Power and Knowledge In Edward Said's Orientalism - Essay Example

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In Arab-American community of the USA, Edward Said embodied the Power of Knowledge opposing the evil forces and oppression. His Orientalism deals with the issue of distorting the truth as far as the culture of the Muslim world and Islam are concerned in the modern western society…
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Power and Knowledge In Edward Saids Orientalism
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Download file to see previous pages Basically, E. Said proposed to view the western policy towards the East as colonial, imperial discourse created by means of manipulating knowledge - that is why the problem of interrelation between knowledge and power in Said's work is very important.
All in all, Edward Said's views may be called unique because he is not only interested in politics from a scientific viewpoint - he, in fact, makes politics use the results of research, that is - scientific knowledge. He clearly shows that he is far from both politicization of thinking and ensuring the "neutrality" of scientists. His intellectual is politicized, yet it happens not because he makes science a servant of politics, but - and this is important for the understanding of the scholar's system of beliefs - because politics for Said is the ally of science as far as the freedom of thinking and autonomy of scientific activity are concerned.
The core of E. Said's approach is to de-crown the myth of Orientalism being a homogenous theory based on clearly defined concepts. According to him, Orientalism "is a style of thought based upon ontological and epistemological distinction made between 'the Orient' and (most of the time) 'the Occident'. Thus a very large mass of writers, among who are poet, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and imperial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, 'mind', destiny, and so on".
Said interprets events rather than openly states his opinion, and this certainly correlates with "the death of the author" theory proclaimed by post-modernism. The minimised role of author ensures the collision and interrelation between different, often polar opinions, in E. Said's Orientalism; and it is a great step towards "polylogic" knowledge as opposed to monologic.
For Said, monologic knowledge is associated, above all, with the West, but at the same time with the Eastern counter-attack against this monologism using the same monologic principles. That is why, the western expansion towards the East, which is obviously the embodiment of power and domination, is inseparable from knowledge. Said proves that metaphysically, comprehension (the process of intellectual capturing) is related to occupation, and personal enrichment in the form of becoming more open-minded and widening of one's scope - to imperialistic ambitions of the West.
My contention is that Orientalism is fundamentally a political doctrine willed over the Orient because the Orient was weaker than the West, which elided the Orient's difference with its weakness. . . . As a cultural apparatus Orientalism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to-truth, and knowledge (Said 1995, p. 204)
It is not a coincidence that we mentioned Said's idea about the interrelations between science and politics. In his Orientalism, science, and at the first place the science that serves political needs of the country, is associated with the West, same as power. He therefore attempts to discover a complicated system of ties existing between science (knowledge) and power, and to show to what extent power may need knowledge, and at the same time to what extent knowledge may be a form of power.
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