Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Political Islam, Iran and Enlightenment: Philosophies of Hope and Despair

January 1, 2011

Ali Mirsepassi’s Political Islam, Iran and Enlightenment complicates conventional accounts of the ideological formation of Iranian political Islam. For Mirsepassi, Iranian political Islam was not a local response to the Iranian-Western encounter, but rather the product of a dialogue between Iranian intellectuals and Western critics of the Enlightenment. Iranian political-Islam, according to Mirsepassi, draws much of its critique of the West from thinkers like Nietzsche and Heidegger. Mirsepassi analyzes the interactions of major Iranian revolutionaries like Fardid and Shariati with the French Heidegger scholar Henry Corbin, who studied with Shariati in France and visited Iran in the 1940s. Although Mirsepassi mainly focuses on the philosophical influences of major Iranian thinkers, he situates his argument within a broader discussion of Islam’s relationship with the West. By showcasing the influence of anti-enlightenment Europeans on Iranian intellectuals, Mirsepassi challenges those who would draw artificial dividing lines between Islamic and Western civilization.

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