This essay presents a discussion of intellectual developments in the thirty years since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, along both religious and secular lines, as they have unfolded in the wake of the prerevolutionary heritage of both the constitutional revolution-Popular Front secular universal tradition and the intellectual turning of the 1960s and 1970s that ushered in a political model of religious authenticity as the organizing axis of popular resistance. The essay points out that in the wake of the Iranian Revolution a variety of evolving intellectual tendencies have adhered to a central notion of the West as the point of reference in all political discussion, whether as an image of adulation and condemnation. This tendency is linked to a more general pattern of privileging abstract philosophical modes of discourse over sociologically specific and contextually grounded research and analysis, a orientation that has had the counterproductive effect of widening a gulf between intellectuals and their work and the real desires, perceptions, and aspirations of the general Iranian public.

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