Philosopher Kings

If one were to dig or scratch beyond the surface of the news headlines which touch on the economic issues of our time and on the political dysfunction that we often hear and see, one finds through an analysis and observation stemming from “a metaphysical point of view” that the economics and politics of modernity have a social basis and teleology. In turn, the social basis and teleology of economic and political dysfunction in a modern world is “the degradation of knowledge” and thus “a perversion of the intellect.”

As René Guénon argued, the social basis of the “the crisis of the modern world” can be explained by history and specifically the transition from the ‘Middle Ages’ to the ‘Renaissance Age’:

“[Since the Middle Ages] there was only ‘profane’ philosophy and ‘profane’ science, in other words, the negation of true intellectuality, the limitation of knowledge to its lowest order, namely, the empirical and analytical study of facts divorced from principles, a dispersion in an indefinite multitude of insignificant details, and the accumulation of unfounded and mutually destructive hypotheses and of fragmentary views leading to nothing other than those practical applications that constitute the sole real superiority of modern civilization – a scarcely enviable superiority, moreover, which, by stifling every other preoccupation, has given the present civilization the purely material character that makes of it a veritable monstrosity.”

Guénon also saw modernity’s outlook towards history as playing a very big role in this modern “monstrosity,” which is constituted largely by the notion that “previous civilizations had no use.” Guénon added:

“To confirm this fact, it is enough to observe how the genuine and traditional representatives of such of the more ancient civilizations as have endured in the East up to the present appraise Western sciences and their industrial applications. These lower forms of knowledge, so worthless to anyone possessing knowledge of a different and higher order, had nevertheless to be realized, but this could not occur except at a stage where true intellectuality had disappeared. Such research, exclusively practical in the narrowest sense of the word, was inevitable, but it could only be carried out in an age at the opposite pole to primordial spirituality, and by men so embedded in material things as to be incapable of conceiving anything beyond them. The more they have sought to exploit matter, the more they have become its slaves, thus dooming themselves to ever increasing agitation without rule or objective, to a dispersion in pure multiplicity leading to final dissolution.”

In sum: “Such, in broad outline and taking note only of essentials, is the true explanation of the modern world.” In turn, modernity constitutes “a civilization that recognizes no higher principles” and is based solely on “a negation of principles,” thus inhibiting and stifling “mutual understanding” with other civilizations who ascribe to higher principles of a metaphysical nature.

Thus, in order to overcome “the crisis of the modern world,” what is required is the formation of a Western “intellectual elite” possessing “real knowledge of the Eastern doctrines” which is “essential to [the intellectual elite] in the fulfillment of its functions.” Why the aforementioned is the actual solution to “the crisis of the modern world” which manifests in an economic and political sense is because the crisis is one based on the degradation of knowledge and the intellect, as mentioned before. In turn, the position of the Western masses amidst this arrangement is basically one of passivity and receptivity, given that this arrangement “will be beyond their perception, though nonetheless real and effective.” But this does not mean that the masses would be unable to “reap the benefits” of the work done by this “intellectual elite.” The most potent barrier between the masses and their being able to “reap the benefits” of such work is the status quo’s inclination towards erecting barriers to education as well as censorship and suppression of information. Such is the manner by which our state of affairs stands at the moment.

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