Before teasing out the meaning of this passage, it is important to look at Said’s rhetorical style. Beyond the working definitions outlined at the start, this distinction here is what he “really” means, the heart of the matter. Notice how this passage sidesteps a totalizing sense by qualifying “unconscious” with “almost”, “found” with “almost exclusively”, and “unanimity, stability, and durability” with “more or less”. This trope of the adverbial caveat dangled like catnip before the reader allows Said to speak in round numbers, so to speak, rather than giving what might be called a statistical, and thus potentially falsifiable, sense to his argument. As a result, any exceptions pointed out by a critic are pre-mitigated. The caveats appear to flow from cautious scholarship, but the latent intent is that of a polemicist.
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