Based on the suggestions by some friends, not reading Persian and curious about my weblog, I just decided to occasionally write short essays in English as well.
Today I was reading parts of Dr Sebastiano Maffettone's just newly published book on Rawls. The title of the book is Rawls; an Introduction (2010) and is published by Polity press. We, as Sebastiano's PhD students here, were gifted to have a copy of the book before its real publication.
In part of the first chapter of the book I faced with a sentence by Rawls, a methodological suggestion about how to read classical texts of philosophy, which agitated me to think and make this post. The sentence is taken from Rawls's ‘My Teaching’ (written in 1993, forthcoming(?)), in which he declares:
"A doctrine is not judged at all until it is not judged in its best form . . . The text has to be known and respected, and the doctrine presented in its best form."
In this sentence I found something interesting not only about how to read Rousseau and Locke, but even about how to read different authors such as Motahhari and Khomeini in the Iranian context. But how and why?
We know nowadays Iran is passing through a tough trasitory period towards democracy. In the documentary Pejvak-e Ruzegar (the Reflection of the Time in Persian) by BBC Persian channel, Mohammad Reza Shajarian also referred to this difficult fact.
The argument is that this transition to democracy can not be passed and democracy can not be accomplished, unless majority of groups and sects in Iran find democracy the best way of government and recognition for themselves. Therefor, pro-democratic groups, should avoid pushing away the conservatives and humiliating them, and instead would be better try to make constructive dialogues with them on fundamental issues.
Rawls's suggestion about how to read and understand a text, if applied to the reading of the figures like Ayatollah Khomeini and Motahhari who are major references for conservative parties, will definitely open some ways to make constructive dialogues with the conservatives. This is a fact which was more or less the subject of of my recent essays as well (A Liberal Reading of Ayatollah Khomeini)
Just as an example, one can read Motahhari both as a dogmatist, backward-thinking and reactionary Mulla who is supporting old-fashioned thought which only belongs to past (the worst possible reading of Morteza Motahhari), or seeing him as progressive intellectual, although having some faults (best reading of him, done by Khatami, Soroush and some other religious reformists).
Which of these two readings of Motahhari are better to make a dialogue over democracy in Iran?
Rawls answers us the second reading, of course!