Department of Comparative Literature
Abolfazl Ahangari, PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature, HKU
J. Daniel Elam, Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, School of Humanities, HKU
Siavash Saffari, Associate Professor of West Asian Studies, Seoul National University
Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Time: 5:00 pm Hong Kong Time
Venue: On Zoom
All are welcome. Please register and the link will be sent to you before the event.
In this seminar, I reread Dariush Shayegan’s “Asia Confronts the West” (1978) to reconsider secularism as a philosophical issue. To him, secularism is a historical force originated in Europe and aimed at inverting the epistemic world structure from the metaphysical to the earthly. It has led to a grand historical shift which is supposedly the moment of the formation of the ‘new world’ and the birth of the post-enlightenment subject. Following this approach, I argue that Shayegan’s view toward secularization can be comprehended as a process of ‘contraction’ through which every existing thing-in-the-world has to be diminished through being divided from itself to appear as a ‘knowable object’. More specifically, becoming secular [i.e., worldly] means to be contracted, being detached from one’s mystical core, the excess, or ‘the history’ and letting things appear as a ‘pure object’ in and for the present. But paradoxically, the secularized thing or the divided object, instead of becoming more secular [or worldly], has appeared to be vulgar, has lost its senses, and has paved the way for the formation of the divided subject. In this seminar, I focus on this contradictory aspect of secularism to provide a framework for thinking about the condition of (post)modernity, the senses of history, and the possibility of the West/non-West binary within the context of secular history.
Abolfazl Ahangari is a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests are world & comparative literature, philosophy of history and literature, anticolonialism & postcolonial theory, world modernities, and political and liberation theology.
Enquiries: Georgina Challen – email@example.com
Visit our website: https://csgchku.wordpress.com/