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THE CRISIS OF THE MODERN WORLD
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THE CRISIS OF THE MODERN WORLD
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About the Book:

In The Crisis of the Modern World, published for the first time in 1927, he writes a relentless and radical criticism of the modern world, revealing its shallowness and its spiritual destitution when confronted with the traditional civilization. 70 years later, his words are still amazingly present and fully valid, but there is something that has definitely changed: the traditional East that Guenon sets against the modern West has disappeared in a great measure as Asia has taken, by its own choice or by the force of circumstances, to the same road than the West. The reflexions of Guenon about the modern world are in a big extent applicable to the India of today, in danger of being submerged by the strong glow of modern ways and conceptions and of forgetting the spiritual base that was always the foundation of its civilization and that was the main cause for its unique survival through so many centuries.

 

Foreword

When writing East and West a few years ago, we thought we had said all that was required, at least for the time being, concerning the questions dealt with in that book. Since then, however, events have followed one upon another with ever increasing speed, and while this has not made it necessary to alter a single word of what we have written, it provides an opportunity for certain additional explanations and for the de- velopment of lines of thought which we did not feel called upon to stress in the first instance. These explanations have become the more imperative since we have recently seen re- affirmed in a distinctly aggressive manner some of those very confusions we had already tried to dispel. For this reason, while carefully holding aloof from all controversies, it has seemed to us advisable to present matters once more in their true perspective. In this connection there are certain consid- erations, often of a quite elementary nature, which appear so alien to the vast majority of our contemporaries, that in order to make them generally understood it is necessary to return to them again and again, presenting them in their various aspects and explaining more fully, as circumstances permit, any points likely to give rise to difficulties which could not al- ways be foreseen from the outset.

The very title of the present volume calls for some initial explanation if what it means is to be clearly understood and all misrepresentation thus prevented. Many no longer doubt the possibility of a world crisis, using the latter word in its most usual acceptation 1, and this in itself marks a very notice- able change of outlook: by sheer force of circumstance certain illusions are beginning to vanish, and for our part we cannot but rejoice that this is so, for it is at any rate a favourable symptom and a sign that a readjustment of the contemporary mentality is still possible, a glimmer of light, as it were, in the midst of the present chaos. In keeping with this, the belief in an endless "progress", which was held until recently as a sort of intangible, indisputable dogma, is no longer so general; there are those who perceive, though in a vague and confused manner, that the civilization of the West may not always go on developing in the same direction, but may some day reach a point where it will stop, or even be plunged in its entirety into some cataclysm. It is possible that such persons do not see clearly where the danger lies: the fantastic or puerile fears they sometimes express are proof enough that their minds still harbour many errors; but it is at any rate something that they realize there is a danger, even if it is felt rather than really un- derstood; it is something too that they can conceive that this civilization with which the moderns are so infatuated holds no privileged position in the history of the world, and that it may meet the same fate which has befallen so many others that have already disappeared at more or less distant epochs, and some of which have left traces so slight as to be hardly noticeable, let alone recognizable.

Consequently, when it is said that the modern world is in the throes of a crisis, this is usually taken to mean that it has just reached a critical phase, or, in other words, that a more or less complete transformation is imminent, which implies that sooner or later a change of trend must inevitably ensue: whether voluntarily or no, whether suddenly or more gradu- ally and whether attended or not by catastrophe remains to be seen. This acceptation of the word crisis is perfectly legiti- mate and corresponds in part to what we ourselves think, but in part only, for the point of view we hold is a more general one, and for us it is the modern epoch as a whole which is a period of crisis; that is why we entitle this book The Crisis of the Modern World. It seems, however, that the crisis is near- ing its solution, and this has the effect of emphasizing still further the abnormality of the state of affairs which has al- ready existed for some centuries, though the consequences were never before so apparent as they are now. This is also the reason for the increasing speed with which events are now unfolding themselves: such a state of affairs may doubtless continue for some time longer, but not indefinitely, and even without being able to assign a definite time limit, one has the impression that it cannot last very much longer.

But the word "crisis" contains other implications also which make it an even more apt term for what we wish to ex- press: indeed, its etymology -which is often lost sight of in current usage, but which it is necessary to refer to if one wishes to restore to the word its full significance and original value- its etymology makes it to some extent synonymous with the words "judgement" and "discrimination". The phase which can properly be termed critical in any order of things is the one which immediately precedes a solution, no matter whether it be favourable or unfavourable, one that is to say, in which a turn is taken for better or for worse; it is therefore the phase in which it is possible to pass judgement on the results achieved, to balance the pros and the cons, to classify the re- sults to a certain extent, some as positive and others as nega- tive, and to see which way the balance will swing in the end. We do not aim, of course, at giving a classification that will be at all complete: to do so would be premature, since the crisis is not yet ended and since it is perhaps impossible even to say exactly when and in what manner it will end. It is al- ways preferable to refrain from prognostications which cannot be based on grounds clearly intelligible to all, and which would therefore be apt to be misinterpreted and add to the confusion instead of relieving it. All that we can undertake now is to contribute up to a point and as far as the means at our disposal allow, towards making such as are capable of it aware of some of the consequences which seem already fully established. By so doing we shall be preparing the ground, albeit in a partial and rather indirect manner, for those who must play their part in the future "judgement", following which a new era will open in the history of mankind.

Certain of the expressions just used will doubtless awaken in the minds of some the idea of what is called the Last Judgement, or Doomsday, and, indeed, not incorrectly, though whether this be understood literally or symbolically or in both ways -since the two conceptions are not in reality mutually exclusive- is here of little consequence; nor is this the place or moment for a fuller explanation of this point. In any case, the mention earlier on of balancing pros and cons and dividing the results into positive and negative may well have suggested the division of the "chosen" and the "damned" into two groups to be thus immutably fixed hence- forward. Even if this is but an analogy, one must admit that it is valid, well founded and in conformity with the very nature of things, and this point calls for further explanations.

 

Contents

 

Sno Title Page no
  Foreword 7
I. The dark age 15
II. The opposition between East and West 31
III. Knowledge and action 44
IV. Sacred and profane science 55
V. Individualism 71
VI. The social chaos 87
VII. A material civilization 101
VIII. Western encroachment 911
IX. Some conclusions 131

 

Sample Pages


THE CRISIS OF THE MODERN WORLD

Item Code:
IDD705
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
1999
Publisher:
Indica Books, Varanasi
ISBN:
81-86569-11-1
Language:
English
Size:
8.5" X 5.5"
Pages:
142
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 240 gms
Price:
$16.50   Shipping Free
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About the Book:

In The Crisis of the Modern World, published for the first time in 1927, he writes a relentless and radical criticism of the modern world, revealing its shallowness and its spiritual destitution when confronted with the traditional civilization. 70 years later, his words are still amazingly present and fully valid, but there is something that has definitely changed: the traditional East that Guenon sets against the modern West has disappeared in a great measure as Asia has taken, by its own choice or by the force of circumstances, to the same road than the West. The reflexions of Guenon about the modern world are in a big extent applicable to the India of today, in danger of being submerged by the strong glow of modern ways and conceptions and of forgetting the spiritual base that was always the foundation of its civilization and that was the main cause for its unique survival through so many centuries.

 

Foreword

When writing East and West a few years ago, we thought we had said all that was required, at least for the time being, concerning the questions dealt with in that book. Since then, however, events have followed one upon another with ever increasing speed, and while this has not made it necessary to alter a single word of what we have written, it provides an opportunity for certain additional explanations and for the de- velopment of lines of thought which we did not feel called upon to stress in the first instance. These explanations have become the more imperative since we have recently seen re- affirmed in a distinctly aggressive manner some of those very confusions we had already tried to dispel. For this reason, while carefully holding aloof from all controversies, it has seemed to us advisable to present matters once more in their true perspective. In this connection there are certain consid- erations, often of a quite elementary nature, which appear so alien to the vast majority of our contemporaries, that in order to make them generally understood it is necessary to return to them again and again, presenting them in their various aspects and explaining more fully, as circumstances permit, any points likely to give rise to difficulties which could not al- ways be foreseen from the outset.

The very title of the present volume calls for some initial explanation if what it means is to be clearly understood and all misrepresentation thus prevented. Many no longer doubt the possibility of a world crisis, using the latter word in its most usual acceptation 1, and this in itself marks a very notice- able change of outlook: by sheer force of circumstance certain illusions are beginning to vanish, and for our part we cannot but rejoice that this is so, for it is at any rate a favourable symptom and a sign that a readjustment of the contemporary mentality is still possible, a glimmer of light, as it were, in the midst of the present chaos. In keeping with this, the belief in an endless "progress", which was held until recently as a sort of intangible, indisputable dogma, is no longer so general; there are those who perceive, though in a vague and confused manner, that the civilization of the West may not always go on developing in the same direction, but may some day reach a point where it will stop, or even be plunged in its entirety into some cataclysm. It is possible that such persons do not see clearly where the danger lies: the fantastic or puerile fears they sometimes express are proof enough that their minds still harbour many errors; but it is at any rate something that they realize there is a danger, even if it is felt rather than really un- derstood; it is something too that they can conceive that this civilization with which the moderns are so infatuated holds no privileged position in the history of the world, and that it may meet the same fate which has befallen so many others that have already disappeared at more or less distant epochs, and some of which have left traces so slight as to be hardly noticeable, let alone recognizable.

Consequently, when it is said that the modern world is in the throes of a crisis, this is usually taken to mean that it has just reached a critical phase, or, in other words, that a more or less complete transformation is imminent, which implies that sooner or later a change of trend must inevitably ensue: whether voluntarily or no, whether suddenly or more gradu- ally and whether attended or not by catastrophe remains to be seen. This acceptation of the word crisis is perfectly legiti- mate and corresponds in part to what we ourselves think, but in part only, for the point of view we hold is a more general one, and for us it is the modern epoch as a whole which is a period of crisis; that is why we entitle this book The Crisis of the Modern World. It seems, however, that the crisis is near- ing its solution, and this has the effect of emphasizing still further the abnormality of the state of affairs which has al- ready existed for some centuries, though the consequences were never before so apparent as they are now. This is also the reason for the increasing speed with which events are now unfolding themselves: such a state of affairs may doubtless continue for some time longer, but not indefinitely, and even without being able to assign a definite time limit, one has the impression that it cannot last very much longer.

But the word "crisis" contains other implications also which make it an even more apt term for what we wish to ex- press: indeed, its etymology -which is often lost sight of in current usage, but which it is necessary to refer to if one wishes to restore to the word its full significance and original value- its etymology makes it to some extent synonymous with the words "judgement" and "discrimination". The phase which can properly be termed critical in any order of things is the one which immediately precedes a solution, no matter whether it be favourable or unfavourable, one that is to say, in which a turn is taken for better or for worse; it is therefore the phase in which it is possible to pass judgement on the results achieved, to balance the pros and the cons, to classify the re- sults to a certain extent, some as positive and others as nega- tive, and to see which way the balance will swing in the end. We do not aim, of course, at giving a classification that will be at all complete: to do so would be premature, since the crisis is not yet ended and since it is perhaps impossible even to say exactly when and in what manner it will end. It is al- ways preferable to refrain from prognostications which cannot be based on grounds clearly intelligible to all, and which would therefore be apt to be misinterpreted and add to the confusion instead of relieving it. All that we can undertake now is to contribute up to a point and as far as the means at our disposal allow, towards making such as are capable of it aware of some of the consequences which seem already fully established. By so doing we shall be preparing the ground, albeit in a partial and rather indirect manner, for those who must play their part in the future "judgement", following which a new era will open in the history of mankind.

Certain of the expressions just used will doubtless awaken in the minds of some the idea of what is called the Last Judgement, or Doomsday, and, indeed, not incorrectly, though whether this be understood literally or symbolically or in both ways -since the two conceptions are not in reality mutually exclusive- is here of little consequence; nor is this the place or moment for a fuller explanation of this point. In any case, the mention earlier on of balancing pros and cons and dividing the results into positive and negative may well have suggested the division of the "chosen" and the "damned" into two groups to be thus immutably fixed hence- forward. Even if this is but an analogy, one must admit that it is valid, well founded and in conformity with the very nature of things, and this point calls for further explanations.

 

Contents

 

Sno Title Page no
  Foreword 7
I. The dark age 15
II. The opposition between East and West 31
III. Knowledge and action 44
IV. Sacred and profane science 55
V. Individualism 71
VI. The social chaos 87
VII. A material civilization 101
VIII. Western encroachment 911
IX. Some conclusions 131

 

Sample Pages


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