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Excerpt Taken from the Foreword
Quite paradoxically, it is sometimes more difficult to find a title than to write a book; one always knows what one wishes to say, but one does not always know what to call it. It is true that the difficulty does not result from the nature of things, for one could follow the example of Rumi and entitle a work A Book Which Contains What It Contains (Kitab fihi ma fihi); but we live in a world which is little inclined to accept such a defiance of usage and which obliges us to remain within a relative intelligibility. Thus we will choose the title of the first chapter: "To Have a Center," which introduces in its way the subsequent chapters, treating of anthropology at all its levels and also, further on, of metaphysics and spiritual life.
There is the order of principles, which is immutable, and the order of informationtraditional or otherwiseof which one can say that it is inexhaustible: on the one hand, not everything in this book will be new for our usual readers and, on the other hand, they will nonetheless find here precisions and illustrations which may have their usefulness. One never has too many keys in view of the "one thing needful," even if these points of reference be indirect and modest.
We acknowledge that this volume contains subjects which are very unequal: one will find a chapter on the art of translating, another on vestimentary art and another still on a question of astronomy. But in spirituality every thing is related: one always has the right to project the light of principles onto subjects of lesser importance, and it is a matter of course that one often is obliged to do so. As the Duke of Orleans said: "All that is national is ours" which we paraphrase in recalling that all that is normally human, hence virtually spiritual, enters ipso facto into our perspective; and "it takes all kinds to make a world."
After what we have just said, the question may be asked whether the sophia perennis is a "humanism", the answer would in principle be "yes," but in fact it must be "no" since humanism in the conventional sense of the term de facto exalts fallen man and not man as such. The humanism of the moderns is practically a utilitarianism aimed at fragmentary man; it is the will to make oneself as useful as possible to a humanity as useless as possible. As to integral anthropology, we intend, precisely, to give an account of it in the present book.