An Early Assessment of the Modern Turkish Thought: Ahmed Muhiddin (1892-1923)

As a poor but highly competent student, Ahmed Muhiddin attended to Vefa high school and after graduation to the department of literature at Istanbul Darulfünun (Istanbul University). During the First World War he went to Germany and there he completed his doctorate, while at the same time working as lecturer in Turkish. Since his years in Istanbul as a student, he established close contact with the leading intellectuals and men of letters of his time, especially with Ziya Gökalp. Even before moving to Germany, he participated in the intellectual debates with his writings on the topic of national economy. At the University of Leipzig, where he served since 1916, Muhiddin focused in his lectures on the modern literary and intellectual developments in Turkey, and played a hardly negligible role in attracting the attention of the German academia to this area. In his doctoral dissertation (Die Kulturbewegung im modernen Türkei), which he presented to the University of Leipzig in 1921, Ahmed Muhiddin brings in question the cultural changes, and their impact on the mental-intellectual transformations, that began to emerge since the 18th century in the Ottoman Empire. Especially stressed among these transformations are the place and importance of modern Turkish poetry, and the transformation of the conception of religion. This early study, with its attempt at giving the full story of the modern Turkish thought from its beginning to Muhiddin's own time, and centering on the main trends and representative figures, stands out as the first of its kind and displays an authentic approach. Suat MERTOĞLU
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