Political Secularism and the Prospect of Democracy in Iran: a Theoretical Review

Presently the circles of the Iranian intelligentsia witness the gradual growth of at least two discourses on political secularism. These discourses have significant philosophical as well as political contents:

a.  what I wish to call the strict secularist discourse aspires to take religious “truth-claims” off the public sphere. For the strictly secular intellectuals religious claims should reside in the private sphere since their truth-content is subjective.

b.  to the participants in the second discourse, secularism implies that reason alone is able to know good and evil: justice is defined beyond the realm of revelation. Therefore, it is Islam that must match itself with ideas such as justice and democracy and not vice-versa.

In my presentation I shall critically examine the contribution of each discourse to the opening of a democratic horizon in Iran.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Alireza Shomali is scheduled to present this talk on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. in President’s Dining Room.