The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the West

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Basic Books, 2007 M08 2 - 312 pages
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Whether by choice or not, the West finds itself in a low-grade yet bitter war with Islamic fanaticism. It is a war the West is singularly ill-equipped to fight. The foe is resistant to any of the normal methods of conflict resolution such as negotiation, economic sanctions, or conventional armed confrontation. Since the Enlightenment, the West has forgotten how to oppose fanaticism, and it is Lee Harris's goal to remind us what we are up against.

In The Suicide of Reason, he explains the logic of fanatical movements from the Crusades through Nazism to radical Islam; describes how the Enlightenment overcame fanatical thinking in the West; shows why most Western attempts to address the problem are doomed to fail; and offers strategies by which liberal internationalism can defend itself without becoming a mirror of the tribal forces it is trying to defeat.

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Contents

Fanaticism and the Myth of Modernity
3
The Denial of Fanaticism
15
Fanaticism and Resentment
29
The End of History?
39
Clash or Crash?
55
The Fanaticism of Reason
61
part two Reason Fanaticism and the Struggle for Existence
77
Demystifying Reason
79
Condorcets Tenth Stage
137
The Logic of Fanaticism
205
The Legacy and Future of Jihad
215
part five
237
Our New World Disorder
253
Conclusion
265
Index
281
Copyright

Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Reason
105

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Page 190 - Summer— and who by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of the country creates wealth, is as much a business man as the man who goes upon the board of trade and bets upon the price of grain; the miners who go down a thousand feet into the earth, or climb...
Page 190 - ... town is as much a business man as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis; the merchant at the crossroads store is as much a business man as the merchant of New York; the farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, who begins in the spring and toils all summer, and who by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of the country creates wealth, is as much a business man as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain...
Page 89 - ... all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.
Page 87 - Viewing such men, one can hardly make oneself believe that they are fellow-creatures, and inhabitants of the same world. It is a common subject of conjecture what pleasure in life some of the lower animals can enjoy ; how much more reasonably the same question may be asked with respect to these...
Page 87 - These poor wretches were stunted in their growth, their hideous faces bedaubed with white paint, their skins filthy and greasy, their hair entangled, their voices discordant, and their gestures violent. Viewing such men, one can hardly make oneself believe that they are fellow-creatures and inhabitants of the same world.
Page 190 - Wa say to you that you have made the definition of a business man too limited in its application. The man who Is employed for wages is as much a business man as his employer...
Page 90 - Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult — at least I have found it so — than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind.
Page 88 - At night, five or six human beings, naked and scarcely protected from the wind and rain of this tempestuous climate, sleep on the wet ground coiled up like animals. Whenever it is low water, winter or summer, night or day, they must rise to pick shellfish from the rocks; and the women either dive to collect sea-eggs, or sit patiently in their canoes, and with a baited hair-line without any hook, jerk out little fish. If a seal is killed, or the floating carcass of a putrid whale is discovered, it...
Page 151 - The progress of these peoples is likely to be more rapid and certain than our own because they can receive from us everything that we have had to find out for ourselves, and in order to understand those simple truths and infallible methods which we have acquired only after long error, all that they need to do is to follow the expositions and proofs that appear in our speeches and writings.

About the author (2007)

Lee Harris is the author of Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History and a frequent contributor to Policy Review, the Wall Street Journal's "Opinion Journal," and other publications, both print and online. He lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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