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René Guénon quotes (showing 1-30 of 176)

“The profane sciences of which the modern world is so proud are really and truly only the degenerate ‘residues’ of the ancient traditional sciences.”
René Guénon
“The men of today boast of the ever growing extent of the modifications they impose on the world, and the consequence is that everything is thereby made more and more ‘artificial’…”
René Guénon
“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”
René Guénon
“What men call chance is simply their ignorance of causes; if the statement that something had happened by chance were to mean that it had no cause, it would be a contradiction in terms.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World
“The “end of a world” never is and never can be anything but the end of an illusion.”
René Guénon
“It is doubtless true that the masses have always been led in one way or another, and it could be said that their part in history consists primarily in allowing themselves to be led, since they represent a predominantly passive element, a materia in the Aristotelian sense of the word; but in order to lead them today it is sufficient to possess oneself of purely material means, taking the word matter this time in its ordinary sense, and this clearly shows to what depths the present age has sunk; and at the same time these same masses are made to believe that they are not being led, but that they are acting spontaneously and governing themselves, and the fact that they believe this to be true gives an idea of the extent of their unintelligence.”
René Guénon
“It sometimes so happens that people who imagine that they are fighting the devil, whatever their particular notion of the devil may be, are thus turned, without any suspicion of the fact on their part, into his best servants!”
René Guénon
“[Modern scientific] theories can necessarily never be more than hypothetical, since their starting-point is wholly empirical, for facts in themselves are always susceptible of diverse explanations and so never have been and never will be able to guarantee the truth of any theory.”
René Guénon
“Those who might be tempted to give way to despair should realize that nothing accomplished in this order can ever be lost, that confusion, error and darkness can win the day only apparently and in a purely ephemeral way, that all partial and transitory disequilibrium must perforce contribute towards the greater equilibrium of the whole, and that nothing can ultimately prevail against the power of truth.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World
“The falsification of everything has been shown to be one of the characteristic features of our period, but falsification is not in itself subversion properly so-called, though contributing directly to the preparation for it. Perhaps the clearest indication of this is what may be called the falsification of language, taking the form of the misuse of certain words that have been diverted from their true meaning; misuse of this kind is to some extent imposed by constant suggestion on the part of everyone who exercises any kind of influence over the mentality of the public.”
René Guénon
“This now leads us to elucidate more precisely the error of the idea that the majority should make the law, because, even though this idea must remain theoretical - since it does not correspond to an effective reality - it is necessary to explain how it has taken root in the modern outlook, to which of its tendencies it corresponds, and which of them - at least in appearance - it satisfies. Its most obvious flaw 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 to ignorance pure and simple; certain observations of 'mass psychology' might be quoted here, in particular the widely known fact that the aggregate of mental reactions aroused among the component individuals of a crowd crystallizes into a sort of general psychosis whose level is not merely not that of the average, but actually that of the lowest elements present.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World
“Indeed, some of the problems commonly engaging the attention of philosophical thought appear to be deprived, not only of all importance, but of any meaning as well; a host of problems arise resting solely upon some ambiguity or upon a confusion of points of view, problems that only exist in fact because they are badly expressed, and that normally should not arise at all. In most cases therefore, it would in itself be sufficient to set these problems forth correctly in order to cause them to disappear, were it not that philosophy has an interest in keeping them alive, since it thrives largely upon ambiguities.”
René Guénon, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines
“[...] d’ailleurs nous ne pouvons nous empêcher de constater que, comme tous les propagandistes, les apôtres de la tolérance sont très souvent, en fait, les plus intolérants des hommes.”
René Guénon, East and West
“[...] Thus the sedentary peoples create the plastic arts (architecture, sculpture, painting), the arts consisting of forms developed in space; the nomads create the phonetic arts (music, poetry), the arts consisting of forms unfolded in time; for, let us say it again, all art is in its origin essentially symbolical and ritual, and only through a late degeneration, indeed a very recent degeneration, has it lost its sacred character so as to become at last the purely profane 'recreation' to which it has been reduced among our contemporaries.”
René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times
“True ideas do not change or develop, but remain as they are in the timeless 'present.”
René Guénon
“On peut s’expliquer facilement par là un fait que nous avons eu fréquemment l’occasion de constater en ce qui concerne les gens dits « cultivés » ; on sait ce qui est entendu communément par ce mot : il ne s’agit même pas là d’une instruction tant soit peu solide, si limitée et si inférieure qu’en soit la portée, mais d’une « teinture » superficielle de toute sorte de choses, d’une éducation surtout « littéraire », en tout cas purement livresque et verbale, permettant de parler avec assurance de tout, y compris ce qu’on ignore le plus complètement, et susceptible de faire illusion à ceux qui, séduits par ces brillantes apparences, ne s’aperçoivent pas qu’elles ne recouvrent que le néant.”
René Guénon, Perspectives on Initiation
“Europeans, since the days when they began to believe in :progress" and in "evolution," that is to say since a little more than a century ago, profess to see a sign of inferiority in this absence of change, whereas for our part, we look upon it as a balanced condition which Western civilization has failed to achieve.”
René Guénon, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines
“It is also said that Genghis Khan wanted to attack the kingdom of Prester John, but that the latter repulsed him by unleashing thunderbolts against his armies.”
René Guénon
“We cannot help noticing that, like all propagandists, the apostles of tolerance, truth to tell, are very often the most intolerant of men. This is what has in fact happened, and it is strangely ironical : those who wished to overthrow all dogma have created for their own use, we will not say a new dogma, but a caricature of dogma, which they have succeeded in imposing on the western world in general; in this way there have been established, under the pretext of "freedom of thought," the most chimerical beliefs that have ever been seen at any time, under the form of these different idols, of which we have just singled out some of the more important.”
René Guénon, East and West
“il arrive malheureusement parfois que ceux qui croient combattre le diable, quelque idée qu’ils s’en fassent d’ailleurs, se trouvent ainsi tout simplement, sans s’en douter le moins du monde, transformés en ses meilleurs serviteurs !”
René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times
“A word that rose to honor at the time of the Renaissance, and that summarized in advance the whole program of modern civilization is 'humanism'. Men were indeed concerned to reduce everything to purely human proportions, to eliminate every principle of a higher order, and, one might say, symbolically to turn away from the heavens under pretext of conquering the earth; the Greeks, whose example they claimed to follow, had never gone as far in this direction, even at the time of their greatest intellectual decadence, and with them utilitarian considerations had at least never claimed the first place, as they were very soon to do with the moderns. Humanism was form of what has subsequently become contemporary secularism; and, owing to its desire to reduce everything to the measure of man as an end in himself, modern civilization has sunk stage by stage until it has reached the level of the lowest elements in man and aims at little more than satisfying the needs inherent in the material side of his nature, an aim that is in any case quite illusory since it constantly creates more artificial needs than it can satisfy.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World
“A ce propos, il y aurait lieu de se poser certaines questions assez curieuses : ainsi, on pourrait se demander pourquoi la langue chinoise représente symboliquement l’indéfini par le nombre dix mille ; l’expression « les dix mille êtres », par exemple, signifie tous les êtres, qui sont réellement en multitude indéfinie ou « innombrable ». Ce qui est très remarquable, c’est que la même chose précisément se produit aussi en grec, où un seul mot, avec une simple différence d’accentuation... sert également à exprimer à la fois l’une et l’autre de ces deux idées : μύριοι, dix mille ; μυρίοι, une indéfinité.”
René Guénon, La Grande Triade
“Les Occidentaux, toujours animés par ce besoin de prosélytisme qui leur est si particulier, sont arrivés à faire pénétrer chez les autres, dans une certaine mesure, leur esprit antitraditionnel et matérialiste ; et, tandis que la première forme d’invasion n’atteignait en somme que les corps, celle-ci empoisonne les intelligences et tue la spiritualité ; l’une a d’ailleurs préparé l’autre et l’a rendue possible, de sorte que ce n’est en définitive que par la force brutale que l’Occident est parvenu à s’imposer partout, et il ne pouvait en être autrement, car c’est en cela que réside l’unique supériorité réelle de sa civilisation, si inférieure à tout autre point de vue. L’envahissement occidental, c’est l’envahissement du matérialisme sous toutes ses formes, et ce ne peut être que cela ; tous les déguisements plus ou moins hypocrites, tous les prétextes « moralistes », toutes les déclamations « humanitaires », toutes les habiletés d’une propagande qui sait à l’occasion se faire insinuante pour mieux atteindre son but de destruction, ne peuvent rien contre cette vérité, qui ne saurait être contestée que par des naïfs ou par ceux qui ont un intérêt quelconque à cette œuvre vraiment « satanique », au sens le plus rigoureux du mot(*).

(*)Satan, en hébreu, c’est l’« adversaire », c’est-à-dire celui qui renverse toutes choses et les prend en quelque sorte à rebours ; c’est l’esprit de négation et de subversion, qui s’identifie à la tendance descendante ou « infériorisante », « infernale » au sens étymologique, celle même que suivent les êtres dans ce processus de matérialisation suivant lequel s’effectue tout le développement de la civilisation moderne.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World
“« ... La vérité est que la soi-disant bataille de Poitiers n’a jamais existé et que plus de deux siècles plus tard, les Arabes occupaient encore toute la région du sud-est, les Alpes, la Savoye et une partie de la Bourgogne ; l’histoire a été singulièrement falsifiée... Cela vaut les Gaulois représentés comme des sauvages vivant dans les forets. » [Lettre à G., le 1er décembre 1936]”
René Guénon
“Contrairement à ce que pensent les modernes, n’importe quel travail, accompli indistinctement par n’importe qui, et uniquement pour le plaisir d’agir ou par nécessité de « gagner sa vie », ne mérite aucunement d’être exalté, et il ne peut même être regardé que comme une chose anormale, opposée à l’ordre qui devrait régir les institutions humaines, à tel point que, dans les conditions de notre époque, il en arrive trop souvent à prendre un caractère qu’on pourrait, sans nulle exagération, qualifier d’« infra-humain ». Ce que nos contemporains paraissent ignorer complètement, c’est qu’un travail n’est réellement valable que s’il est conforme à la nature même de l’être qui l’accomplit, s’il en résulte d’une façon en quelque sorte spontanée et nécessaire, si bien qu’il n’est pour cette nature que le moyen de se réaliser aussi parfaitement qu’il est possible.”
René Guénon, Initiation and Spiritual Realization
“En voulant séparer radicalement les sciences de tout principe supérieur sous prétexte d’assurer leur indépendance, la conception moderne leur enlève toute signification profonde et même tout intérêt véritable au point de vue de la connaissance, elle ne peut aboutir qu’à une impasse, puisqu’elle les enferme dans un domaine irrémédiablement borné.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World
“The founding of a science more or less on the notion of repetition brings in its train yet another delusion of a quantitative kind, the delusion that consists in thinking that the accumulation of a large number of facts can be of use by itself as ‘proof' of a theory; nevertheless, even a little reflection will make it evident that facts of the same kind are always indefinite in multitude, so that they can never all be taken into account, quite apart from the consideration that the same facts usually fit several different theories equally well. It will be said that the establishment of a greater number of facts does at least give more ‘probability' to a theory; but to say so is to admit that no certitude can be arrived at in that way, and that therefore the conclusions promulgated have nothing ‘exact' about them; it is also an admission of the wholly ‘empirical' character of modern science, although, by a strange irony, its partisans are pleased to accuse of ‘empiricism' the knowledge of the ancients, whereas exactly the opposite is the truth: for this ancient knowledge, of the true nature of which they have no idea whatever, started from principles and not from experimental observations, so that it can truly be said that profane science is built up exactly the opposite way round to traditional science.”
René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times
“[...] Cela n'autorise-t-il pas à dire que la suprême habileté du diable, de quelque façon qu'on le conçoive, c'est de faire nier son existence ?”
René Guénon, The Spiritist Fallacy
“[...] The movement of the celestial bodies can be given as an example. It is not exactly circular, but elliptic; the ellipse constitutes as it were a first “specification” of the circle, by the splitting of the center into two poles or “foci” in the direction of one of the diameters which thereafter plays a special “axial” part, while at the same time all the other diameters are differentiated one from another in respect of their lengths. It may be added incidentally in this connection that, since the planets describe ellipses of which the sun occupies one of the foci, the question arises as to what the other focus corresponds to; as there is nothing corporeal actually there, there must be something belonging only to the subtle order; but that question cannot be further examined here, as it would be quite outside our subject.”
René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times
“Dans le domaine des opinions individuelles, on peut toujours discuter, parce qu’on ne dépasse pas l’ordre rationnel, et parce que, ne faisant appel à aucun principe supérieur, on arrive facilement à trouver des arguments plus ou moins valables pour soutenir le « pour » et le « contre » ; on peut même, dans bien des cas, pousser la discussion indéfiniment sans parvenir à aucune solution, et c’est ainsi que presque toute la philosophie moderne n’est faite que d’équivoques et de questions mal posées. Bien loin d’éclaircir les questions comme on le suppose d’ordinaire, la discussion, le plus souvent, ne fait guère que les déplacer, sinon les obscurcir davantage ; et le résultat le plus habituel est que chacun, en s’efforçant de convaincre son adversaire, s’attache plus que jamais à sa propre opinion et s’y enferme d’une façon encore plus exclusive qu’auparavant.”
René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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