Sunday, January 13, 2019

Schmidt-Biggemann on the earlier philosophia perennis

I have just come across an interesting book on the earlier philosophia perennis, written by Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann, professor of philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin. It is Philosophia Perennis: Historical Outlines of Western Spirituality in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought (Dordrecht: Springer, 2004). This is a somewhat modified version of an earlier book in German,  Philosophia perennis. Historische Umrisse abendländischer Spiritualität in Antike, Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1998).

Schmidt-Biggemann does not consider any modern perennialists, so there is no mention of Guénon or even Blavatsky. His starting point is the Renaissance, from where he proceeds backwards to Proclus and Plato, and then forwards to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. There is a special focus on the Christian Kabbala, on which Schmidt-Biggemann published a monumental three-volume work, in German, in 2012-2013. 

The book is about what Schmidt-Biggemann calls "theological ideas that cannot be separated from philosophical speculation," notably God's self-revelation and the theology of time. This is what gives the book its organisational scheme. Within this, he looks at all the main thinkers of ancient, medieval and early modern perennialism, including--as well as Proclus and Plato--Dionysius the Areopagite, Raymond Lull, Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico, Guillaume Postel, Giordano Bruno, Jakob Böhme, and, finally, Leibniz. He also mentions al-Kindi, whose name he consistently misspells (as "Khindi"), but then he is not a specialist in Arabic thought.

As well as a very wide coverage, the book has some interesting insights. For example:
Seen from the modern perspective of philological historicism, philosophia pernennis was, of course, a syncretistic movement, for it adopted and assimilated all available philosophical topics into its theologico-philosophical system. This was, however, precisely the working idea of perennial philosophy. Since all possible wisdom stemmed from God's original Edenic revelation, no human philosophy could be conceived independent of this origin (xiv-xv). 

Friday, January 04, 2019

Panel on Traditionalism at European Academy of Religion

There will be a panel on "Dynamics of Local and Global Reception of Traditionalism: Reconsidering the Heritage of René Guénon" at the 2019 Conference of the European Academy of Religion, to be held in Bologna, Italy from Monday 4th to Thursday 7th March, 2019.

The panel is on March 7, 16:45-18:45.

Panel abstract:
One of the most influential Philosophers of the 20th century, René Guénon (1886-1951) has left a rich heritage, whose intricate history and ramifications are only beginning to be studied. The aim of this panel is to present some cases of this heritage, insisting on the local factors modeling its reception, as well as on its adaptation to metapolitical and global concerns. Attemptive typologies of the complex reception of Traditionalism will also be proposed and discussed. 
Chair: Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă (University of Erfurt)

  • Marco Giardini (Independent Scholar) - The Journal “L´Ultima” and the Reception of René Guénon in Catholic Italy
    The journal “L'Ultima” occupies a special place in the landscape of Catholic thought between Second World War and the Second Vatican Council, although it has been surprisingly neglected by the majority of scholars of Church History of History of Religions. Marked by a strong eschatological vocation, it gathered several authors who proposed original interpretations of Catholicism inspired by the “traditionalist” current that was taking shape in the mid-twentieth century around the works of René Guénon. In particular, contributors such as Attilio Mordini (1923-1966) and Silvano Panunzio (1918-2010) wrote a considerable amount of articles in which the main aspects of Christian doctrines re-interpreted in line with the metaphysical and cosmological principles that these authors “discovered” in Eastern traditions through the works of Guénon and his first followers. The paper intends precisely to highlight some aspects of Mordini and Panunzio's writings for “L'Ultima” in order to assess the original aspects of what may be called the first organic reception of Guénon's works within Italian Catholic circles, in a way that reveals a very positive stance to the “traditionalist” current in contrast to various forms of criticism leveled to the French metaphysician in previous decades.
  • Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă (University of Erfurt) - A Typology of Romanian Traditionalism
    While the reception of R. Guénon in Romania reached its peak in 30es, not one single profile of the intellectuals involved in this process (M. Avramescu, M. Valsan, V. Lovinescu, A. Dumitriu) was like the other. My paper aims to give these and other actors in this complex reception process their proper historical and cultural contextualization, but also to discuss affinities of other individuals and groups with guénonian thinking. Later reception of Guénon through the reading-group established by V. Lovinescu at the end of the 50es and its reactivation under different auspices after the fall of the Communist regime will also be discussed. The individual intellectual profiles marked by the thinking of Guénon are then to be summed up in a tentative typology of his reception in Romania.
  • Marco Toti (Independent Scholar) - Metapolitics as Esotericism Through Geopolitics. A. Dugin and C. Mutti’s Eurasian Perspective
    This paper aims to focus on the so called “Eurasian perspective”, by way of analyzing some of the most significant topics endorsed by two of its most important spokesmen, the Russian A. Dugin (1962-) and the Italian C. Mutti (1946-): their major sources and essential geopolitical purposes, with special reference to the “heterodoxically metapolitical” rereading of Guénon and Evola, “revised” through a wide spectrum of assorted ideological insertions. In particular, the paper aims to clearly distinguish their perspective from American “apolitical” perennialism (H. Smith, J. Cutsinger). This does not mean that the respective Weltanschauungen could not often converge, although “metapolitical purposes” are irrelevant to the latter. The main point, as we understand it, is the relationship between metapolitics and "pure metaphyscs".