About Edward Said

Edward Said
Edward Said was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and the author of more than twenty books. A leading literary critic, public intellectual, and passionate advocate for the Palestinian cause, he was born in Jerusalem in 1935 and died in New York in 2003.

There can be no true humanism whose scope is limited to extolling patriotically the virtues of our culture, our language, our monuments. Humanism is the exertion of one's faculties in language in order to understand, reinterpret, and grapple with the products of language in history, other languages and other histories. In my understanding of its relevance today, humanism is not a way of consolidating and affirming what 'we' have always known and felt, but rather a means of questioning, upsetting, and reformulating so much of what is presented to us as commodified, packaged, uncontroversial, and uncritically codified certainties. (28)
The existence of individuals or groups seeking social justice and economic equality, who understand that freedom must include the right to a whole range of choices affording cultural, political, intellectual, and economic development, ipso facto will lead one to a desire for articulation as opposed to silence. This is the functional idiom of the intellectual vocation. The intellectual therefore stands in a position to make possible and further the formulation of these expectations and wishes. (234-5)

Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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