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Democracy in Modern IranIslam, Culture, and Political Change$
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Ali Mirsepassi

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795644

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795644.001.0001

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The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals

The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals

Chapter:
(p.149) 7 The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals
Source:
Democracy in Modern Iran
Author(s):

Ali Mirsepassi

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814795644.003.0008

This chapter examines the principal waves in Iranian intellectual thought that emerged from the political experiences of the twentieth century, and argues that new cognitive tools and a new imaginative vocabulary are needed to meet the challenge of building a democratic society in contemporary Iran. The prevailing ideological discourses as they stand—nativist, nationalist, and Islamist—reflect an obsession with securing “national independence” against an outside enemy. The one-sidedness of this focus has produced a rigid and dogmatic intellectual perspective based on claims to various forms of either absolute truth or identity. This perspective lends itself to a totalitarian politics and is therefore detrimental to the implementation of those democratic institutions which create the basis for open public discussion or a “public sphere.”

Keywords:   Iranian intellectual thought, contemporary Iran, nativist, nationalist, Islamist, national independence, totalitarian politics, public sphere

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