'Human Like Us' - some philosophical implications of 'naturalising' fundamentalism

Winifred Wing Han Lamb


The serious study of fundamentalism in recent times has had to reckon with the problem of unfavourable popular images of fundamentalists which militate against a proper understanding both of fundamentalists and of the phenomena of fundamentalism around the world today. This paper is a philosophical appraisal of ways of representing fundamentalists by comparing unfavourable and judgemental descriptions with ones that are more nuanced and more charitable. The latter, more nuanced accounts represent fundamentalists, not as atavistic and aberrant, but as 'human, like us'. The broad use of the term 'fundamentalism' in recent scholarship and the ascription of general traits to diverse examples of fundamentalism within different faith traditions further strengthens the idea of an anthropological commonality across cultural and religious differences. The fact of commonality also implicates the scholar in quite a profound way, in an anthropological continuity with fundamentalists. Important philosophical implications follow from this.

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