Seyyed Ahmad Fardid (Persian: سید احمد فردید) (Born in 1912, Yazd – 16 August 1994, Tehran), born Ahmad Mahini Yazdi, was a prominent Iranian philosopher and an inspiring and dedicated 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." 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.
Fardid studied philosophy at Sorbonne university 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, and the former conservative president, Ahmadinejad.
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 DT 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.
Ahmad Fardid has been widely denounced by prominent Iranian intellectuals such as Abdolkarim Soroush and Dariush Ashuri as a total fraud; and perhaps this is due to their own political commitments rather than being as such on purely philosophical grounds. Mahmoud Sadri, himself a student of Fardid in the seventies, has rejected such virulent ad hominem attacks on Fardid in an article for www.iranian.com. Fardid rejected Human Rights declaring it a Western notion, and an instance of "Westoxication". Fardid often instructed his disciples, many of whom later became among the ruling clique of the Islamic government of Iran, to disregard such "westoxicated" concepts as democracy, civil rights, and tolerance, and instead to return to their "authentic Oriental self". Fardid was also a conspiracy theorist and an avid anti-Semite.
Abdee Kalantari has described Fardid as "a terrorist with 'philosophical' gloves". Introducing Dariush Ashuri's famous exposé documenting Fardid's fraudulent scholarship, and the horrendous consequences of his anti-west, nativist views and teachings, Kalantari wrote:
Those who remember the little clownish figure of Fardid on TV (Beyond the West and the East), with his stern but funny gestures and incomprehensive phrases, would enjoy the debunking of the ‘depth’ of this cartoon figure. But when they reach the final pages, blood is everywhere! They will be touched by an apt comparison and contrast with Sadegh Hedayat, whose gentle countenance lies silently next to the cold, pale, sleeping figures of all those murdered writers in morgue; all the victims who saw through the Oriental spirituality and anti-modern postures. Reminiscent of the work of Aramesh Dustdar thirty years ago, here Mr. Ashouri points his finger at, and then stirs some, the swamp. Fardid is dead but little Fardids are all around us. And not just of religious stripe. They come in all varieties: secular, left, right, liberal …When will this cycle end?My wish is to be free from the modern cave, which is filled with self-founded nihilism, enchantment by earthly gods (taghutzadegi), and historicism. This is my ideal, and wherever I see a lack of angered fists and the prevalence of compromise, I will be disappointed... because to possess and insist on a position is the right move.
Weststruckness has dominated us for a hundred years... The youth are looking for the God of the yesteryears and that of the future. They are looking for the God of the Qur᾽an, while the nihilistic and self-founded history of the contemporary world has put down deep roots among us.
Democracy means the asceticism of taking refuge in Satan.
There is no way to find democracy in the Qur’an. The Islamic Government is achieving the truth of the” day before yesterday” and the “day after tomorrow.”’ Democracy belongs to Greece, and they embody idolatry.
Humanism has nothing to do with the human. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is no trace of the human… It is all about liberty, equality, and fraternity of the ego (nafsi ammarah) and the satanic self.
In accordance with Heidegger, I put forward a historical position [mowghef]. Mankind is in a historical age when God is absent, the true God... Now, human is the Truth which is apparent, that, human is god, and the Greek taghut [idolatry] embodies the human. This is the humanism that I previously mentioned: humanism and human taghut [idolatry].
Mysticism's one eye has been blinded by wahdat al-vojud ("the Unity of Being'), and the other one has been blinded by Bergson. According to Bergson, there is turbulence in the world. Where is presence ? Where is God ? I hope the human dies of the unrest. This intrinsic (natural) wisdom [esnokherad], which is like darkness, appears like lightness for Bergson. Bergson's gnosis one of the examples of Westoxification. In fact, there is no gnosis in the West. During the last four hundred years, philosophy in the West has focused on the actually existing reality (mowjud). In fact, you can not find any question about "existence" [vojud] in the nineteenth century, and all discussion were centered on mowjud.