Wisdom and Profane Philosophy

Philosophy is an art. This word is quite amusing. The 6th century civilizations, for example, are termed as "Legendary" ones by moderns, whereas the recently discovered archeological data leaves no doubt about its being a true and concrete civilization as the Graeco-Latin or any other is, the former to which the moderns claim their present civilization as nothing but a continuation. Whereas, on the other hand, this term philosophy has retained its name throughout the Western history starting from the time it was first expressed, perhaps by the Pythagorian traditionalists. And more amusingly, even when this term has exerted so much harmful influence on the Western mind and still continues by threatening the intellectual health of East, as well, it plays the same profane role it began to play centuries ago with the emergence of skepticism, a true downfall of intellectus. Having said that, in the following passage Rene Guenon, a Tradtionalist and Perennialist, gives proper treatment to the term philosophy, the origins of "profane philosophy" and of what is associated with both of it.

"[T]he word philosophy can, in itself, be taken in quite a legitimate sense, one which it doubtless bore originally, especially if it be a fact, as is commonly believed, that Pythagoras was the first to make use of the expression. Etymologically it simply means "love of wisdom"; in the first, therefore, it implies the prerequisite disposition for the attainment of wisdom and, by a natural extension, it comes to mean also the quest which is born of this disposition and which will presently lead to knowledge. It therefore denotes a preliminary and preparatory stage, a step, as it were, in the direction of wisdom ore a degree corresponding to a state inferior to that of wisdom; the perversion of meaning which occured later consisted in maistaking this transitional stage for an end in itself and in attempting to substitute phislosophy for wisdom, a process which implied forgetting or failing to recognize the true nature of the latter. It was in this way that what may be described as "profane" philosophy came into existence, an alleged wisdom, that is to say, purely human in character and therefore pertaining merely to the rational order, which became substituted for the genuine supra-rational and non-human traditional wisdom.However, something of this genuine wisdom persisted throughout the whole of antiquity; the proof is to be seen in the continuation of the "mysteries" with their undeniably initiatic character, and also in the fact that the teaching of the philosophers themselves usually possessed both an "exoteric" and an "esoteric" side, the latter providing the possibility of connection with a higher point of view, as we see revealed very clearly, if in certain respects incompletely, some centuries later among the Alexandrians. For "profane" philosophy to be definitely constituted as such it was necessary that exotericism alone should survive and that esotericism should be repudiated altogether; this was precisely what the movement started by the Greeks was to lead to in the modern world; the tendencies which had already found expression among the Greeks were destined to be driven to their logical conclusion and the excessive importance which they had attached to rational thought was to prepare the way for the development of "rationalism", a specifically modern attitude of mind which no longer merely consists in just ignoring everything belonging to the supra-rational order, but deliberately disavows it..."
"The Crisis of the Modern World", Ch # 1,
by René Guénon.

I would profess anyone to read this lengthy paragraph without dividing it, and I tried to present the background of it in the introductory passage of this post. Writings of René Guénon are no way "analysis", but "synthesis" which makes his articles too excellent. And they should be looked and understood as "whole" in order to penetrate their so-called density.

3 did criticisms:

Kadri said...

While philosophy is a quest to find wisdom, wisdom is to know that you know nothing.

M. Umer Toor said...

You've described it acutely...

Salman Latif said...

In modern-world, philosophy has indeed become synonymous to reiterating the priorly-reached notions though in some newer way and the end to which it was to lead has entirely been disregarded by today's philosophers.

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