The Crisis of the Modern World
Translator(s): Arthur Osborne; Marco Pallis; Richard C. Nicholson
Editor(s): James R. Wetmore
Page count: 136
ISBN 0-900588-16-0 PB
It is no longer news that the Western world is in a crisis, a crisis that has spread far beyond its point of origin and become global in nature. In 1927, René Guénon responded to this crisis with the closest thing he ever wrote to a manifesto and ‘call-to-action’.
The Crisis of the Modern World was his most direct and complete application of traditional metaphysical principles-particularly that of the ‘age of darkness’ preceding the end of the present world-to social criticism, surpassed only by The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, his magnum opus.
In the present work Guénon ruthlessly exposes the ‘Western deviation’: its loss of tradition, its exaltation of action over knowledge, its rampant individualism and general social chaos. His response to these conditions was not ‘activist’, however, but purely intellectual, envisioning the coming together of Western intellectual leaders capable under favorable circumstances of returning the West to its traditional roots, most likely via the Catholic Church, or, under less favorable ones, of at least preserving the ‘seeds’ of Tradition for the time to come.
It is certainly no accident that so many people at the present time should be obsessed with the idea of the ‘end of the world’, but anyone wishing to appreciate the true character of the present period must possess at least a certain amount of data on the subject.
We shall begin therefore by showing that its characteristic features correspond with the indications supplied from time immemorial by the traditional doctrines regarding the cyclic period of which it forms a part; and this will serve to show that what appears an anomalous is nevertheless a necessary element and an inevitable consequence of the laws governing all manifestation.
However, this is not a reason for submitting passively to the confusion and obscurity which seems to be triumphing; on the contrary, it is a reason for striving to the utmost to prepare the way of escape out of the ‘dark age’, if it be not immediately at hand.
-René Guénon, Condensed from the Preface
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Dark Age
Chapter 2 The Opposition Between East and West
Chapter 3 Knowledge and Action
Chapter 4 Sacred and Profane Science
Chapter 5 Individualism
Chapter 6 The Social Chaos
Chapter 7 A Material Civilization
Chapter 8 Western Encroachment
Chapter 9 Some Conclusions