The Rise of Eurocentrism: Anatomy of Interpretation

The Rise of Eurocentrism: Anatomy of Interpretation

The Rise of Eurocentrism: Anatomy of Interpretation

The Rise of Eurocentrism: Anatomy of Interpretation

Synopsis

In the controversy over political correctness, the canon, and the curriculum, the role of Western tradition in a post-modern world is often debated. To clarify what is at stake, Vassilis Lambropoulos traces the ideology of European culture from the Reformation, focusing on a key element of Western tradition: the act of interpretation as a distinct practice of understanding and a civil right. Championed by Protestants insisting on independent interpretation of scripture, this ideal of autonomy ushered in the era of modernity with its essentialist philosophy of universal man and his aesthetic understanding of the world. After explaining the dominance of European culture through the combined archetypes of Hebraism (reason and morality) and Hellenism (spirit and art), Lambropoulos shows how the rule of autonomy has been transformed into the aesthetic, disinterested contemplation of things in themselves. Arguing that it is time to restore the socio-political dimension to the movement of autonomy, he proposes that a genealogy of the Hebraic-Hellenic archetypes can help us evaluate more recent models--like the Afrocentric one--and redefine t

Excerpt

In a secular culture, there is no time present. Occidental time oscillates precariously between the senses of ruin and anticipation, tradition and restitution. the present of the West has always been hopelessly caught between its Hellenic past and Hebraic future, the reason of the first Messiah (Socrates) and the revelation of the last one. That is why Europe (including its assimilated former colonies, the rest of the West) can only re-form, de-form, trans-form; it can only seek in form, in unmediated presence, the moment that time does not grant in the present moment. Since the great schism of the churches (1054), Europe (i.e., alienated Christianity everywhere) has been pursuing the expression of form, expression in form, the formulation of history. It has been seeking the arrest of time through the illumination of matter: the structure of monotheism in the sculpture of idols. This quest for the suprahistorical form (in which quest the West originated) reached a turning point with the Reformation and its decree against referentiality, against heteronomy, against matters of the world. From now on, matter had to be either spiritual (form) or worldly (material). If the Catholic church had been un-Orthodox, the Protestant denominations were going to be heterodox and heterotrophic, relying only on the organic material of autopoietic form for their spiritual food.

The rule of autonomy is the law of immanence, the reign of secular self-begetting form. Counter-ecclesiastical and anti-dogmatic faith needs to anchor itself in an event other than the (recurring) ritual, and it discovers such an event in form, the spiritual happening of matter. Form (this arrested history, this soteriological event) provides a mimesis of redemption: the redemption of the world through representation, the communion of the word. What forms the form is the verb (as opposed to the unreliable noun of nominalism), the word of the divine Logos; what occurs in the event of form is enunciation; what replaces referentiality is representation. the new ritual, the secular one, is verbal communication, the communion of forms, in which everyone may partake and contribute. the only prerequisite is faith in form—rejection of both scholastic exegesis and nominalist skepticism in favor of belief in literalist meaning. To promote this view, the reformists adopt the text as the preeminent type of form. With its basis in language, the text represents the most eloquent example of secular communion, the communion of tongues that rescues communication from Babel. the text becomes the purest form, the body of all form, and the depth of all immanence. At the same time, a new technology . . .

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