MAHDAVI, Yaḥyā (b. Tehran, spring 1287 Š./1908; d. Tehran, 1379 Š./2000; Figure 1), professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran and a leading translator of Western philosophical works. Mahdavi was the son of Ḥājj Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Amin-al-Żarb and the grandson of Ḥājj Moḥammad-Ḥasan Amin-al-Żarb, the famous 19th-century businessman and industrialist. Mahdavi learnt reading and writing from his home tutors and studied the Koran and some classical Persian texts at home. His father was strict with the education of his children and did not allow his children to leave the house without an escort or a chaperone (lala). Yaḥyā was allowed by his father to attend the Dār al-Fonun, which he entered as a junior and finished the last two grades in a single year, graduating in 1928. The faculty at Dār al-Fonun included such renowned scholars as Badiʿ-al-Zamān Foruzānfar, ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓim Qarib, ʿAbbās Eqbāl Āštiāni, Masʿud Kayhān, and Ḥosayn Gol-Golāb, who in future became colleagues of Mahdavi at the university.

Mahdavi continued his education at Tehran Teachers College (Dār al-moʿallemin-e ʿāli, later Daneš-sarā-ye ʿāli) from 1928 until 1931. He was among the first students to graduate from this college with a bachelor's degree. In 1931, he received a scholarship from the state and went to France to continue his education there until 1938, when he wrote his doctoral thesis under the supervision of André Lanlande and Emile Bréhier. He returned to Persia in the same year and, after doing his military service, joined the Faculty of Literature at the University of Tehran as associate professor. He was later promoted to full professorship (1941), chaired the Department of Philosophy, and taught there until 1973, when he retired, but, as professor emeritus (ostād-e momtāz), he continued to teach a few courses in the doctoral program at the Department of Philosophy and also supervise theses. Throughout his years of association with the university, he donated the salary he received to the university press to be spent on publishing books on literary and philosophical topics. His contributions enabled the university to publish many books in these fields.



For more details of Mahdavi's biography and contributions, see Ḥasan Sayyed ʿArab and ʿAli-Aṣḡar Moḥammad-ḵāni, eds., Mahdavi-nāma: jašn-nāma-ye Ostād Doktor Yaḥyā Mahdavi, Tehran, 1999; and Eṭṭelāʿāt, no. 21995, 6 Šahrivar 1379 Š./27 August 2000.


Original publications:

Jāmeʿa-šenāsi yā ʿelm al-ejtemāʿ: moqaddamāt wa oṣul, Tehran, 1943 (the first book on modern sociology in Persian).

Fehrest-e nosḵahā-ye moṣannafāt-e Ebn Sinā (Bibliography of Ebn Sinā's works), Tehran, 1954.

Works edited:

(with Mojtabā Minovi), Moṣannafāt-e Afżl-al-Din Moḥammad Maraqi Kāšāni, 2 vols., 1952-58.

(with Mojtabā Minovi) Avicenna's Ketāb ʿoyun al-ḥekma, Tehran, 1954.

(with Mehdi Bayāni) Tarjama wa qeṣṣahā-ye Qorʾān, mobtani bar Tafsir-e Abu Bakr ʿAtiq Nišāburi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1959.

Čand qeṣṣa az čand sura-ye Qorʾān, Tehran, 1959.

Qeṣaṣ-e Qorʾān-e majid, bargerefta az Tafsir-e Abu Bakr ʿAtiq Nišāburi, Ganjina-ye motun-e irāni 66, Tehran, 1968.

(with Iraj Afšār), Haftād maqāla: armaḡān-e farhangi ba Doktor Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Ṣadiqi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1991-93.


Félicien Challaye, Philosophie scientifique et philosophie morale (classes de philosophie et de mathématiques élémentaires), tr. as Šenāḵt-e ravešhā-ye ʿolum yā falsafa-ye ʿelmi, Tehran, 1944.

Paul Foulquié, Philosophie generale, tr. as Falsafa-ye ʿomumi yā mā baʿd al-ṭabiʿa, baḵš-e tamhidi, Tehran, 1968.

Jean André Wahl, Traité de métaphysique ... cours professés en Sorbonne, tr. as Baḥṯ dar mā warāʾ al-ṭabiʿa, Tehran, 1991; this translation was done in collaboration with a number of other scholars; Mahdavi, however, rendered most of the translation and did the editing of the entire work; it won the Book of the Year Award in 1992.

An anthology of philosophical papers, selected from Roger Verneaux's Historie de la philosophie contemporaine, Jean Wahl's Les Philosphies de l'existance , and some other papers, published as Negāh-i be padidār-šenāsi wa falsafahā-ye hast budan, Tehran, 1993.

Gottfried W. Leibniz, Monadologie, Tehran, 1996 (received the Book of the Year Award).

Victor Brochard,Les Sceptiques grecs, asŠa kkākān-e Yunān, Tehran, 1997.

An abridged version of Emile Bréhier's Histoire de la Philosophie: Moyen Age et la Renaissance as Tariḵ-e falsafa-ye qorun wosṭā wa dawra-ye tajaddod, Tehran, 1998.

Paul Faulquié, Traité élémentaire de Philosophie III: Metaphysique, as Hasti-šenāsi, Tehran, 1999. This was Mahdavi's last contribution.

(Moḥammad Kᵛānsāri & EIr)

December 15, 2008

(Moḥammad Ḵᵛānsāri and EIr)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: December 15, 2008