We are so nosy

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, January 21, 2008

Curiously enough, Tory Historian found a follow-up to the previous posting in the latest editions of The New Criterion, which, among other articles carries papers from a symposium organized jointly by the magazine and our own Social Affairs Unit. Apart from the symposium, which Tory Historian has not read yet, there are other articles and book reviews.

One is a characteristically caustic piece by Mark Steyn on Noel Coward’s letters but the best one is by David Pryce-Jones, entitled “Enough Said” [registration needed]. The book is by Ibn Warraq and is called “Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism”.

It has to be said (oh dear!) that Edward Said’s moment is fast disappearing thanks to historians like Ibn Warraq, Justus Reid Weiner, Robert Irwin and David Pryce-Jones himself.

From the point of view of this blog, though, the really interesting paragraph is the following one:

As common sense suggests and Ibn Warraq substantiates, the interest of Westerners in the East from classical antiquity onwards was motivated by intellectual curiosity; they wanted to find out about the other human beings with whom they were sharing the world. To seek knowledge for its own sake is the special and wholly beneficial the West has made to mankind.
Back to Herodotus, methinks. For how can one be an historian without being consumed with curiosity?


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