Document Type : Research Paper
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran
PhD in Political Science, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
The right to choose a lifestyle, which at the outset seems to be unrelated to political issues and outside the institutional and formal structure of the state, may be regarded as a matter in the realm of politics. Hence, the possibility of the advancement of humankind is opened up— despite all the limitations and restrictions that have overshadowed his/her life— in order to devise other types of lifestyle. The authors’ main objective is to examine the works of the post-revolution Iranian intellectuals with a modernist approach to "the political,” in which the choice of "lifestyle" is understood from a political perspective. This point of view as influenced by Heidegger's model considers the political at an existential or ontological level, and beyond the existing, objective, experimental, and institutional (ontic) ‘science of politics’. This is a different theoretical framework and a new horizon related to an individual's lifestyle in which his/her political goals are constantly attempting to transform ‘self’ and self-realization processes— in a situation where official institutions and traditional authorities have no absolute role in providing standards and values of daily life. The authors intend to answer the following research question: How can the right to choose lifestyle be considered as the political stance in Iran’s intellectual current after the 1979 Islamic revolution? In the research hypothesis, it is argued that the cultural views of Iranian intellectuals can be used in challenging the dominant discourse in order to present another way of existence and a different understanding of oneself and the world that differs from the hegemonic discourse. We can evaluate this issue in the framework of discursive and political processes, because the discourses that make society and regulate our understanding of the world are in essence political structures. Using the method of qualitative conceptual analysis of the principal works of several influential Iranian thinkers, we examine their viewpoints on this topic. Therefore, in this article, after presenting a theoretical basis for the relationship between the concept of the political and the choice of lifestyle, the views of Mojtahed Shabestari, Soroush, Malekian, Shaygan, and Doostdar are studied. Their viewpoints respectively, represent religious, spiritual, identity-minded, and secular intellectual discourses on the issue of choosing a way of life. Each of them tried to critique the dominance of the ruling discourse using their own different perspectives (e.g., leftist, Westernist, modernist, nationalist, indigenous, and religious standpoints). Religion has generally been an essential element in articulating and shaping the semantic system of intellectual discourses in Iran in the years before and after the Islamic Revolution. In line with the function of intellectual emancipation, some intellectuals consider religion as a factor in returning to self and liberation from tyranny, exploitation, and colonization. In contrast, others consider religion itself as a tool in the service of the rejection of thought, monopoly, violence, and subjugation of humankind.
These Iranian intellectuals introduced and explained the meanings of various concepts and issues such as religiosity, religious reading, religious reconstruction and reform, religious pluralism, traditional values and patterns, individualism, self-realization, self-transformation, regeneration, the spiritual humankind, the original life, the transcultural state, the multiplicity of levels of consciousness, the experience of multiple modes of existence, the networked and rhizome-like existence, the mobile migratory subject, everyday life, selfishness, self-normality, and so on. We concluded that the culturalist approach of Iranian intellectuals in promoting and recognizing the right to choose lifestyle can be considered as a political issue (a political antithesis) in the post-revolutionary intellectual movement, since it contradicts the dominant models and values which are expanded and supported by the predominant discourse in society.