished Loewith's secularisation thesis.
Lyotard starts his argument with the disconcerting insight that in the age of the hegemony of computers, the status and function of knowledge may change radically. Through a process of exteriorization of knowledge with respect to the `knower', he conjectures, knowledge will be `produced' in order to be `sold' and will be consumed in order to be valorised. Knowledge as an exchange-commodity thus ceases to be an end in itself. Indeed, the author has no difficulty in imagining a future where learning would be circulating along the same lines as money and where the valid distinction no longer would be between `knowledge' and `ignorance' but between `payment knowledge' and `investment knowledge'. Standing before the scenario of an IBM-monopoly to occupy a belt in the earth's orbital field and launch satellites housing data banks, Lyotard's expresses his anguish quite pointedly by asking: "who will know?" The State, its free citizens or multinational corporations? The question of the legitimacy of science, he also point out, has been indissociably linked to that of the legislator in the Westren tradition. In other words, the right to decide what is true is not independent of the right to decide what is just (Perceptive Muslim readers will not fail to recognize the mu'tazilite tenor of this argument!). There is thus a strict interlinkage between the language called science and knowledge and the kind called ethics and politics.
Layotard's socio-political conceptions of knowledge then oblige him to posit the differences between the modern and the postmodern conceptions of the social bond. Discounting the two modern positions, namely that society functions as an organic whole or that it is haunted by the principle of opposition, he visualizes the nature of the social bond in terms of the games theory model. Not only a theory of cybernetics and communications but that of conflict and games that accepts agonistics as a founding principle is required to explain the workings of societal institutions, he maintains. From Layotard's understanding of the nature of social relations thus follow his definitions of knowledge. Knowledge, he insists, cannot be reduced to science, nor even to learning. The term knowledge covers far more than a set of denotative statements. `it also includes notions of "know-how", "knowing how to live", "how to listen" [savoir-faire, savoir-vivre, savoir-ecouter] etc. Knowledge, then, is a question of competence that goes beyond the simple determination and application of the criterion of truth, extending to the determination and application of criteria of efficiency (technical qualification), of justice and/or happiness (ethical wisdom), of the beauty of sound or colour (auditory and visual sensibility) etc. Understood in this way, knowledge is what makes someone capable of forming "good" denotative utterances, but also "good" prescriptive and "good" evaluative utterances' (all emphasis has been added).
The problem of the legitimation of knowledge, which is examined within the matrix of its pragmatics, ie its actual functionings in a historical and social setting, leads Layotard to introduce the category of "narrative". Narration, he maintains, is the quintessential form of traditional knowledge and carries its own legitimation within it. The narrative allows a society not only to define its criteria of competence but also to evaluate according to those criteria what is performed or can be performed within it. The knowledge transmitted by narration is not limited to enunciations: `it determines in a single stroke what one must say in order to be heard, what one must listen in order to speak, and what role one must play to be the object of a narrative'. Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, is characterised by its own game rules - all of which are perceptively outlined by Layotard - but its most notable feature is that it introduces the dichotomy of science and non-science and questions the validity of narrative knowledge. Accordingly, scientists always maintain that narrative statements are never subjects to argumentation or proof. The demand for cognitive legitimacy, thus, is a direct consequence of the scientific mode of perception: the problem of legitimation itself becomes legitimated as a problem in the scientific vision. The interrelationship between `science' and `narrative', however, is asymmetrical: one questions the legitimacy of the other whilst the other has no such qualms about the questioner. This unequal relationship, according to Layotard, `is the entire history of cultural imperialism from the dawn of Western civilization'.
The paradox and tyranny of the language game of science is that it also poses the question of its own legitimation - and is unable to answer it other than through a recourse to its own meta-narrative. Within the scientific system, `Knowledge is thus founded on the narrative of its own martyrdom', announces Layotard in a true Nietzschean vein. Modernist science possessed two major versions of the narrative of legitimation: the political and the philosophical. The subject of the former is humanity as the hero of liberty and it is part of the French legacy. Within the context of the narrative of freedom, knowledge is legitimated not for its own sake but for conferring upon the State the means to realize national, eventually human, emancipation. The whole technocratic paradigm of the welfare state thus rests on the acceptance of the meta-narrative of human progress and freedom. In the second version, handed over to us by the German tradition, the subject of knowledge is not the people but the speculative spirit. It is not embodied, as in post-revolutionary France, in a State, but in a System (The fluidity of the state situation in Germany made it undesirable to overemphasize its role in the legitimation narrative). The language game of legitimation of the German version is thus not state-political but philosophical: it tacitly posits the notorious dictum: "Science for its own sake". Speculation is the name of the game of science and the principle of its legitimation resides not in any other authority save its own.
The grand narrative of science, whether it be a speculative narrative or a narrative of emancipation, Layotard contends further, has today lost its credibility. The seeds of "delegitimation" and nihilism which were inherent in the grand narratives of the nineteenth century have now borne the fruits of cognitive uncertainty. As for the speculative model, which reserves the term knowledge only for the discourse that re-duplicates itself, that cites its own statements to the n-th level of derivation , it `does not really know what it thinks it knows'. Or, the paradoxes of the Hegelian version of the narrative are enunciated more clearly as, `Positive science is not a form of knowledge' and that `speculation feeds on its own suppression'. It is not accidental that today with the status of knowledge unbalanced and its speculative unity broken, the first version of legitimacy, state-political, is gaining new vigour. However, even the first version that grounds the legitimation of science not in its own autonomy but in that of the interlocutors involved in its ethical, social and political usage is not free from the malaise of delegitimation according to Layotard. `The effects of dividing reason into cognitive or theoretical reason on the one hand, and practical [and ethical, one may add] reason on the other, is to attack the legitimacy of the discourse of science', is his final verdict. Though Layotard's incisive work follows its own argumentational course and terminates on the libertarian plea: `Give the public free access to the memory and data banks', his way out of the impasse of delegitimation is through the anarchisation and atomisation of knowledge - hardly more `legitimate' a solution than that of cognitive nihilism or relativism! The failure of the speculative narrative of legitimation has thus brought us at the threshold of cognitive relativity, just as the collapse of the pragmatic version makes us stare blindly in the face of the monster of moral relativism! Though a lot more may be said of Layotard's explorations of the interface of the epistemic, technological, political and cultural themes in the `postmodern' age, his highly original analysis of the pragmatics of delegitimation marks a proper juncture for our parting company with him because we now find ourselves ushered in the presence of another spectre of Westren thought: relativism.
For a superb introduction to the problematics of relativism, one must turn to Gellner's book. Lacking in structural unity, being a collection of stray essays, the present work still maintains its thematic integrity with remarkable acumen and succeeds in presenting some of the most hotly debated issues of our time with exemplary lucidity. Moreover, the work is analytical, incisive and critical, the author's argument always original and cogent, his style sparkling with wit and irony; all of which makes this slim volume one of the most rewarding intellectual adventures. The starting-point of the author's excursus in the terrain of relativism is the paradoxical insight that though the West remains convinced of the cognitive superiority of its own intellectual tradition, it has no inkling as to how it may be proven or why is it so. The ineluctable claim of the uniqueness of the scientific method - `Extra scientiam nulla salus', if you please - is then scrutinised against the background of the clash of the titans of Positivism and Hegelianism, just as Popper's highly original characterisation of science (not rationality) as an endless quest for falsification gets a good deal of Gellner's attention. We are made aware of that societies following the Popperian trial and error model of science are exceptions rather than the rule, that the discourse of science presupposes the acceptance of a specific, `granular', metaphysics and that the ultimate basis of positivism is subjective empiricism and so forth. Hence the concluding antinomy, `the positivists are right. For Hegelian reasons.'
The simple query, whether social sciences are scientific or not, brings the insight that the even if the discourse called `scientific' is a social and cultural game, an empirical answer to this question would be irrelevant to the truth of the matter. Science, for the modern consciousness, is not an empirical activity of fallible nature but a normative and authoritative category of true knowledge. `Science may be consensual; the theory of science is not', is Gellner's verdict. He then goes on to delineate the characteristics of scientific knowledge in terms of its impact on social life in general and provides a mild form of legitimation for the scientific discourse. Gellner's defence of science however is for the sake of `truth', he sees the spirit of free inquiry as the heart of science, and it does not smack of any cultural megalomania.
The problematics of the legitimation of scientific knowledge, whether one reads Blumenberg, Lyotard or Gellner, brings home the seminal point that the scientific discourse is capable of producing only denotative utterances; prescriptive utterances do not fall within its purview. In other words, empiricism and positivism are incapable of creating any kind of normative knowledge. Science, we are relentlessly made aware of, can never answer the great questions of metaphysics and that any system of epistemology that is derivative of the scientific worldview can only generate questions ad infinitum without ever supplying any `definite' answer. It is not accidental that disenchantment with `objectivity' and `empiricism' is total even within Westren intellectualism. The Return of the Grand Theory in the Human Science presents the story of some of the most valiant rebels against the tyranny of normless human sciences. One meets here Foucault as well as Derrida, Habermas together with Kuhn, Levi-Strauss, Gadamar and others. The only common denominator between this motley group of thinkers is their quest for «normsÙ within their respective disciplines. Clearly no epistemology of the human sciences is possible without the injection of normative categories of discourse. The West's tragedy is that in default of any cultural consensus on transcendent values, the axiological vacuum is being filled arbitrarily by all and sundry.
The debate about the legitimation of knowledge leads us straight to the question of authority in politics which is the theme of Harrington's book. The eclipse of religion not only produces a crisis in the legitimation of knowledge, it also throws political theory out of the window of societal consensus. The fact that the West, for the past two centuries at least, has been a civilisation any avowed faith could have resulted in a work full of metaphysical pathos and spiritual disquietude. Such, however, is not the tenor of the present work because its author, Michael Harrington is an American social democrat and a Marxist - a master of compromise and tact, that is to say - who lacks all forms of religious credentials. Nevertheless, he is a truly moral thinker whose concern for the spiritual plight of the Western man is very genuine and whose work, on account of this, ought to be of considerable interest to a Muslim.
Harrington sets the scene for the presentation of his argument by recapitulating some of the political attributes that the societal God of Judaeo-Christianity possessed prior to his `demise'. Among others, these included his being :`the legitimization of power and sometimes a revolt against it; the transcendent symbol of common consciousness of an existing community; the foundation of values; the organising principle of a system of the authoritative allocation of social rules (God of feudalism) or the motivating and ethical principle of individual mobility (God of capitalism); the guarantor of personal, ethnic and national identity; and, a philosopher for the non-philosophers, including the illiterate'. Contrary to the modern half-truth that faith is a matter of personal conscience and the guiding principle of individual morality alone, Harrington makes bold his claim that religion is the woof and warp of the whole societal fabric. Once the dam of common faith is burst, there is nothing left to save the society from the deluge of anarchy and chaos. This indeed is what has already happened to the Westren society, or is writ large in its future. The loss of the political. God has entailed according to Harrington: `a crisis of legitimacy in the late capitalist society; the shift from "Protestant ethics" to compulsory hedonism; the appeal of totalitarian movements as substitutes for religious solidarity; the loss of philosophic "common sense" basis of responsibility before the law; the decline in the sense of duty toward unborn generations; the relativisation of all values; the thinness and superficiality of the substitutes of religion by sex and drugs' and so forth.
With the `political necessity of religion' firmly established in Harrington's mind, the moral vacuity of the godless Westren civilisation becomes intolerable and forces him pose all sorts of disturbing question. `Where in a relativist technological society', he asks in a mood of Ellulian anxiety, `is there a social ethic that can save us from our own brilliance?'. The possession of thermonuclear weaponry produces the anguish: `By what values do we exercise that godlike (demonic) power?'. The pricking question of values persists no matter what dialectical system Harrington brings into play to further his query. Even his political prophet, Marx, has to be disavowed for his `in some careless moments' (!) developing a theory `in which religion (along with politics and everything else having to do with values and ideas) was seen as a mere reflection of basic economic and social relations.'! Getting weary of platitudes and sermons, Harrington is forced to announce in a mood of genuine moral concern that `anyone who is serious about the spiritual crisis of late 20th century Westren society must also propose politically feasible economic alternatives to the structural sources of the crisis'. Harrington's own experience however tells him that `the basic religious tradition of the West can no longer, as a religious tradition, provide the core values of Westren society', while he also remains convinced that `Westren society needs transcendentals'. Hence, despite his recognition that the `insistence upon communitariansim - as opposed to collectivism - is- ... part of the unique contribution which the religious can make to the atheists in the sphere of politics', and notwithstanding his passionate longings for the emergence of a value-community, Harrington feels no compunction against dismissing outright any solution that would require a revival of Judaeo-Christianity. `A return to those past times is impossible and undesirable', reads his clear verdict. (All emphasis above is mine.)
For Harrington a search for legitimacy within the modern socio-political structures also entails the desirability of economic equality as well the urge to dispense with the kind of `functional specialisation' that makes an effective communal participation (in politics) impossible. Additionally, he pleads, `there must be expansion of moral motivation based on solidarity'. The last, pompous if you please, wish impels him to propose a coming together of the men of `atheistic humanism' and `religious faith' in the West - because capitalism, the chief source of the mindless de facto atheism, is the enemy of both of them. Against the tyranny of the thoughtless, normless, selfish, hedonistic individualism which is the gift of capitalism so to speak, he hopes, there could emerge a consensus based not on the affirmation of the same conception of the world, man and knowledge, but on a common will to action. And yet, his pragmatic, albeit naive, compromise proves out to be quite imperious in its insistence that this consensus, even if Harrington imagines it arising in the West, `must be universal' (all italics mine). (What shame! Such is the impunity of Westren thought that even when inscribed firmly within the existential parameters of Westren history and based entirely on Westren experience, it still dons its robe of universality. It matters little whether the Westren propensity to act as the spokesman of humanity is tempered, as in Harrington's case, by some dose of genuine modesty or whether it is clamorously self-adulatory. At the end of any Westren discourse, it is always made plain that it is the Westren experience which charts the human paradigm and it is the Westren remedy which provides the universal panacea.)
It would be far too easy to show Harrington and others that the Westren experience of the `death of God' is very provincial and parochial; that religiously and politically it does not represent the summit of human wisdom and that both the malady and the remedy concern only the Westren patient. It would be equally facile to point out that the Westren man's loss of faith represents the logical fulfillment of the dogmas of his own creed. One could also take comfort in showing Harrington that Islam as a civilisation has never renounced God. In fact, dismissing all the oracles of Westren doom would not be an inappropriate Muslim reaction, nor would be rebuffing them, epistemolgically and experientially, from the vantage-point of Islam. However, it is as men of faith we should tell them that humanism, whether Christian or atheistic, Marxist or liberal, cannot end the present crisis of values. So long as man has himself as the locus of his values and concerns, he is bound to remain derelict and astray. Only by defining himself from an external point of reference, can man hope to discover his station and his goal. The religious man has always measured the cardinal point of his personality and his civilisation against God the Creator - the external (transcendent) source of all values. Before he can make a common cause with the atheistic humanist, he has a right to ask, whom does the latter accept as his referee?
No doubt every earnest-minded reader must get carried away by the moral sincerity and persuasive appeal of Harrington's sentiments; yet the tyranny is that his `social democratic' vision cannot free itself from the compulsion of compromise. At the end of his superbly conducted tour of Westren intellectual landscape, his gaze refocuses itself on the familiar mileposts of his own ideological pastures. Like a mole, Harrington would have us burrow our way through the mountain of spiritual crisis in a spirit of political compromise. Little wonder that the rocky impediments of unbelief allow him only the comforts of the tunnel vision of a mole. He lacks the power of faith that moves mountains. The Grand Coalition of `atheistic humanism' and `religious faith' which is offered as a path to planetary conscience is a half-measure, begotten of half-truths, that is unlikely to end the apartheid of `faith' and `reason' that is the legacy of the Westren man and his civilisation to our age.
What is true of Harrington is true of the Westren man in general. His epistemology of questions, his loss of meaning, indeed the uncertainty of his being, is the natural cry of the self-reproaching, tormented soul, Nafs al lawwama in the parlance of the Qur'an. By renouncing God, we have seen, the Westren man has been rendered impotent in the face of the problems of knowledge and power. Theology and political philosophy, it was commonly known, are indispensable to each other. The modern debate on the legitimation of knowledge also shows that even epistemology without theology is not a viable option; for, with the `death of God' comes not only the darkness of the human soul but the blankness of the human mind as well. Only by the recovery of faith will the Westren man find meaning to his existence; only by surrendering himself to the will of his creator will he experience the peace of the contented soul (Nafs al-Mutma'inna). Unless he does that, his nagging epistemology of endless questions will continue to torment him, and, inasmuch as he is a son of humanity, we all will have to suffer with him.