Every year since 2002, UNESCO celebrates the International Day of Philosophy, which falls on the third Thursday of November. With this celebration, UNESCO wants to show the enduring value of philosophy in the development of human thought throughout the ages. This celebration shows the importance of philosophy as an intellectual and rational tool that contributes to addressing the major problems associated with our time, in view of its contribution to developing the process of free and logical thinking for individuals and groups, which limits intellectual intolerance and religious extremism, and thus helps to confront fundamentalist religious discourse. Which contributes to strengthening the human bond according to rational and ethical foundations.
Philosophy is more than just a professional discipline. It is a way of thinking and a way of living, as it goes beyond the theoretical framework based on abstract intellectual propositions, to enter its effects into the core of daily practice, and in the way the individual thinks, especially in social, political and cultural issues. And all this through the knowledge rich in philosophy, and rational concepts that urge the implementation of thought, the practice of criticism, respect for the right to difference and freedom of opinion within a framework of acceptance of the other and belief in the culture of difference.
Thus, philosophy transforms from an epistemological function into a liberating one that contributes to the liberation of the human self from the sway of puritanical ideas and from rigid cultures and the delusions of tribe, race, and tendency towards rejecting and atonement of the other. Self-liberation puts us in front of a new intellectual environment that belongs to modernity in its intellectual sense, as it leaves its clear effects in all areas of life, and contributes effectively to the creation of a new person who belongs in his thinking to the current reality and its questions, and moves away from the prisons and pains of the past.
The history of philosophy, then, is linked to the history of man. The realized form of a philosophy is often contemporary with a verified and specific type of people, and thus reflects the spirit of this people and the organization of their lives, as well as the aspects of their material and intellectual creations.
Based on the foregoing, and in the face of this permanent intellectual value of philosophy as one of the most important human products that contribute to building man mentally and psychologically, and to humanizing him and developing him as an active and interacting subject with his society and its requirements, we must raise the problem of the presence of philosophy in the Arab public space, and the extent of its impact in Arab individuals and societies. Accordingly, a set of basic questions arise before us. Can we talk about an original philosophy in our Arab world? Is philosophy present as an epistemological need or as an ideological tool? Does it have a significant impact on the Arab public space? What are the obstacles that still prevent philosophy from occupying a leading position in our Arab public space?
The interest in philosophy has been remarkable in the past three years, as some Arab countries have introduced philosophy as an educational subject in the school curriculum, and other countries have tended to open departments of philosophy in their national universities, in addition to launching and establishing research and study centers and publishing houses, and holding conferences and seminars dealing with the matter. philosophical, and promote it. All of this brought philosophy back to the public Arab space, as a valuable intellectual value that is being re-emerged for reasons of openness, development, and entry into the world of modernity and postmodernity.
However, this celebration of philosophy after its disappearance does not prevent us from moving forward in answering the question that we had raised regarding the existence of an authentic Arab philosophical discourse that, with its methods and terminology, belongs to the geneology of Arab reality and its problems.
The presence of Western philosophy in the formation of the nature of the Arab philosophical discourse seems clear, whether in terms of the epistemological and terminological fields, or in terms of methodology and mechanisms of thinking. Perhaps the Arab philosophical productions give us a clear answer to this matter, when we witness the transformation of the role of the Arab thinker from creating a text into a mere translator of Western philosophical texts, to the extent that we notice the extent of the presence of Western philosophical currents in the books and propositions of Arab thinkers, and this seems remarkable through the dense presence of philosophy. French (Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Ricoeur…) as well as analytical philosophy (Russell, Wittgenstein) and phenomenological philosophers (Husserl, Heidegger) and the Frankfurt School in its different generations (from Hokheimer to Habermas), and of course we do not forget the German philosophical discourse from Hegel and Marx Passing through Kant to Nietzsche and others. This does not mean that we are against the course of this Arab philosophical discourse. With regard to translating Western philosophical productions and translating them into Arabic, we see this as a positive field, as the translational verb helps us overcome language barriers and puts us in front of the relics of Western culture, which contributes to enriching the Arab philosophical discourse. Contemporary and enriched with new knowledge, and different human experiences.
However, most of what we want in this field is to show how the Arab philosophical productions turned into mere studies and analyzes of Western philosophical thought in a manner in which the Arab philosophical discourse moved away from delving into its cultural problems, its epistemological needs, and the bets of its intellectual present, and contented itself with a literal evocation of the questions of the Western mind, and its questions in a selective manner in general. In it, he forcibly avoided entering into fields of knowledge that are still characterized by the nature of the sacred and the forbidden.
Thus, most of Arab philosophy turned into mere general theoretical propositions that moved away from now and here, and hovered in the world of abstraction and absolutes, as philosophy was used as a research tool in the service of fundamentalist ideologies, where philosophical issues were approached with a jurisprudential mind, not a critical philosophical mind. And all because of the dominance of fundamentalist discourse in the public Arab space, which limited the influence of philosophy, paralyzed its effectiveness, and led to society’s turning away from it. Then he put heavy shackles on her and prevented her from excavating knowledge in the fields of religion, politics and society. Instead of philosophy starting in our public Arab space to focus on the realization of reason in religious and political propositions and social sciences, benefiting from Western experiences, to move forward in breaking illusions, shattering intellectual idols, exposing Arab reality in all its fields, and exposing its claims, we see it on the contrary. Although it topped the scene again, it was domesticated by setting limits on its path of movement, its fields of research, and the goals required of it.
Philosophy cannot survive under the dominance of religious fundamentalist discourse and its control over the areas of public space. This discourse, which succeeded in transforming religion itself into a puritanical ideology, prevented those working in philosophy from critically considering the religious text or even approaching it with a philosophical methodology. Every reformer or researcher opposes the prevailing culture of heresy and takfir, which created a broad current resisting philosophy under the pretext of being hostile to religion. Arab philosophy failed to formulate a true modernist philosophical discourse capable of practicing thinking with a critical mind free from narrow affiliations and the dominance of prevailing religious fundamentalisms.
Philosophy has been forced to withdraw from the public debate, and to leave room, against its will, for fundamentalist ideology and the cultural propositions associated with it. Philosophy today has become a parasitic field that feeds on what the dominant religious authority allows of technical discussions that are general and abstract, and are nothing more than an intellectual luxury whose effects do not extend to the Arab public sphere with all its political and social ramifications, to be confined to specific technical and linguistic fields.
This is the case of philosophy today in our Arab public space. Despite all manifestations of celebration and appreciation for it as a permanent value and an indispensable intellectual treasure, its reality in our Arab world is still dependent on the religious authority of the dominant and the orientations and goals of political regimes, which together constitute a strong obstacle that prevents the launch of philosophy. Unleash the Arab philosophical discourse and make it liberated from all the prohibitions and fields that were drawn for it.
In the end, the Arab mind is still hiding behind ideological veils and veils that would prevent it from practicing the act of free and frank philosophizing, and make it a prisoner of rigid thinking patterns that it cannot deviate from. To distance him from philosophizing and make philosophy present as an ideological tool, not as an epistemological and emancipatory need in our public Arab space.
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