If you want to go where people are reading Hannah Arendt and Karl Popper, Nafisi has admonished, “go to Iran”. Go to Iran, I would add, if you want to discover where people are reading Jürgen Habermas, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kolakowski and Immanuel Kant. “There have been more translations of Kant into Persian in the past decade than into any other language”, reports Vali Nasr , “and these have gone into multiple printings”. Abdollah Momeni, the leader of Iran’s most prominent student-activist group (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), claims Habermas as his chief inspiration. The speeches and writings of Akbar Ganji, Iran’s leading dissident, are peppered with references to Kant, John Stuart Mill and Albert Camus.
Indeed, there are often “more vibrant resonances of ‘Continental’ thought” in countries like Iran, notes the political philosopher Fred Dallmayr, “than can be found in Europe today”.
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