Thoughtlessness and Decadence in Iran: A Sojourn in Comparative Political Theory

SUNY Press
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 Bridges Western and non-Western political thought to address the problem of democracy and political decadence in contemporary Iran and, by implication, similar Islamic societies.
Political decay in Islamic societies has for the most part been the subject of structural analyses while philosophical studies have been rare, often speculative and deterministic. Thoughtlessness and Decadence in Iran explores from a theoretical perspective the problem of democracy deficit—or, political decadencein contemporary Iran and, by implication, in present-day Middle Eastern societies. This decadence, the book argues, is in part a religion-based decadence, and deliverance from it requires collective thoughtfulness aboutreligionAlireza Shomali conceptualizes the Iranian Reality in terms of a lack of not only good life but also thinking of good living. This thoughtlessness means dissolution of critical consciousness and, as such, it heralds escalating decadence. At this moment of rapid decay, the book argues, thought must becomerelevant to society: the communicative practice of thinking must emerge to examine the pathologies of a religiously administrated life. Opening a dialogue between Adorno, Strauss, Farabi, and Razi, among others, Shomali underlines the critical points of similarity and difference between these thinkers and envisions a “local” emancipatory project that, noting the specifics of the Iranian case, takes lessons from the Western experience without blind imitation.

“The book is global in its vision, but also clearly local in its immersion in the philosophies, values, and culture of Iran and Iranian Islam. This unique characteristic helps its prescription become local, and simultaneously stay away from nativist, third-worldist and decolonialist discourses.” — Abdolkarim Soroush, author of The Expansion of Prophetic Experience
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About the author

 Alireza Shomali is Associate Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College. He is the author of Politics and the Criteria of Truth.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Apr 1, 2019
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Pages
480
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ISBN
9781438473802
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Language
English
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Genres
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Essays
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Reference
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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No American reporter has more experience covering Iran or more access to the private corners of Iranian society than Elaine Sciolino. As a correspondent for Newsweek and The New York Times, she has reported on the key events of the past two decades. She was aboard the airplane that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Tehran in 1979; she was there for the Iranian revolution, the hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, the rise of President Mohammad Khatami, and the riots of the summer of 1999.
In Persian Mirrors, Sciolino takes us into the public and private spaces of Iran -- the bazaars, beauty salons, aerobics studios, courtrooms, universities, mosques, and the presidential palace -- to capture the vitality of a society so often misunderstood by Americans. She demystifies a country of endless complexity where, on the streets, women swathe themselves in black and, behind high walls, they adorn themselves with makeup and jewelry; where the laws of Islam are the law of the land, and yet the government advertises as tourist attractions the ruins of the pre-Islamic imperial capital at Persepolis and the synagogue where Queen Esther is said to be buried; and where even the most austere clerics recite sensual romantic poetry, insisting that it refers to divine, and not earthly, love. Iran is also a place with a dark side, where unpredictable repression is carried out, officially and unofficially, by forces intent on maintaining power and influence.
Sciolino deftly uses her travels throughout Iran and her encounters with its people to portray the country as an exciting, daring laboratory where experiments with two highly volatile chemicals -- Islam and democracy -- are being conducted.
Like the mirror mosaics found in Iran's royal palaces and religious shrines, there is more to the whole of the country than the fragments revealed to outsiders. Persian Mirrors captures this elusive Iran. Sciolino paints in astonishing detail and rich color the surprising inner life of this country, where a great battle is raging, not for control over territory but for the soul of the nation.
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