As in other branches of knowledge, our understanding of society expands by studying theory. In European languages, and in Persian, theory has to do with seeing and viewing. Theory as seeing can shed light on social phenomena and therefore enhance our understanding of them. The power of theory can bring to light social, political and cultural events that people encountered for years or even centuries without having a deep understanding of them. Many consider Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) as one of the founders of theoretical approach to understand history and society. In his period many were not even aware that Islamic civilization was declining. Ibn Khaldun, however, not only knew this decline was in process, but also with the aid of theory attempted to explain it and thus propose some solutions.
In some instances in social sciences, theory and political ideology can merge. In this class our goal is to try to stay away from political ideologies. To achieve this goal we should consider the thinkers we study as fallible and capable of making mistakes no matter how much their propositions might be attractive and original. As such, the students are encouraged to read the texts with a critical view. Another way of avoiding political ideologies is to compare and contrast the views of the theorists we study and examine their merits and demerits.
Many of the texts of sociological theory are quite abstract and convoluted from the 19th and 20th centuries written in European languages. When we add the problems associated with translation of these texts into Persian, they become even more challenging. For this reason reading theoretical texts require more patience and meticulous attention. Even though some of the texts we encounter were written more than a century ago, they still can help us gain knowledge of society.