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Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century
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Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  110 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
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.
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
A fascinating book about the Traditionalist movement, told through the life stories of Rene Guènon, Julius Evola, Sayyid Hossein Nasr and several of its other major proponents. Traditionalism was created as a response to the disenchantment of the world by secular modernity. It was intended to revive mankind’s spiritual life and reverse the catastrophic collapse of values and meaning in the contemporary world. As part of this effort Traditionalism helped spur new movements expressed through Sufi ...more
Matthew W
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
"Against the Modern World" is the only book that academically documents the history of what is known as Traditionalism (or "Guenonism"), an ambition secret metaphysical intellectual movement that rejects the values of the modern world, originally sprouted and heavily influenced by René Guénon.

Traditionalists have attempted to influence the world within various world revolutions/movements/sects/what-have-you, but have mostly failed. My interest in reading this book came from the fact that Julius
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. Period. I was hoping for an in-depth study of Rene Guenon (1886-1951) and the anti-modernist spiritual movement called Tradtionalism. The purported premise of Traditionalism (which seeks to reverse the effects of the Enlightenment and return human society to theocentrism, something akin to getting the genie back into the lamp.

Traditionalism can be described as a throw-back to the thought of Marcilio Ficono (1533-1599) who posed that there was a primordial unity to all religio
Tim Pendry
May 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Specialists in esoteric or extremist political history
A useful addition to the intellectual history bookshelf. Sedgwick explores the highways and by-ways of that mode of thinking which brings perennialism, initiation into a tradition and anti-modernism together to make a potent brew that has had effects on areas as diverse as the academic study of religion (Eliade), Western engagement with Islam (Guenon), Italian right wing terrorism (Evola) , Iranian Islamic thought (Nasr) and Russian politics (Dugin and the National Bolsheviks) amongst many other ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
I will most definitely not be recommending this self-promoting work which is tabloidesque, market-driven, and loaded with errors.
Sean Sullivan
Sep 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
I never said I had refined tastes. Anytime a book has got “secret” and “intellectual history” in the subtitle, I am definitely interested. Plus, its published by Oxford University Press, so how bad could it be?

Pretty bad actually.

A note to all my academic motherfuckers out there reading this – pick a neat subject matter, like, say, bonkers Europeans interested in fascism, masons and Sufism, and a publisher will sign you up, even if you can’t write your way out of paper bag.

A note to Mr. Sedgwick
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Ari by: Cosma Shalizi
Traditionalism might be one of the more important intellectual trends you've never heard of. The basic principles are that all ancient religions embody true wisdom -- and the same true wisdom. This wisdom has been lost from the modern world, and the way to recover it is to find yourself an ancient religion, and join it. The Traditionalists were especially enthusiastic about Hinduism, Buddhism, and (Sufi) islam.

This book unhappily has the usual vices of academic writing. It's an exhaustive -- an
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
There is some interesting info gathered here, but there are many errors. Eliade and Dugin do not belong in the same category as Guenon and Evola. Eliade was partially influenced by Guenon but did not accept some major tenets of traditional metaphysics (in fact, he did not really understand it) and Dugin is just a rhetorician/politician who takes some inspiration from the general ideas of Guenon and similar authors.

It could be a good starting point, but those interested should just read the rele
Британський історик Марк Седжвік стверджує, що його книга це перша спроба написати історію традиціоналізму. Традиціоналізм тут слід розуміти не в широкому сенсі, як синонім консерватизму. Йдеться про конкретний напрямок думки, започаткований Рене Геноном у 1920-х роках і розвинений його послідовниками.

Написати історію цього явища не така проста задача, як може здатись, бо більшість традиціоналістичних організацій намагались широко не афішувати свої діяльність, або взагалі були таємними. Седжвік
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Certainly one of the most entertaining while informative studies in the history of religion you can read. His methodology could be better, as well as the structuring, but then again histories with multiple locations and foci is (well, because, it's history) no linear thing. Highly recommended!
Yousef Shaaban
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars for the light shed on Guenon's life.
John Aaron
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Profound and Critical Study of an Influential - but Often Hidden, Philosophy

Like many others, I was influenced by the Traditionalists without actually reading Guenon or Schuon. Their pretensions, lack of serious scholarship, and simply ridiculous ideas were enough to keep me away. But their followers? Huston Smith? Eliade? I took their works very seriously - as did many others - without seeing the underlying - and frankly disguised - assumptions.

Traditionalism has influenced every area of rel
Roger Green
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although this book is largely about a small group of intellectuals, Sedgwick is able to show the far-ranging impact of Traditionalist thinkers such as René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Julius Evola, Frithjof Schuon, and Mircea Eliade. At times aligned with far-right politics, these thinkers' sentiments are weirdly echoed in current anti-globalization nationalisms and the populist spread of conservatism.
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Leave it to orientalists.....
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