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Ahmad Fardid

Seyyed Ahmad Fardid (Persian: سید احمد فردید) (Born in 1910,[1] Yazd – 16 August 1994, Tehran), born Ahmad Mahini Yazdi,[2] was a prominent Iranian philosopher and a professor of Tehran University. He is considered to be among the philosophical ideologues of the Islamic government of Iran which came to power in 1979. Fardid was under the influence of Martin Heidegger, the influential German philosopher, whom he considered "the only Western philosopher who understood the world and the only philosopher whose insights were congruent with the principles of the Islamic Republic. These two figures, Khomeini and Heidegger, helped Fardid argue his position."[3] What he decried was the anthropocentrism and rationalism brought by classical Greece, replacing the authority of God and faith with human reason, and in that regard he also criticized Islamic philosophers like al-Farabi and Mulla Sadra for having absorbed Greek philosophy.[4]

Fardid studied philosophy at Sorbonne and University of Heidelberg. The sparsity of Fardid’s written work has led to his recognition as an "oral philosopher". This was, to be sure, a puzzling attribute. Although Fardid tried to justify his expository reluctance to the poverty and contamination of the language, (in the Heideggerian sense) some suspect his reticence stemmed from his paralyzing perfectionism.

Fardid coined the concept of "Westoxication" which was then popularized by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad on his then widely known book Gharbzadegi, and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, became among the core ideological teachings of the new Islamic government of Iran. Among those influenced by his thought are also included "the theoretician of Islamic cinema", Morteza Avini,[5] and the former conservative president, Ahmadinejad.[6]

Fardid often instructed his disciples, many of whom later became among the ruling clique of the Islamic government of Iran, to disregard various "westoxicated" concepts such as democracy, civil rights, and tolerance, and instead to return to their "authentic Oriental self".

Fardid's turbulent intellect was absorbed in the enterprise of synthesizing (promisingly or otherwise) the results of his studies of Eastern civilizations with the Western philosophy, as interpreted by Heidegger. Fardid's project remains unfinished and fraught with shortcomings and errors. Nevertheless, it remains an enormously intriguing and valuable endeavor. Heidegger himself on several occasions (including in his encounters with D.T. Suzuki concerning "transmetaphysical thinking" and in his valedictory interview with Der Spiegel) optimistically alluded to the possibility of a convergence of Eastern and Western thought but he never explored the subject matter himself, citing a lack of knowledge and insight about the non-Western universe of discourse. Ahmad Fardid, from his corner, hoped to produce a blueprint for the endeavor, but he only succeeded in vaguely adumbrating certain contours of it. His influence is evident in the work of many philosophers in modern Iran, even if that is left concealed in their biographies and writings due to the criticism that is generally directed at his thinking by intellectuals with liberal and leftist politics.

Early life

Ahmad Fardid was born on September 4, 1910, in the city of Yazd. His father, Seyyed Ali Marvi, was a small scale farmer. In 1922, at the age of 12, he began to attend Islamic and secular schools in Yazd, where he started to learn Arabic, as well as philosophy and mathematics. At the same time, his father employed a private tutor to teach him French.

In 1926, Fardid moved to Tehran to start middle-school at Soltani High School, where he began to attend study meetings with scholars of Islamic studies.

Two years later, in 1928, he commenced classes at Dar ul-Funun, notably the first modern university and modern institution of higher learning in Iran.


  1. ^ Boroujerdi, Mehzad Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumphs of Nativism. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, pp. 63.
  2. ^ Farhang Rajaee, Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press (2010), p. 182
  3. ^ Farhang Rajaee, Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press (2010), p. 183.
  4. ^ Farhang Rajaee, Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press (2010), p. 182
  5. ^ Farhang Rajaee, Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press (2010), p. 181.
  6. ^ Avideh Mayville, "The Religious Ideology of Reform in Iran" in J. Harold Ellens (ed.), Winning Revolutions: The Psychosocial Dynamics of Revolts for Freedom, Fairness, and Rights [3 volumes], ABC-CLIO (2013), p. 311.