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Studies 18 March, 2012

Critical Discussion of Study

Keyword

Introduction

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published on its website a series of articles entitled: "The Last Decade in Syria: The Dialectic of Stagnation and Reform," by Mohammed Jamal Barout. These articles deal with the Syrian revolution, its background, its current path, and, briefly, its future prospects. The historiography of the past (the last decade in Syria) and the present (the first five months of the revolution), as well as an examination of the future and its implications, all intersect in Barout's research.

The intention of the author appears to have been to write four articles on the economic, social, political, and dialectical background of stagnation and reform of the last decade in the history of Syria. The numbering system for the first two articles indicates this; however, the escalation of the Syrian protests likely caused Barout to move on to a fifth study comprising five sections. In the final article, the emphasis shifts away from history, turning instead to future prospects. The series of articles concludes thus, making it possible (and even beneficial) to deal with it as a nearly finished book for the purposes of study, analysis and criticism.

It could be fairly stated that the current title of the paper, The Past Decade in Syria: The Dialectic of Stagnation and Reform, reflects only the content of the first four studies. From the fifth study onward, the focus is on documentation and discussion of the highlights of the Syrian revolution (from February until the end of July, 2011). The first studies appeared in April, and the final one in October.

Many articles have emerged in relation to the recent revolutions and protest movements in the Arab world in general, including the Syrian revolution. However, Barout's series of articles can be viewed as the first analytical, forward-looking, and in-depth study of the progression of the events in Syria to date (November 2011). For this reason, and because these studies deal with significant issues for the Syrian people, a critical discussion of some of the most important ideas and facts in these studies will be presented here. The criticism will seek to demonstrate the inherent legitimacy of these ideas, while simultaneously exploring the limitations of this same legitimacy*.

Simply put, criticism is intended to shed light on both positive and negative aspects of a given situation or paradigm. The critical mechanism can be simplified in the formula: "... this is true, but..." where the legality of any idea derives from its possibility and reality. Using the terminology of logic, this refers to truthfulness (internal and external consistency) as well as sincerity (consistency with reality). This basis in reason can be explored through the study of theoretical foundations and supporting facts and evidence; also, through adherence to consistency in drawing conclusions based on these foundations, facts, and evidence.

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* The meaning of criticism practiced here is derived from Kantian philosophy in criticism (as per German philosopher Emmanuel Kant, 1724-1804) and from Ricoeurian Hermeneutics (from French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, 1913-2005).  Criticism practiced by Kant and Ricoeur was based on clarification of the legitimacy of the intellectual field or subject being researched and the extent of this legitimacy, with emphasis on the partiality of this legitimacy and its relativity and limitations at the same time.