Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century / Edition 1by Mark Sedgwick
Pub. Date: 06/03/2004
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Against the Modern World is the first history of Traditionalism, an important yet surprisingly little-known twentieth-century anti-modern movement. Comprising a number of often secret but sometimes very influential religious groups in the West and in the Islamic world, it affected mainstream and radical politics in Europe and the development of the field of religious studies in the United States, touching the lives of many individuals.
In the nineteenth century, at a time when progressive intellectuals had lost faith in Christianity's ability to deliver religious and spiritual truth, the West discovered non-Western religious writings. From these beginnings grew Traditionalism, emerging from the occultist milieu of late nineteenth-century France, and fed by the widespread loss of faith in progress that followed the First World War. Working first in Paris and then in Cairo, the French writer Rene Guenon rejected modernity as a dark age, and sought to reconstruct the Perennial Philosophy -- the central religious truths behind all the major world religions -- largely on the basis of his reading of Hindu religious texts. Guenon's works stressed the urgent need for the West's remaining spiritual and intellectual elite to find both personal and collective salvation in the surviving vestiges of ancient religious tradition.
A number of disenchanted intellectuals responded to Guenon's call with attempts to put theory into practice. First in Europe, then in America and the Islamic world, Traditionalists founded institutes, Sufi brotherhoods, and Masonic lodges. Some published very successful books. Some attempted without success to guide Fascism and Nazism along Traditionalist lines; others later participated in political terror in Italy. Traditionalism finally provided the ideological cement for the alliance of antidemocratic forces in post-Soviet Russia, and at the end of the twentieth century began to enter the debate in the Islamic world about the desirable relationship between Islam and modernity. Although its appeal in the West was ultimately limited, Traditionalism has wielded enormous influence in the field of religious studies, through the work of such eminent Traditionalists as Ananda Coomaraswamy, Huston Smith, Mircea Eliade, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr.
Against the Modern World tells the previously untold story of how this far-flung intellectual movement helped shape twentieth-century religious life, politics, and scholarship, all the while remaining invisible to outside observers.
- Oxford University Press, USA
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Table of Contents
|List of Main Characters||xiii|
|Part I||The Development of Traditionalism|
|3.||Gnostics, Taoists, and Sufis||55|
|Part II||Traditionalism in Practice|
|4.||Cairo, Mostaganem, and Basel||73|
|Part III||Traditionalism at Large|
|9.||Terror in Italy||179|
|Part IV||Traditionalism and the Future|
|11.||Europe after 1968||207|
|12.||Neo-Eurasianism in Russia||221|
|13.||The Islamic World||241|
|14.||Against the Stream||263|
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