Reflection: Rationalism and Futurism, First English Edition
تأملی فلسفی: خردگرائی و آینده نگری
P.S. 07/20/22: I wrote the following article in Persian 15 years ago; but, just finished translating it to English! I hope English-speaking readers find it of interest! SG
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Intro to the June 17, 2022 Persian Edition
Dear friends, this short article is perhaps one of the less read philosophical articles of this author, and in my opinion, reading this article is worth your time; but, the judgment is with you! The first edition of this article was written 15 years ago on March 12, 2008 and published on my personal site; and the second edition was 5 years later, i.e. 10 years ago, on April 17, 2012, and it has not been published anywhere else outside, my own web site! What you see below is the text of the second edition without change! In fact, I wrote this article almost simultaneously with another article entitled 'The Promise of Religious Fundamentalism: Heaven on Earth and in Heaven,' which was a critique of 'Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right' and was a look at the rise of Islamism in the last half century and the connection of the likes of Sayyid Qutb with Marxism, and 8 years later I added more material to it and it was republished on my personal website under the title of "Marxist Kon-faya-kun of 1357"; but, a little later, Dr. Esmail Nooriala published that article with his powerful editing, in summer of 2017, in the third issue of Gitimadari, the Theoretical Quarterly of the Secular Democratic Party of Iran. I need to note that the subject of this short article is different from "Marxist Kon-faya-kun of 1357," and the focus here is on Marxist currents of the last half century, and especially it is about a specific current of Left which is called postmodernism or cultural relativism, and there is an article in English by Mary Midgley entitled 'Trying One's New Sword' that I have introduced to my readers in the past. Midgley's work has not yet been translated into Persian; but, it is the best description of cultural relativism; nonetheless, the discussion here has nothing to do with the subject matter of Ms. Midgley's article, and the discussion here is centered on the Marxist movement in the last half century, although the issue of cultural relativism and postmodernism is discussed, and the reason being the fact that the leftist movement itself has turned to postmodernism and cultural relativism, especially the poison of postmodern left in helping the rise of Islamism in Iran is noted here! It is undeniable how the post-modernist/cultural relativists gave support to religious retrogression, both at home and abroad, and we all know about Michel Foucault's view of Khomeinism and how a generation of Iran's Left became a launch pad for Islamists to ascend to power in Iran, and in the next stage, they became the assistants of Islamist reformists to deceive the people, a tole which is still being continued by them inside Iran and abroad! I need to note here that issues of scientific view in philosophy that are referred to in this article, have been further expanded in another article entitled 'Scientific Worldview and Meaning of Life!' And a year ago, the continuation of scientific discussions raised, were further expanded in the Preface 2021 of my book New Human Variant!
The text of the second Persian edition of this article is below, with a few changes
With the fall of communist movement in the world, because this movement had become a kind of crystallization of modernism in the thoughts of a large part of intellectuals of the world for more than a century, rationalism suffered a very serious blow, which can only be compared to the blow that Aristotle's rationalism suffered with the fall of Greek civilization in the West (1), and centuries later with the end of Middle Ages, rationalism was able to be reborn in a new form in Descartes' rationalism (2).
As shown in an article about Marxism (3), strong non-rationalist elements were present in Marxism from the very beginning, but in fact, the evolution of Marxism into Leninism, as Popper showed, after the failure of Marx's predictions about the world revolution, was the end point to anything that could be known as scientific theory in Marxism, and turned it into a non-scientific and ideological cult. Nevertheless, for the intellectual movement of the world, this ideology was considered the most important crystallization of rationalism for more than a century, and its fall caused serious damage to rationalism among intellectuals.
The trend of returning to Nietzsche, the so-called postmodernism of Foucault and Derrida, which is more "pre-modernism" than the postmodernism it is called, and the re-popularization of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, have been the main theoretical types of cultural relativism in the West among intellectuals, justifying reactionary currents such as Islamist movement in Iran which ended up in the creation of the so-called Islamic "Republic" of Iran. The same way those who wanted democracy were led astray by Marxism which negates democracy, today many who want to defend human rights have fallen into the path of post-modernism and cultural relativism and they think they respect all conflicting cultural values, instead of seeing that all theories are not of equal weight, e.g., one cannot consider a theory claiming pregnancy being due to shaking hands to be equal to the explanation of fertilization by chromosomes (for more explanation of this discussion, please read the introduction to the treatise entitled 'Aristotle's Futurism and Pluralism').
About thirty years ago, this postmodernist movement in Iran's opposition politics considered even talking about the word 'progress' as blasphemy for a long time, because for it, progress was equal to its opposite according to their cultural relativist views! At that time, I published a series of articles entitled 'Progressivism in the Present Era' in response to that current (4). And later on, in an article entitled 'Post-modernism Shaping Islamism' discussed it more, and faced severe attacks by Islamic Reformists and their leftist partners inside and outside of Iran. The attack on the critics of postmodernism is reminiscent of the theoretical debates in the years right before World War II, when Karl Popper's treatment of Marxism met with such a reaction from the intellectuals who were steeped in Marxism! Postmodernism is a similar disease for the Iranian political movement, whose impact is no less if not worse than the losses due to Marxism 70 years ago before WWII. This discussion is reflected in the above-noted brief article about postmodernism with an emphasis on Iran's experience, although many friends in the political movement, who are not supporters of the Islamic Republic at all, strongly disagree with this theoretical article, but I hope those who are interested, will read it carefully, because the main discussion is about cultural relativism and the political turn of the lobbyists of the Islamic Republic who basically follow post-modernism, despite the fact that many staunch opponents of the regime also think that post-modernism is an idea that will liberate Iran, which is not true (5)!
On the other hand, the revival of Dr. Ali Shariati's ideas in Iran was in light of this trend of post-modernism, and the new ideas of Dr. Abdol-Karim Soroush, have nothing to do with Popper any more, and are based on a Sufi movement (6). The trend of postmodernism is a more deadly poison for intellectuals in Iran than for intellectuals of other parts of the world. In Iran, rationalism has not grown much due to the strong dominance of mystical thought (7) over many centuries, whereas in the West, not only the intellectual thought but in the whole social life of the West, rationalism and science have grown tremendously in the last 300 years, that hundreds of "New Age" movements and the postmodern trends of Foucault and Derrida, or the revival trends of Heidegger and Søren Kierkegaard in philosophy departments of the Western world, cannot do so much harm to society at large! As we saw in the years of growth of Nietzsche's thought in the West right in the years before WWII, in the more backward countries of Europe, the growth of these currents were more successful and led to Fascism. And Heidegger himself became a member of the Nazi Party in Germany! Even in advanced America, i.e. in New York City of the 1930s, these ideas grew among the intellectuals, but they could not even cause a significant change in American intellectual thought and remained a marginal current, because the long tradition of liberalism and rationalism was so powerful that withstood any such anti-rationalist trends and directions!
Unfortunately, we have not had such a history in Iran. In the article 'Spinoza's rejection of the final cause,' the essential traits of this difference in the development of thought in the West and Iran have been noted including the weakness of scientism in philosophical thoughts such as mysticism in Iran, that was discussed (8). We can't fool ourselves, we all know that every child in Iran has read the books of Hafez and Molavi and recites their poems by heart, but how many people have read even one page of Abu Ali Sina's or Zakaria Razi's or Abu Rayhan Biruni's books! This fact shows to what extent mysticism is rooted in Iranian thought and this trend cannot be considered as finished! And such forms of non-scientific thinking including post-modernism and religious innovations of Shariati and Soroush, are where we witnessed the return of Medieval thought in Iran that led to the ideological perspective of Iran's 1979 Revolution and continued in the last 43 years especially by the Islamic reformists and most of the Left in Iran. As a result, going beyond the industrial society means the need to go beyond the old rationalism, and if in the Modern Society with the likes of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, rationalism went beyond the rationalism of the peak of Greek civilization (i.e. Aristotle's rationalism), today we need to go beyond the rationalism of the modern age, and surely not to throw away rationalism which currents like the New Age movement did in early 1980's! People like Karl Popper pioneered this new rationalism that has been continued by thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and Seth Loyd (9)!
To sum up, rationalism in question is not equal to the rationalism of the modern era; if we call Aristotle the symbol of the first stage, Descartes the symbol of the second stage of rationalism in history, this new trend that started with Popper can be considered the third stage, which is just beginning to form (10).
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist
republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
July 25, 2022
*First Persian edition was on March 12, 2008
Secularism & Pluralism-Essays
سکولاريسم، پلوراليسم، و چند رساله ديگر
Futurism and Aristotle's Pluralism
آینده نگری و پلورالیسم ارسطو
2.Descartes and Laity
دکارت و لائیکات (مردم عادی غیر روحانی یا غیرمتخصص)
Marxist Thought & Monism
اندیشه مارکسیستی و مونیسم -یکتا گرائی
4. ترقی خواهی در عصر کنونی- متن کامل
Postmodernism Shaping Islamism
پسامدرنیسم شکل دهنده اسلامگرائی
6. چرا نوانديشی مذهبی ضرورتاً ضد سکولار است؟
Sufism and Fatalism - A Brief Note
صوفیگری و تقدیر گرائی- یک یادداشت کوتاه
Spinoza's Refutation of Teleology
اسپینوزا در رد علت غائی
Philosophy of Science in 20th Century-Third Edition
فلسفه علم در قرن بیستم-ویرایش سوم
Dancing in the Air
رقص در آسمان
For a Secular Democratic & Futurist Republican Party in Iran