A History of the Arab Peoples: With a New Afterword by Albert Hourani

By Albert Hourani

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Upon its e-book in 1991, Albert Hourani’s masterwork was once hailed because the definitive tale of Arab civilization, and have become either a bestseller and an quick vintage. In a wide ranging view encompassing twelve centuries of Arab heritage and tradition, Hourani brilliantly illuminated the folks and occasions that experience essentially formed the Arab world.

Now this seminal publication comes in an accelerated moment variation. famous Islamic pupil Malise Ruthven brings the tale brand new from the mid-1980s, together with such occasions because the Gulf conflict; civil unrest in Algeria; the switch of management in Syria, Morocco, and Jordan; and the aftermath of the occasions of September eleven, 2001.

The terrorist assaults within the usa, ongoing drawback in Iraq, and renewed violence among Israelis and Palestinians all underscore the necessity for a balanced and well-informed knowing of the Arab international, and make this insightful heritage of the Arab peoples extra vital than ever.

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A seriously maladaptive example is the practice of cannibalism in the funeral rites of a New Guinea highland tribe called the Foré. As part of complex rituals honouring their dead the Foré ate parts of the human bodies. In fact, they preferred eating pork to human flesh and so the men tended to get more of this prized food, leaving the women and children to more cannibalism (Durham 1991). This practice led directly to an epidemic of the degenerative disease known as kuru, which killed about 2500 Foré people, mostly women and children.

Just the same can be seen in the world of the mind. Dawkins (1993) coined the term ‘viruses of the mind’ to apply to such memeplexes as religions and cults – which spread themselves through vast populations of people by using all kinds of clever copying tricks, and can have disastrous consequences for those infected. Children’s games and crazes spread like infections (Marsden 1998a), and Dawkins suggested that children are vulnerable to ‘mental infections’ that more sophisticated adults can easily reject.

I shall call this the meme’s eye view, though, of course, memes do not really have eyes or points of view. They cannot see anything and they cannot predict anything. However, the point of this perspective is the same as the ‘gene’s eye view’ in biology. Memes are replicators and tend to increase in number whenever they have the chance. So the meme’s eye view is the view that looks at the world in terms of opportunities for replication – what will help a meme to make more copies of itself and what will prevent it?

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