The Crisis of the Modern World

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The Crisis of the Modern World
Cover of the second, revised English edition
Author(s) René Guénon
Country Hillsdale NY
Language English
Genre(s) Religion
Publisher Sophia Perennis
Publication year 2004
Pages 126
ISBN 0-900588-50-0

The Crisis Of The Modern World is a 126 page long book written by the French author and metaphysician René Guénon, whom is by many considered the "founder" of Traditionalism. The book was first published in French in 1927, and came out in its current English edition in 2001 from the publisher Sophia Perennis. The book is perhaps Guénon's best known, and is probably also his most read.

The book itself is a overview of the metaphysics behind what Guénon consider to be the decay of the modern world. The book is split into nine chapters, where each of these contain about ten pages. The book has for many functioned as a first introduction to Traditionalism, and is considered to be one of the classics within the critique of modern society and metaphysics. Guénon among other things brings up the schism that has occurred between "West" and "East", and why he considers this divide to be artificial and in-beneficial.

From the back of the book

"René Guénon (1886–1951) was one of the great luminaries of the twentieth century, whose critique of the modern world has stood fast against the shifting sands of intellectual fashion. His extensive writings, now finally available in English, are a providential treasure-trove for the modern seeker: while pointing ceaselessly to the perennial wisdom found in past cultures ranging from the Shamanistic to the Indian and Chinese, the Hellenic and Judaic, the Christian and Islamic, and including also Alchemy, Hermeticism, and other esoteric currents, they direct the reader also to the deepest level of religious praxis, emphasizing the need for affiliation with a revealed tradition even while acknowledging the final identity of all spiritual paths as they approach the summit of spiritual realization

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"

The Collected Works of René Guénon brings together the writings of one of the greatest prophets of our time, whose voice is even more important today than when he was alive.

Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions"


  • Editorial Note • XI
  • Preface • 1
  • 1 The Dark Age • 7
  • 2 The Opposition Between East and West • 21
  • 3 Knowledge and Action • 33
  • 4 Sacred and Profane Science • 42
  • 5 Individualism • 55
  • 6 The Social Chaos • 69
  • 7 A Material Civilization • 81
  • 8 Western Encroachment • 97
  • 9 Some Conclusions • 107
  • Index • 119

External links

Publication data

The Crisis of the Modern World, René Guénon, 2001, Sophia Perennis, ISBN 0-900588-50-0