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A second comment on Hegghammer & Lacroix

[ by Charles Cameron — because the Bene Gesserit understand the power of Mahdism and jihad ]

Further reading:

  • Frank Herbert, Appendix II: The Religion of Dune
  • Peter Tarchin, The ‘Dune Hypothesis’
  • Peter Tarchin, Psychohistory and Cliodynamics
  • Peter Tarchin, Science on Screen: DUNE
  • Peter Tarchin, How to Overthrow an Empire – and Replace It with Your Own
  • Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History
  • Doris Lessing, Canopus in Argos: Archives
  • **

    As T Greer, friend of this blog, notes in a comment to that last Tarchin post, his explorations would fit in nicely with the work at Grand Blog Tarkin

    9 Responses to “A second comment on Hegghammer & Lacroix”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      Charles, is that your preferred translation of the Muqaddimah?  If not, which one is?

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      It’s one I have, albeit in the abridged version — the original 3 volume Bollingen edition would be one to treasure…  Caveat:  I don’t have a scholarly opinion here, just a bibliophilic preference — like so many other books, I have it to dip into for the occasional quote, but haven’t actually read it.  

    3. T. Greer Says:

      I’ve read both translations of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah that are available in English. Franz Rosenthal translated the only full translation in the English language, which is published in 3 volumes. Unfortunately, it is out of print and can only be bought for an exorbitant price. The abridged version (504 pg) of this translation is the one Charles links to in the body of the post.


      Charles Issawi also translated some of the books important sections underneath the title, An Arab Philosophy of History: Selections From the Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun of TunisIt is about 192 pages long.


      I find that Issawi is the more modern and elegant of the two translations. (One example: he translates asabiyah as ‘social solidarity’, Rosenthal translate it as ‘group feeling.’) The problem is the book’s length – it provides only a foot note to a foot note, beautlifully translating catchy passages but leaving Khaldun’s more nuanced arguments untouched. Ibn Khaldun set out to explain the rules of everything – geography, race, economics, demographics, politics, religion, aesthetics in order to give readers the theoretical grounding they need to understand the universal history that was to follow. It is just too much to fit into 190 pages.


      I question if it will fit into 500 pages either. I have not read the abridged addition (and was lucky to find the unabridged 3 volumes in a library), so I cannot judge how successful the editor was at paring down the work. However, it is your best shot without breaking the bank. (And most folks are not too interested in opinions on poetry, aesthetics, and science anyway, and his geography and race theory is laughably wrong – so hopefully that is what is cut out in the abridgment, not his economic, demographic, or political theorems).  

    4. Charles Cameron Says:

      Elegantly done — thank you.

    5. Lexington Green Says:

      I would love to have time to read the complete version.  Unlikely in this life.  If I am so blessed as to enjoy the beatific vision for eternity, one side-benefit, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is to have all of your (licit) curiosity satisfied.  I have taken this to mean that i will, inter alia, know the contents of all the books I have wanted to read but did not get to prior to shucking off this earthly flesh.  

    6. Charles Cameron Says:

      Would that, then, be a diachronic or synchronic reading? — if that question even makes sense…
      I’m thinking of a distinction I perhaps mistakenly attributed to Northrop Frye, which I put into my own words a while back thus:

      It was the literary critic Northrop Frye, I believe, who proposed that when we read a poem such as Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill” or a rich work of prose such as Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, we unwittingly read it in two ways: sequentially, from beginning to end, and “timelessly”, when the whole of piece comes together for us at the end. He termed the first kind of reading “diachronic”, meaning that it is a reading “across time”, and the second “synchronic”, meaning that it comes together “all at once”.
      The second, “synchronic” reading focuses on those symbols and phrases which have recurred, often with variations, in the course of the text: and it was Frye’s observation that these repetitions are layered on one another in the synchronic reading so as to lend a dimension of “depth” to the piece — a dimension of meaning which may in fact be “perpendicular” to the sequential meaning. 

      I still find that a very interesting microcosm through which to view any macrocosmic questions of eternity.

    7. Lexington Green Says:

      My pure speculation about eternal life is that it is timeless in essence, the contemplation of God in a timeless present, but that time is “on tap” in unlimited amounts as needed. So, if I meet, for example, Carl von Clausewitz in Heaven, time is no object to our discussion, nor is space or matter or the limitations of our bodily media of communication.  Hence the resurrection of the body is relevant because there will be some material and temporal aspect to our next life, even within a timeless eternity. So, both kinds of reading will be available, I would guess.

    8. Charles Cameron Says:

      May it be so.

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