René Guénon

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René Guénon in 1925.

René-Jean-Marie-Joseph Guénon (15 November 1886 – 7 January 1951) was a French traditionalist, metaphysician, and scholar of religions. His work was influential in the development of the Traditionalist School and would go on to influence many metaphysicians of the 20th century.


René Guénon's writings are based on the idea of a 'primordial Tradition' in which an original metaphysics was revealed in pre-historical antiquity, and was preserved within the various religions of our day. This is discussed within his first book an Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, where Hinduism is used as an example of a religious tradition in which Traditional metaphysics has survived. Part of Tradition, and central to much of Guénon's work, is the idea of initiation. Guénon believes the initiatory process involves a spiritual transmission, and cannot therefore occur without a master who's own initiation is itself valid and can be traced back to the initial primordial Tradition. For this reason, it is impossible for one to initiate alone, and it is similarly impossible for a religion which has lost it's initiatory path to regain it without drawing from another religious tradition which retains it. Guénon's strict emphasis on valid initiation is one of elements of Tradition on which he and Julius Evola disagree.

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