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Fundamentalism means the literal and dogmatic interpretation of holy texts (but these may also be secular texts), the prescriptive indications of which are considered the foundations of all action.

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While empathy breaks down the barriers of borders, ethnocentrism – the supposed superiority of one’s own cultural world – is addressed at strengthening them, and if possible, at raising new ones.

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In the strictest sense Enlightenment means the cultural movement of philosophical origins that spread through Europe after the beginning of the 18th Century until the French revolution and that is characterised by trust in reason and its clarifying power.

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This is an ambiguous word.

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In the Greek polis the meaning of the term “democracy” implied the government of a vast majority of the people, the “plebs”, as opposed to the aristocracy.

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A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding

Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy and Religion

Ashis Nandy: Why Nationalism and Secularism Failed Together

An interview by Giancarlo Bosetti

Ashis Nandy sees vendors of nationalism inflicting damage all over the world, including in his own country, India. In India, the modern ideologies dominant during the liberation struggle against British rule were anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism. These then gave way to secular nationalism after Independence in 1947, under the first Prime Minister of free India, Jawaharlal Nehru (d. 1964). But less than seven decades later, what dominates Indian politics today is Hindu nationalism or “Hindutva”, and this is now being aggressively promoted by the 'strongman' currently leading the government in Delhi, Narendra Modi. Nandy, 79, a clinical psychologist by training, an analyst of culture and society, an astute political commentator and today India's most significant living public intellectual, has embraced the view of one of India’s founding fathers, Rabindranath Tagore, who thought that the idea of Indian nationalism was as absurd as Switzerland having a navy. In this interview below, Nandy will explain why.

Philosophy and Religion

The paradox of the Holy texts
where violent people look for legitimation

Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan and Ed Kessler

Christianity has been part of the essential fabric of the Middle East for two thousand years. Far from being a Western import as some, incredibly, now seem to suggest, it was born here and exported as a gift to the rest of the world. Christian communities have been intrinsic to the development of Arab culture and civilisation.

Politics and Religion

Part II: Context and Features of Trust State in Fifteen Arguments

Mohammed Hashas

Below, we outline fifteen arguments in support of this call for a new reform and form of the State in the Arab political domain.

IT Philosophy and Religion

Navid Kermani, Muslim democracy spoiled by the West

By Nicola MissagliaNavid Kermani, an Iranian and German citizen, was born in 1967 in Germany to a family of Iranian origin. He is one of the most interesting personalities among the young Muslim intellectuals who were born and grew up in the West

IT Philosophy and Religion

«Problems in the Islamic world cannot be blamed exclusively on Islam»

Nasr Abu Zayd interviewed by Nina zu Fürstenberg

From Reset-DoC's Archive - Within the framework of the in-depth analysis that Reset devotes to the subject of liberal Islam, we wish to present an interview with the Egyptian thinker Abu Zayd, who is one of the most respected and influential Muslim reformists. Abu Zayd explains that, contrary to widespread belief, within the Muslim world there are many reformists and organisations that spread the principles of liberalism, equality, democracy and human rights. Unfortunately, however, the West appears not to acknowledge this and instead of contributing to strengthen these tendencies, it tends to emphasise Islam’s negative aspects and, in particular, its links with terrorism. The problem – continued Abu Zayd – does not lie in Islam or in the Koran, but rather in the stubbornness that characterises extremists in interpreting the Holy Book in a rigid and literal manner, without allowing for any kind of critical debate. Applying hermeneutics to the Koran would instead facilitates its understanding and a more current interpretation, opening the way to a modernisation of the text without corrupting its sacredness. (This interview was published by Reset-DoC in June 2010)

Philosophy and religion

Part I: A Treatise on Trust State for a New Arab World: Overcoming Dichotomous Thought

Mohammed Hashas

The reader might ask from the very beginning: why searching for new names for the State while there are other real priorities? This question is legitimate but can easily be refuted for many reasons the main of which this treatise outlines. We had tackled in previous scientific and unscientific articles the condition of contemporary Arab-Islamic thought and the possibilities of its contributions to modern thinking. Here, we propose a concept and name for what occupies our mind more than we can describe, seeing the ongoing turmoil in a region that has contributed so much to human history and civilization, a region which every hegemon wants to conquer, a region that is exhausted but can still give a lot for its richness on various levels. 

Philosophy and Religion

Rethinking Religion and Political Legitimacy across the Islam-West Divide

Nader Hashemi

The relationship between religion and politics is a bone of political contention and a source of deep confusion across the Islam-West divide. When most Western liberals cast their gaze on Muslim societies today, what they see is deeply disconcerting. From their perspective there is simply too much religion in public life in the Arab-Islamic world, which raises serious questions for them about the prospects for democracy in this part of the world. This article examines the relationship between religion and political legitimacy in the context of the contemporary Muslim Middle East. Specifically, it seeks to provide a broad historical answer to the question: why at the start of the 21st century is religion a powerful source of political legitimacy in Muslim societies while in the West, by and large today, it is a source of disagreement and hence illegitimacy? 

Resetdoc Videos

VIDEO: The Other as Mirror of Selfunderstanding.

Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

According to the Qur’an God created human beings in nations, tribes, with different colors and different languages in order to know each other – human beings know themselves by communicating and understanding the Other. Historically Islam is the spiritual and ethical call for social justice. The Qur’an is about the poor and the needy. And it is about the Other. ResetDoc remembers the great Egyptian philosopher Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd with this interview, recorded in 2009.


Death took them in 2010: let’s celebrate their legacy

Brahim El Guabli

From Reset-DoC's Archive - For people of the Maghreb, or at least for those who are interested in the intellectual life, 2010 will undisputedly be associated with the heaviest harvest of intellectual and political figures of the region. As if death plotted against the region and decided to take away the emblematic figures of a glorious period of intellectual and political life. Mohamed Abid Al Jabiri, Edmond Emran El Maleh and Abraham Serfaty from Morocco; Mohamed Arkoun and Tahar Ouettar from Algeria and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd from Egypt, took their leave in 2010. As much as these intellectuals’ works are widely studied in Western academia, especially in Europe and America, they remain unknown to large sections of the Arab world. Many factors inform this ignorance. First, the objective discontinuities that exist in terms of free circulation of knowledge between the Mashriq (the east of the Arab world) and the Maghreb (the west). Second, the historical jealousies that have always existed between the two sides of the Arab world. (This article was published on Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations in 2011)

IT Philosophy and Religion

Lost in Linguistics: Abdou Filali-Ansary

By Nina zu FürstenbergAccording to Filali-Ansary, religion provides a cohesive contribution to collective life in the Arab world, as religion does for many Christians in Western countries. The presence of religion can thus be invoked to oppose excesses of individualism, consumerism, and capitalism, without necessarily compromising the secularity of political institutions.

IT Philosophy and Religion

Liberal Democracy in Islam: Abdolkarim Soroush

By Giancarlo BosettiDue to the importance of his reformist religious perspective, many journalists have described him as “Islam’s Luther,” perhaps explained by the fact that in the Shiite tradition, unlike the Sunnis, there is the presence of the clergy and its earthly power. Soroush is a theoretician of freedom and individual rights, and he is a critic of the theological tradition that has justified power through transcendence, thereby sanctifying centuries of tyranny.

IT Women

Shirin Ebadi, battling for rights

By Nicola MissagliaJurist and Nobel Prize winner Ebadi took the lead in sponsoring an International Women’s Day in Iran, as well as a series of protest events against Iranian family law. In addition to having published numerous books, among them, Iran Awakening, A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (Milan 2006), as well as The Golden Cage, Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny (Milan 2008), Ebadi founded the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran and the Society for Protecting the Child's Rights. These two organizations are NGOs for the defence of human rights, which focus on strengthening the legal status of women and children in Iran.

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