Printer Friendly

Max Scheler and the psychopathology of the terrorist.

THIS STUDY REFLECTS an effort to cast some unconventional light on the issue of terrorism. I say "unconventional" because accounts of terrorism reach the general public today mostly through the mass media and convey more often than not social and political bias. The times when people respected the literal meaning of "report," i.e., the art of "bringing back" events without politically tailored inferences, are unfortunately over. My effort here is an attempt to set a stage for an alternative presentation of terrorism.

In what follows I shall identify an aspect of the innermost constitution of a terrorist's frame of emotion. My overall claim is that it is not the visible perception of terrorists' ghoulish acts alone that can provide a basis for an understanding of terrorism, but that it is at least of equal importance to come to an understanding of the psycho-pathological sources of visible terrorism that will lead us to deeper insight into the complexity of the phenomenon of terror. I will first focus on the underlying psychical conditions of contemporary worldwide Muslim terrorism and its etiology. And I will limit the conditions and the concurrent psychic frame of emotions that they engender to what may turn out to be the source of terrorism: resentment.

My argumentation is founded on insights provided by the German philosopher Max Ferdinand Scheler (1874-1928), who offered ample material for grasping the unplumbed levels of feelings that appear to have generated in our era a flow of human hatred.

By contrast to simple cultures linked with smaller ethnic and tribal groups, and also by contrast to the more complex cultures linked to larger populations, Western peoples and their governments are now typified by their highly litigious and rational mind-set. "Reason" was already the very foundation of the Western mentality and aspiration in ancient Greek culture. The god Apollo was the god of reason, of light, of measure, of order. And yet the ancient Greeks also knew well the opposite of reason: the Dionysian irrational element that lurks in the dark corners of the human soul. This incongruous divine duo of the god of light, Apollo, and of the god of loosened inhibitions, Dionysus, played a major role in Greek mythology.

It has been believed ever since that reason provided the original light for human insight into any state of affairs, and that it also provided the logical grounds for the explanation of all things human. In ancient Greece and in the later periods of Western culture, and Apollonian mind-set prevailed over its Dionysian opposite. It prevailed in the medieval artes liberales and in the foundational works of rationalism from Aristotle (435-355 B.C.) to Descartes (1596-1650) to Kant (1724-1804). For all of them reason is the highest and most excellent constituent of human nature.

The Dionysian opposite had usually been distrusted because it was associated with letting loose all rational controls over feelings and passions that at times resulted in the wildest frenzies; but the prevalence of the Apollonian principle resulted in the rationalist belief that all feelings, emotions, and passions were a chaos furnishing shadowy material for the sense of the ineffable. Reason, it was surmised, could put an intelligible order in the chaos of feelings and emotions at any necessary time. The traditional supremacy of the measured, orderly, and rational Apollonian mind-set of Western civilization was affirmed throughout the ages. Until today the ancient Greek view permeates practically all walks of life. Educational courses offered at our universities that deal with the emotional issues of race, poverty, or gender are primarily subject to merely rational explanations. Rational arguments are supposed to neutralize the emotive forces of these issues and to limit solutions of them to what is uncritically assumed to be politically correct.

However, doubt about the Western view of rationality appears in the thought of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). Although Pascal's mathematical, religious, and philosophical thought has remained until today overshadowed by Descartes's rationalism, it was he who saw that there were not only one but two kinds of logic: that of reason and that of the heart. The makeup of the latter is quite different from the former. Pascal spoke of the "mathematics of the heart," i.e., of feelings and of love; he spoke of the "logic of the heart"; and he spoke of the "order of the heart" (ordre du coeur) and of the "disorder of the heart" (desordre du coeur). He distinguished sharply the logic of feelings from reason's logic of laws, and claimed that the heart has different syntactic rules in its own inmost "order."

Max Scheler's treatise on Resentiment is an investigation into the disorder of the heart's feelings, and he adapted and applied Pascal's principle of "le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point" in his voluminous Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Value (1913-1916).

While Pascal did not furnish specific examples of the heart's logic, one may think of the inapplicability of operations such as addition in the "mathematics" of the heart: morally speaking, two good deeds cannot be added so as to make a person twice as good as a person who did only one good deed; nor do two evil deeds make a person twice as bad than does one evil deed. The "rules" of the heart's moral "addition" (and other mathematical operations) seem to be quite similar to those holding among G. Cantor's transfinite numbers, for instance, 1 + 1 = 1.

Later it was Nietzsche (1844-1900) who turned the relationship of the Apollonian and Dionysian poles in man upside down. Life and tragedy, beset with irrational factors, are more powerful than truths of reason, because all rational truths are perspectival "interpretations" of truth and, hence, erroneous ("Wahrheit ist Irrtum"). Therefore all absolutes of reason are fictitious, and he proclaimed that their entirety, "God," is dead. This included Christianity, which Nietzsche charged with resentment, because Christian virtues pertain to what is weak (poverty, humility, etc.) and vices pertain to what is strong (physical strength, courage, etc.). Nietzsche was credited with the discovery of resentment in history, though his proposals were harshly criticized.

It was Max Scheler--whose insights into the emotive structures of human beings have become more and more recognized over the past few decades in China, Italy, Spain, the United States, and elsewhere beyond his native Germany--who found fault with Nietzsche's interpretation of Christianity, but who charged Europeans with a "dwindling of faith" in their religion. He gave us a comprehensive analysis of the resentment against what is unachievable for certain persons and groups and how it functions in the violence directed at innocents and in trickeries and blackmails that suffuse terrorism today.

Let us first focus on the formation of the feeling of resentment as contained in Scheler's 1912 treatise, "Resentment in the Framework of Moralities" (Das Ressentiment im Aufbau der Moralen). (1)

The Formation of the Psychic Components of Resentment

At the center of resentment lies a specific form of hate in subconscious feelings among people who suffer from untreatable weaknesses, inevitable disadvantages, limitations, incapacities or powerlessness that make desired goals unattainable for them. In short, a person or a group suffused with resentment suffers from two negative conditions: incurable impotency coupled with an incurable lack of attainability.

In addition, there are five psychic components that can grow into resentment. They are revenge, envy, the impulse to detract positive values of others' malice, and spite. We shall confine ourselves to the first three components. They are more characteristic of the emotive make-up of terrorists since they fulfill the following major aspects of resentment:

(1) All actions toward goals that result from these psychic components are, because of an impotency, deferred indefinitely or deferred repeatedly after the failure of each action. Revenge can be deferred because of an impotency that makes it impossible or unlikely that the revenge will be successful. Actual revenge will then not occur, and the accompanying feeling of frustration can last a lifetime or even for generations. (2) But any practical action resulting from any other of the components of resentment can be blocked.

As indicated, the psychic components can still allow repeated, albeit failed actions. Revenge can be taken by a series of partly successful acts, but each of them fails to give complete satisfaction because revenge has not been taken coldly and completely. Resentment can never be fully assuaged in repeated, ongoing actions.

(2) In everyday life, resentment is mixed with feelings of uninterrupted bitterness and dislike in regard to specific persons. In another sense of the term, resentment consists of a continuously irritating anger conjoined with a permanent feeling of being rejected or ignored that results in simultaneously deep feelings of hopelessness of which such persons may not be fully aware.

Feelings of impotency can be those of psychic, physical, or mental conditions; they can occur in social and political circumstances and in seemingly unalterable class, racial, and political disadvantages. They can even pertain to situations of individual disadvantage, as in cases of the superiority that a first child has over his or her younger sisters and brothers, subordinated to the first child by the downward line of age. For such cases and others, it is important to keep in mind that the impotencies concerned are incurable while they do not cease plaguing the resentment-infected individuals or groups, because no measures are available to overcome them.

(3) Resentment is mixed with the experience of being constantly wronged or mistreated. It produces a feeling of a degraded self and its value. Resentment is thus always accompanied by a feeling of an unattainable positive value that others possess.

(4) It follows that the above two main characteristics of resentment, impotency and the lack of attainability, are always mixed with constant comparisons made with other persons who possess certain desired goods and are not themselves resentful.

Comparisons with others can be active and passive. One may actively compare oneself with the achievements or the failures of others as in sports; or one can look at one's facial expression in a mirror and actively compare it to the invisible facial image we have of ourselves. During feelings of resentment, however, comparisons with others precede being actively aware of them. This is because the comparison does not come up intentionally; rather, the comparison emerges initially from feelings of impotency and unattainability. Indeed, the impotencies and unattainabilities already "compare" subconsciously the different values possessed by others' successes, well-being, possessions, advantage. The impotency itself generates an incessant, lifelong comparing attitude. Among persons or groups imbued with this resentment, the feeling of impotency in regard to others can be so intense that its psychic streaming not only takes aim at the attributes it cannot attain on its own, such as strength, social standing, acceptability, success of the designated persons, but also aims at the very existence of the entire class of people concerned.

(5) A further aspect of resentment can be illustrated with Aesop's fable of the Fox and the Grapes. The fox, no matter how often it endeavors to get at the grapes, cannot reach them because they are hanging too high. Disturbed by his impotency to get at least a sniff of them, the sweet grapes for him gradually turn "sour," that is, they are downgraded in value. Unattainable sweet grapes then appear no longer worthy of his effort.

Translated into the failed aspirations of humans, this example reveals a significant trait of resentment: During experiences of repeated failure and discontent stemming from an impotency, there takes place a devaluation of the positive value of sweet grapes aimed at in vain. They lose their sweetness. Yet the opposite also holds: the negative value of sour grapes is gradually upgraded into a false positive value because that is all there is of grapes. In this psychic, reciprocal resentment-driven process of downgrading and upgrading there lies a tragic factor. While positive values are downgraded to negative ones, says Scheler, the positive values remain "transparent" throughout the downgrading. The unattainable sweet grapes keep challenging the fox's desires from behind the pretended sour ones, no matter how much the fox may belittle and scorn the sweetness of the grapes that are unreachable.

(6) Resentment is imbued with feelings of being hurt. Hurt feelings beg for reactions. Every resentment calls for reaction. The impotency builds up an indignation that creeps through resentful souls day and night, but only to feed into a psychic longing for reaction that, in turn, is likely to prompt its execution in a hostile act. Impotencies can have two effects: either to defer hostile acts forever or to lead to failed attempts. These failures can never appease feelings of resentment directed against an entire hated class of people.

Concerning the latter, Scheler mentions a particular case that happened near Berlin in the summer of 1912. A criminal unable to own a car, and being resentfully envious of those who did, tied a wire connecting two trees on opposite sides of the road, so that the heads of the oncoming drivers or passengers could now and then be cut off. Yet no matter how much he reveled over each head rolling down the street, and no matter his increasing satisfaction over each head cut off, his resentment did not subside. Scheler states that such a case is typical of resentment. (3)

The preceding crime is remindful of roadside bombers because in both cases it does not matter for the perpetrator who is killed in the vehicles as long as someone of a resented class of people is killed, whether an automobile owner or an infidel. Any repetition of acts of terrorism such as roadside bombings illustrates the terrorists' frustration in not getting even with the entire class of humans they resent, no matter how often they try.

According to Scheler's analysis, it might well be the case that when the same acts of terror are repeatedly committed, the terrorists' resentment stems from their envy of a desired but unattainable power that a class of people possesses. "The most powerless envy is also the most terrible envy," says Scheler. (4) It is an "existential envy," or an envy of the very existence of a class of others possessing this power, success, social and political station. This extreme resentment vents itself in the phrase, "I can forgive you everything but not that you are what you are," as Scheler notes.

(7) During a series of terrorist acts--whose ultimate goal is to destroy an entire class of reviled people--the perpetrators must also be experiencing a sense of failure within themselves, and thus their resentment must be accumulating with each failure to annihilate the targeted class. There takes place what Scheler calls a growing "self-poisoning" within their impotence and which conduces in them a deformed rational awareness of their desperation. The more often they destroy and kill, the greater their dissatisfaction, no matter how great their brief delight in the destruction of a car or of the lives of people. As the impotency turns on itself ever and again, it may at least descry a pseudo-successful way out of its dilemma: suicide. A resentful terrorist cannot find a way out of his incurable impotence, but finally he finds recognition in the immediate afterlife of his suicide in the Koran's paradise.

Toward a Psycho-Analysis of Islamic Terrorism in Light of Resentment

On the basis of Scheler's treatise we can now ask this question: Do the negative conditions of resentment, impotency, unattainability (and the cited aspects of resentment) appear in the phenomenon of Muslim terrorism? Yes. Even more: some of the current terrorism had to be expected at least a few decades ago.

A comment on the usage of the word "terrorist" should be made. In present-day usage, one can distinguish three different connotations of the word: First, it is used with regard to persons who have political or religious power. Cases in point are Nero, Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler. In most of such cases one is concerned with the terrorism committed by dictators.

Secondly, the word is used in regard to movements such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and revolutions. In all of these cases one is concerned with groups committing terrorism where the individuals acting them out remain mostly anonymous. Scheler mentions the French Revolution as a typical instance of group resentment. There is hardly anyone who knows the individual who dropped the guillotine's blade to chop off the king's head, even though the practice of beheading people was at the time no secret in Europe. Who would know the individuals who excavated the corpses of French kings only to drag them through the streets of Paris while the mob reveled over the defeat of the imperial powers incorporated in the French upper classes, i.e., the mob's strident schadenfreude.

It is no coincidence that the usage of the word "terrorism" and "terrorist" first occurred in the 1790s in France. In England, Edmund Burke (1729-1797) spoke of "thousands of those hell hounds called terrorists" who are let loose on ordinary people. (5)

Thirdly, a more current usage relates to individuals or groups, in addition to their sometimes numerous active or passive sympathizers, who have few political, social, and individual powers.

The correlation of resentment, impotency, and unattainablity begs for a clear understanding of the psychic passion of the Muslim terrorist. There are two procedures we can take toward this end. One can, inductively, run through motives of the hate that simmers among a representative number of individual Muslim terrorists. This procedure would start from diverse individual circumstances and lead, as a rule, to a general thesis on a relevant subject. The inductive procedure (used especially in the general press) has its ultimate source in the natural sciences, wherein the verification of facts is a sine qua non.

One can also proceed deductively and take a bird's-eye view of the historical relationship between Islam and the West, and make some comparisons between the two cultures. This procedure may lead from a broad perspective of facts of historical development of both cultures toward a conclusion about the psychic makeup of terrorists.

We can choose the second procedure for two reasons: first, terrorism is a historical and not a scientific object to be scrutinized inductively; secondly, a deductive procedure avoids the discrepancies existing among the motives, and feelings of terrorists, and the tribal and individual differences between them.

In order to apply the above assessment of resentment of Muslim terrorism, one must realize that Islam ("submission" to Allah) has since the Renaissance been epitomized by impotence of will and unattainability of purpose, and with a growing resentment that would eventually turn explicitly against Western progress and achievement. It is to be kept in mind, however, that Islam's contempt for infidels does not imply impotencies on the part of the Islamic religion. Muslims look down upon infidels, say, Buddhists, as despondent nonbelievers and reject all religions outside their own. Islam is intolerant of them, because of its claim to be the only true religion. While this conviction is also to be found among other religions, the latter do not claim that members of other religions, including Islam, are nonbelievers and hence inevitably evil-doers. Hence, the deep-seated Islamic rejection of infidels appears to be tantamount to a religious fanaticism, and it may not be a coincidence that the word "fanaticism" derives from the Latin religious word for a temple, "fanum." Religious fanaticisms have, of course, always been extreme. Since Islamic religion is based both on unconditional faith and on the rejection of any and all different religions, this cannot be the result of a religious impotency; hence, Muslim resentment cannot be rooted in Islam itself.

What, then, is the Muslim terrorists' resentment with regard to the phenomena of impotency and unattainablility? Specifically, their resentment relates to the geopolitical expansion of Islam and to the relationship between Islamic religion and the state.

Islam extends from most of Africa to the near East and to large parts of southern Asia into Indonesia, and includes smaller numbers of areas in localities of Europe and the Americas. Census figures of the Islamic population vary, but Islam is the second largest religion on earth, and it is presently growing by some 6 percent. By contrast, the largest religion, Christianity, is growing only by about 1 percent. For these reasons alone, Islam represents a religious and political issue for the West, which itself extends from Europe and parts of Russia to all of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific islands.

Islam and its growing groups of Muslim terrorists operating since the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, when Israeli athletes were killed, were not sufficiently recognized as a potential danger by Western governments until September 11, 2001, when several thousands of innocent Americans and other nationals were killed. These acts of terror amounted to mass murder, although no weapons of mass destruction had been used. Bernard Lewis writes:
  There were reports and even pictures of rejoicing in the streets in
  Arab and other Muslim cities at the news from New York. In part, the
  reaction was one of envy--a sentiment that was also widespread, in a
  more muted form, in Europe. Among the poor and the wretched there was
  a measure of satisfaction--for some indeed of delight--in seeing the
  rich and self-indulgent Americans being taught a lesson. (6)


The religion of Islam dominates the state and governments in Muslim lands. In his essay "Politics and Morals," Max Scheler showed that the relationship between religion and the state has (among others) two major alternatives:
  A religion can be above the state and can direct and therefore have
  influence on politics. In this case the state is subordinated to a
  religion by varying degrees. On the other hand, the state and its
  politics can be dominant over a religion, and have direct influence on
  a religion. In that case religion is subordinated to the state by
  whatever degrees, which--like Western separation of church and state--
  is rejected by Islam because both are based on human and not Divine
  Law. (7)


There are many historical examples of these alternative possibilities. During the Middle Ages in Europe, for instance, the state was more often than not obsequious to the Vatican. At the beginning of modernity, however, the relationship was reversed in Europe and has lasted up to present times (with some exceptions among smaller religious groups, such as, the Amish, the Mennonites, and others).

Nothing like the Western dominance of the state over religion can be found in the world of Islam. Since Muhammad (c. 570-632), or roughly since the seventh century, the submission to Allah has been the priority over the submission to the state. Today, Islam possesses colossal power over state and politics (with unresolved exceptions as those of the Sunni in Iraq). The tenet that religious power must have priority over state and politics explains much of Islam's frequent critique of the secularized West and its manmade laws and institutions such as democracy, the United Nations, and systems of secular courts. Western democracies practice tolerance toward all religions, including Islam, but in Islamic belief this indulgent tolerance is a concoction of human laws by infidels.

Given our description of the formation of the psychic components of resentment, of the geopolitical spread of Islam, of its unrelenting theocratic frame of mind, and of the primacy of its religion over the state, we are hopefully prepared to answer the question of Islam's impotency and its role in terrorism. Before the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe, Islam had been a powerful historical force, more so than is generally recalled. During and after the seventh century Muslim armies converted or conquered Syria, Palestine, the northern part of Africa, and Iran. They successfully invaded Spain, Portugal, and Italy, including Rome. During the thirteenth century, the Tartars overcame Russia. Muslims conquered Constantinople and some territories in the Balkans. For several centuries their power was also established militarily and, in addition, they developed an economic network reaching as far as India and China. There had also been an expansion of Muslim arts and sciences beyond those available in Europe before the Renaissance.

A major reason why Islam's successes and progress during this period came to a halt was its ominous neglect of the achievments of the Renaissance. (8) An unstoppable rise of science and technology was in operation in Europe between 1400 and 1600 and, of course, later on. Muslims had been too self-confident about their achievements during the antecedent ages. They were especially self-confident after their victories over the Christian Crusaders, but ever since 1400, Islam was irrecoverably lagging behind the growth and achievements of the Western world. (9)

In short, it can be said that the vertical religious view of both Christianity and Islam, spanning hell below and God above, turned in Western culture into a horizontal and secular view of world and earth.

The historical effects of this turn from the dominant cultural role of faith and of the dominance of reason can only be touched upon here. The dominant horizontal role of reason brought about the discovery that the earth is not the center of the solar system (Galileo), that the universe has no center (Bruno), as well as the discovery of new continents (Columbus, Marco Polo, Vespucci), and groundbreaking new techniques in the science of medicine (Paracelsus) and many other disciplines. The enormous growth of science and of technology spans today the powers in the atom (Planck) and the closed infinity of the universe (Einstein). Politically, this development included an equally rapid extension of the Western idea of democracy in Australia, Canada, the European Union, India, Japan, Latin America, New Zealand, and Russia--in all "Lands of the Unbelievers" led by the "Great Satan," the United States, as it was labeled by the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.

In the labeling of the United States as satanic there is an obvious resentment in the form of envy referred to above. The United States was founded and developed in a little more than 200 years. Other Muslim, Western, and Asian countries have existed for thousands of years. On the scale of calendar-time the economic, geopolitical, medical, military, scientific and technological achievements of the United States have no match. Indeed, Americans were the first to split the atom and the first to land humans on the moon and bring them back. During World War II, the United States waged the largest two-front war in history. The list of achievements has no end.

And where has Islam been since the Renaissance? It possesses no comparable economic, geopolitical clout. It has no navy, no air force, no army to speak of; no indigenous technology and medical industry, no oil not discovered and developed by Western know-how. (10) Already these few items would indicate to us that Islam's powerless horizontal status is out of balance with its powerful vertical ties to Allah.

My study calls for some conclusions and an advisory comment: There can hardly be a doubt that Islam's resentful class-hatred of the West and Russia will last for some time to come, perhaps until the present generation of resentful Muslims has died out. Muslim resentment is based on age-long geopolitical impotency and stagnation. In more recent times it has awakened from its long slumber to find itself comparing, passively and actively, with the enviable global successes of the Western infidels.

The subconscious feelings of the two components of resentment--impotency and unattainablity--have aroused a desperate desire to overcome them: a Dionysian frenzy of wild and random outbursts of desperation has been unleashed; impulsive and repeated vengeful acts of terrorism based in envy, including suicide and public beheadings of enemies, are daily events. Arguably, in their plight Muslims are encouraged by an unshakable submissive link to Allah. (11)

It has been stressed that all resentment contains what Scheler called a "tragic element." Whenever any human beings suffer from disarrangement in their feelings of the order of values, the order of their ranks remains concealed yet transparent throughout the disorder. The concealed transparency of the order of values is analogous to the order of spectral colors concealed in visible colorations. Clearly, the order of value-ranks is disturbed in the feelings and minds of terrorists. For gleeful satisfaction in killing someone cannot bear a value higher than clemency, compassion, or the will to stop violence. The satisfaction of killing in the name of God (not peculiar to Islam religion alone) cannot be a value higher than having pangs of conscience and repentance about it.

It is not likely that global terrorism today can be wholly overcome by military force alone, because terrorism is tantamount to subversive guerrilla tactics generated by resentful frustration over impotencies and goals unattainable. Terrorists resemble powerless insects that, whenever one of them or one of their colonies has been wiped out, re-emerge to repeat their nuisance.

A perhaps more promising means than military force to cut back global terrorism could be a restructuring of Muslim outposts. Such restructuring would take a long process and the West should not seek to make changes in the Islamic culture as a whole. Rather, this restructuring would come close to a re-education with the aim of finding the right pathways to a reorganization of some of Islam's cultural goods--a process which has begun in Afghanistan (the education of women, voting).

One must admit that a parallel restructuring is needed in parts of the West also. For in the eyes of the ordinary Islamist, the Western media and entertainment industry are often grossly insulting because of their vulgarity and moral decadence. Clearly, this industry has prompted the labeling of the United States as satanic, although the same label is not applied to Europe even though decadence in the media and the entertainment industry is more explicit there. Which brings us back to the Greeks.

The ancient Greek virtue of moderation (sophrosyne), to be practiced in everything humans do and to be taught through education, has practically disappeared today. The ordinary Muslim would perhaps agree fully with Scheler's observation that people in Western societies are, not only in sports but everywhere, infected with an excessive "infantile obsession to be first." A renewed discipline of moderation in the West would help to allay Muslims' feelings of insult and resentment.

Whenever people in socio-political, economic, or any other leadership positions travel abroad without studying others' beliefs and value systems, political one-sidedness is likely to develop in their views and judgment. Had Hitler visited ordinary foreigners outside Germany, including Jewish settlements, before his launching World War II (largely caused by his German impotency-resentment of the Versailles Treaty), he might well have had second thoughts about mass murder. Even Nikita Khrushchev's visit to the United States was apparently without negative effects on his relations with the West. While the cold war was still going on this was a considerable accomplishment at the time.

In the world today it might be impossible to invite Islamic leaders, including Muslim youths, to have dialogue with their foreign peers, but an invitation to them to travel in the United States in order to acquire a first-hand experience of Americans would have advantages. Islamic leaders' responses to America would very likely be categorical rejections when motivated by resentful spite. For terrorists, hatred is a class hatred of infidels. Terrorists have no leader who could order them to suspend or to stop acts of terror. If there were one, it could be life-threatening. A positive response to an invitation, however, or even a modest revision of a resentful mind-set, would make the diplomatic effort worthwhile.

The argument in support of such an invitation would also suggest that a promising means of diminishing Muslim resentment is to provide participation in whatever goods human beings deserve but lack the capacity to attain them. In many parts of the world it is not possible for the average person to get a car ride, let alone to take a trip by plane or train, or to have a pleasant time in a park, in a restaurant, or in a sports activity. Having just a temporary experience of sharing with those who have all of that and more could allay the feeling of impotency and the appearance of having a second-rate cultural standing.

1. The original of the treatise appeared in Vol. III of the German Collected Works, Gesammelte Werke (Bern, 1972), paperback, 2004. Since 1985 this edition appeared at Bouvier Verlag, Bonn. The English paperback translation (Milwaukee, 1994) is a reprint of an earlier translation, edited by Lewis A. Coser and translated by W.W. Holdheim (New York, 1961 and 1972). Quotations are given from the paperback translation ("E") and the German original ("G"). 2. E 33-34; G 43. 3. E 46; G 56. 4. E 35; G 45. 5. Walter Laqueur, A History of Terrorism (New Brunswick and London, 2001), 6. 6. Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (New York, 2004). 155. 7. Ibid., 159. 8. Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East (Oxford, 2002), 6-17. 9. Raphael Patai, The Arab Mind (New York, 1983), chapters XV-XVI. 10. The Crisis of Islam, 72. 11. Concerning the legal status of murder in Islam, see The Crisis of Islam, 39, 143, 154-55.

MANFRED FRINGS is editor of the Collected Works of Max Scheler. Among his latest books is The Mind of Max Scheler.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Intercollegiate Studies Institute Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Frings, Manfred
Publication:Modern Age
Date:Jun 22, 2005
Words:5561
Previous Article:Louis Hartz and the Liberal Tradition: from consensus to crack-up.
Next Article:The cosmos as memento mori: the ultimate significance of modern science.
Topics:


Related Articles
Terror's ultimate weapon: suicide bombings have become the tactic of choice for terrorists. Their toll--in terms of death and psychological...
Stressors and the fine line between normal and psychopathology.
Persistent paranoid delusions following the September 11 terrorist attacks in a man with no pre-existing mental illness.
Psychology In The Genome And Neuroscience Era.
The conservative moral philosophy of Scheler and Kolnai.
Spirituality, health and medical care of children and adolescents.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters