Animated debates on Enlightenment (tanwir) took place in the 1990s in Cairo and Damascus respectively. During those years the regimes of Egypt and Syria were in their third and fourth decades of advanced authoritarianism, repression and corruption. The tanwir debates in question were not “academic” discussions about the European school of thought known as the Enlightenment, nor about its reception in the Arab world. They were not about some local historical school of thought that could be labelled as “Enlightenment” either. Rather, they addressed the concrete realities of the time in the two countries. In fact, these realities determined their themes, priorities and modalities. This talk explores and compares the main issues of the Egyptian and Syrian turn of the millennium tanwir discourses and examines the links of their main concerns with those expressed by the recent Arab uprisings.
Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab: Professorin für Philosophie am Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Doha, Quatar.