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The recent death of Edward Said has reignited the debate as to whether his landmark work Orientalism still has something to teach us about the study of Arab-Islamic civilization. In this article, I will argue that Saidʼs central thesis in Orientalism has a direct explanatory role to play in our understanding of the work produced in at least one area of scholarship about the Arab and Islamic worlds, namely Arab-Islamic philosophy from the classical or medieval period. Moreover, I will claim that it continues to play this role not only for scholarship produced in the West by Western scholars but also within the Arab world itself. After recalling some traditional varieties of Orientalism in the study of Islamic philosophy, I will go on to isolate some neo-Orientalist theses and positions. Then I will identify what I call ʻoriental Orientalismʼ in the study of Islamic philosophy, which originates in the Arab world itself. In conclusion, I will speculate as to why Orientalism persists in scholarship about the Islamic world, more than a quarter of a century after Said first unmasked it. Finally, I will distinguish two accounts of Saidʼs interpretive stance and attempt to justify a particular reading of his philosophical framework.


This article was originally published in Radical Philosophy, available at


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