The Unfolding of Unreason: Javad Tabatabai's Idea of Political Decline in Iran

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Alireza Shomali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Javad Tabatabai, a leading theorist and historian of political thought in Iran, has presented a controversial theory regarding the causes of the decline of political thought and society in Iran over the last few centuries. His ideas on Iranian decline have affected the intellectual debates on modernity and democracy currently underway in Iran. Tabatabai's career-long research has revolved around this question: "What conditions made modernity possible in Europe and led to its abnegation in Iran?" He answers this question by adopting a "Hegelian approach" that privileges a philosophical reading of history on the assumption that philosophical thought is the foundation and essence of any political community and the basis for any critical analysis of it as well. This article critically engages with Tabatabai's ideas of "crisis," and "decline" by challenging his exposition of the Persian tradition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-965
Number of pages17
JournalIranian Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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