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|A Genealogy of the Concept of Civilization (Medeniyet) in Ottoman Political Thought: A Homegrown Perception?
|Palabiyik, Mustafa Serdar
|Center Foreign Policy & Peace Research
|Since the first translation of the concept of civilization into Turkish as medeniyet in 1837 by Sadik Rifat Pasha, the then Ottoman Ambassador to Vienna, this coinage has turned out to be an essential component of Turkish modernization. This paper aims to establish a genealogy of the concept of medeniyet to demonstrate the divergences of Ottoman perceptions in different periods throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It argues that civilization was first perceived by a group of Ottoman intellectuals as a tool to reach an ideal state of being (c. 1840-1860). The next generation of Ottoman intellectuals (c. 1860-1890) defined civilization as the ideal state of being, yet they had different views on the concept, particularly concerning the distinction between material and moral elements of civilization. Finally, the third generation of Ottoman intellectuals (c. 1890-1920), whose thoughts were more or less crystallized under three broad political currents labeled as Westernism, Islamism, and Turkism, had different and sometimes contradicting perceptions of civilization based on their political outlooks. By referring to the writings of these intellectuals, the paper will discuss central debates on civilization in the late Ottoman Empire, such as the singularity/plurality of civilization(s), the existence of Islamic civilization as an alternative to European civilization, the degree of importing from European civilization, and the distinction between culture and civilization. Moreover, it argues that the Turkish perception of medeniyet is different from the European perception of civilization; in other words, while the Ottoman perception of the concept of civilization is not homeborn, it is homegrown. Accordingly, Ottoman intellectuals not only divided the material and moral elements of civilization and opted for importing the former, but they also questioned the singularity and supremacy of European civilization by referring to Islamic civilization either as an extinct yet once-present form of civilization or as a potential rival to European civilization.
|Article; Early Access
|Appears in Collections:
|Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü / Department of Political Science and International Relations
WoS İndeksli Yayınlar Koleksiyonu / WoS Indexed Publications Collection
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checked on Feb 26, 2024
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