March 14, 2004


Laura Secor writes about Abdolkarim Soroush in the Boston Globe (cache), last seen in these parts being interviewed by New Scientist. This is a considerably more substantial piece, conveying something of the substance, sources and tensions of Soroush's ideas. One point Secor doesn't touch upon, but is very clear from reading Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam is the extent to which Soroush has been influenced by Karl Popper. Soroush's essay on the expansion and contraction of religious knowledge, for instance, seems to be driven by a straightforward analogy to Popper's conjectures-and-refutations view of science; true and invariant "religion" is to fallible and mutable "religious knowledge" as the objective laws of nature are to scientific knowledge. Similarly much of Soroush's political theory seems to be an attempt to map out what a distinctly Muslim version of Popper's open society would be like. The piety does not seem to be either camouflage for an esoteric naturalism or a way to obtain rhetorical leverage, but rather a sincere commitment on Soroush's part (sadly enough). Islamopopperism, anyone? (Via War and Piece.)

Update, 15 March 2004: Mitchell Porter points out this interview with Soroush, where he says that "contrary to popular belief, it was not Popper's but Quine's theories on the philosophy of science that guided my explorations of the philosophy of religion" but "only in retrospect did I perceive this connection". This is from his official website, which of course I should've thought to look for.

Islam ; Philosophy

Posted at March 14, 2004 11:04 | permanent link

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