Intercivilizational Conflict: Some Guidelines and Some Fault Lines
11 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 6, 2010
Intercivilizational conflict has prospered in public and academic discourse since Samuel P. Huntington’s 1993 essay, “The Clash of Civilizations?” which gave new currency to a far older theme. It spread independent wings as fundamentalist Islam, and the fear thereof, peaked on and after September 11, 2001. This article offers several points of order. It examines the historical semantics of both “culture" and “civilization,” tracing the conceptual tension between them in the history of European thought. Along the way, it dwells on philosophers, social theorists and novelists from the eighteenth century to the present. It then proposes a reconsideration of the early 19th-century distinction between culture and civilization, associating the merits and tensions of distinctiveness with the former and allotting universal values to the latter. Finally, it considers contemporary problems weighing on the useful distinction between - and desirable cohabitation of - cultural pluralism and civil universalism.
Keywords: Intercivilizational Conflict, Clash of Civilizations, Huntington, culture, civilization, pluralism, universalism
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