This is a continuously updated lexicon of core concepts that underline my work. One of my axioms is that across the various academic disciplines, languages, traditions, and civilisational worldviews lie a certain set of grand theories that provide a meta-unity of existence. In the Islamic worldview, this may be called Tawhid - i.e. 'oneness'. My aim is to uncover this meta-unity.


Asabiya

  • A sociological concept coined by Ibn Khaldun to describe the group feeling characterising a cohesive unit in society. A primer can be found here.

Fractal

  • A fractal is a neverending pattern that has been applied to life via mathematics and biology. Like a fractal, life is extraordinarily complex and always in motion.

High Agency Attitude

  • High Agency is about finding a way to get what you want, without waiting for conditions to be perfect or otherwise blaming the circumstances. High Agency People either push through in the face of adverse conditions or manage to reverse the adverse conditions to achieve goals. You can read more here.

Ijtihad

  • Similar to the concept of precedence in the common law, ijtihad is the process of using reason to arrive at a solution to a legal problem.
  • It has come to adopt a wider meaning of overturning irrelevant paradigms to create new ones relevant to contemporary life. The one who practices ijtihad is known as a mujtahid.

Imperial Theory

  • Life is complex. Our governance systems are woefully underequipped to administrate heterogeneous populations. In most cases, the modern nation-state actively (and often violently) homogenises its population, resulting in a fragile 'ecosystem' - this is an extinction-level threat.
  • 21st century governance needs to rediscover imperial-scale governance that allows for a civilisation-level overview as well as permissiveness for extensive autonomy at the local level.
  • Imperial theory is ultimately about managing the interests of the various groups in a polity; beyond trade and security, the state should not engage in ideological or any sort of homogenising activities.

Keyif

  • The wistful feeling of contemplative nothingness.
  • It may be coupled with another term, 'Huzun', meaning a melancholic sadness.
  • I write about Keyif here.

Millet

  • The millet was the subdivision of the various ethnic-religious groups of the Ottoman empire into autonomous, non-territorial groups that largely governed themselves on a local level. It is similar to the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity and modern theories around localism.
  • This idea pairs well with imperial theory, presenting a bar-bell form of governance that rejects the homogenising middle - the 20th century nation-state.
  • I write about the millet system and possibilities of modern variations here.

Sabr and Kairos

  • Sabr is an Arabic concept denoting perseverance in the face of struggle.
  • Kairos is a Greek concept essentially meaning 'the most opportune time'.
  • In life, we practice sabr while waiting for kairos. This is how we achieve Zero to One transformations of society.

Tajdid

  • In the Islamic tradition, it is said that every century or so, a reformer (the mujadid) comes to arrest the decline of the religious, moral, and general health of a people.
  • Ibn Khaldun believed that dynasties generally lasted 120 years before they were either replaced by a reformist counter-elite or collapsed their dynasty with them.
  • Therefore, tajdid is a Heroic concept whereby an enigmatic mujadid, supported by a committed group of believers, saves society from itself.

Tawjih

  • Tawjih means the conscious orientation and harmonisation of one's objectives, thoughts, and actions. It is an Arabic word borrowed (and tweaked) from the sociologist Malik Bennabi who applied this concept at a civilisational level.

Basic Concepts (4HL) - by Lindyman

Tags: sociology, statecraft, history, political economy, cliodynamics, complex systems, long duree, civilizational studies, imperial theory, futurism, systems theory, antifragility, fractalism, metatheory