Mohamed Bamyeh

  • Fellowship Dates 2010-2011
  • Research Topic Islamic Hermeneutics and the Philosophy of the Public Sphere
  • Fellow or Grant Type National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Affiliation Post-doctoral candidate University of Pittsburgh
The greatest transformation in Islamic public philosophy in the 20th century concerns the almost complete replacement of traditional Islam with various activist tendencies, which now can be separated into two distinct styles of thought: one informed by instrumental reason, the other by hermeneutic reason. This study focuses on this latter trend, which tends to be less-examined in its totality.
Modern Islamic hermeneutics is increasingly contributing to sharpening dialogues in the public sphere and in energizing civil society in the Muslim world at large. It appeared in several Muslim countries roughly around the same time, gained great public following and exhibited common styles of argument and approach. It appears that public intellectuals operating in different countries developed their work independently of each other and in response to local environments, although now there is a growing awareness among them of the similarity in approaches.
This research explores the influence, common themes, style of thought and increasing connectedness of this budding movement, which has elicited various commentaries on individual thinkers but does not study them collectively as forming a distinct new tradition within Islamic public spheres. This research identifies and analyzes the common intellectual features of this movement and explores its influence on the public sphere across various societies. More specifically, the project has three interrelated goals: to identify the common features of the intellectual system of the hermeneutic movement and the connection of the hermeneutic approach to postmodern and post-national approaches to identity, action, difference and classical Islamic hermeneutics, as well as to assess the social influences of the new hermeneutic movement in various local and global environments in terms of its contribution to the public sphere and civil society.

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