I’m not quite sure how to put this. I’m generally quite dispassionate, I’m not interested in my own feelings, never mind anyone else’s. I’m unmoved by insults and motivated by a deep and apparently inexhaustible curiosity and I have a fascination with other cultures. Partly I blame Star Trek for this because in Star Trek it’s made obvious that different cultures really are different and there’s this utopian, humanistic, thing about understanding the differences between cultures and also understanding cultures on their own terms.
So having said all this I’ll point to a fact and ask a question. We live in a multicultural society, can anyone tell me about the differences between Western and Islamic culture? Can anyone tell me how their worldviews differ? Like a culture has a psychology of it’s own so there must be psychological differences between Westerners and Muslims, right? Just like Humans and Vulcans or Vulcans and Klingons have different psychologies produced by their cultures.
So what are the differences? Nobody knows, do they? In fact I suspect that a lot of people reading this are getting a bit uncomfortable at the idea that Westerners and Muslims might not be psychologically identical: the curious thing about our multicultural society is how homogenous it’s supposed to be and, essentially, how not all that multicultural it is supposedly. It’s also interesting how uncomfortable people get when you point out what is implied by the word “multiculturalism”, that there are multiple cultures, that there are differences, that we are not the same.
Then I read this by a Danish psychologist called Nicolai Sennels and I found it fascinating, but unsurprising. It’s nice to finally find someone who can give a technical description of Islamic culture. Even if it is entirely wrong and mistaken, at least someone is trying. Really this is something anthropologists should have had nailed decades ago because at the moment we look at Islamic culture through an extremely Eurocentric lens which leads us to do bizarre things like deny what Islamists say is true and give our own Eurocentric reasons for Islamic extremism.