Thursday, June 01, 2023

New book on Traditionalist thought published (coming soon in US)

Mark Sedgwick, Traditionalism: The Radical Project for Restoring Sacred Order is now available in Europe and Canada. Readers in the US will have to wait until July 6. 

Official UK price is £25, but is selling for £22 and £12.99 on Kindle. In Canada, $53.95 and $17.99 Kindle, and in Europe €22.19 and £18.75 Kindle. 

One of the first reviews is in The Scotsman, and says (in part) "This very fine book is a forensic look at the movement and its influence, and has several points where you both realise something and ponder 'why did I never realise that?'” That is rather what I had hoped for.

The book looks at the intellectual foundations of Traditionalism, its application both to various projects, and "post-Traditionalism." Each chapter looks first at the general intellectual background to the issue it discusses, and then at Traditionalist understandings, starting in most cases with René Guénon and ending as much as possible with living Traditionalists.


Avery said...

I am still perplexed why the cover of the US edition is so much uglier. I want the one with the tree, and I hope I will be able to find it when I visit this month for ESSWE!

Busyantine said...

Excellent news, I shall order my copy now. Your previous books, Against the Modern World and Western Sufism have been very helpful in giving us the background story to some of the most interesting spiritual and intellectual movements of modern times.

G. Pierozak said...

Could you share the table of content?

Anonymous said...

I'm just reading it now and it's great. In the third chapter, I was surprised to see that you portray Guenon as not too hostile to science, but just regarding it as dealing only with the material domain. I've read six of Guenon's books, and it seems to me that he is very hostile to science. For example, he emphatically rejected the theory of evolution. He also sees scientific theories as expressions of metaphysical developments - for example, classical physics (and general relativity) are based on the idea of a continuum, but the idea of the continuum still contains a qualitative aspect according to Guenon, and so physics eventually developed quantum mechanics based on discrete quantities, moving in the direction of the purely quantitative. This would seem to imply that the theories of physics are not true, but only reflect a particular phase in the metaphysical cycle. He seems to hold to an idealist view that reality itself actually changes as metaphysical forces unfold, so that a theory of physics might be true today but not true in one hundred years time (see e.g. his views on the "solidification of the world"). Guenon, in this respect, was just as anti-science as are creationists. Similarly, you argue that he doesn't depend too much on historical chains of transmission, but it seems to me that he does believe in such historical transmission in Europe as elsewhere, and he makes pretty ludicrous historical claims on many occasions. I think these are the weakest aspects of his theory.

Some of his most implausible claims, I think, are found in "the metaphysical principles of the infinitesimal calculus". He does have a good explanation of the traditional Neoplatonist and Advaitic view of the pure infinite, distinguished from the quantitative infinite (or infinites, if you accept transfinite numbers). But one could just as easily read Plotinus or Shankara and understand the same thing. Much of the rest of what he says about modern mathematics, however, is extremely implausible. For example, he argues that complex numbers are just distorted inventions of moderns and not true numbers, which in mathematical terms is ludicrous. He only accepts numbers as being "real" that were known and understood by ancient civilizations. He is simply unable to give credit to modernity for anything at all. I agree with him that modernity is terrible, but that doesn't mean it hasn't achieved anything at all. At least give credit where credit is due.

Mark Sedgwick said...

ToC at

Anonymous said...

In your latest book you see a connection between the thought of Guenon ( or so -called "traditionalism " in general )and Neoplatonism .

i think Guenon hardly refers to Neoplatonism anywhere although Schuon ( who is a thoroughly discredited figure as far as i'm concerned ) described himself as a " neo - platonist ".

I would suggest even that Guenon had no time for neoplatonism because its emanationist cosmology is incompatible with his metaphysic ( read his masterly essay " Creation and Manifestation "

En effet, I'idée d' < émanation
, est proprement celle d'une sortie ;
mais Ia manifestation ne doit en aucune
façon être envisagée ainsi, car rien ne peut
réellement sortir du Principe; si quelque
chose en sortait, le Principe, dès lors, ne
pourrait plus être infini, et il se trouverait
limité par le fait même de la manifestation;
la vérité est que, hors du Principe, il n'y a et
il ne peut y avoir que le néant.


Anonymous said...

In theory, if Guenon was consistent then he would also disqualify the kabbalah with its sephirothic emanations. However , he doesn't mention this .