Modernity and Political Realism: A Comparison of Islamic and Western Perspectives
Douglass, Robert B.
My dissertation project examines problems related to modernity in the Arab world and the West. It touches on the persistent effects of modernization processes in these parts of the world including dependency and instrumental rationality, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of adopting a realist lens in addressing these problems. I highlight this style of realist thinking in three particular authors – ‘Abd al-Raḥman Ibn Khaldūn, Abdallah Laroui, and Jürgen Habermas – and develop a unique realist approach that draws upon my readings of these thinkers. The main argument which I make is that an empirically grounded view of politics, which directs attention towards power and domination in a primary fashion, can best address the interconnected dilemmas of modernity which tie these three thinkers together, and in turn can provide for a rich understanding of the ideals that can be drawn upon to critique and assuage these problems. In the project I contribute to two recent strands of literature within political theory – realist thought and comparative political theory.
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