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Said’s Key Ideas

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Nasia Dai

on 28 October 2014

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Transcript of Said’s Key Ideas

In just this video it portrays a Western view on what the East (Asia in particular) is like
The subtitles are first seem to be in Mandarin, however as the music video plays, it changes to German, French, Urdu, Hindi and etc.
Examining the Relationship Between Power and Knowledge: The West and the East And How They Were Constructed
Said’s Key Ideas
1. Europe was able to dominate the East through Orientalism

2. Europe gained identity by setting themselves against the Orient

3. Orient defined by assumptions of the West

4. European cultural productions show effect of imperialism/Representation of Orient

5. Colonialism’s Influence lives on today
Ferdinand De Saussure
Born on
November 26, 1857
Geneva Switzerland
Died on
February 22, 1913
Went to the University of Geneva and studied physics and chemistry for his doctoral degree
Saussure spent his last two years pursuing his doctorate at the University of Berlin
Influenced studies in linguistics, literary theory, philosophy and social sciences
Michel Foucault
• Born: October 15th, 1926, Poitiers, France
• Died: June 25th, 1984,Paris, France
• Lycée Henri-IV
• Saint Stanislas – studied philosophy
• École Normale Supérieure – Psychopathology and philosophy degree
• Most influential social theorist of the second half of the twentieth century
• 1950s: worked at a psychiatric hospital
• 1960s: head of the department of philosophy at the University of Clermont-Ferrand
Philosophy is determined to find gaps in our way of thinking
The term 'western philosophy' refers to the philosophical tradition that began in ancient Greece with a realization that the religious beliefs of the time did not adequately answer life’s fundamental questions.
Applications in Our World
1. Europe Was Able To Dominate The East Through Orientalism
• Colonialism began as the control of other nations politically and economically

• European powers portrayed themselves as an advanced society and superior ruler that wishes to bring order and enlightenment with force as a last resort.

• Orientals were defined and therefore, able to be controlled

• West has and still infantilizes the East using cliches and stereotypes as justification for political control.

• Colonialism robbed countries of economic wealth, transformed perceptions, and controlled them in every possible way
2. Europe Gained Identity By Offsetting Themselves Against The Orient
• Ideas, cultures, and histories cannot be understood without understanding the political force behind it

• Europeans ‘discovered’ and ‘made’ the East Oriental since there was little resistance

• This created a collective opinion that established 'us' Europeans against 'those' non-Europeans

• The Westerners are always the more superior form and the East is viewed as the inferior. For example, strong vs weak, adult vs children
3. Orient Was Defined By Assumptions Of The West
• The West was able to define the East through Hegemony (when one culture dominates the others)

• Oriental studies began with simple ideas about Orientals, but expanded to a detailed logic heavily influenced by colonialism

• Western assumptions began to be viewed as truth and affect relations, ideologies, and the Orient's representation
I.E. There is a popular anti-Islamic view in the West

• The West projected secret desires and other characteristics on the East
The East as a place of mystery and indulgence, but also, uncertainty and fear
Arabs as irrational, anti-Western, menacing, and dishonest
4. European Cultural Productions Show Effect Of Imperialism/Representation Of Orient
• Many 19th century writers were aware of colonialism and had background knowledge of the Orient

• Cultural productions represent the Orient in imagery, themes, structure, etc.

• A large mass of writers have accepted this epistemological distinction between East and West as the starting point for theories, novels, about the Orient

• There is no way to separate a writer's work from the political conditions he or she wrote in.

• These many literary works about the Orient are not isolated instances, but displayed patterns of relative strength between West and East and enabled discourse.

• For instance, Flaubert represented the Oriental woman as being silent and controlled by a wealthy male
5. Colonialism’s Influence Lives On Today
• Post-colonialism's purpose is to decolonize culture, art, and theory.

• Oriental knowledge is not based on understanding and careful analysis

• Political society has and continues to affect civil society (i.e. culture)

• Europe's definition of the Orient lives on and re-enforces many false stereotypes about the East

• To fix this, Said believes the East should represent themselves in cultural productions, and no one should use the label 'Orient' anymore
Overall Impact
After his death students and Colleagues (Charles Bolly and Albert Sechaye) compiled the Cours De Linguistique
The Cours De Linguistique impacted many things
Shifted the discourse of linguistic study:
- This shift frames study by arguing that the speaker of a language does not have a history of language
-It conceptualizes this series of relations as chess
Key Contributions
Viewed the meaning of language as the function of a system
Argued that meanings are neither fixed or names of experiences––they are a linguistic phenomenon; a function
According to Saussure a language is a system of signs
is made up of a signified and a signifier:
the concept
the sound image
For example, this is sign. The signifier is the sound image which is the animal's name, Duck. The signified is it's concept--what tells us it's a duck, like it's beak.
Language produces meaning by a system of relationships by producing a chain of similarities and differences
[EX. When we think of the word BED we think not bAd, not bOt, not Ted, not Fed and etc.]
- According to Saussure, words are arbitrary and can be open at both ends
-There are no true meanings of a word
What's The Significance?
It stated that meaning was connected through a chain of signs
It became a major factor in causing philosophical implications
If the sign is arbitrary at both ends and if the signifier and the signified evolve in relation to each other than the idea of absolute knowledge is a myth
Words have no meaning and due to that [wo]man-kind has no fallback on history; teachings are all false ideas
Contribution To Our Understanding Said
Saussure said word's are seen for based on what they're not
Words have a sound image and a concept
Said says we associate the East with words
The words we associate with the West and the East are arbitrary; they have no meaning. There is no true definition of what it means to be Orient and Occident
'Oriental'/'Orient' and 'Occident are man-made like every other word we use
Orient is an idea that has a histroy and a tradition of through, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West.
"Men make their history...geographical and cultural entities-to-say nothing of historical entities" -Said
“Orientalism is a Western style of dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient”
"Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident’.”
Major Works
"Orientalism is a dynamic exchange between individual authors and the large political concerns shaped by empires"
The Order of Things (Les mots et les choses)
This books analyzes the meaning of knowledge and how it has changed throughout history
how an old idea is overtaken by a new idea and how it gains support and how it becomes accepted in society
William Holman Hunt, A Street Scene in Cairo
Prayer in the Mosque, Jean-Léon Gérôme

Eugène Delacroix, The Women of Algiers
"The Orient was almost a European invention, and has been since an antiquity, ' a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories, and landscapes, remarkable experiences'"
- Said
Key Contributions to Philosophy
"The game is to try to detect those things which have not yet been talked about, those things that, at the present time, introduce, show, give some more or less vague indications of the fragility of our system of thought, in our way of reflecting, in our practices." - MICHEL FOUCAULT
• Knowledge = power
• Works through language
• To get people to believe things to be true, the people in power get majority of people to believe what they think is true
• Truth is historically produced
EX- in science, an old theory is replaced by a new theory and people gain more knowledge
Contribution To Said
Knowledge = Power
Said says that the west has created east
used the power of knowledge to create the belief that the east is weak, uncivilized and incompetent while the west is strong, civilized and intelligent
the idea of the orient/occident and the idea of us vs them is an example of the power of knowledge
This shows that knowledge is very powerful and impacting as people today still believe this
The aim is not the discovery of the truth, but to get enough people to believe what they think is the truth
Our world works through this system but it has many flaws as all we know could be wrong as it is decided by the minority who work the truth to their desires and goals
"If this stimulates a new kind of dealing with the Orient, indeed if it eliminates the 'Orient' and 'Occident' altogether, then we shall have advanced a little in the process of... the 'unlearning' of 'the inherent dominative mode'"
Before Saussure, linguistic theory would have defined the term 'Western' by looking at the
history behind the word
The word 'West' traces back to the Latin word 'vesper' meaning
The word 'East' traces back to the Greek word 'aurion' meaning
East is the direction where dawn breaks and West is the direction where the sun sets
This does not say anything as to what is the West or East
Foucalt said Knowledge = Power. The powerful impose ideas on the minorities.
The word, 'Oriental', is used to have power over the East while the word 'Western' in 'Western philosophy' subtly hints at power, intelligence, etc.
This is why Western philosophy is considered to have been started by the Greeks.
Every society has engaged in speculative thought, but the East is considered ignorant, which means they couldn't have possibly had their own philosophical studies.
Western, Occident, Eastern, Orient and Oriental are just titles based on man-made concept that's been passed down generation to generation.

Western Philosophy is a category that doesn't have to exist.
Occident vs Oriental
If you ask a group of people if they consider themselves to be Western or Eastern, you will find some will say they are Eastern. However, if you question them why, they will find that it's difficult to explain why they believe so. In every day life, you can find many examples in media [songs, movies, video games] that portray how the East is represented in the Western perspective.
Western Philosophy - Linguistic Theory
Drimmer, Sonja. "Saussure: An Introduction." Saussure: An Introduction. 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.learn.columbia.edu/saussure/>
"Ferdinand De Saussure - Biography." Ferdinand De Saussure- Swiss Linguist and Philosopher. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.egs.edu/library/ferdinand-de-saussure/biography/>
Gutting, Gary. "Michel Foucault." Stanford University. Stanford University, 2 Apr. 2003. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/>
Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary. N.p. N.d. Web. 19 Oct, 2014. <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php>
"Hesperos." Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. N.p. N.d. Web. 20 Oct, 2014 <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/hesperos.html>
"Michel Foucault - Biography." Michel Foucault. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://www.egs.edu/library/michel-foucault/biography/>.
"Western Philosophy." { Philosophy Index }. 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. <http://www.philosophy-index.com/traditions/western/>
We learned from Ferdinand De Saussure that
words are arbitrary
and therefore, have
no true, absolute meaning
The term 'the West' has no meaning because the word could have been anything and there is nothing that ties history to a location.
Western Philosophy -Ferdinand De Saussure
Western Philosophy - Ludwig Wittgenstein
We learned from Ludwig Wittgenstein that
signs are positioned in relation to each other for meaning
'Western' only has meaning in relation to 'Eastern'. Out of context, it is
Western Philosophy - Jacques Derrida
We learned from Jacques Derrida that there are
binary oppositions
at the center of the way we think, revealing hidden meanings
Through binaries, the West is known for being civilized and wise, while the East is known as ignorant and underdeveloped
The term 'Western' in 'Western Philosophy' takes on similar hidden meanings (codes) which
say nothing to its importance or true meaning.
There is nothing Western about Western philosophy because it
does not exist

The term 'West' or 'Western' has
many holes in its meaning
because of the way in which language is structured
Iron Man
Western Philosophy - Michel Foucault
This scene opens up in the Kunar Province which is located in Afghanistan. It is shown as a desert area, but in reality, it is a green, forest-like area.
Only 5 minutes into the movie, the military gets attacked by Afghan terrorists with guns and bombs (coincidentally right after the characters say peace).
This movie portrays Afghanistan as a country that can't control their own people; they need the American military. Also, at the end of this clip, it shows the main character getting attacked from a missile he created; Afghanistan can't even create their own weapon.
Western Philosophy - Conclusion
In the 20th century, philosophy turned on itself and focused on how we express ideas through language.
This is how we began to ask the question, "What is Western Philosophy?"
Can we determine what 'Western' means in 'Western philosophy?
Alison Gold - Chinese Food
Malala Yousafzai
The video shows right in the beginning and end that there's something mystical and magical. It shows the Orient are beings with supernatural powers and have flying pandas going on rainbows as an example.
Mystical, Magical, Flying!?
The entire video shows that the girl is going to eat at a Chinese restaurant, however, in the back it shows it is a Mongolian diner
Chinese wear a traditional dress called a cheongsam. The two girls, along with the singer are dressed in kimonos, which are of course, Japanese.
The Westerns gave identities to the Easterns
In the monopoly game the girl played, it shows the rapper had used a dog figurine and placed it on none other than Oriental Avenue.
This symbolizes that the Orient are like dogs; ignorant followers, sub-humans, not as intelligent as the Occident, etc.
The cashier shows that they are low-class workers. The East do simple tasks and that the only work the West can give them is math related--they are only smart enough to do numeric calculations
The video identifies that the Chinese lack in intelligence, are ignorant; they're only followers and can only be trusted for basic work
Prince of Persia
In this video, a similar Western outlook on the East has been represented.
In the very first scene, it shows an underdeveloped, deserted place. It shows people transporting by the means of horses. This implies that the east is underdeveloped and they must transport by the use of horses since they do not have the resources to travel leisurely.
The movie shows places like a castle, situated in medieval-like city, and forests.
Sensual Portrayal Of Eastern Women
Princess Tamina is shown as a very conserved yet a woman with sensual attraction.
She is shown to have her duties as a protector of the dagger and still show her sensual nature and as an Eastern woman.
Mystery of the East
Location and Scenery
Malala is a Pakistani activist for female education who was shot in the head by the Taliban for her beliefs
Her story of Taliban violence highlights the East as a dangerous place where violent, immoral people live.
In this special case, an Easterner is being viewed similarly to a Westerner because she has 'Western qualities' like intelligence, high morals, etc. This inspires Westerners to interfere in the East-- to help people like poor Malala.
Eastern girls are denied their education and if they stand up for themselves, they are killed. It re-enforces the idea that Easterners are helpless and need Westerners to step in.
The perception of the East being a mystical and magical place is being emphasized. In the video it starts of with talking about a treasure and brings up "God" and "Destiny" into the picture. It also talks about a temple. With the belief that all eastern are religious.
In the video it talks about "the dagger" and The possession will cause the owner to have some kind of power. This implies that one person is superior to the others and is the only one being portrayed as "the Western".
The woman explaining the story behind the dagger and other civilians in the mystical city will be considered Eastern. So the main lead who is exposed to all these new "Eastern" concepts. Therefore defining "Eastern" and "Western" in this video.
Full transcript