Jonathan Lyons

History. Philosophy. Commentary.

Answering Only to God: Faith and Freedom in Twenty-First-Century Iran
SKU: 978-0805075144

Answering Only to God challenges the prevailing Western belief that the Islamic world is an undifferentiated mass of disaffected and dangerous fanatics or that a Western-style democracy will soon transform this ancient land of Shi’ite and Sufi tradition. Instead, the authors explore the controversial view that beyond the quarrel with the West, stemming from decades of exploitative foreign policies, the real struggle is between reformist and conservative mullahs.

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Islam Through Western Eyes: From the Crusades to the War on Terrorism
SKU: 9780231158954

In Islam Through Western Eyes, Jonathan Lyons unpacks Western habits of thinking and writing about Islam, conducting a careful analysis of the West's grand totalizing narrative across one thousand years of history. He observes the discourse's corrosive effects on the social sciences, including sociology, politics, philosophy, theology, international relations, security studies, and human rights scholarship. He follows its influence on research, speeches, political strategy, and government policy, preventing the West from responding effectively to its most significant twenty-first-century challenges: the rise of Islamic power, the emergence of religious violence, and the growing tension between established social values and multicultural rights among Muslim immigrant populations. 
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The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization
SKU: 978-1608190584

For centuries following the fall of Rome, Western Europe was a benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy, and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling those Europeans fortunate enough to visit cities like Baghdad or Antioch. There, philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of knowledge, as well as keeping alive the works of Plato and Aristotle. When the best libraries in Europe held several dozen books, Baghdad's great library, The House of Wisdom, housed four hundred thousand. Jonathan Lyons shows just how much "Western" ideas owe to  Arab civilization.
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The Society for Useful Knowledge: How Benjamin Franklin and Friends Brought the Enlightenment to America
SKU: 9781608195534

Benjamin Franklin and his contemporaries brought the Enlightenment to America--an intellectual revolution that laid the foundation for the political one that followed. With the "first Drudgery" of settling the American colonies now well and truly past, Franklin announced in 1743, it was high time that the colonists set about improving the lot of humankind through collaborative inquiry. From Franklin's idea emerged the American Philosophical Society, an association hosted in Philadelphia and dedicated to the harnessing of man's intellectual and creative powers for the common good. The animus behind the Society was and is a disarmingly simple one-that the value of knowledge is directly proportional to its utility. This straightforward idea has left a profound mark on American society and culture and on the very idea of America itself-and through America, on the world as a whole.
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by Jonathan Lyons on May 22, 2018

By Jonathan Lyons

Much of the media space devoted to Iran these days has focused on U.S. disavowal of the internationally recognized nuclear deal and Israeli airstrikes on Iranian interests inside Syria. And with good reason, for the situation on both fronts is rife with opportunity for the sort of miscalculation, blowback and unforeseen consequence that can easily lead to war.

But there is another development bubbling under the surface that may, in the long term, prove more of an existential threat to the Islamic Republic than the (so far) unlikely event of cataclysmic armed conflict with Israel and its superpower protector, the United States.

This is none other than Iran’s continued inability, almost 40 years after the Islamic Revolution, to resolve the tension between the country’s geopolitical interests and its radical political theology.

Is it a traditional nation state, with rights and duties toward its citizens, as well as toward other nations?

Or is it a messianic movement that claims unquestioned religious leadership of the world’s 200-odd million Shi’ites and, beyond that, of the entire Muslim ummah, or community of believers?

Read more HERE.

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Islam, Science, and the West (webinar): Tuesday Diwan, al-Sharq Youth Forum

by Jonathan Lyons on May 02, 2018

Islam, Science, and the West
Webinar for the Tuesday Diwan, al-Sharq Youth Forum

Dr. Jonathan Lyons

May 1, 2018

Traditional history of science privileges those developments that contributed to our contemporary notion of what is properly scientific while slighting or disregarding altogether others that have been forgotten or abandoned for failing to meet modern needs, requirements, and attitudes. The result is a notion of intellectual and scientific progress in which the stages of historical development, and thus any analytical framework, are defined in advance. This, in turn, determines those ideas, achievements, and theories worthy of historical notice, academic study, and ultimately inclusion in the discourse of modernity. 


YouTube rebroadcast available here:

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