A philosophical conference in Tehran
By Paul Sanford
Tehran is a big city and many things go on
quietly. On a sunny but cold Sunday
morning we were invited, most unusually, to a one-day philosophical conference,
organized by Dr Simon Farid Oliai of Paris and Tehran which took place at the
Swiss Ambassador's Residence in Elahieh.
Dr Oliai is a delightful thinker, scholar and philosopher, fluent in many
languages, who is very enthusiastic and ardent about his subjects. The title of the conference was the
Global Impact of European Cultural and Philosophical
Two speakers came from abroad for
the conference, Professor Simone Chambers from the University of Toronto and Dr Patricia Purtschert who is currently
working in Paris although she is originally from
It was interesting that both our international visitors were women, and
that 40% of the audience were women too.
The Swiss Ambassador, H E Philippe Welti, was our host and he warmly and
gracefully welcomed us when the conference began.
The conference organizer Dr Oliai,
then took the floor and gave a paper on "Most Be-coming: Be-coming European
Today" in which he cleverly analyzed the future impact of Europe's philosophical and cultural heritage in the
contemporary world. As a theme for
his talk, he gave a quotation by Andre Malraux - "La culture ne s'hérite pas. Elle se conquiert."
Dr Patricia Purtschert spoke
passionately about the influence of Hegel and then Dr Mohammad Zeimaran from
Tehran gave a
history of how Western philosophy had influenced Iranian philosophers, which was
most informative and interesting.
Professor Chambers gave a remarkable
paper discussing how European the European Tradition of Political Thought should
remain. She discussed the influence
of colonialism and western liberal philosophy and emphasized the importance of
comparative political philosophy, especially where the relevant sources were in
different languages, for example Chinese or Arabic. She also outlined trends in
secularization in the West and the work of Jürgen
After lunch, a lively round table
discussion, "Prospects for a future culture and political role in a globalized
world" was led by H E Roberto Toscano, the Italian Ambassador. Mr. Toscano is one of Tehran's most well read and
knowledgeable foreign residents as well as one of the wittiest, and all of us
learnt a lot from the discussion.
The rest of the conference was very intellectual droll and sharp yet
fascinating comments and exchanges between the panel members and then the
questions from the audiences.
It was very interesting and
heartwarming to see such a conference take place here and thanks are due to all
the organizers especially Dr Simon Oliai.
As my wife Syma would say,
your place was empty!
... Payvand News - 12/25/06 ... --