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A Theory of Evolution of Religious Knowledge in a Post-Revolutionary Iran: And a New Frontier for Sociology of Knowledge

Abstract

Abdolkarim Soroush is a prominent figure in the religious intellectualism movement in post-revolutionary Iran. In 1991, he published a controversial book, The Theoretical Contraction and Expansion of the Sacred Law, on the social evolution of religious and non-religious types of knowledge, as well as their co-dependence. His main argument, which was ground-breaking at the time, could be summarized in three theses: first, there is a constant dialogue between those two types of knowledge and they are not mutually exclusive. Second, theoretical contraction and expansion of non-religious knowledge will influence (if not shape) our understanding of religious knowledge. Third, like other types of knowledge (such as science and philosophy), religious knowledge evolves. Nevertheless, as a religious intellectual and a believer, he tried to distinguish between religion on the one hand and religious knowledge on the other. He hoped that the division could be a basis for future reformist movements. The history of dialogue between Soroush and his opponents on truth and relativism has shaped the intellectual life of Iranians since the 1990s. This chapter will critically examine those exchanges and ask what sociology of knowledge, in a post-truth era, could learn from them.

Keywords

  • Truth
  • Relativism
  • Religion
  • Islam
  • Iran
  • Abdolkarim Soroush

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Correspondence to Morteza Hashemi .

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Hashemi, M., Bagherpour, A.R. (2018). A Theory of Evolution of Religious Knowledge in a Post-Revolutionary Iran: And a New Frontier for Sociology of Knowledge. In: Stenmark, M., Fuller, S., Zackariasson, U. (eds) Relativism and Post-Truth in Contemporary Society. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96559-8_5

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