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Critique of Postmodern Ethics of Alterity versus Embodied (Muslim) Others: Incompatibility, Diversion, or Convergence

by Al-Mwajeh, Ziad

Abstract (Summary)
In this dissertation, I investigated postmodern alterity, constructivism, and agency through addressing their translatability and implications. In Chapter One, I critiqued postmodern main concepts of alterity and constructivism, showing that these terms can be vague and counterproductive unless they are attenuated with political socio-cultural realities. In Chapter Two, through analyzing modern texts, I explored claims that Western epistemology/ontology reduces the other to the Same. Although superstructural assumptions contribute to self-other imbalances, they cannot account for the myriad cross-cultural transactions unless they contextualize and historicize self-other transactions. Chapter Three investigates controversial postmodern texts. As there are no pure postmodern texts, the texts I analyzed both embody and resist the deconstruction of history and identity. Postmodern thought cross-fertilizes with other adjacent disciplines and minority perspectives, but it cannot subsume or explain complex self-other relations without attending to power relations in their traditional sense, too. Taking the study to another level, Chapter Four exposes the disparity between postmodern utopian thought and political-discursive “grim” realities. Postmodernism has a limited utility. Thus it should be supplemented with minority, Critical Discourses iv Analysis, and historicized approaches. Attending to concrete Others really tests any ethical system, particularly postmodern ethics of alterity. Moreover, postmodern ethics oddly co-exist with hegemonic antagonizing self-other relations that deploy humanistic and altruistic rhetoric. Political realities do not allow pre-ontological encounters or infinite obligations to the face of the Other. In Chapter Five (Conclusion), I attend to the discursive strictures imposed by both modernist and postmodernist thought upon the exploration of the dynamics of cross-cultural relations. Attentive rigorous analyses may help distinguish among true and fake cross-cultural differences. Furthermore, teachers and students need to map the scenes and understand the depth of the assault launched against human agency through subtle media simulacrums and sideshows. To essentialize Islam and the West as incompatible may be a very subtle ruse that diverts attention away from real imperial/capitalistic and hegemonic causes of conflicts. Furthermore, Muslims are part of world order and they share with other citizens of the globe similar concerns: they are part of the solution rather than merely part of the problem.
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School:Indiana University of Pennsylvania

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:08/15/2005

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