Culture is determined by a historical, that is, a temporal perspective, and by another that is atemporal, the transcendental scale of values. Diversity, within the limits of a certain harmony that embraces the whole, is an enriching factor far more than one tending to dispersal or division. The ancient Egyptian and Coptic, Muslim and modern heritage in Egypt and black Africa, as well as the Assyrians', Phoenicians', Berbers', and then the legacy from black Africa coming from Mesopotamia, the Levant, North Africa, Sudan and Somalia respectively, are contributing to the emergence of a new though historical humanism. The author takes the view that the Arab mentality, contrary to a common and widely held belief, is nourished by a pluralism that is both surprising and stimulating.
There is considerable consensus that the two notions of cultural authenticity and national identity are mutually intersecting, interpenetrative and interdependent. Both authenticity and identity are challenged by a certain tendency towards 'globalization', an effective standardization that levels out and thus obliterates distinctive characteristics.
Cultures are determined, as far as I can see, not only by a historical, that is, temporal, perspective, but also by a non-historical, an a-temporal or transcendental scale of values. In the context of my own, the Egyptian-Arab-Islamic culture or 'cultures', there is an illusion to be shed: that of a rigid monolithic unity that would willingly marshal into one undifferentiated mould, devoid of any nuance, all the cultural constituents and tributaries of this Arab--and now less frequently called Islamic--nation. To be sure, one can readily discern common denominators within this extremely variegated cultural entity, including those one might call global or place under the aegis of emerging humanisms. These common denominators are what contribute to making the cultures interact as organic components of a whole instead of bigotedly isolated, secluded, closed-in contraptions.
What must be stressed, however, is that …