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Foucault regards the term “human” as a problematic, socially

constructed category or “episteme” (often opposed to the equally

dubious “savage”), Said insists that only a humanistic critique can

provide a sane and rational alternative to the hegemonic discourse

of Orientalism. However, to avoid the possibility of contradicting

himself, Said ignores the “suspicion that the ontological category of

‘the human’ and ‘human nature’” have become inextricably tied to

the “violence of Western history” (163).

Young also points to the way that Orientalism is viewed as

both a “discourse” and “reality,” despite Said’s denial that the

Orient is a “real” place or territory. Therefore, a “major theoretical

problem” arises when Said invokes Orientalism as a Western

discourse while affirming that such knowledge about the Orient

was put to real uses, including “the service of colonial conquest,

occupation, and administration” (169). For Young, it seems almost

paradoxical that something unreal or imaginary could have such an

impact on an actual region (in this case, South Asia and the Middle

East) and its history.

Unlike Foucault, Said refuses to abandon the notion of the

author. It is here where he begins to radically diverge from the

rigidity of Foucault’s philosophy. Whereas Foucault dismisses the

author in the same manner that he discredits the “role of individual

agency,” Said on the other hand reinforces the humanist idea of a

“determining imprint of individual writers upon the otherwise

anonymous collective body of texts constituting a discursive

formation like Orientalism” (Said, 1978: 23). As a result, he adopts

what he calls a “hybrid perspective” which is not only theoretical

but “broadly historical” as well, presupposing that “all texts” are

“worldly and circumstantial” (23).

For critics like Clifford and Young, Said’s equivocal position

want also to connect these principles to the world in which they live as citizens”

(2004a: 6).