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Civilization And Its Discussants: Medeniyet And The Turkish Conversion To Modernism

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Chapter Summary

The word "civilization" (medeniyet) is a key term in the Republican Turkish lexicon. This chapter lays out the background of the term in France and the first three-quarters of the 19th-century at the Ottoman center. It focuses particularly on Namik Kemal's essay, since he was perhaps the foremost of the Young Ottomans, and it seems it was he who first sought systematically to work out the implications of the word, in both its senses.Namik Kemal realized that civilization is not just powerful technology but it seems to have a kind of authority derived from its superior harmony with nature itself. Civilization as the Ottomans experienced it, and as Namik Kemal described it, was the social, cognitive, and moral apparatus of modernization and technicalization. The Ottoman experience of civilization was analogous to a village encountering Islam or Christianity in a period of social change.

Keywords: Islam; medeniyet; modernism; Namik Kemal; Ottoman Empire; Turkish conversion



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