quotes

On democracy

The most decisive argument against democracy can be summed up in a few words; the higher cannot proceed from the lower, because the greater cannot proceed from the lesser; this is an absolute mathematical certainty that nothing can gainsay. (p.73)

If the word ‘democracy’ is defined as the government of the people by themselves, it expresses an absolute impossibility and cannot even have a mere de facto existence – in our time or in any other. One must guard against being misled by words: it is contradictory to say that the same persons can be at the same time rulers and ruled, because, to use Aristotelian terminology, the same being cannot be ‘in act’ and in potency’ at the same time and in the same relationship. (p. 74)

Its most obvious flaws is the one we have just mentioned: the opinion of the majority cannot be anything but an expression of incompetence, whether this be due to lack of intelligence or too ignorance pure and simple; certain observation of ‘mass psychology’ might be quoted here… (p.75)

On equality

It would be quite easy to show that equality can nowhere exist, for the simple reason that there cannot be two beings who are at the same time really distinct and completely alike in every respect; and it would be no less easy to bring out all the ridiculous consequences arising out of this fantastical idea, in the name of which men claim to impose a complete uniformity on everyone, in such ways for example as by making out identical teaching to all, as though all were equally capable of understanding the same things, and as though the same methods for making them understand these things were suitable for all indiscriminately.

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 70

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On facts and hypothesis

Modern experimentalism also involves the curious illusion that a theory can be proven by facts, whereas in reality the same facts can always be equally well explained by several different theories; some of the pioneers of the experimental method, such as Claude Bernard, have themselves recognized that they could interpret facts only with the help of preconceived ideas, without which they would remain ‘brute facts’ devoid of all meaning and scientific value.

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 47

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On originality

It is also an important consideration for these philosophers to be able to put their name on a ‘system’, that is, to a strictly limited and circumscribed set of theories, which shall belong to them and be exclusively their creation; hence the desire to be original at all costs, even if truth should have to be sacrificed to this ‘originality’: a philosopher’s renown is increased more by inventing a new error than by repeating a truth that has
already been expressed by others.

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 56

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On intuition

This leads us to repeat an essential point on which not the slightest ambiguity must be allowed to persist: intellectual intuition, by which alone metaphysical knowledge is to be obtained, has absolutely nothing in common with this other ‘intuition’ of which certain contemporary philosophers speak: the latter pertains to the sensible realm and is in fact sub-rational, whereas the former, which is pure intelligence, is on the contrary supra-rational. But the moderns, knowing nothing higher than reason in the order of intelligence, do not even conceive of the possibility of intellectual intuition…

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 41

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On religion

Protestantism denied the authority of the organization qualified to interpret legitimately the religious tradition of the West and in its place claimed to set up ‘free criticism’, that is to say any interpretation resulting from private judgment, even that of the ignorant and incompetent, and based exclusively on the exercise of human reason. What happened in the realm of religion was therefore analogous to the part to be played by rationalism in philosophy: the door was left open to all manner of discussions, divergencies, and deviations; and the result could not but be dispersion in an ever growing multitude of sects, each of which represents no more than the private opinion of certain individuals. As it was impossible under such conditions to come to an agreement on doctrine, this was soon thrust into the background, and the secondary aspect of religion, namely morality, came to the fore: hence the degeneration into moralism so patent in present-day Protestantism. There thus arose a phenomenon, parallel to that to which we have referred in the case of philosophy, as an inevitable consequence of the dissolution of doctrine and the disappearance from religion of its intellectual elements. From rationalism, religion was bound to sink into sentimentalism, and it is in the Anglo-Saxon countries that the most striking examples of this are to be found. What remains is therefore no longer even a dwindling and deformed religion but simply ‘religiosity’, that is to say vague and sentimental aspirations unjustified by and real knowledge.

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 61

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On ’something higher’

It seems that nothing exists for modern men beyond what can be seen and touched; or at least, even if they admit theoretically that something more may exist, they immediately declare it not merely unknown but unknowable, which absolves them from having to think about it.

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 83

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On the obtaining of truth

Modern man, instead of attempting to raise himself to truth, seeks to drag truth down to his own level.

Guénon the crisis of the modern world p. 66

On truth

It is highly significant that there is no longer any question here of ‘truth’, but only of a ‘reality’ that is reduced exclusively to the sensible order and conceived as something essentially changing and unstable; with such theories, intelligence is reduced to its lowest part, and reason itself is no longer admitted except insofar as it is applied to fashioning matter for industrial uses. After this there remained but one step: the total denial of intelligence and knowledge altogether and the substitution of ‘utility’ for ‘truth’. […] This, in its main outlines, is the course that ‘profane’ philosophy, left to itself and claiming to limit all knowledge to its own horizon.

Guenon the crisis of the modern world p. 58

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On individualism

Individualism necessarily implies the refusal to accept any authority higher than the individual, as well as any means of knowledge higher than individual reason; these two attitudes are inseparable. Consequently the modern outlook was bound to reject all spiritual authority in the true sense of the word, namely authority that is based on the supra-human order, as well as any traditional organization, that is, any organization based essentially on this authority be its form – for the form will naturally vary with each civilization.

Guénon the crisis of the modern world p. 60/1