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The Crisis of the Modern World, or The Dark Ages of Materialism

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posted on Mar, 3 2016 @ 08:34 PM
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"The crisis of the modern world" is the title of a book written by René Guénon in 1927. By reading it, you will have the impression that it has been written yesterday, and yet almost 100 years have passed. It is a deep critique of the modern world. I agree with the diagnostic but I disagree with the proposed solution to some extent. You can read a translation from French to English here tohno-chan.com...

To summarize the book is one sentence : we have killed god, but we haven't replaced it. It's more complicated than that but I think it's a fair and short description.

The modern world is a rupture, not just a progress or an evolution
This modern world, for the author, is focused on what the ancient peoples, before modernity, rejected : pure materialism. And this is exactly why the author considers that we have arrived at the end of a cycle : because the modern world has made the choice to take into consideration what all others have rejected. To give an image : it's the end of the sales period when you arrive, and what is left to buy is what no one else wanted to buy. The modern world is a rupture with the traditional world because materialistic activities are not guided by a higher principle anymore as they were in the traditional world, and the materialistic activity has become the one and only activity, the start and the end of any human enterprise. The author admits that modernity has its place and its time, but that it shouldn't prevent us from calling it as it should be : a monstrosity.

The opposition of Eastern world versus Western world
For the author, there is contemplation and there is action. The East(China, India, Muslim world) is mainly contemplation but doesn't reject action, and considers action as subordinated to contemplation. While the West has rejected contemplation completely and has erected action as its only mode of functioning. Civilisations can understand each other if they have contemplation in common, even if they have superficial differences. Contemplation is superior to action just as the immutable is superior to what is changing : change has to refer to something immutable to even become possible. Contemplation leads to real knowledge, to wisdom : action without contemplation is vain.

Traditional science versus modern science
In the traditional world, everything is subordinated to a metaphysical questioning. Modern science can lead nowhere because it cuts everything into little pieces and this cannot lead to wisdom, this cannot lead to a truth of the whole, understandable at the human level. If one day we find that behind atoms, electrons, photons and all that, there is just nothing, a void, what will we do, what will we say, what would have been the value of the path that we followed so deeply, always going further from the human level truth ? As examples of traditional science, the author gives alchemy and astrology : alchemy was a materialistic activity as much as it was a spiritual activity, and the same can be said about astrology. It is often thought that alchemy 'evolved' into chemistry, and astrology into astronomy, but the author argues that it wasn't a "progress" but in fact a degeneration, a devolution, because in the process of modernization, something was lost, something has been forgotten, and we ended up with less, not with more : we had something materialistic but subordinated with the spiritual, and we ended up with something just materialistic. The author is not saying that it has no value, he says that all knowledge has value but only if it is linked to something of higher meaning. Distinction is not separation, but modern science acts as if everything was separated. The engineer in the modern world is considered the most knowledgeable, the savant, but this is because in the modern world obsessed with materialism and only materialism, only practical applications have value. Everything that can't be measured, that can't be weighted is considered something of no value, or even simply non-existent. Knowing everything there is to know about atoms can only lead to practical applications. Alchemists in the past called those who were only interested in the materialistic side, in the chemistry, "burners of coal", because for them it was absurd and stupid.

[page 54] This is why 'profane science', the science of the moderns, can as we have remarked elsewhere be justly styled 'ignorant knowledge', knowledge of an inferior order confining itself entirely to the lowest level of reality, knowledge ignorant of all that lies beyond it, of any aim more lofty than itself, and of any principle that could give it a legitimate place, however humble, among the various orders of knowledge as a whole. Irremediably enclosed in the relative and narrow realm in which it has striven to proclaim itself independent, thereby voluntarily breaking all connection with transcendent truth and supreme wisdom, it is only a vain and illusory knowledge, which indeed comes from nothing and leads to nothing.


This following quote is very reminiscent of what is happening today, nearly 100 years later(page 99).


But let us cease anticipating and turn to present events: the West is undeniably encroaching everywhere; its influence first made itself felt in the material domain, since this comes most directly within its reach, working through conquest by violence or through commerce, and by securing control over the resources of other countries; but now things are going still further. Westerners, always animated by that need for proselytism which is so exclusively theirs, have succeeded to a certain extent in introducing their own antitraditional and materialistic outlook among other peoples; and whereas the first form of invasion only affected men's bodies, this newer form poisons their minds and kills all spirituality. In point of fact, it was the first kind of invasion that made the second one possible, so that it is ultimately only by brute force that the West has succeeded in imposing itself upon the rest of the world, as, indeed, must necessarily be the case, since in this sphere alone lies the superiority of its civilization, so inferior from every other point of view. The Western encroachment is the encroachment of materialism under all its guises and cannot be other than this; none of the more or less hypocritical veils, none of the moralistic pretexts, none of the humanitarian declamations, none of the wiles of a propaganda that knows how to be insinuating the better to achieve its destructive ends, none of these things can gainsay that Western encroachment is the encroachment of materialism; this could be disputed only by the gullible, or by those who have an interest in aiding a process that is truly 'satanic' in the strictest sense of the word. It is extraordinary that the very moment that Western encroachmentis penetrating everywhere is the moment chosen by some people to raise a cry against the peril, dreadful for them, of a supposed infiltration of Eastern ideas into the West; what new aberration can this be?




posted on Mar, 3 2016 @ 08:36 PM
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The author talks about many other subjects, and even if you totally disagree with what he has to say, it will make you think. I personally agree with 95% of his diagnostic, but I disagree with his solution, which is a return to tradition, whatever this tradition may be : for the West it's Christianity. René Guénon has been a mason, a Christian and he died a Muslim. So he is not attached to this or that tradition, but he sees that in a traditional world, there is room for contemplation and interiority. He also talks a lot about Hinduism too.

While reading, an image came to my mind : there is a cabin lost in the middle of a very big forest. The cabin represents the immutable certainties that accompanied humans for very long, it is very comfortable compared to the forest which seems hostile. At some point, some people wanted to explore the forest, and it became inevitable that some would get lost. Some would become cannibals, some would just die, some others would find a way to barely survive, but all of them have forgotten about the cabin and the certainties that it contained. We are in this situation right now, we are exploring, aimlessly.

There is no denying that the modern world is hyper-materialist, but it wouldn't be a problem if it was hyper-spiritual at the same time, but that's not the case. For many people, science = technology, because science today has only one value : the practical applications that it can produce. Knowledge is only valuable if it has an immediate usefulness. Consumerism, productivism, advertisement, entertainment, etc, : all this is the result of a modern world obsessed with materialism, and humans themselves have value only if they can produce something. Those who chose the path of contemplation are often looked down upon and called "lazy", etc..

We need a higher purpose, a higher principle. Human rights ? Humanistic values ? They are not applied, or they are incomplete. I personally believe they are incomplete and also not applied. But what is sure is that we are not going back. We have to keep advancing and invent something, find something to replace what we have left behind. But what is sure is that we're not going to find that in pure materialism.

I often talk about hard science versus social science, their respective efficiency and respective level of advancement. The rupture with the traditional world has been so abrupt, and the promises of the pure materialistic endeavour so numerous that we thought that it was over, that the game was over, that we had found the path and that we just had to pile up progress milestones and that everything would be fine. We thought that shiny materialism was all there is. But in the process of moving from a traditional society towards a modern society, we have certainly lost something. Since we are not going back, we have to keep going with what we have. I personally think that social sciences are not playing their role at all, they have very little effect on society, or if they have an effect it's to push for more materialism. Social sciences tell us that economic inequalities lead to behavioural problems, crimes etc.., but inequalities just keep growing. Social sciences tell us that the advertisement craziness leads to frustration and depression, but what we see is more and more ads. Social sciences tell us many things that we don't apply, because it's not exactly in the domain of pure materialism..

We are effectively living in the dark ages of materialism.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 12:59 AM
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Your post is a nice beacon of light. Thanks.

In the traditional ways of most first world countries, we worked with nature to produce foods, medicine, transportation, homes, etc. Our works followed the pace set by nature, rising and setting with the sun. Today we look to submit nature to our will. Trying to twist, warp and mend how we want reality to be, as if we are gods, but only fools we are. Things are the way they are because thats how it can work perpetually.

We traded what has worked for thousands of years for something that in a short span of a hundred years has generated more problems on a social, environmental, economical and spiritual level than ever before. The love of money has really spread its wings and we are seeing what one has underlined so well thousands of years ago.

Also the culture of destroying or rejecting the past which is being engrained with media and education like a mantra repeated over and over, which gives our misguided youth reassurance in their choice. Even the subtle suggestion that science is always changing will never stay the same, that truth is only temporary and everything can change. That traditions are useless, old analog mechanisms.

The funny thing is, when we read about our said dellusional, hallucinating ancestors, who carefully logged what their ancestors told them. We realize that this has already happenned. Anyway that is my take on it.

My last post on another thread exposes one of the big problems that this obsession with playing with nature has led to.

Goodnight.

edit on 4-3-2016 by bitsforbytes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 02:45 AM
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originally posted by: gosseyn
"The crisis of the modern world" is the title of a book written by René Guénon... To summarize the book is one sentence : we have killed god, but we haven't replaced it. It's more complicated than that but I think it's a fair and short description.

God forbid that I ever write a book that some wag cal summarize in a single sentence and disclaimer! *__-
I just found that interesting, in that it seemed that he was describing 'God' when he said;

"Every kind of partial and transitory disequilibrium must perforce contribute towards the great equilibrium of the whole.."

The Great Equilibrium Of The Whole!
One!


The modern world is a rupture, not just a progress or an evolution
calling it as it should be : a monstrosity.

Where is the sanity in the (moralizing) 'judgment' of That Which Is?
We vain monkeys 'judging' the Universe?

Besides, comes to mind;

"We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are!"


The opposition of Eastern world versus Western world
For the author, there is contemplation and there is action. The East(China, India, Muslim world) is mainly contemplation but doesn't reject action, and considers action as subordinated to contemplation. While the West has rejected contemplation completely and has erected action as its only mode of functioning. Civilisations can understand each other if they have contemplation in common, even if they have superficial differences. Contemplation is superior to action just as the immutable is superior to what is changing : change has to refer to something immutable to even become possible. Contemplation leads to real knowledge, to wisdom : action without contemplation is vain.

All seems nicely balanced to me;

"Every kind of partial and transitory disequilibrium must perforce contribute towards the great equilibrium of the whole.."


Traditional science versus modern science
In the traditional world, everything is subordinated to a metaphysical questioning. Modern science can lead nowhere because it cuts everything into little pieces and this cannot lead to wisdom,

Jeez, he sounds the doddering old man, rhapso-whining about 'the good old days'!
Yes! Science brings great understanding and knowledge of very little things, uniquely so!
You want 'wisdom'?, then it's to 'philosophical thought we'll be a'movin'!
All 'sciences' are feeder branches on the tree of philosophy!

Nothing ever changes but Perspective!


this cannot lead to a truth of the whole, understandable at the human level. If one day we find that behind atoms, electrons, photons and all that, there is just nothing, a void, what will we do, what will we say,

Turns out that at this 'level' behind all 'appearances', all the make-believe Reality, all is 'quantum probability wave field'; information waves'; 'Mindstuff'!
A single 'thought', seen from 'infinite' unique Conscious Perspectives (Us), all at the same moment!
The Universe, ever, IS the Singularity!



The author is not saying that it has no value, he says that all knowledge has value but only if it is linked to something of higher meaning.

So, that is his arbitrary and vain opinion of things in which HE find's 'value'?
All 'value' exists solely in the thoughts/imagination of the beholder!
No one ever split a diamond and found anything called a 'value'.
We think/imagine(ego)all 'value'!


Distinction is not separation, ... whine...whine...whine... supreme wisdom, it is only a vain and illusory knowledge, which indeed comes from nothing and leads to nothing.

Yes, from generation to generation, the great continuity is that there's no fool like an old fool!
"Back in the good ole days..."
(Time for a nap!*__-)
I only regret that he is not here, himself, to answer my charges of 'old-man-ism'!


This following quote is very reminiscent of what is happening today, nearly 100 years later(page 99).

But let us cease anticipating and turn to present events: the West is undeniably encroaching everywhere; its influence first made itself felt in the material domain...

Same song, whine...
But what, exactly are WE doing?
How are WE the "change that we want to see"?
Are we still 'schizo-sapiens' or are we the advance guard of homo-illuminatus, Enlightened Man?
Enlightenment = unconditional Love!

"We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are!"

True, unconditional Love is ALWAYS recognized by It's unconditional Virtues; Compassion, Empathy, Sympathy, Gratitude, Humility, Charity (charity is never taking more than your share of anything, ever!), Honesty, Happiness, Faith...
ALWAYS!

Do we live it, or whine about not seeing it?



edit on 4-3-2016 by namelesss because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 11:59 AM
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If you read the book, you will understand that he is not really talking about god, or religion, and that he is not even talking about tradition for the sake of tradition. He is really talking about a guiding principle, that unifies, in the minds of men, the apparent multiplicity of matter. He is saying that we lost that, and he is right. A modern society obsessed with materialism can only see the multiplicity, which makes the universe look like it is just a bunch of separated and isolated elements. Without a guiding principle, without a principle that represents the whole, every action is an aimless action. And aimless action is exactly what this modern world is about, and we can see it in every domain of activity. There is no purpose anymore. It is like a football player who would never know in which direction he has to progress with the ball : yes, he plays with the ball, but it makes no sense, it is just senseless agitation. Materialism has become the alpha and the omega of everything.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 12:13 PM
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originally posted by: gosseyn
If you read the book, you will understand that he is not really talking about god, or religion, and that he is not even talking about tradition for the sake of tradition. He is really talking about a guiding principle, that unifies, in the minds of men, the apparent multiplicity of matter. He is saying that we lost that, and he is right. A modern society obsessed with materialism can only see the multiplicity, which makes the universe look like it is just a bunch of separated and isolated elements. Without a guiding principle, without a principle that represents the whole, every action is an aimless action. And aimless action is exactly what this modern world is about, and we can see it in every domain of activity. There is no purpose anymore. It is like a football player who would never know in which direction he has to progress with the ball : yes, he plays with the ball, but it makes no sense, it is just senseless agitation. Materialism has become the alpha and the omega of everything.

The 'conditional' duality of 'thought/imagination (ego) divides, schizophrenically fragmernts that which is One!

Enlightenment/unconditional Love unites all, unconditionally!
We have been schizo-sapiens for about 130,000 years.
We won't be in just a couple centuries.
Homo-illuminatus!
Universal Enlightenment!



posted on Mar, 9 2016 @ 08:10 PM
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Materialism seems to have taken the wheel on this ride. Its wild to think how far people really have engrossed themselves with material possessions. A thirst that will never be quenched. I'm sure looking around at your peers you will see it everywhere, the "need" for more...as if it will fill the black hole within themselves. Work more, spend more, acquire more, repeat. Like everything I believe moderation is the key. The technology available to us in this materialistic age is mind blowing and amazing, even more amazing to me is how it is being abused. People must return to their "tradition" what ever that may be. I cant tell you and neither can anyone else. One must look inwards and discover their truth. Once a balance is found the possibilities will only be limited to our minds ability to create. It will truly be amazing.



posted on Nov, 10 2017 @ 01:32 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn

Good write up, thanks for sharing your views on this.
I really appreciate them and enjoyed reading a well thought out and interesting thread.



posted on Nov, 10 2017 @ 01:39 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn

There was a man named Sayyid Qutb who believed in helping the poor and doing good things for the betterment of the community. One day, he came to the US and was appalled by the rampant materialism there and that it's spreading to the Muslim world.

However, unfortunately he fell to the Dark Side and decided that his solution was violent jihad and the implementation of Sharia Law.
edit on 11/10/2017 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)



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