CAN DOGMAS BE TOO OPINIONATED? IS TOLERANCE POSSIBLE?
Discussing the possibilities that tolerance for ambiguity, including the polysemy in religious texts, will bring, Thomas Bauer’s book “The Culture of Ambiguity” was met with interest in circles working on the East and Islam.
The notions of “tolerance of ambiguity” and “culture of ambivalence” struck me as endearing. Apart from the talk of the religion of Islam, first of all, as a way of interpreting the world and looking at history, it was stimulating. Bauer, who prohibits Muslims from taking the West as a model, lists many reasons for historic and modern reality in this context.
For example, a concept borrowed from the West, fundamentalism, was translated into Turkish as radical religionism. However, its literal translation would be “foundationalism /essentialism “, meaning “to be in favour of relying on founding principles and first sources.”
Of course, the ambiguity and the decrease in diversity reach univocity in fields such as religion, art, and politics; Even if a person exists physically, he loses his human characteristics, says Bauer. Instead, it is our desire or reluctance to endure all manifestations of diversity. Fundamentalist currents are gaining strength, says Bauer, although interest in religion generally declines.
Classical Islamic scholars living in the past were proud of the fact that the verses of the Qur’an could be interpreted in so many different ways and that they could contain different truths. Today, however, they argue that Allah’s discourses can only mean one thing, and they seek this lone “truth.” I think it would be appropriate to remind ourselves of a hadith of Muhammad that is our hope: “Disagreements are a mercy for the Ummah (community).” Art is also inherently ambiguous. So is it still like that today? With our obsession with truth, our rejection of tradition, and our striving for purity, are we also monopolizing art?”
Today, I will talk about Thomas Bauer’s book entitled ‘The Uniformity of the World, On Ambiguity and the Loss of Diversity’ (1) and the same author’s previous books titled ‘The Culture of Ambiguity and Islam: A Different History of Islam’ (2), published in Turkish. Today, I will do something different and first summarize an interview that deals with the book, Culture of Ambiguity and Islam, and then summarize my criticism. In the interview, the translator of the book, Tanıl Bora, in an interview with İsmail Özkan from Gazeteduvar.com (3), states that the tendency that started with the Enlightenment and deepened with the Modern period is that the meaning of the holy text should be precise and that it cannot be open to any different interpretations, and pushes religious thought to fundamentalism. He states this trend undermines tolerance. Commenting that the writer Bauer spared the Enlightenment the tolerance of ambivalence (multi-sightedness) that he generously distributed to everyone by making a uniform reading of the Enlightenment, Bora states that ambivalence does not mean indifference and is a product of the search for the meaning of the text.
Thomas Bauer’s ‘The Culture of Ambiguity,’ which discusses the possibilities of tolerance for ambiguity, including the polysemy in religious texts, was met with interest in circles working on the East and Islam. Certainty, which began during the Enlightenment and has gained strength even to the present day, seems to have strengthened its power not only in academics and scientific circles but also in daily life. This tendency, which dominates our lives, seems to have always preached certainty and ignored the advantage of ambiguity. However, in this work, Bauer tries to prove that certainty is not an advantage at all, as it is thought, and that it deprives us of the tolerance brought by ambiguity.
The concept of a “tolerance of ambiguity” and the notion of a “culture of ambiguity” appealed to me. Apart from the talk of the religion of Islam, first of all, as a way of interpreting the world and looking at history, it was stimulating. Bauer’s use of this as a lens for reading the history of Islam is also impressive. (By the way, I think that the words “multi-sighted” and “wide-mindedness” instead of the word “ambiguity” are a more accurate correspondence and translation to the concept described.)
The title of Thomas Bauer’s book, which was published in 2018 and won the research book of the year award in Germany in 2019 is ‘Neden İslam’ın Orta Çağı Yoktu? Antik Çağ’ın Mirası ve Doğu (Why Didn’t Islam Have a Medieval Age? A Legacy of Antiquity and the Orient)”. In this book, Bauer argues from the very beginning that the concept of “Medieval” is not generally descriptive anyway because it is not universal; it is Eurocentric, and essentially meaningless because it is associated with a general and dim image of the “dark ages.”
“The author draws a contrast between Enlightenment and ambivalence. Do you think the same kind of opposition can be made with capitalism?” The answer of the political scientist and translator Tanıl Bora is as follows:
‘This is one of the points where Bauer is rightly criticized most, in my opinion, in that he looks at the Enlightenment quite “straight.” It is largely based on a positivist-determinist, “conservative” acceptance of the Enlightenment that we can call a dead end, a monoblock. So simply, to deny the Enlightenment its tolerance of ambivalence! Bauer also touches on the effect of capitalism that demands certainty and undermines tolerance for ambiguity. Of course, the Enlightenment and capitalism are related, but they do not exactly overlap; they are not “the same thing.”
‘In a presentation about the book, you said that fundamentalism doesn’t have to be religious. Can you elaborate a bit? Could it also be atheist fundamentalism?” He answers the question as follows:
Fundamentalism was translated into Turkish as “radical religionism”. However, its literal translation would be “foundationalism,” meaning “to be in favour of relying on founding principles and first sources.” Every religious movement or political, intellectual, and cultural movement can have fundamentalism with strict loyalty to the founding mythology of that movement and puritanism surrounding it. In this respect, movements that we consider “progressive” may also have fundamentalism. I do not know how the fundamentalism of atheism can be because we are not talking about a movement whose founding principles are its founding mythology. But again, like all movements and all isms, atheism can also have fanaticism.
In the rest of the interview, Bora’s views on the book are as follows:
According to Bauer, religions “need” tolerance for ambiguity. He attributes this to two reasons. First, religions are committed to transcendence; they accept that they cannot completely control the truth and that they cannot know it fully and definitively. (That is, you believe in the unknown and what you can know is limited to the divine message that has been revealed to you.) This opens up space for ambiguity. Second, religion, above all, is communication. According to Bauer, human-human and human-god communication, both communication planes inevitably open up room for ambiguity. The ambiguity of the language of the scriptures also confirms this.
Bauer does not say that religions are the only source of tolerance for ambivalence. He says it’s one of his sources. And he does not say that all interpretations, movements, and practices of religions are shaped along this line. There are also fanatical interpretations of religions, and they are quite powerful. In fact, Bauer sees the development of fanaticism in Islam as an important factor in the decline of tolerance for ambiguity and the increase in the pressure of certainty in modern times.
In continuation of Bora, let me use the term real-Islamism. I think that the critical rule of Fiqh in terms of real-Islamism is “necessity makes haram permissible.” I mean the broadest interpretation of this rule; the “opinion leaders” of Islamism are distributing “licenses” that make everything permissible out of necessity, from daily life to politics. In these “necessities,” the ruling of the state, the “leader (ulu’l-emr) has been decisive for centuries; again, for quite a long time, the rule of the market, we just mentioned evil, capitalism has been decisive. In addition, many “incredulous” ambitions, especially the “needs” of the male nation for domination, are decisive. Sometimes, however, the simple, everyday needs of life that don’t really “fit the book” are decisive. From the Islamic point of view, I know that it is lamented that this door of “necessity” opens up space for secularization. Is it the question of secularity that is puzzling here? Or are there large areas opening up to instrumentalizing perspective, opportunism, and hypocrisy? The second one is because this door was open even before secularism.”
The book review I mentioned in the introduction belongs to Refika Soyal, a lecturer at Giresun University, Faculty of Islamic Sciences (4). He states that Bauer deals with the concept of social ambivalence from the perspective of the modern West and examines the declining tolerance of ambivalence in the West, with its foundations and manifestations in the fields of religion, art, economy, and politics, under ten sub-titles. In this context, he states that he has put forward a series of criticisms about today’s Islamic societies, which tend to seek certainty due to the dialectic he entered with the modern West. Soyal explains Bauer’s Calvinist example: “As in many fundamentalist ideologies, one of the basic elements of the Calvinist tradition is absolute realism. According to Calvin, the provisions of the Bible are unambiguous and boundless. The alternative term for truth is probability. The traditional Islamic jurist claimed not to discover the truth but rather to reveal the “possible truth” based on solid justifications.
Similarly, democratic parliaments promise a proportionate solution, achieved by respecting every possibility. Again, according to Calvin’s Christian society design, instead of producing something new, it is necessary to base everything on the oldest and most decent representatives and examples. (Don’t traditional Islamic scholars adopt the same way?)
Stating that Bauer pointed to the Christian density in the European continent, Soyal says that such an example of seclusion has not been encountered in any other continent: “Different ethnicities couldn’t settle in the region; sometimes even if Jewish communities had this opportunity, they were simply tolerated, then subjected to political persecution and massacre. According to Bauer, who opened the multicultural environment in the West to a discussion in this framework, the current compulsory equality, which is accepted with a sneer in reference to socio-economic necessities, in the West, is moving away from tolerance day by day in the face of the multicultural society structure from the 60s, when the doors were opened to different ethnic groups due to the need for workforce, is actually not even counted as equality..”
Soyal states that Bauer, who forbids Muslims, especially Muslims, to take the Orient and the West as a model, listed many reasons for historic and modern reality in this context. And he continues as follows: “First of all, the West has been the scene of Christian sectarian fights and its strict religious schools and perceptions throughout the Middle Ages history. The intolerance of ambivalence, which re-emerged in the Catholic Church in the 17th century, was registered with the principle of infallibility in the 18th century. In this period, when different elements were tolerated in the Islamic world, the Christian World was faced with deep conflicts between its sects (Catholic, Protestant, etc.), each of whom did not have the slightest doubt that he held the absolute truth. The church, which did not foresee an obligation to answer all the questions and problems encountered at the beginning of its history; far from taking a step forward on issues such as the position of women and individuality, has started to be involved in more and more areas of life day by day. Attitudes tending to dictate the centrally imposed worldview and principles with references to the word of God have continued to this day.
Stating that Bauer pointed to the Christian density in the European continent, Soyal states that such an example of seclusion has not been encountered in any other continent: “It was not possible for different elements to settle in the region; Sometimes even if Jewish communities had this opportunity, they were simply tolerated, then subjected to political persecution and massacre.
In this context, Bauer speaks of the respect and tolerance shown by Islamic societies, which have not experienced a “Medieval Age” in their history, to the missionaries sent to the East by the Christian World, who have always dealt with intra-religious sectarian struggles. “In this period, members of different societies in the regions on the Asian trade routes shared daily life with their mother tongues and clothing styles specific to their cultures and were able to worship as members of different religions in separate temples. However, since the 19th century, absolute truths and absolute indifference tendencies have emerged in Islamic societies due to the fact that they have sought certainty by taking the West as a model. In another way of explaining it, with the feeling of being cornered economically and militarily, the Orient has entered the process of revising its religious references in terms of clarity/certainty. Caught between two poles of fundamentalism and absolute indifference as a result of the search for certainty and opposition to ambiguity, religion has lost its “middle,” that is, the average, not only in Islamic societies but also within the scope of Christianity and Buddhism. According to the indifferent orientation, something is less valuable and less important if it cannot be expressed with mathematical precision. He sums up this point by saying, “If the ambiguous thing seems to be urgently needed to be clarified, fundamentalist reflexes are formed in the most general form.”
Soyal’s lines summarizing Bauer’s views on fundamentalism are as follows: Fundamentalism is pure, unequivocal, precise, and clear; thus, it does not need explanation or open to interpretation. Fundamentalist orientation seeks a political or religious authority in the process of identifying the uncompounded; this authority can be a leader, a central committee, or a self-proclaimed caliph. For example, a leader who gains legitimacy and authority in Salafism presents a unique judgment as a single truth. Whoever does not adopt it is declared apostate and heretical. Based on a saying of the Prophet of Islam, “There is mercy for the ummah in conflict.” controversy after its discourse and perception, erroneous and meaningless opposition has come to be considered. (The disagreement of my Ummah is a mercy, a more accurate translation, and where Bauer came to the conclusion reached here is a bit ambiguous for me, frankly) (https://sorularaislamiyet.com/ummetimin-ihtilafi-rahmettir-hadidisini-aciklar-mizi)
Soyal continues to quote Bauer: “According to the author, the middle way solution for the differences in recitation, the interpretation of the interpretations in the commentaries as a colour and the new interpretations being put forward as only a contribution, contrary to the claim of cancelling the previous ones, are proof of the tolerance of ambiguity in the Islamic tradition. Until the second half of the 19th century, classical Islamic jurists similarly envisaged the principle of flexibility, based on the view that the Shari’a was not definitively and clearly known. Severe corporal punishment, which was almost never practised a thousand years ago in the 20th century, is now being brought up again by some radical religious groups. In fact, this trend, far from being a return to the Middle Ages, is a modern invention of a purely totalitarian Islamic ideology.”
“According to another determination carried by the author of his work, the authorities in Islamic formations are not people who have studied Islamic sciences but natural scientists, doctors, and engineers. According to a study, engineers account for 45% of terrorist criminals in Islamist movements,” says Soyal, adding: “The author implicitly associates this situation with the positivists’ search for certainty. In any case, it should be mentioned that fundamentalism and indifference orientations, which are the results of intolerance of ambivalence, also have an action/reaction relationship. According to Bauer, art, just like religion, needs tolerance for ambivalence for its development, depending on the ambivalence it contains; In its essence, art should be open to interpretation; A work that does not arouse different perceptions and imagination is considered far from artistic. Starting from the existence of two separate others requires reaching an asymmetrical definition of freedom as opposed to privileged and monopolistic freedom. The freedom Bauer mentioned, is the freedom of the “different” or the opposition, especially minorities and the powerless. Because tolerance expresses the attitude of the subject not towards himself or his likes, but towards his interlocutors, who are in different situations and possess qualities different from him. Intolerance is motivational while tolerance is an attitude of mind and will. The period when tolerance for ambivalence prevails in a particular culture can be followed by another period when opposition to ambivalence becomes stronger.
Finally, Soyal explains Bauer’s intention as follows: “Thus, the author brings up the agenda to lay the groundwork for political approaches that will be updated in accordance with globally changing paradigms by placing tolerance towards the other on stronger foundations, of course, as a moral duty beyond economic, political and social obligations.”
Frankly, I do not think that Christian and Islamic histories support Bauer, who makes us think about ambivalence. The war that lasted thirty years in Europe between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons was apparently a religious war. Although the main cause of the war was the Protestant-Catholic religious conflict, the great states participating in the war fought for political interests. I think that Kadir Demirci and Muhammed Salih Azzan summed up this issue very well in their article titled “The Reasons of Sectarian Conflicts” (5). The authors, who try to reveal the reasons for the conflicts between the sects that have emerged for various reasons in the history of Islam, explain as follows:
Sects are scientific and intellectual structures that have emerged as a natural result of people’s different perceptions and imaginations. It is a natural process for the sects with different perspectives and views to be in a scientific and intellectual struggle with each other and to discuss their thoughts mutually. However, unnatural sects get into tension and conflict as if to threaten each other’s existence, marginalize each other, blaspheme each other, and even fall into a spiral of violent hatred and grudges that amount to annihilation. One of the biggest obstacles to the unity of Muslims is the problem of conflict between sects. The conflict between sects destroys the love and respect among Muslims and breeds hatred and grudge. The first step to solving the problem of conflict between sects is to identify the sources of intolerance that caused this conflict and to reach a consensus on them. The next step is to take steps to eliminate the agreed-upon causes of conflict.”
The authors then reveal the important reasons for the conflict between the sects as follows: 1. Loss of Ummah consciousness 2. Moral reasons 3. Power and power struggle 4. Hadith fabrication 5. Dispositions and interpretations made in religious texts 6. Creating non-religious references and sanctifying those 7. Making mistakes and omissions in research methods that lead to knowledge 8. Taking a negative view of different ideas and trying to prevent differences 9. Arbitrarily expanding the field of fixations by showing the issues that are not one of the fixations of religion as the fixations of religion and turning them into theological thoughts over time.
Of course, in the history of Islam, especially the collapse of the Umayyad and the coming to power of the Abbasids, until the power was consolidated in the history of successive states such as the Fatimid, Seljuk, and Ottomans, it would be appropriate to see the struggles between the Ottomans and Timur not only as sectarian or power struggles but as social events affecting each other. Even today, the reasons for Sunni/Shia (Hijaz/Iran), Arab/Arab (Hijaz/Qatar), and similar conflicts cannot be understood by reducing them to a sect or power.
Now, for example, I will give two reading links on the subject. These links will be confusing as well as enlightening as they are not contradictory unless you have in-depth knowledge of the subject. You will understand that ambivalence and diversity, and even tolerance is a culture to be learned. (6) (7)
Frankly, it would be useful to evaluate Thomas Bauer and other sources by considering the explanations in the example I gave last. I am not saying that Bauer is wrong; his work is not worthwhile, it is true that he read Islamic history differently and tried to explain some things with a new concept, but it would be a reductionist approach and not correct to explain the Islamic world, Islam, the problems he experienced and those who caused these problems by reducing them to a single concept. As he stated, it is necessary to read with a wide view on this subject and not to spare ourselves an “I wonder” when reading “foreign” sources that evaluate our religion, which has been under various attacks for centuries.
A UNIFORM WORLD
“The name of Bauer’s new book, published by Albaraka Publications, is ‘The Uniformization of the World: On Ambiguity and the Loss of Diversity’ (2). In the book, which is a continuation of the views in the first book, Bauer also puts forward other interesting views. While reading this book, it is necessary to pay attention to the warnings I made in the first article; that is, one should not hesitate to doubt.
The concept of homo suicidalis expresses that humanity is rapidly advancing towards an abyss that it has prepared with its own hands, the author begins. And he continues: “The remarkable thing is that while this progress towards the abyss is supported and fed by some, it is met with indifference and even indifference by large masses. The first date when this situation began to be felt is shown after the First World War. In the Second World War that followed, the nuclear armament accelerated after the two atomic bombs used by the USA on Japan, and the erasure of humanity from the world today depends on pressing a few buttons. The cause of “desperation”…
The issue of natural ambiguity and the decrease in diversity is the narrowing of meaning that emerges in fields such as religion, art, and politics, and the result is univocal; the author adds that even if a person exists physically, he loses his human characteristics.
“An Age of Diversity?” The question is important. Bauer opens the topic of “capitalist consumer society” to the reader and talks about the diversity of the product range offered to society and the identity these products offer to their consumers. So, is diversity the name of the age we live in among so many different options? The answer is one word: No. The examples he gives are striking:
• The bird population in Germany has decreased by 80% since 1800.
• Insect biomass has decreased by 80% in just the last 25 years.
• About 70% of all plants are endangered.
• Biologists state that one in five known species will become extinct by 2030 and even one in three by 2050.
The number of languages we speak decreases day by day. The Association for Endangered Languages states that almost a third of the 6,500 different, unique languagesspoken in the world will disappear in the next few decades.
So what about culture? The author argues that Europe has been a monoculture for centuries. Persons of a non-Christian religion are not allowed to settle in Europe, with the exception of some Jews; He underlines that this situation also causes homogenization in a religious sense. As a matter of fact, it is a widely accepted fact that the spread of Islam in Europe faced strong resistance in the past. For when there is a multicultural life, it points to the period when trade routes were actively used. Houses of worship were built for many different religions in cities, different languages spoken on the streets, and different styles of clothing. Let’s close our eyes and imagine the Ancient Silk Road and the Ottoman Empire in the period before the First World War. It must have been quite “different” from today…
Bauer explains the purpose of the book like this: “The rest of the book is more about our desire or reluctance to endure all manifestations of diversity.” To this end, the book approaches the situation from two different perspectives:
1- Our relationship with the outside world, such as ethnic diversity and different lifestyles, and our relationship with the various truths of the ambiguous world. This is because the reflection of the diversity that has existed until now and is present today is ambiguity.
The world is a place full of ambiguities, and people are faced with contradictory propositions in every aspect of their life. In a previous article, I mentioned that the concept of “ambiguity” was included in G. Hofstede’s well-known research on “cultural differences” (https://muratulker.com/y/yabanci-ortakliklarda-risk-yonetimi/). Hofstede defines culture with six basic factors: Power Distance, Individualist / Collectivist Structure, Avoidance of Uncertainty (ambiguity), Masculine / Feminine Society, Long Term / Short Term Orientation, and Freedom vs. Limitation.
Hofstede’s “Avoiding Uncertainty (ambiguity)” factor is quite parallel to the subject of the book. Hofstede’s research says: If a society tends to avoid uncertain situations; the stress level is high, uncertainties are perceived as threats to be eliminated, a consensus is absolutely needed to make decisions, the individual makes an extraordinary effort to avoid error, rules and laws are critical for the formulation and maintenance of the social structure. And societies have different levels of uncertainty avoidance. According to Hofstede’s research, Turkey’s uncertainty avoidance level is 85, while the power range is 66. According to this study, Turkey worries about uncertain situations makes sudden decisions in times of uncertainty and attaches importance to expert opinions in such situations (8).
In the book, ambivalence has both a definition and a concept, three details, and a suggestion that follows.
1. Ambiguity is not created intentionally; it exists involuntarily. It is often difficult to predict.
2. Complete escape from ambiguity is unlikely.
3. Even if the ambiguity is removed, it reappears in an unexpected environment.
In other words, it is imperative for human beings to live with ambivalence. Within the framework of this view, it would be a more appropriate effort to reduce it to a manageable level instead of trying to eliminate it completely.
Yes, let’s explain the issue with a short but comprehensive example from the business world: We make many big and small decisions every day, and these decisions have an impact. Even if the decision-making ability differs from person to person and culture to culture, the pressure on people increases as the area of influence of the decision expands. In my opinion, the tricky part is not making the decision but dealing with the ambiguity created by the options you have excluded from your decision. Well, you learn to increase your tolerance over time…
2-The next thesis of the author is that there is very little tolerance for ambiguity today.
Since the 17th century, the Catholic Church’s tolerance for ambivalence has begun to decline day by day. After this accumulation that continued for years, on 18 July 1870, a law was enacted by Pope IX. Pius with the approval of 533 bishops. The name of this law is the “Law of Infallibility.” It basically says, “The Pope can’t be wrong and can’t be wronged by anyone.” Moreover, believing this law wholeheartedly is a prerequisite for being a Catholic; just as you believe that Jesus is the son of God, you will believe in the word of the Pope… As I have just stated, the effort to eliminate ambivalence did not strengthen the church; on the contrary, it disintegrated it. Because even if the ambivalence is removed, it reappears in an unexpected environment. There is a point to be noted here, which is that the existing ambivalence actually increases the value of the very rare and extremely valuable “truth.”
3-Religions between Fundamentalism and Indifference
By the way, an experience came to my mind when I said “fundamental,” that is, radical. If you remember, once, Ülker products were boycotted by certain groups, we didn’t really understand what was happening. At that time, during a trip abroad, I heard from a banker that we were told, “they are fundamentalists, beware”! It was then that I was first introduced to this word. I didn’t know what a “fundamentalist” was back then, and our situation today is no different than that day. I never understood how we became “fundamentalists.” But hearing that we are from a banker abroad did not help us understand how some systems worked in the world, especially in the communication environment of the 80-the 90s! Returning to Bauer again, this section contains the author’s very important and sensitive determinations. Bauer argues that the interest in religion has clearly decreased and states that although ambiguity was the main source of religion in its formation, fundamentalist currents are getting stronger day by day. This change, our political life full of obstacles and coups in front of our democratization, and even the phenomenon called political Islam today is a similar result.
The author points to the modern society, which has become less tolerant of ambiguity as to the reason for this religious structure, and grounds this determination on different perspectives:
First, religion is based on belief in something that goes beyond what is rationally knowable, literally transcending it, that is, in something bigger and “different” from us, the Unseen. It contains many ambiguities, discrepancies, and polysemy. In other words, it is not at all suitable for the conceptualization that is among the basic patterns of modernism.
The second perspective lies in the fact that religion is a form of communication. The author states that in the religions of Revelation, ambiguity has increased in parallel with the introduction of written texts that are complex for the masses into this form of communication. In fact, the main issue here is not the texts. Classical Islamic scholars living in the past were proud of the fact that the verses of the Qur’an could be interpreted in many different ways and that they could contain different truths. Today, however, they argue that Allah’s discourses can only mean one thing, and they seek this only “truth.” I think it would be appropriate to remind ourselves of a hadith of Muhammad that is our hope: “Disagreements are a mercy for the Ummah” (9). Of course, let’s think about the truth and seek to find it; however, let’s be aware of the power that leads us to this quest, and let’s also review the motivation that keeps us on the quest.
Art is also inherently ambiguous. It has no clear definition, no one can express its beginning or end, and versatility is at the very heart of art. Art gains meaning not with stereotypes such as right or wrong but with the interpretation of the person completely independent of the patterns. So is it still like that today? Are we monopolizing art by our obsession with truth, our rejection of tradition, and our striving for purity? After the Second World War, Schönberg’s serial music based on the 12-tone technique would be a good example. Serial music basically constructs all the parameters that make up the music through numbers and proportions, so the elements that make up the music have no freedom and are closed to interpretation. Isn’t there the possibility of melody, rhythm, and soloist sound quality that composers can choose from a digital library today?
According to Bauer, the effort to reach purity with the uniformity and unbridled purification processes created by the desire to express with patterns has led to the loss of meaning itself. The book suggests we tolerate and embrace the enriching ambivalence. And this is determined by where we stand on a line where meaning is between uniqueness and limitlessness. In short, religion and art need ambivalence in order to exist and develop.
The third perspective, if you remember, was recently called “Abandon the Ordinary! Be original! Have fun!” It talks about the subject of “authenticity” that I wrote with the title. In that article, “But every performance, painting, theater, writing can produce ‘value’ as long as it is authentic, inclusive and sincere.” I said. In this article, I will talk about what kind of perspective the viewer should have in order to produce real “value.” The relationship between the concept of authenticity and the subject should be examined, as every individual is different from each other, and the essence of authenticity lies in the individual’s identity with himself, says Bauer. If authenticity is internalized within the boundaries of the subject and can be successfully expressed, the monotony of the world can be prevented. However, when the individual consumes an object in order to satisfy his need for “authenticity” (needs are the basic concept of classical economic theory), it is not his personality that is fed here; consumer personality. In such cases, the individual can confront the “authentic” work and consume it, and as he consumes it, he formulates his own identity. In short, the outputs vary according to the situations in which authenticity is subjectified (being oneself) or objectified (created by consumption).
While bureaucratization, mechanization, the capitalist society structure that wants to consume, and the phenomenon of globalization are the main factors in the monotony of the world, is it possible to regain this loss and stop the progress of the wrong? Bauer believes that an understanding of art that has sufficient technical and aesthetic skills values , pushes the limits of creative processes, and is aware of the self-worth it creates, is the cure for this disease. He also states that art should go out of museums and take place in public spaces, schools should be fed with art, and the horizons of future generations should definitely be expanded with natural history education.
It is clear that modern society does not like ambiguous situations, and no one can be blamed for this situation. Some issues really cannot be resolved in the foggy environment created by ambiguity, such as managing a business. To remove this fog, we follow the work, build teams we trust, create reporting systems, and try to predict with experience. Some issues cannot be found within the sharp walls of reality, such as belief. To provide the freedom that faith needs, it is necessary to read, not to consume but to understand and feel. In our supreme religion, Islam, the truth is One. Despite this, Bauer expresses in his book how our religion exalts ambivalence, develops ways to live with it, and to what extent it tolerates diversity, even while seeking the “One” truth. As a matter of fact, even if the truth is “One,” it is important not to lose the uniqueness of the person who seeks it in different ways. Maybe we need to relearn today what was discovered in the past.
1) Bauer, T. (2019). Müphemlik Kültürü ve İslâm: Farklı bir İslam Tarihi (Culture of Ambiguity and Islam: A Different History of Islam), Communication Publications, pg.408.
(2) Bauer, T. (2022) Dünyanın Tekdüzeleşmesi – Müphemlik ve Çeşitlilik Kaybı Üzerine (The Uniformization of the World – On Ambiguity and the Loss of Diversity), Albaraka Publications, pg.140.
(4)Soyal R. (2021). Culture of Ambiguity and Islam, Journal of Religious Studies, c.1, p.2.
(5)Demirci K. and Azzan M.Y.S (2018) Mezhep Çatışmalarının Sebepleri (Reasons for Sectarian Conflicts), Eskirşehir Osman Gazi University, c.5, p.9.
(8) Aydın, D. and Uçman P.(2019) Türk Toplumunun Çalışma Yaşamı Karaktersitiklerinin Hofstede’nin Boyutları Çerçevesinde İncelenmesi, (An Analysis of the Working Life Characteristics of Turkish Society in the Framework of Hofstede’s Dimensions), Management and Science Review, v.2, Issue 2, pg.131-151.