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Document Details :
Title: Armenological Paradigms and Yovhannēs Sarkawag's Discourse on Wisdom
Subtitle: Philosophical Understanding of an Armenian Rennaissance?
Author(s): COWE, S.P.
Journal: Revue des Études Arméniennes
Volume: 25 Date: 1994-1995
As a contribution to the debate concerning the application of Western or Eurocentric categories to interpret Near Eastern, or perhaps Western Asiatic, history and institutions, it may be worthwhile to re-examine the application of the concept of renaissance in an Armenian context and especially with regard to the broad period from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. In so doing I wish to focus particularly on the role ascribed Yovhannēs Sarkawag’s justly acclaimed poem in that intellectual and aesthetic development. The issues at stake have been set out with a particularly sharp focus in Said’s thought-provoking exposé of what he perceives as the traditional orientalist presuppositions. Written with the express goal of stimulating discussion on the assumptions informing the study of non-Western societies and culture, it emphasizes the external stance adopted by the discipline’s founders as distillers of the values of Eastern civilizations for their fellowcountrymen in the West. In keeping with his background and involvements, the author largely concentrates on the representation of the Arabs and Islam, and hence the paradigm he elaborates is not entirely germane to other cultures of the region. The adherence of Armenians, Greeks, etc. to the Christian faith often rendered their relationship to Westerners more ambiguous, since although frequently employed as intermediaries in commercial and diplomatic undertakings, because they were deemed heretics and schismatics they were sometimes held in greater opprobrium than adherents of a different religion.