Ekim 9, 2022
şuradan Gayrneşriyatı
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René Guénon was a 20th-century French scholar of mysticism and religion who wrote prolifically on the crisis of Western thought at the end of the 19th century. He believed that modern science and philosophy had abandoned any sense of the sacred in their search for “truth”, opening up a void filled by materialist thinking and empty intellectual games. In his view, this was leading to more than just intellectual confusion: It had made possible disastrous world events such as world wars, communism, and atheism. The many short books that he published during his lifetime continue to be read today largely because they contain so much insight into current events (and also perhaps because they are so easy to read). As you might expect from someone with such strong views, Guénon’s writings have provoked controversy—especially when it comes to subjects like esoteric Christianity and Freemasonry. Between 1921 and 1930, the work was debated in intellectual circles in general and more particularly in Catholic circles, around Jacques Maritain; then, it gave rise to its own network around the Traditional Studies, heirs to the Veil of Isis, and survivors of the occultist world; the “anti-modernists” who were left bewildered by the decline of the intellectual influence of the Church joined this group. After 1930 and his installation in Cairo, the question of the change of life that the work implied directed differently the readers in search of initiation; in addition to the masonry, they are Sufi or neo-Sufi groups which were formed with converts, including the sheikh of the tariqa. Some groups of Christian esotericism also tried to form. At the same time, Guénon’s influence spread to the general public, as his works were reissued, while his positions had ceased to be debated in the Parisian intellectual world and the university was only marginally interested in them. Outside of France, a comparable situation can be found mainly in Italy.

Guénon begins by considering the epistemological revolution of the late 19th century, when the idea of knowledge based on “intuition” was discarded in favor of a new emphasis on “reason”. He suggests that this revolution was actually a “counter-revolution” (or “rebellion”) against the rise of science and the method of scientific investigation, which was just coming into its own. Guénon believes that this was a huge mistake and was based on a fundamental error. He describes the rationalist approach as “a mania for the logical”. He feels that it is an attempt to dismantle the world into a series of bits and pieces that can be easily explained. But he thinks that this is impossible, because the world is above all a “synthesis” of different elements. And he says that the real purpose and value of science lies in its ability to synthesize phenomena. Guénon considers the rationalist method of breaking everything down into tiny fragments to be a kind of “sorcery”, because it can be used to create illusions as well as to analyze reality. He thinks that scientists actually use it in order to mystify their findings, just as a magician does when he performs a trick. Guénon argues that the late 19th century’s celebration of the “scientific outlook” was really something of a cult. “Materialist culture”, as he calls it, was based on the idea that everything in the world can be reduced to matter, or a series of “causes and effects”. He says that the materialists “regarded the universe as a machine and man as a mere fragment of that, and they imagined they could explain everything by a kind of perpetual motion”. He explains that in this worldview everything is reduced to “mass and energy”, and human beings are just biological machines. He says that the rise of modern science led to the “systematization of common sense” and made it into an all-encompassing worldview. But he thinks that the modern worldview is “one-sided and partial”, because it is only concerned with “the visible and the quantifiable”. Guénon further argues that the modern scientific method is in fact a form of “specialization” and “concentration”, which are really just “other names for distortion”. He points out that the method of reasoning by “analysis” alone always fails to grasp the “intellectual essence” of any subject, because it is incapable of “comprehending anything in its entirety and by its intrinsic value”. He suggests that the modern worldview is ultimately only “a compulsion and a mania”, because the materialists are not really interested in truth, but only in “mechanical” explanations. He says that the “very nature” of the scientific method means that it cannot “lead to any other result”. Guénon believes that the crisis of Western thought in the late 19th century can be traced back to the spread of materialism. He traces this back to the Masonry movement, which he feels was the first modern intellectual movement to be influenced by materialism. Guénon explains that Freemasonry is essentially “a negation of all that is generally called religion and a substitution for it of a kind of general humanitarianism”. He feels that the values that Freemasonry is based on—such as human solidarity, liberty, and equality—are all “perfectly legitimate”. But he thinks that the Masons have “swept them into a general current that is essentially materialistic”. In Guénon’s view, Freemasonry is “a negation of whatever is traditional” and “an affirmation of whatever is modern”. He considers the Masons to be “the apostles of modernity”, who are “constantly extolling the advantages of everything that is new”. He points out that the Masons have no “positive doctrine” and no “intellectual basis”, but only a “general humanitarianism” that is compatible with a wide variety of “ideas”. Guénon also claims that Freemasonry has a political “programme” and a “hidden purpose”, which is to create “an overturning of traditional principles and ideas”. He says that the Masons are “at war with the social order as it has been established in all parts of the world” and “see in any state of civilization whatsoever only the barbarism of the social unit”. Guénon argues that “modern thought” consists of three basic assumptions: That man is superior to the natural world, that the supernatural does not exist, and that “everything in the world is a product of human reason”. He considers the last of these to be the most dangerous assumption, because it means that humans “consider themselves capable of understanding everything by their own efforts alone”. He points out that modern scientists do not really “explain” phenomena, but rather “recreate” them in a laboratory setting. Guénon believes that the modern view of nature is completely “erroneous” and is based on the “illusion that is inherent in all things purely human”. He says that modern thinkers believe that they have discovered “the laws of nature”, when they have actually “discovered only the laws of their own thought”. Guénon thinks that this view of the “laws of nature” is based on “incomplete observation” that is “more or less accidental”. He believes that this view of nature is based on the assumption that “everything in the natural world is only a compound of mechanical and chemical processes”. He points out that science can never be more than “a mere description of things as they are manifested to the senses, i.e., to the intellect that observes them”, because it can never “break through the barrier formed by the senses”. Guénon concludes that modern science has failed to grasp “the reality that lies behind phenomena”, because it has “conceived of the laws of nature as being applicable only to the material world, and has failed to extend them to the world of ideas”.

According to Guénon, the end of the Middle Ages was the scene of a rupture that subsequently marked the whole of the modern West: that of a rejection of spiritual inspiration and, more globally, of Tradition, which was henceforth excluded from the domains of political, religious and social organization. Beyond the multiplicity of its external forms – it has manifested itself in the West through Christianity and in the East through a specific type of Islam – Tradition and the profound truth it conceals is unique and goes beyond what is strictly human. It is a kind of spirit, an inspiration entirely turned towards the knowledge of first principles, beyond any contingency or particular intellectual system. It is therefore, according to Guénon, the only knowledge in the real sense; pure metaphysics in the deepest sense of the term. Its mode of approach is essentially vertical and starts from the highest principles in order to try to grasp their manifestation under various forms in the order of the contingent. This attachment to first principles is the pillar of this Tradition whose depositaries can only be an intellectual elite capable of freeing itself from the historical and intellectual data specific to each era in order to grasp the universal, the unchanging and the true. The traditional spirit is thus fundamentally turned towards contemplation, and is apprehended by the intellectual intuition, organ of access to true knowledge par excellence. It is also oriented towards the understanding of the deep meaning of symbols which, often confused today with simple allegory, are in reality, for those who know how to grasp their true meaning, true keys to the superior and unchanging worlds. The Tradition is thus constituted by a whole set of sciences, rites and initiatory practices whose ultimate goal is to establish a link between man and his Creator, the knowledge of which will allow him to realize himself spiritually by developing all his intellectual and spiritual potentialities. It had a golden age during the Middle Ages when it developed through Christianity while being conveyed by multiple esoteric and initiatory societies such as the Order of the Temple, the Knighthood of the Holy Grail, or the Faithful of Love. This prosperous period continued until the end of the 14th century, the beginning of the break-up of Christendom, the awakening of nationalities, and the starting point of the emergence of the modern world two centuries before the Renaissance and the Reformation, which were only the consequences of this fundamental movement begun a few centuries earlier. This process also led to the emergence of a whole set of individualistic doctrines sacralizing man and denying any principle superior to him, as well as a whole lot of contradictory doctrines elaborated by researchers, not driven by the quest for truth, but rather by a thirst for recognition leading each one to want to construct “his” own truth. Judging this individualistic approach erroneous, Guénon affirms on the contrary that “a true idea cannot be ‘new’, because truth is not a product of the human mind, it exists independently of us, and we only have to know it”. Consequently, it becomes impossible to claim ownership of a theory or an idea. The latter exists by itself, and offers itself to the vision of any mind capable of receiving and understanding it by intuition. Guénon also deplores the very disappearance of the notion of “truth” in favor of a “reality” reduced essentially to the apprehension of the sensible order. In this wake, he also observes a tendency to make psychology and the human sciences principles of explanation of all human behavior, including in the spiritual realm. Underlying Guénon’s work is a tenuous call, for those who know how to hear it, for the reconstitution of an elite capable of assuming the heritage and awakening consciences to the presence of this traditional spirit. However, its emergence proves to be more and more improbable in a system where the taught knowledge is impregnated with scientism and rationalism. Indeed, the massification of a knowledge confined to the material domain leads to direct all the preoccupations on the side of the material, leading not to the negation of what is of the order of the supra-material – to deny a thing allowing at least to think it -, but rather to a much more harmful indifference.

There is an “apophatical” vision, a negative exegesis of the master’s thought in the initiatory groups which have been based exclusively on it: if ” the others ” were true ” Guenonians “, they would have joined them. This being said, if one considers that adherence to the totality of the master’s argumentation is the only criterion of “Guénonism”, the greatest names among his intellectual disciples (he always refused the function of spiritual master, of guru) of the first generation, as well as those of the present second generation, would find themselves de facto excluded. Belonging to a family of mind seems to me the most important element, it allows a reading that is both critical and respectful of the ends that the work proposes to itself, that is to say, to arouse research and initiate the work of inner development without which it has no meaning.

Kaynak: Gayrnesriyat.substack.com