Javad Tabatabai, 2017

Seyyed Javad Tabatabai (Persian: سید جواد طباطبایی; 14 December 1945 – 28 February 2023) was an Iranian philosopher and political scientist. He was Professor and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Tehran.


Tabatabai, an Iranian Azeri,[1] was born on 14 December 1945 in Tabriz, Iran. His father was a merchant in Bazaar of Tabriz.[2] After pursuing studies in theology, law and philosophy in Tabriz and Tehran, he earned his PhD in political philosophy from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, with a dissertation on Hegel's political philosophy.[3]

After coming to Iran, he was professor and deputy dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Tehran. In the 1990s, he was dismissed from his post as professor and deputy dean of the law school for criticizing the ideology of the Iranian government.[4]

Then, he continued his research in other countries such as France, England, Germany and the United States: he was a guest fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, as well as at the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs at Syracuse University. Tabatabai published around twenty books on the history of political ideas in Europe and Iran. On 14 July 1995, in France, he was decorated as a Knight of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques.[5]

Tabatabai died on 28 February 2023 in Irvine, California, at the age of 77.[6][7]


Tabatabai, a leading theorist and historian of political thought in Iran, presented a controversial theory regarding the causes of the decline of political thought and society in Iran over the last few centuries. His ideas on Iranian decline have affected the intellectual debates on modernity and democracy currently underway in Iran. Tabatabai's career-long research revolved around this question: “What conditions made modernity possible in Europe and led to its abnegation in Iran?” He answered this question by adopting a “Hegelian approach” that privileged a philosophical reading of history on the assumption that philosophical thought is the foundation and essence of any political community and the basis for any critical analysis of it as well.[8] In 2001, in an interview with Libération, he said that political and ideological Islam is already dead, because they have no plans for modernity.[9]

Tabatabai rejected anti-Iranian irredentism and warned about the perils facing Iran from the provocations of pan-Turkism.[1] Tabatabai defended Persian as Iran's national language and argued that the histories of Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan are ridden with forgeries and fabrications (see also: Pan-Turkism#Pseudoscientific theories).[1] During one of his lectures in Tabriz, he emphasized that the history of the "Baku Republic" (i.e. the Republic of Azerbaijan) is central to the history of Iran.[1]



Further reading


  1. ^ a b c d Ahmadi, Hamid (2017). "The Clash of Nationalisms: Iranian response to Baku's irredentism". In Kamrava, Mehran (ed.). The Great Game in West Asia: Iran, Turkey and the South Caucasus. Oxford University Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0190869663.
  2. ^ "مرکز دائرةالمعارف بزرگ اسلامی". (in Persian). Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  3. ^ Fariba Taghavi, Secular Apparition: The Resurgence of Liberal-democratic Intellectual .., ProQuest 2007, p.164-
  4. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld: Human Rights Watch World Report 1996 - Iran". Refworld. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Javad Tabatabai | Institut d'études avancées de Paris". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Seyyed Javad Tabatabai passed away". Tasnim News Agency.(in Persian)
  7. ^ "Iranian political philosopher Tabatabai passes away at 77". Islamic Republic News Agency. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  8. ^ Boroujerdi, M., & Shomali (2015). "The Unfolding of Unreason: Javad Tabatabai's Idea of Political Decline in Iran". Iranian Studies. 48 (6): 949–965. doi:10.1080/00210862.2014.926661. S2CID 145769588.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Javad Tabatabai : L'islam politique est voué à l'échec". Libé (in French). 27 October 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Seyyed Javad Tabatabai won the first rank". IBNA. 14 January 2018.