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An in-depth look at what we really mean when we say ‘science’, and how power structures all over the world exploit our misunderstanding.


As a rule when people realize that they do not understand a thing they try to find a name for what they do not “understand,” and when they find a name they say they “understand.” But to “find a name” does not mean to “understand.” Unfortunately, people are usually satisfied with names. A man who knows a great many names, that is, a great many words, is deemed to understand a great deal—again excepting, of course, any sphere of practical activity wherein his ignorance very soon becomes evident.
—G. I. Gurdjieff, as quoted in P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous1

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
—Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out2

‘Science’ is one of the most commonly-spoken words in the world. On any given day, it may escape the lips of a twelve-year-old child, a university professor of humanities, or a millionaire septuagenarian politician, in each case with equally affected authority and meaningfulness. ‘Science’ is our age’s ‘all things to all people,’ for, as with all idols, it can be both a warning and a consolation, a mystery and an obvious truth, a soothing balm and a call to arms, a delicious esoteric secret and the high road to ‘health’ and ‘well-being.’ What is the true, or ‘highest,’ meaning of ‘science’? Do those individuals who pronounce it most often and, so they seem to believe, most effectively, understand that meaning best? Do they intentionally use it incorrectly in order to affect ‘unscientific’ goals? Is science something ‘objective,’ ‘subjective,’ or both? In this essay, I shall examine and compare three different ideas, and/or uses, of ‘science’: 1) postmodern science, or scientism; 2) Enlightenment, or modern, science; and 3) ‘traditional’ science.

‘Scientism,’ which the Austrian economist and defender of classical liberalism F.A. Hayek called ‘the slavish imitation of the method and language of Science,’3 I identify in this essay as a deceptive art. It is, I hold, an art, or craft, that quite calculatingly masquerades as ‘real science,’ but which, in its present iteration, is based upon the ‘postmodern’ utilitarian sentiment that has convinced its adherents of the existence of only ‘functional’ truths in the social realm of human beings. Scientism is, on this basis, an amoral ruse which appropriates anything useful, including the veneer of ‘actual science,’ to affect goals that have nothing to do with truth, but only with the increase of power.

Enlightenment, or modern, science I define as a methodology for ‘naïvely’ (in regard to sincerely expecting ‘objective’ answers to its earnestly-formulated questions/experiments) but systematically exploring nature or ‘the universe’ by means of empirical observation and testing compounded with rational analysis. Modern science as an organized methodology with principles shared among multiple researchers only emerged clearly as a separate ‘way of knowing’ during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries in Europe. The methodology of Enlightenment science is one of systematically applying human reason to the raw ‘data’ of empirical experience.

‘Traditional’ science, perhaps the most esoteric-sounding of the three ‘sciences’ that I shall discuss (at least to individuals assimilated to the currents of the modern age), I define as the conglomeration of all the disciplinary practices and rites of passage of ancient and indigenous societies that were/are believed by the peoples of those societies to, potentially, culminate in the goal of a ‘higher,’ metaphysical, level of consciousness in the practitioner. This level of consciousness is, from the perspective of ‘traditional science,’ revelatory of the ‘highest’ possible form of knowledge/scientia: that is, knowledge of an absolute metaphysical reality known variously in different cultures around the world and throughout history as God, Brahman, Allah, Tao, and other names.

Science and the Art of Scientism

If all these jobs were done, the most insidious question of all would emerge into the foreground: whether science can furnish goals of action after it has proved that it can take such goals away and annihilate them.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science4

In recent years, politician-salesmen for corporations, industries, and other assorted esoteric power structures have adopted a precisely-worded mantra that they desperately desire the mass of humanity5 to mindlessly mouth and earnestly endorse: ‘Follow the science.’ The implied, and calculated, meaning of this mantra is three-fold: 1) Make decisions based upon the conclusions of ‘experts,’ 2) keep yourself and others ‘safe,’ and 3) assimilate the reality that you are not, nor should you try to be, a leader; you are a follower—for ‘we’ know best. We know the monolithic, unquestionable, ‘science.’ The question is conveniently begged as to which officials, among equally credentialed and knowledgeable individuals whose advice and explanations are in contradiction, deserve the appellation ‘expert,’ what constitutes being ‘safe,’ and what qualifies, in a meritorious sense, an individual or group to be a ‘leader.’ I didn’t say scientific experts when I referred to ‘experts,’ since many of those so called, although they may have learned in their college years how to ‘apply the scientific method’ by rote, are hardly (their academic degrees sometimes to the contrary) cognizant of what real science (in the naïve Enlightenment6 sense) actually is.

The underlying idea of ‘science’ that is marketed and trumpeted by means of the slogan ‘Follow the science’ – promoted as it is primarily by entities more interested in survival and power than knowledge and truth – does not, as it should if it were actually scientific, come from a place of curiosity or awe—as it should if it were inspired by ‘real science,’ and, as such, be the motive, as the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE) stated, that leads human beings to the discovery of science, as well as of philosophy and of human being itself—but from a place of self-preservation, a place of animal survival, a place of perpetuation of the collective, a place of ‘hoarding for winter.’ Although the expression ‘Follow the science,’ so popular today, is the consequence of and response to a particular recent event in world history, it is, I suggest, characteristic of the sloganeering of scientism generally, and will be referred to as such in this essay. ‘Follow the science’ when heard or read today—what does it usually mean? Read: ‘Do what we say,’ where ‘we’ is the collective power structure and its artificially-constructed ‘progressive’ global morality, with this ‘morality’ standing as the essential point here, one which we shall return to again and again in this essay.

The primary, the essential, problem with the ‘Follow the science’ idea of ‘science’ is that it co-opts the natural human desire and tendency to apply and develop the pragmatic ‘scientific method’ that is built into every rational being before that being is ever introduced to formal training (or indoctrination) in ‘science.’ This ‘scientific method’ that each of us, not only ‘recognized experts,’ applies on a daily basis to all aspects of our lives is constituted by the steps of: 1) observing or recognizing a ‘problem’ in nature or our lives, 2) offering hypotheses in order to ‘solve’ the observed problem, and 3) freely testing these hypotheses equally and without ulterior motives.7 This method is applied to everyday ‘problems’ ranging from determining how hard to hit a nail into a certain material, to calculating whether one’s particular automobile uses more gasoline on a rocky road than on an interstate highway, to deciding which medication is most efficacious for each of us as unique individuals with unique medical histories. Guesses (hypotheses) are offered (‘formulated’), testing is done (various approaches to the problem are tried out), and a conclusion is reached (the truth of which way to hit the nail, for example, reveals itself). This is the way that the scientific method is practiced before it is ‘captured’ by those who would make of it just another narrative for the promotion of ‘special interests’ of various kinds.

‘Follow the science,’ by the standard of the pragmatic scientific method described above, is an intrinsically unscientific demand, a ‘sciency’ tool employed in order to uphold and maintain power structures and preserve special interests—and an increasingly transparent one to individuals not susceptible to the powers of suggestion, reduction to their animal instincts, or submission to demands by distant overlords and the affectations of ‘experts.’ It is, I contend, a clear expression of what the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) termed the will to power, both because of the simple desire for power that motivates it and because it is an essentially deceptive and dishonest—unscientific in the modern Enlightenment sense—enterprise. Most explicitly in his fragmentary and posthumously published book The Will to Power8, but also in other works, Nietzsche discusses various forms and means by which an underlying or ‘unconscious,’ seemingly biological or ‘natural’ (even ‘healthful’), drive (‘will’) to power characteristic of the nature of the physical universe asserts and disguises itself. Nietzsche was most interested, however, in this drive’s manifestations in human societies. For, according to Nietzsche, the ‘will to power’ reveals itself in all human endeavors to some degree or another. One of these ways, he argues, is through actual science, that is, the creative drive to discovery and manipulation of the environment based upon ‘objective’ understanding of it. Another way, however, is the will to power through art, the latter defined as that uniquely human pursuit that is the primary conveyor of meaning and values in human civilizations, but also, and in conjunction with, being a method for making those values seem appealing.9 Scientism, postmodern science, I argue, is an art, not a science.

Art can be, and often is, consciously used to transform values. The most recognized, and cynical, form of art in the sense of a method for willfully, covertly, transforming the values of a group, a society, a nation (a world?) is government propaganda. Adolph Hitler, although he didn’t make it as a sketch artist, painter, or architect, did become an artist in the broad sense of the term: someone who conveys meaning and values through a select medium and makes those values appealing to a certain audience. He was an example of, as Nietzsche states in The Will to Power, ‘[t]he artist-philosopher. Higher concept of art. Whether a man can place himself so far distant from other men that he can form them?’10 But what are the boundaries of such an art, or of ‘art’ in general? What if, to put a finer point on the question, art can be science or science can be art? What if someone, or an indeterminate number of ‘someones,’ were to simply call art, or a certain kind of art, ‘science’? And what if this art—excuse me, ‘science’—were of a particularly dishonest kind, ‘dishonest’ meaning that its purpose was not to investigate nature in order to discover facts and to understand nature —the ideal of Enlightenment, or modern, science—but, rather, to manipulate that part of nature that may be termed ‘the human collective’ by means of the machinations of a tiny portion of the same part of nature: in other words, to manipulate most humans by some humans? What if, more specifically, a certain group of humans called its particular art of manipulation ‘science’ exactly in order to accomplish such manipulation?—in order to insinuate certain desired values into, or inculcate patterns of behavior in, the general public or ‘humanity’ as a whole: the ‘human mass’? Should we then ‘follow’ this ‘science’?

Science and art have, in the last hundred years or so, been increasingly seen by those with ‘modern’ proclivities as constituting a fundamental dichotomy. We’ve all, I’m sure, heard expressions such as ‘sail-making is an art, not a science,’ or ‘blacksmithing is an art, not a science,’ or, most relevant for our purposes, ‘politics is an art, not a science.’ Within this dichotomous relationship, ‘science’ is seen, by those who consider themselves ‘in the know,’ as ‘objective,’ not susceptible to influence by human opinions, drives, and desires; art, on the other hand, in poetic and beautiful contrast, is seen as ‘subjective,’ the product of interpretation, ‘culture,’ and/or societal conditioning. The message is repeatedly sent, by all sorts of people—some more aware of its ramifications than others—that art is an ‘expression’ of an individual’s ‘personal truth’ or an ‘unconscious’ manifestation of a specific culture’s ‘relative’ understanding of ‘the world’ from the perspective of its specific ‘context’ (postmodern theorists, especially, love the word ‘context’). Science (!), on the other hand, is a revelation of collective Truth, truth that can be recognized and agreed upon by all rational beings, ‘given the right circumstances for an experiment’ and the ‘necessary rigor.’ But who determines ‘the right circumstances for an experiment’ and the ‘necessary rigor’ for carrying it out?

In epic cases of psychological ‘projection,’ historical personages and meta-personal forces of ‘modernity’ have, within a very broad (and politically useful) conception of the term, chosen to categorize morality/ethics and religion as (a lesser form of) ‘art.’ They have, more specifically, relegated traditional systems of morality/ethics and traditional religious doctrines, such as the ‘world religions’ of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, to this category. Within the logic that has been created by these personages and forces, such traditional religions and systems of ethics cannot be ‘objective.’ They can only be, in a hoped-for dramatic contrast, a matter of personal ‘truth’ or a manifestation of ‘unconscious’ collective ‘cultural forces,’ not of Scientific Truth. By means of this labeling, a certain idea of ‘science’ is placed in opposition to, or in conflict with, all other means of human comportment toward reality. For these latter are considered, by postmodern saviors, only ‘personal truth,’ ‘socially constructed’ reality, the product of ‘individual’ (‘subjective’) ‘aesthetic sensibilities.’ The idea of ‘science’ that is held high and meant to oppose these older forms of human comportment toward reality, whether stated directly or, more often, implied, becomes, according to the new sciency ‘masters of the universe,’ the sole carrier and torch of ‘objectivity.’ All else becomes ‘opinion,’ the play of (ironically) different forms of Nietzsche’s will to power. Traditional systems of ethics and traditional religions such as those mentioned earlier, being merely ‘subjective,’ are not permitted to compete with the exalted ‘science’ (art) as paradigms for guiding the management of human societies, human institutions, or human being in general. As Nietzsche states, ‘Our [that is, the old] religion, morality, and philosophy are decadence forms of man. The countermovement: art.’11 The punishment for not accepting—not ‘following’—this directive from ‘on high,’ most tamely expressed, is the classification of any resistant (more accurately put, resilient) person as ‘backward’: that is, patriarchal, ignorant, non-‘progressive’—unscientific! Of course, traditional systems of ethics and religions (or parts of them) can still be found expedient by the sciency ‘masters,’ but only insofar as they are found useful in manipulating so-called ‘individuals’ of various lineages and temperaments (‘colors,’ ‘genders’) toward the (always fluctuating) goal of the ‘science’ referred to, with or without the ‘individual’s’ knowledge and consent.

It has become increasingly obvious to many people, especially since the advent of faster and less centralized forms of communication, that the art described above as ‘science,’ which is marketed by those who wish it to exhibit the veneer of authority as strongly as possible, is, again, simply a (very cynical) expression of Nietzsche’s will to power. It is as subjective as, and perhaps more so than, the traditional religions and systems of ethics that, in their authentic forms, this ‘science’ seeks to marginalize and disparage. And, remember, the will to power, like the lurking predator who is strong but vastly outnumbered by the beasts that it hunts, hides. The ‘art’ in question, many realize, is not science, it is scientism, what the English philosopher of science Karl Popper (1902-1994) described as ‘the aping of what is widely mistaken for the method of science.’12 Among some, however, there is no mistake: the ‘aping’ is quite intentional. Scientism has, thus, become a highly-crafted art that has been used by certain groups in the same way that they might employ many other narratives in order to create a mass appeal for whatever product they wish to sell, an art of manipulation of those individuals of the ‘human mass’ susceptible to the powers of suggestion—the ‘techniques’ of the scientism-ists. The scientism that I describe is a postmodern managerial product that is simply, dishonestly, called ‘science’ but is not science, not in the naïve Enlightenment sense mentioned earlier, which is, nevertheless, how the product is incessantly sold. It is a technique, an art, founded upon the mastery, by manipulation, of a certain type of ‘palate’: the human mass. The latter, importantly, is not equivalent to the human individual, which the purveyors of scientism strive very hard, by means of the application of mind tricks on those susceptible to collectivist utopian thinking, to ‘rhetoric out of existence.’ So-called ‘individuality,’ for these faux ‘scientists,’ has long since been deemed a myth (in the ignorant postmodern sense of the term), just like the traditional systems of ethics and religions listed above. If, however, this scientism is not actually science, then it is not based upon the investigation of nature out of, as Aristotle described it, the ‘desire to know.’13 But, then, why should it be? For that desire, as Aristotle states at the beginning of Metaphysics, is a human desire, whereas the desire of the purveyors of scientism is the desire of a subhuman dissembling monster. As Nietzsche states, ‘The modern artist, in his physiology next-of-kin to the hysteric, is also distinguished by this morbidity as a character. The hysteric is false—he lies from love of lying, he is admirable in every art of dissimulation.’14

The ‘artist’s palate’ of the maniacal anti-person monstrosity that is the collective organ promoting scientism is not a collection of individual humans; it is an assortment of subhuman forces that ‘accumulate’ in that which the monster of scientism sees only as ‘particles’ of the ‘human mass’ that have potential uses: living human bodies. These forces are recognized as common to what non-monster humans think of as ‘individual’ humans, though the latter are of no importance to, and actually stand in the way of, the purveyors’ of scientism pursuits. The purveyors of scientism have long since calculated that the ‘human mass,’ not individual humans, is that entity that can best be manipulated, and, more specifically, turned against those animals that are deluded enough to think of themselves as ‘individuals.’ To the purveyors of scientism, then, the ‘human mass’ is a wonderful and incomparable, ‘individually’-expendable, source of unlimited energy.

Science and Morality

All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self, but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly sought. It is obtained when the desire for knowledge is alone operative, by a study which does not wish in advance that its objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to the characters which it finds in its objects.
—Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy15

As many people now see rather clearly, there are power structures in the world that have, for some time, wished to disguise their notions of ethics, morality, and religion as ‘science.’ ‘Do you want “with-it” postmodern types to “get on board” with a new idea you have? Call it “scientific”—that’s the ticket to it selling well!’ These power structures have desired, and still do to ever-greater limits, to employ ‘science’ as a Trojan horse for their notions of ethics, morality, and religion—to carry their values into a collective obedience among the ‘human mass.’ Their reasoning – if we may call it that, as they are short on logic and long on behavioristic manipulation – for selecting this particular ruse is that people over the centuries (the last four centuries, for certain) have, in general, developed a healthy respect and admiration for actual science, which is a healthy and rational consequence of (real) science’s demonstrable dependability and usefulness. Even so, as the purveyors of scientism have shrewdly recognized, people in general haven’t come to an understanding of what science itself is. As the English analytic philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) noted in The Problems of Philosophy, ‘Physical science, through the medium of inventions, is useful to innumerable people who are wholly ignorant of it.’16 This last observation, scientism-ists have realized, has provided, and provides, an exploitable ‘loophole’ for any ‘person’ or force who has designs on exploiting a group of humans or ‘humanity’ in general. Scientism-ists have ‘reasoned’ that if people don’t really know what science itself is, but only see its results, then science itself can be, within certain boundaries, redefined in ways that are useful to those who redefine it. And so it has been re-defined, often by those who loudest proclaim their interest in such good-sounding objectives as ‘progress,’ ‘saving the planet,’ ‘public health,’ etc. Today, such ruses take the well-known forms of attempting to destroy, for example: 1) education as the development of human rationality, 2) the healthfulness of the traditional family structure, and 3) natural gender distinctions. Such unnatural ‘overcomings,’ which have been rebranded by the purveyors of scientism as ‘markers of progress,’ have been redefined by the same people as the products of ‘Science (!), when, in fact, they are the products of the art of ‘scientism,’ a ‘new and improved’ morality/ethics/religion.

For the managers of the ‘brave new world’ of human ‘progress’ and ‘being on the right side of history,’ ‘science’ equals their morality/ethics/religion. That which is ‘scientific’ for them is moral; that which is ‘moral’ is ‘scientific.’ But the technique by which this sleight of hand was/is accomplished, again, is an art, an ‘inside art’ such as show magicians learn, a preying upon ignorance, not an appeal to natural curiosity, reason, and the natural human desire to know. Within this performance, it is repeatedly, subliminally, suggested that morality/ethics/religion of the ‘old kinds’ cannot be objective, cannot, therefore, be ‘scientific.’ Those old things are unreliable, patriarchal, antiquated!—and, of course, oldness is, for the purveyors of scientism, the worst enemy/sin of their ‘new and improved’ ‘human mass.’ ‘Progress,’ the abstract, sound-good word, is, upon close scrutiny, ‘newness.’ As Nietzsche noted, ‘Artists should see nothing as it is, but fuller, simpler, stronger: to that end, their lives must contain a kind of youth and spring, a kind of habitual intoxication’17—an ideal which, as it blithely discounts reality, is a likely description of the purveyors of scientism which the purveyors themselves might approve of. The catch, however, is that the purveyors of scientism decide what is ‘new.’ For these managers, the past itself (ala Orwell’s 1984) is hateful and, therefore, any references to the superiority of its values and traditions should and shall be considered a form of ‘hate speech’—for all anti-‘scientific’ opinions that are not ‘State-sanctioned’ and congruent with ‘science’ can only be ‘hate speech.’ Morality/ethics/religion ismust be, for our (the mass’s) own good!—(their) ‘science’; and ‘science’ always was, they will assure us, morality. This is what ‘we’ who have become ‘objectively’ enlightened and shed of the hateful past shall conclude once we’ve realized the truth of ‘progress’: ‘science.’

What is Science, Really?

What is understandable, and understanding, differ from what is opinable, and opinion, because understanding is universal and through necessities, and what is necessary cannot be otherwise. But there are some things which are true and are the case, but which can also be otherwise. So it is clear that understanding is not about these things; for then what can be otherwise could not be otherwise.
—Aristotle, Posterior Analytics18

The recognition that science is or should be ‘objective’ is, of course, part of actual science, in the naïve Enlightenment sense. But an artificially-constructed morality that simply calls itself ‘science,’ or pretends through various contrivances to be uniquely, and preeminently, based upon science, is not, in fact, objective. It is, as noted above, a form of the will to power: again, specifically the will to power through ‘art’ (artifice) that is always based upon subjective motives founded upon the particular desires and wishes of certain individuals, certain types of individuals, and certain groups. What, then, really, is science?

Science, in actuality, is a particular method for investigating nature (aka, ‘the universe’) that is irrevocably founded upon natural human curiosity. More accurately put, science is a method for investigating the cosmos, as the latter term connotes the interconnectivity of all ‘parts’ of the ‘universe’ and, thus, its rational discernibility as a whole based upon understanding of its ‘parts,’ whether the latter are the particulars of galaxies, stars, animals, subatomic particles, or something else deemed ‘fundamental.’19 Science, in this naïve Enlightenment sense, is a necessarily non-subjective enterprise in the sense that it does not consciously advance or require an ideology upon which people should base their lives or human societies should be constructed and managed. This kind of science only reveals, it never creates (although it ‘makes’ products that one can ‘take or leave’). Human nature, along with the natures of many other things that have been discovered through the application of this kind of science, is, in its physical aspects, discovered, it is not created. This is the heart of inductive science: the study of the ‘general’ (classificatory categories) by means of ‘particulars.’ The ‘general,’ however, as we shall discuss later, is not the Universal.

All categorizations and categorization schemes in science are provisional—they are subject to revision. The ‘general’ is that which is the abstract conclusion of a process of inductive reasoning, that which can only be made, by definition, by a rational being of some kind (the human being, in the case at hand), and resulting by means of an inference from a ‘preponderance’ of empirical observations. For example, that which may be categorized, based upon millions of observations, as a plant today may be categorized (based upon millions of more observations) as an animal tomorrow, or in a hundred years, or in a thousand years. That which may be categorized as a planet today may be categorized as a planetoid at some undetermined time in the future. Due to this provisionality of science, science is not in the position of providing a basis for morality, because morality is, and must be—in order to be reliable to the human intellect that thinks in terms of Universal, and not merely general, ideas such as truth, virtue, and justice—a system of timeless, non-provisional, directives for maintaining the essence of humanity as a state of being that is ‘beyond’ purely physical manifestations. This state of being that is meta-physical is that of a Universalizing, ‘spiritualizing,’ creature—the definition of ‘human being’ in all cultures around the world for millennia prior to the modern divergence and its progeny, the purveyors of scientism. ‘Real science,’ Enlightenment science, therefore, tells us what is but only within a certain range of being and for a certain amount of time; scientific knowledge in the modern sense is intrinsically temporal. It does not, as a consequence, tell us what: 1) always is or 2) should be. The idea that humans should be a certain way is not at all a consequence of scientific thinking in the Enlightenment sense. It is, however, something that postmodern scientism has affirmed by means of its ‘occult capture’ of the mass appeal of ‘science’ for the purpose of conditioning a large and malleable ‘human mass’—rather than reasoning with individual human beings—to accept its general worldview. For the ‘artists’ of scientism, remember, the idea of the ‘individual,’ as well as of reasoning, is oh so gauche.

Enlightenment (or Modern) Science, ‘Traditional’ Science, and Faux ‘Science’ (Scientism)

Do not block the way of inquiry.
—Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘F.R.L. First Rule of Logic’20

In addition to the faux science of scientism which I have so far criticized—a morality/ethics/religion posing as, and appropriating elements of, ‘real science’—and the earnest, if naïve, Enlightenment science that truly believes there to be an objective methodology for investigating the cosmos that is beyond human manipulation, desires, and needs, there is, I argue, a third science: ‘traditional’ science. ‘Traditional science,’ as I define it, is that ‘way of knowing’ that is exemplative of what the French metaphysician René Guénon (1886-1951) and the Romanian historian of religions Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) have called ‘traditional’ or ‘archaic’ societies.21 Within the customs of such societies, ‘traditional science’ is a method (or methods22) for understanding, and acting upon, both the cosmos and human being that, at its ‘highest’ levels, focuses on discerning metaphysical truth—which, as Plato proved in his dialogues, is the only truth.23 This, in Aristotle’s terms, ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical’ knowledge is that which, according to the ‘traditional’ outlook, does not depend upon either induction from empirical experience or rational, discursive thinking, the two foundations for naïve Enlightenment science, but, instead, cultivates the capacity, by means of long discipline and trained focus, for ‘direct intuition.’ Examples of ‘traditional’ schools of thought that exist(ed) purely for the purpose of affecting such ‘direct intuition’ include the various Hindu yogas and some of the rituals of premodern indigenous cultures.

In contradistinction to Enlightenment science, ‘traditional’ science (or ‘traditional’ knowledge) admits the necessity of the subjective element in the discovery of objective truth, for it admits the necessity of human will or the overcoming of said will in directing the human organism to pursue certain activities or lines of investigation that ideally culminate in acquisition of the ‘highest’ form of knowledge. This ‘will’ which is referred to is the free will, ‘free’ in an absolute metaphysical fashion. It is not the subliminal ‘will to power’ that Nietzsche refers to, which is only a dumb drive or instinct that, although it may be ‘harnessed’ or ‘managed’ to a certain degree, originates from (at least in an intermediate sense) an entirely different source. In contradistinction to scientism/postmodern ‘science,’ ‘traditional’ science knows that there is absolute Truth—for it has already discovered it repeatedly over several millennia in the experiences of innumerable ‘seekers’; and it earnestly, in its own way, ‘pursues’ it. Enlightenment (modern) science chooses, albeit with pure motive, not to concentrate on, or else is wholly unconscious of, the subjective element that ‘traditional’ science recognizes to be an essential instrument of holistic scientific discovery. Enlightenment philosophy (such as that of Descartes or Hume or Kant), of course, more than makes up for this, although in an entirely different fashion than ‘traditional’ science. ‘Traditional’ science is not merely—like modern Enlightenment science purports to be—objective and empirical, but neither is modern Enlightenment science. Both are subjective and willful. ‘Traditional’ science, however, acknowledges the fact that it is inexorably based upon human free will, as is evident in examining the axioms of several of the orthodox Hindu expressions of ‘Tradition,’ what Guénon terms the ‘Hindu Doctrines.’ There is, for example, a clear acknowledgement in Hinduism, as well as in Buddhism, that the ‘highest’ knowledge achievable by human beings is ultimately dependent upon individual human choice, whether this choice manifests most specifically in the form of study (jnana yoga), experimentation (raja yoga), devotion (bhakti yoga), or action (karma yoga) in the task of ‘overcoming’ limited and ultimately false ‘identities.’ There is a recognition in many forms of Hinduism, in particular, that human being, the nearer it comes to having its true identity dawn on it, more relentlessly, and often more systematically, pushes itself, consciously, into the void of perceived ignorance and hopeful complete knowledge—into the ‘Self’—with the expectation that revelations will be made for the benefit of ‘identification’ with absolute Truth. This is intuitive knowledge. Postmodern ‘science,’ scientism, also is aware of (‘obsessed with’ might be the more accurate phrase) the subjective or willful element in all scientific investigation. It holds, however, or pretends, that this subjective element—which, as ‘traditional’ science clearly sees, is the result of individual human will or its overcoming—is the result of nebulous ‘unconscious’ or ‘cultural’ forces, rather than admitting its own systematic (willful) manipulation of the subjective element for preordained purposes. Postmodern science, in other words, feigns the image of Enlightenment (modern) science as well as the Enlightenment ideal, rather than freely acknowledge, as ‘traditional’ science does, the existence of the, mostly latent, human capacity for mindful and willful organized manipulation of physical appearances in order to uncover meta-physical realities.

In 1877, the philosopher, logician, and inventor of American philosophical pragmatism,24 Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), composed an essay entitled ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ in which he stated,

If the settlement of opinion is the sole object of inquiry, and if belief is of the nature of a habit, why should we not attain the desired end, by taking any answer to a question which we may fancy, and constantly reiterating it to ourselves, dwelling on all which may conduce to that belief, and learning to turn with contempt and hatred from anything which might disturb it? This simple and direct method is really pursued by many men.25

The ‘settlement of opinion’ in the ‘human mass,’ I argue, is the object of what I have described above as postmodern ‘science’ or scientism. This faux science, constituted by one loud and continuous proclamation of ‘Science,’ masquerades as actual science in order to accomplish its purpose. This art of postmodern ‘science’ accomplishes its purpose by means of the habit-formation that Peirce describes in the above quotation, sometimes by conscious rote, sometimes by unconscious manipulation, sometimes by both. The operational objective of scientism’s machinations, although not its ‘final cause’ in the Aristotelian sense, is, in Peirce’s terms, the ‘fixing of belief’—the creation of the habit—in the ‘human mass’ of accepting a false definition of ‘science.’ For, the purveyors of scientism work to condition, not to teach, the ‘particles’ (‘individual’ humans) in the ‘human mass’ to embrace a state of belief that is constituted by a ‘dwelling on all which may conduce to that belief [that habit], and learning to turn with contempt and hatred from anything which might disturb it.’ Those who oppose this outwardly-inculcated habit (this ‘manufactured’ belief, in the lingo of Chomsky26)—that is, those human ‘particles’ that insist on, to use a term from C.G. Jung27, ‘individuating,’ and resisting the postmodern sciency art—are guilty of ‘hate speech.’ For, it is naturally ‘hateful’ for a mere tool to question the hand that wields it. And such is the nature of the perceived relationship between ‘individual’ humans and the ‘authoritative’ sources of ‘expert’ knowledge (Science!), from the perspective of the latter.

In ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ Peirce proposes the existence of four methods of ‘fixing belief’ which he argues humans have contrived or stumbled upon in the course of their history in order to ‘satisfy their doubts,’ contending that, ‘[t]he irritation of doubt is the only immediate motive for the struggle to attain belief.’28 These are the methods of: ‘tenacity,’ ‘authority,’ the ‘a priori’ method (or appeal to reason), and ‘science.’ Only the ‘method of science,’ Peirce contends, is both reliable and beyond human manipulation. He states,

To satisfy our doubts, therefore, it is necessary that a method should be found by which our beliefs may be caused by nothing human, but by some external permanency—by something upon which our thinking has no effect….It must be something which affects, or might affect, every man. And…the method must be such that the ultimate conclusion of every man shall be the same, or would be the same if inquiry were sufficiently persisted in. Such is the method of science. Its fundamental hypothesis…is this: There are real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them.29

The science that Peirce describes is, in all essentials, if not in all motivations and technicalities, science in the naïve Enlightenment sense, although, perhaps, a more self-aware version than that which existed in 1600, 1700, or 1800. Peirce’s science, like modern science in general, is in strict opposition to the scientism that we have described which is, at a safe distance, ‘sold’ by its purveyors as a product intended to control unwary ‘customers’ in climates, past or present, of pervasive submission to State (centrally organized purveyors of scientism) directives.

The State scientism I have described is virtually equivalent to one of Peirce’s other listed methods of ‘fixing belief,’ the ‘method of authority.’ Of it, Peirce states:

This method has, from the earliest times, been one of the chief means of upholding correct theological and political doctrines, and of preserving their universal or catholic character….Wherever there is an aristocracy, or a guild, or any association of a class of men whose interests depend or are supposed to depend on certain propositions, there will be inevitably found some traces of this natural product of social feeling….Let the will of the state act, then, instead of that of the individual. Let an institution be created which shall have for its object to keep correct doctrines before the attention of the people, to reiterate them perpetually, and to teach them to the young; having at the same time power to prevent contrary doctrines from being taught, advocated, or expressed. Let all possible causes of a change of mind be removed from men’s apprehensions. Let them be kept ignorant, lest they should learn of some reason to think otherwise than they do. Let their passions be enlisted, so that they may regard private and unusual opinions with hatred and horror. Then, let all men who reject the established belief be terrified into silence….For the mass of mankind…there is perhaps no better method than this. If it is their highest impulse to be intellectual slaves, then slaves they ought to remain.30

It would seem that, for Peirce, the faux science that I call postmodern scientism, which seems virtually equivalent to his described ‘method of authority,’ albeit with the new and essential twist of co-opting the ‘method of science’ itself, is actually appropriate for the ‘mass of mankind’—which is really Peirce’s way of saying that ‘real science’ is not something realizable for such creatures. Peirce’s ‘method of authority,’ even according to Peirce, would seem to be, as Nietzsche might say, ‘human, all too human’31; it is very much ‘something upon which our (an elite “our”) thinking does have an effect,’ and not ‘such that the ultimate conclusion of every man shall be the same, or would be the same if inquiry were sufficiently persisted in.’ The latter is the case for the simple reason that inquiry itself, within the dictates of such a ‘method’ (of faux science), is not allowed. For, to allow it would constitute, for its authors (the purveyors of scientism), an existential threat. Inquiry left unchecked by dogmatic authority can always derive conclusions that are at odds with what authorities (scientism-ists) hope (plan) to ‘discover’ (that is, rather, create for their purposes).

Science (in contrast to modern philosophy) in the naïve Enlightenment sense of a purely objective method for discovering ‘laws’ that ‘rule’ the empirical universe cannot, and was never meant to, be a method upon which humans can, or should, base their morality/ethics/religion—their understanding of values in general. It is, rather, a tool, and as such works in the service of something more fundamental. A similar, although not exactly equivalent, idea was expressed by Aristotle in Posterior Analytics when he stated, ‘Scientific knowledge through demonstration is impossible unless a man knows the primary immediate premises….[but] there will be no scientific knowledge of the primary premises…[I]t will be intuition that apprehends the primary premises.’32 As a tool, ‘real science’ can never provide metaphysical ‘First Principles’ or axioms for the living of a uniquely human life, that is, a life that is based upon the discovery of eternal virtues.33 Such Enlightenment science may discover better or more efficient means for the application of ‘First Principles’ or virtues, but it can never originate them. This is, first and foremost, for the reason that the human form of being always finds its bearing by ‘going beyond’ physical existence. By, thus, considering possibilities—thereby conceiving of the very idea/Form of Possibility—which, by definition, are not (and may never be) actualized, human being gazes into the meta-physical. This capacity, however, that is, the capacity for the conception of the very idea of ‘Possibility,’ implies the existence of a metaphysical comportment in the kind of being that conceptualizes the mentioned idea. This, for the reason that the idea of Possibility entails not only an ‘abstract’ or ‘inferred’ idea of Being (that is, manifested existence) but also of non-Being (that which is not manifested)—the essentially meta-physical—and the ‘totality’ of both. As Guénon states in The Multiple States of the Being,

[U]niversal Possibility necessarily contains the totality of possibilities, and one can say that Being and Non-Being are its two aspects, Being insofar as it manifests the possibilities (or, more precisely, certain of them), and Non-Being insofar as it does not manifest them. Being, therefore, contains everything manifested; Non-Being contains everything unmanifested, including Being itself; but universal Possibility contains both Being and Non-Being.34

‘Traditional’ science, as opposed to modern science, takes the unique comportment of human being which I’ve partially described here into account, acknowledging not only the human capacity for calculation (ratio)—which is also possessed by other beings—but also human being’s meta-temporal and meta-actual, thus meta-physical, comportment. Thus does ‘traditional science’ provide a way of understanding, in a fashion superior to Enlightenment science, both the real nature of human being as well as what scientism, as a ‘method’ for reducing and devolving the human form of being, has done to appropriate and manage human being for ulterior purposes. The ‘realization,’ as I shall call it, of ‘traditional’ science is a positive (although a much older) ‘addition’ to the Enlightenment (modern) conception; later manipulation of this ‘realization’ by scientism is a dishonest degradation of it.

René Guénon on the Universal and the ‘General,’ and Some Basic Presumptions of the Enlightenment Model of Science through the Lens of Charles Sanders Peirce’s ‘Method of Science’

The notion of truth, after having been reduced to no more than a simple representation of tangible reality, is finally identified by pragmatism with utility, which amounts purely and simply to its suppression; for of what importance is truth in a world whose aspirations are solely material and sentimental?
— René Guénon, Symbols of Sacred Science35

René Guénon often extols what he terms the ‘Hindu Doctrines’—that is, certain of the orthodox Hindu darshanas (‘“points of view” within the doctrine’36)—as the best remaining expression in the modern world of ‘traditional’ knowledge/science. In his book Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, Guénon states that scientific knowledge, in the modern Enlightenment sense that I have discussed, ‘is derived from reason, which has the general for its domain’; metaphysical knowledge, by contrast, ‘is derived from the pure intellect, which has the Universal for its domain.’37 Guénon here, as in other of his works, makes a distinction between two levels of knowledge which are accessible by human beings, in order to more clearly identify what may appear to be only two different kinds of knowledge: 1) that which is derived from empirical observation compounded with rational analysis and 2) that which is derived from what Guénon terms ‘intellectual intuition’: a knowledge that is revealed by means, not of the mind but, of the ‘pure intellect.’38 For Guénon, scientific knowledge of the modern Enlightenment variety is knowledge of what he calls the ‘general,’ whereas ‘intellectual intuition’ is knowledge of the Universal. The ‘general’ is, for Guénon, that which is abstracted by the human mind out of multiple (an indefinite number of) supposedly similar experiences. For example, if I see a branch fall from a tree, or a bird fall from the sky, or a pencil roll off of a desk, or a satellite crash to the ground, I, as a rational being, am able, partially by means of previous instruction, to abstract from these different events an ‘underlying’ similarity, something which they all, as a general rule, hold in common: the ‘action’ of the force of gravity. This result of the rational and comparative process of induction from particular empirical experiences to an abstract rule/‘law’ Guénon calls the ‘general.’ It is, in essence, ‘generalization.’

‘Generalization’ is, in any given case, always based upon a finite number of observations or events. Because of this, any rational abstraction from this finite number of observations or events that my, or any other, rational mind derives is uncertain. For, certainty is not based upon hypotheses and conclusions drawn from a finite number of observations, which, by nature, allow for the possibility that other observations may disprove these hypotheses and conclusions; certainty is based upon complete knowledge of what a being, not simply a phenomenon, is. The force of gravity, therefore, is not, and cannot be, an object of certain knowledge; it is, rather, only a provisional hypothesis. ‘Gravitational theory’ is, therefore, an inductively-derived (based upon a wealth of empirical evidence) hypothesis accompanied by abstract mathematical, that is theoretical, ‘proof.’

Guénon contrasts the merely ‘general’ with the Universal in multiple of his works. The Universal, as Guénon defines it, is equivalent to what Plato terms in his dialogues the ‘idea’ or ‘Form.’39 The Universal/Form, for both authors, however, is not the product of a process of abstraction by the human, or any other, mind, but rather an independently existing, eternal, and immutable, being. It is, therefore, never an effect but always a cause. It is that which humans (or any other beings that have accessed the ‘active’ intellect) may, or may not, reveal by means of their ‘intellectual intuition.’ It is, for Guénon as for Plato, meta-physical. It is, again, revealed, not created or ‘constructed’ by means of empirical investigation. Guénon states in his book Man & His Becoming According to the Vedanta that what is called ‘Metaphysics’ ‘is essentially knowledge of the Universal….[It] is entirely detached from all relativities and contingencies.’40 Because of this, empirical science of any kind, which relies upon experimentation (that is, systematic and repeated empirical experiencing), induces generalizations; it induces the ‘general.’ Guénon states, however, of the methods of empirical science:

These experimental methods will never reveal anything other than simple phenomena, on which it is impossible to construct any kind of metaphysical theory, for a universal principle cannot be deduced from particular facts. Moreover, the claim to acquire knowledge of the spiritual world through physical methods is obviously absurd; it is only within ourselves that we can find the principles of this knowledge, not in external objects.41

Knowledge of ‘universal principles,’ for Guénon, constitutes the ‘highest’ form of knowledge/scientia: knowledge in the eminent sense—as Plato also held. The ‘spiritual world’ that Guénon refers to is the realm of spiritual ‘realization,’ the ‘world’ of an indefinite number of levels of consciousness or awareness that human beings may, by means of the knowledge that Guénon writes of, gain access to. The ‘particular facts’ that Guénon refers to—such as the examples I provided earlier of a falling tree limb, or a pencil rolling off of a desk—play the role of Plato’s ‘Particulars.’ They may serve as symbolic ‘windows’ to the specified ‘higher’ knowledge, but they cannot, however often they may predictably repeat themselves, provide the means for knowledge of actually Universal (rather than merely ‘general’) principles.

The ‘experimental methods’ that Guénon refers to in the above quotation constitute the core of the methodology of what I call modern, or Enlightenment, science. This kind of science is, as I have repeatedly stated, naïve. It is naïve because, as Peirce puts it, it presumes that there is:

some external permanency…something upon which our thinking has no effect…something which affects, or might affect, every man.…[T]he method must be such that the ultimate conclusion of every man shall be the same, or would be the same if inquiry were sufficiently persisted in. Such is the method of science. Its fundamental hypothesis…is this: There are real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them.42

The problem with this idealistic, very-Enlightenment, type of science is that the ‘real things’ it refers to are physical objects or processes and the ‘laws’ that supposedly ‘govern’ them. According to Guénon, Plato, and other ‘traditionalists,’ however, these objects, processes, and ‘laws,’ because they have no absolute permanency, do not qualify as real in an eminent sense, or deserve to be objects of scientific knowledge in the ‘highest’ sense, that is, the ‘traditional’ sense. They cannot be real in an eminent sense because they are dependent upon something else for their existence. They are, although possibly an intermediate ‘cause’ of some kind, most definitely an effect.43 That is why, as Aristotle logically proved over 2,300 years ago, they have no permanency and, thus, cannot be eminently real. And therefore, from the Guénonian/Platonic/‘traditional,’ as well as the partially empirical Aristotelian, perspective, the ‘real objects’ of empirical (Enlightenment) science cannot serve as causes in an ultimate sense. By deduction, physical objects, processes, or the ‘general’ empirically-induced rules that appear to govern them cannot be explanatory—which is the purpose of a cause, and science itself, etiologically-speaking—in an absolute sense. They are all things upon which our thinking (to the expected dismay of Peirce) does have an effect. And this is because part of the essence of mind, by means of the brain, by means of the body, is to manipulate—affect—physical reality and to incessantly question the veracity of the ever-changing ‘general’ hypotheses (‘theories’) which are applied to it. This questioning, however, must itself derive from a meta-physical, ‘spiritual,’ perspective: the perspective of the ‘intellect.’

When Peirce states that ‘the method [of science] must be such that the ultimate conclusion of every man shall be the same if inquiry were sufficiently persisted in,’ he is assuming that ‘every man’ potentially possesses the same (requisite) kind, or level, of consciousness—and that this kind, or level, of consciousness which he has in mind is the ultimate operational goal, the ideal, of human thinking. This assumption, however, is based more upon egalitarian hopefulness than scientifically-inferred reality. In his essay, Peirce does not provide any indication that he is aware of what I term ‘traditional realization.’ That is, he does not provide indication that he understands that the state of consciousness (not merely the ‘fixed beliefs’) of the observer or ‘seeker,’ the scientist, is determinative of what ‘ultimate conclusions’ the observer/seeker will draw about anything and also determinative of what level of reality the inquiring being will access.44 Peirce merely assumes the existence of one absolute, physical, level of reality which can be accessed by the ‘method of science,’ the latter of which he contrasts with various insufficient or misguided attempts to, either consciously or unconsciously, access that ideal level. His proviso ‘if inquiry were sufficiently persisted in’ is quite vague, as well as being presumptive, for it presumes that laborious inquiry is the ‘bar’ which one must leap in order to discover what he calls ‘real things.’ These ‘real things’ are, again, for Peirce, physical objects/processes (and, assumedly, the ‘general’ ‘laws’ that ‘govern’ them). Although Peirce is working from the Kantian45 ‘discovery’ that the human mind possesses ‘categories’ of understanding that condition a human’s experience of empirical reality, he simply accepts Kant’s presumption of the general similarity of all ‘scientific’ human minds which, Kant believes, can lay the only reliable foundation for ‘any future metaphysics that will be able to come forward as science.’46 Of course, Peirce’s reference to ‘some external permanency,’ unless he accepts the mysterious noumenon (‘thing-in-itself’) of Kant as that which has ‘external permanency,’ is out of line with Kantian constructivism because what is truly ‘external’ cannot be essentially determined if Kant’s ‘categories’ are, in fact, determinative of all experience.

Julius Evola on ‘Traditional’ Knowledge and Modern Scientific Knowledge

Believing that they possess consciousness, men have not exerted themselves very much to acquire it.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science47

The Italian esotericist and political theorist Julius Evola (1898-1974) considered in his writings many of the same themes that his contemporary and fellow ‘traditionalist’ René Guénon discussed. Like Guénon, Evola often critiques what I have termed ‘Enlightenment,’ or modern, science, and similarly appeals to Hindu traditions of higher thinking and disciplinary practices as a basis for his criticisms. In his book The Yoga of Power48, Evola states, for example:

According to the modern point of view (which in a Hindu perspective would be considered to be typical of the most advanced phase of the ‘dark age’49), we can directly apprehend reality only through those aspects revealed to us by physical senses and by their extension, namely scientific instruments, or, according to the terminology proper to some philosophies, through its ‘phenomenic aspects.’ Positive sciences gather and organize data provided by sensory experiences, and only after having made a certain choice between them (excluding those with a qualitative character and essentially relying on those that are susceptible to measurement and ‘computation’) does it inductively arrive at some knowledge and laws of an abstract and conceptual nature. To them, however, there no longer corresponds an intuition, an unmediated perception, or an intrinsic evidence. Their truth is indirect and conditioned, and it depends on experimental examination, which may eventually lead to a reshaping of the previous system.50

In this long quotation, Evola touches on some of the same themes as Guénon does in his many critiques of ‘the modern point of view’: his criticism of the belief that reality can only be apprehended ‘by physical senses’ or ‘their extension, namely scientific instruments,’ and the idea that, as far as ‘knowledge and laws of an abstract and conceptual nature’ go, there can be of such things no ‘unmediated perception, or…intrinsic evidence.’ To the latter, however, we must note that it is just this ‘unmediated perception’ that is the quintessence of the ‘traditional’ method of knowing that Guénon calls ‘intellectual intuition.’ For, once a being (whether we call him a ‘seeker’ or a ‘scientist’) achieves the proper state of consciousness, the evidence for unmitigated truths that the being experiences, not by means of his physical senses but from the perspective of the underlying ‘Self’ which directly (without mediation) intuits all events and aspects of reality, is, as Evola calls it, ‘intrinsic.’ Such a seeker’s/scientist’s perception is ‘unmediated’ by anything at all.

‘Unmediated perception,’ as Evola terms it, or ‘intellectual intuition,’ in Guénon’s words, refers to the comportment toward metaphysical reality—the Universals or ‘Forms’ mentioned above—that is independent of perception by means of the physical senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, or any other possible physical senses that exist or may ‘evolve.’ It is direct experience by the deepest, and only completely real, level of what Guénon calls ‘the being’ as it is ‘migrating’ through what he terms the ‘multiple states of the being.’51 ‘The being’ here refers to the absolute metaphysical reality that in Hindu tradition (most specifically, in the Vedanta darshana) is called Brahman. However, according to the Advaita Vedanta darshana (one of three major ‘schools’ of Vedantic thought) of Hinduism, ‘the being’ (Brahman) takes the form or aspect of ‘individual’ beings in its ‘travels’ (‘migration’) through space and time (the physical world and physical bodies—the ‘indefinite series of cycles of manifestation’). Individual human beings constitute one example of this process. When, as is recorded in the Hindu holy text The Bhagavad Gita, the warrior Arjuna ‘realizes’ that his charioteer Krishna is actually not merely a charioteer—or even a human being, for that matter—but rather absolute metaphysical reality itself, which has only taken the outward visage of the avatara52 Krishna, this is an example of the direct form of knowing that Evola and Guénon are talking about which is independent of both empirical perception and rational calculation.53 It is what I earlier called ‘traditional realization.’

In The Yoga of Power, Evola critiques the ‘so-called European critical philosophy of [Immanuel] Kant’ that I referred to earlier, stating that ‘according to Kant…the only knowledge available to man…[is] mere sensory knowledge, scientific knowledge…which may show with a high degree of precision how forces of nature act, but not what they are.’54 This incapacity of modern scientific knowledge to ever comprehend or explain the essence of beings, to only, instead, describe the apparent interactions of phenomena, prevents it from being a standard for knowledge/scientia itself. According to Evola, however, ‘[i]n esoteric teachings, including the Hindu ones, such a limitation is considered to be surmountable…. [For example,] classical yoga in its various articulations (yoganga) may be said to offer the methods of a systematic overcoming of such a limitation.’55 Among such are the methods of ‘realization’ in which Krishna instructs Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, and which are implied in that text to be the cause leading to Arjuna’s ‘intellectual intuition,’ or ‘unmediated perception,’ of the absolute metaphysical reality (Brahman) that lies behind what we in the West refer to as sensory experience or ‘appearances.’ Although we write here of a reality that ‘lies behind’ appearances, it must be strongly indicated that the metaphysical reality that Krishna manifests in The Bhagavad Gita is not equivalent to the reality that Kant proposes lies behind phenomena and which he calls the noumenon. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant divides the world into phenomena (the objects of sensory perception) and the noumenon (the ‘thing-in-itself’). The noumenon, for Kant, is that theoretical reality that somehow exists ‘behind’ phenomena. It is, however, only a posited reality, not a directly ‘intellectually intuited’ reality, as Brahman can be according to Hindu tradition.

Evola draws a firm distinction in The Yoga of Power between Kant’s ‘critical philosophy’ and ‘traditional’ metaphysics when he states,

The bottom line is this: there is no such thing as a world of ‘phenomena,’ or perceptible forms, and behind it, an impenetrable, true reality: the essence. There is only one given reality, which is multidimensional; there is also a hierarchy of possible forms of human and superhuman experiences, in relation to which these various dimensions are progressively disclosed, until one is able to perceive directly the essential reality….According to this point of view there is no such thing as a relative reality and, beyond it, an absolute, impervious reality, but rather a relative, conditioned method of perceiving the only reality, and an absolute method.56

I have often taken exception to the appellation ‘traditional science,’ as opposed to ‘traditional knowledge’ or simply ‘Tradition,’ because almost every human alive today identifies ‘science’ with empirical observation and experimental testing combined with rational analysis—a combination that does not characterize the method(s) of ‘traditional’ knowing/scientia. From the perspective, however, of a certain definition of the term ‘science,’ there is a science of Tradition.57 In saying this, though, one must still be careful in how one applies the term ‘science’ to ‘traditional’ pursuits. This is because Tradition, in all of its manifestations, is a ‘working upon Self,’ the goal of which is a kind of knowledge that is immutable and eternal (i.e., certain). Such knowledge is the hoped-for result, as Evola describes it, of an ‘absolute method.’ By contrast, because it is the consequence of a ‘relative, conditioned method,’ Enlightenment science can only produce provisional knowledge—that is, temporarily ‘explanatory’ hypotheses. These latter, however, do not constitute knowledge/scientia in the ‘highest’ sense because they do not truly explain reality, they only temporarily describe its manifestations as phenomena or as the so-called ‘laws’ that are, however long-lasting from the perspective of mortal humans, only temporary.

Tradition, at its heart, is the means by which the spiritual ‘seeker,’ the seeker after Truth and not merely fact or information, may successfully ‘identify’ with that which he truly is: the ‘Self’/Atman in Hinduism which is, to put things roughly, the reflective or ‘active’ form of Brahman. Traditional ‘science,’ as a consequence, is: 1) that ‘method’ that is constituted by, for any given ‘seeker,’ a specific set of individualized disciplinary practices (the various methods of the yogas, for example) that can lead to spiritual (not mental) ‘realization’ of ‘identity’ with Brahman—as consciously and willfully applied to 2) an individual of sufficiently advanced self-awareness and self-control to apply this method. In the event of the successful application of the method(s) of ‘traditional science,’ the subject will succeed in ‘identifying’ with that which he is beneath the many ‘layers’ of identities which he has accepted, consciously or unconsciously, during his life/lives—not with what he believed or felt that he was, or appeared to be, in his state of Self (Atman/Brahman)-ignorance. As Evola states, ‘[t]he axiom of all yoga, of Tantric sadhana58 and analogous disciplines, corresponds to Nietzsche’s saying “man is something that must be overcome,” only taken more seriously.’59 What is being ‘overcome,’ however, is actually that which was not really human to begin with, but the ‘seeker’ must become, through the method(s) of ‘traditional science,’ completely conscious of this fact. ‘The way to this…superior knowledge,’ as Evola states, ‘seems to be contingent upon one’s self-transformation, an existential and ontological change of level, and therefore, upon action, sadhana. This conception contrasts with the general view offered by the modern world.’60


And this is our problem, i.e., to see if there is something which can exist apart by itself and belongs to no sensible thing….for how is there to be order unless there is something eternal and independent and permanent?
—Aristotle, Metaphysics61

Near the beginning of his book Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Mircea Eliade explicates and analyzes ‘the situation of the yogin [practitioner of yoga] in asamprajnata samadhi’—that is, the situation of the yogin’s attainment of ‘supreme freedom’ by means of ‘complete concentration of mind.’62 Eliade questions there, in particular, ‘what [in Classical Hindu treatises on yoga] is meant by the expression “reflection” of the purusa,’ with purusa being, in the Samkhya and Yoga darshanas, the Sanskrit term for the immortal and immutable ‘Self.’63 Of the ‘reflection’ of the purusa (‘Self’), Eliade states that ‘[i]n this act of supreme concentration [by the yogin], “knowledge” is equivalent to an “appropriation.” For obtaining direct revelation of the purusa is at the same time to discover, to experience, an ontological modality64 inaccessible to the noninitiate [i.e., the non-yogin].’ Eliade comments that ‘[s]imple “reflection” of the purusa is more than an act of mystical cognition, since it allows the purusa to gain “mastery” of itself. The yogin takes possession of himself through…[a state of being] whose sole content is being.’ Eliade concludes that,

‘taking possession of oneself’ radically modifies the human being’s ontological condition….[For] now, the object of knowledge is one’s pure being, stripped of every form and every attribute….[I]t is to assimilation with pure Being that samadhi [‘union’ with purusa] leads. The self-revelation of the purusa is equivalent to a taking possession of being in all its completeness. In asamprajnata samadhi, the yogin is actually all Being.65

In these quotations provided from Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, the author relates the final steps of the yogin’s path toward the state of samadhi, ‘conjunction’ or ‘union’ with purusa (the metaphysical ‘Self’), as based upon, according to Eliade, the ‘long and difficult road recommended by [the author of the Yoga Sutras] Patanjali.’66 According to the Yoga darshana—and as is also the case in the orthodox Hindu Advaita Vedanta school—true knowledge/understanding of existence (scientia in the highest sense) only comes about by means of ‘union’67 with the source of, as Eliade puts it, ‘all Being.’ In Advaita Vedanta this is, to be more exact, union with Brahman, the metaphysical absolute reality. Earlier, I quoted Evola as stating, in his analysis of the Hindu movements of Tantrism and Shaktism, ‘the way to…superior knowledge…seems to be contingent upon one’s self-transformation, an existential and ontological change of level, and therefore, upon action, sadhana. This conception contrasts with the general view offered by the modern world.’68 As Eliade shows in his dissertation on yoga, and as Evola shows in his study of Tantrism and Shaktism, the referred-to ‘way to superior knowledge’ is a long-standing South Asian ‘traditional’ doctrine, the execution of which was/is not limited to a short period of time or to one particular school of thought and practice in Hinduism. It can be ‘empirically verified,’ but only once the ‘seeker’/‘scientist’ has brought himself to that state of consciousness that allows ‘verification.’ It is not simply a matter of, as Peirce states, ‘the ultimate conclusion of every man… [being] the same…if inquiry were sufficiently persisted in.’69 For, the nature of ‘inquiry’ itself is something much larger than Peirce imagined, and persistence and hard work alone, although necessary, are not sufficient tools to aid the being in traversing the ‘razor’s edge.’

As Guénon points out in several of his works, real knowledge/understanding is, in all of its ‘traditional’ manifestations around the world and throughout time: 1) of Universal truth and 2) based upon what Evola calls ‘self-transformation.’ In modern parlance, such ‘traditional’ knowledge/understanding is both ‘objective’ and ‘subjective.’ Because of this, ‘traditional science’ goes beyond the naïveté of modern Enlightenment science which believes (or pretends to believe) in pure objectivity, but it also goes beyond postmodern scientism because, unlike the latter, it is an honest, non-political, pursuit of Truth without ulterior motives.70 ‘Traditional’ science, in opposition to postmodern scientism, acknowledges the necessity of, as Evola puts it, ‘self-transformation’—towards the revelation of a metaphysical ‘kernel’ that underlies the flux of the physical world—in the discovery of real knowledge/understanding, but it also recognizes, unlike Enlightenment science, that this ‘subjective’ element does not stand in the way of drawing truly objective, that is Universal, conclusions from its search. Scientism, in opposition to both Enlightenment science and ‘traditional’ science, cynically discounts the existence of Universal Truth while simultaneously, hypocritically, expecting the ‘human mass’ to accept its useful (‘functional’ or ‘healthful,’ or other Newspeak variations) version of temporarily convenient ‘universal facts’ (i.e., Science!).

The postmodern manipulative scientism that masquerades as the inheritor of the naïve science of the Western Enlightenment is a monster. It is a monster because it is an abnormally large and deformed conglomeration of disharmonious parts stitched together for the purpose of realizing infernal ends: that is, goals that are promotive of a descent by humans from the capacity for metaphysical ‘realization’ (the ‘highest’ kind of knowledge/scientia, according to Tradition) toward lower (subhuman) levels of consciousness: behavioristic conditioning. Enlightenment, or modern, science, by contrast with the monstrous faux ‘science’ of postmodernism, is ‘real science’ (as I’ve said all along), in the sense of a pursuit that truly seeks to acquire knowledge and raise consciousness. It is real but it is incomplete in its methodological self-understanding. It is, in a word, unreflective. It is, therefore, not a ‘monster,’ like postmodern scientism is, but rather a golem: that is, the product of an atrophied intellect that is only able to mimic the vitality of life by reproducing what seem to be, based upon only a limited number of empirical observations, its most basic features. Because of this myopia, modern science has a much-reduced—perhaps a completely reduced—idea of Truth. As Guénon states in Symbols of Sacred Science,

The notion of truth, after having been reduced [in modern science] to no more than a simple representation of tangible reality, is finally identified by pragmatism with utility, which amounts purely and simply to its suppression; for of what importance is truth in a world whose aspirations are solely material and sentimental?71

‘Traditional science,’ in contrast to both Enlightenment science and scientism, is reflective, does truly seek to acquire knowledge, and is also able to go beyond abstract provisional theorizing to Universal Truth. Like scientism, however, ‘traditional science’ is aware that investigation is, first and foremost, a ‘triumph’ or ‘victory’ of human willpower and discipline. It does not take these things for granted like Enlightenment, or modern, science generally does.72 The kind of science that it is, then, constitutes an action, not a reaction. Both scientism and ‘traditional’ science, but not Enlightenment science, acknowledge and embrace the subjective element in inquiry. Scientism, however, hides this acknowledgement behind a series of references to ‘cultural determinism,’ ‘biological determinism,’ and other materialistic reductions—as if it believes these references to constitute explanations. ‘Traditional’ science, alternatively, admits openly that it is a discipline—a product of free will—for developing subjective human potentialities which may be brought to actualization only by means of individual strife and conflict, but that, after this, objective reality still remains. The goal of scientism is the collective conditioning of human (seen as a variety of animal) behavior, in order to create a malleable ‘human mass’ that is purely physical in its nature and ‘thoughts.’ It is a goal of achieving absolute and irrevocable power, a kind of power that is not in concord with greater theoretical knowledge/scientia of the cosmos but for its own sake—the naked self-revelation of Nietzsche’s will to power. The goal of Enlightenment, or modern, science is the progressive revelation of, and mastery over, ever-finer layers of physical reality, but always with a healthy love of innocent curiosity and a view to theoretical understanding of nature. The goal of ‘traditional’ science is individual ‘realization’ of the essence of human, and all, being as a meta-physical ‘identity’ which only manifests as ‘nature’ or the cosmos.

True science, in its essence—which both scientism and ‘traditional’ science recognize—is a thrust into the void. It is not a merely organic response to the ‘feeling’ of awe or of curiosity, although these things are, perhaps, clues along the way that were set by some cosmic intelligence for human beings to ‘pick up’ and act, not re-act, upon.73 The Universal that Guénon refers to, although not the ‘general’ that he contrasts it with and that is the conclusion of Enlightenment scientific reasoning, must be based, first and foremost, upon subjective human will, not upon an aptitude for carefully observing empirical events or deriving logical ‘proofs.’ For, ‘traditional’ science is a ‘work on Self,’ a conscious, willful, process of self-discipline that already ‘realizes’ in part its telos before it ever begins. This process, however, is not the ‘working out’ of a dumb or organic ‘will to power,’ such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have written about. It is the consequence of the free action of a self-aware will, more akin to the ‘Spirit’ that the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) posits in his masterpiece Phenomenology of Spirit, the true ‘phenomenology’ of which is Spirit’s (Brahman’s) coming to ‘realize,’ in an indefinite number of ‘individual’ beings ‘migrating’ through the cosmos, its essentially meta-physical nature. Traditional ‘science’ (Tradition) doesn’t, can’t, pretend to be empirical inductive science in the modern Enlightenment sense of focusing on the discovery of facts and rules about physical reality because it has already ‘realized’ that reality is, fundamentally, meta-physical. It has, so to speak, graduated from college, whereas Enlightenment science is still in kindergarten playing on the playground. This is not to say that children in kindergarten don’t require a place to learn what they can learn, at their own pace, but it is foolish to expect adults to go back and go through the motions in order to make the children feel that their endeavors and play have meaning. Scientism, however, without ever discovering a ‘higher’ kind of knowledge, and at the same time, as Peirce would say, ‘fixing the belief’ in itself that it has graduated from the kindergarten playground, nevertheless goes back to the playground, puts on the garb of a child, and sets to convincing all of the real children that the abyss of meaninglessness and cynicism which it has ‘graduated’ into is the ‘new science.’ After realizing that this is the nature of the art of scientism that only parades as science, one may not wonder long why those who have fallen by its machinations seek to be something else.


1 G. I. Gurdjieff, as quoted in P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (London, New York, and San Diego: Harcourt Inc., 1949), 68.

2 Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman, ed. by Jeffrey Robbins (Helix Books, 2005), 187.

3 F.A. Hayek, ‘Scientism and the Study of Society, Part I,’ Economica 9: 35, 367-291, 1942.

4 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs, trans. by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House Inc., 1974), 82.

5 I shall use the expression the ‘human mass’ throughout this essay to refer to the collective nature of human being that is susceptible to behavioristic conditioning in a manner that individual humans are not.

6 The Enlightenment was an intellectual, philosophical, and scientific movement in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries which grew out of the Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In this essay, I consider these two phenomena to be aspects of a singular phenomenon which I refer to as the Enlightenment or ‘Enlightenment science.’ I focus on the scientific spirit of this phenomenon over the modern philosophical spirit that historically accompanied it. The Enlightenment (inclusive of the Scientific Revolution) constituted a major shift of focus among the literati: from the previous longstanding and venerable application of the ‘light of human reason’ to ancient philosophical and religious texts, to its application to bare sensory experience. Therefore, instead of the preponderance of scholars focusing on interpretations of the works of Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, and other (mostly ancient) authoritative texts and personages, modern scholars began focusing on and applying reason to raw empirical data. These two elements of reason and (as applied to) empirical experience became the hallmark of what I call ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘modern’ science in this essay. Representative scientists and philosophers of the Enlightenment include: Nicolaus Copernicus, Johann Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, René Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, and, finally, Immanuel Kant. I describe Enlightenment science as naïve in this essay because of its near religious fixation on a certain idea of ‘objective’ knowledge and human ‘progress.’ In his book Hobbes to Hume, historian of philosophy W.T. Jones states on this subject, ‘Like “Renaissance” and “Reformation,” the term “science” is an abstraction. Because we cannot think about everything at once, we have to isolate Renaissance from Reformation and science from both. But the development of scientific method was a part of the whole context of events [of that period of Western history]….This new method involves the combination of two different elements, one empirical and one deductive. From a very early stage…almost everyone saw that both these elements were necessary. But there was by no means agreement—nor is there yet—on exactly how they contribute to the formation of scientific knowledge.’ W.T. Jones, Hobbes to Hume: A History of Western Philosophy Volume III, Second Edition (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1969), 67-68.

7 In his book Elements of Knowledge, the American philosopher Arthur Franklin Stewart discusses the synonymity of the scientific method and the ‘pragmatic method’ put forward by the American philosopher, logician, and mathematician, Charles Sanders Peirce. Stewart refers to Peirce’s philosophical method as ‘philosophical pragmatism, or pragmaticism,’ an unwieldy term coined by Peirce himself to distinguish his particular interpretation of pragmatism from other varieties. Stewart states that, according to Peirce, ‘Pragmatism is a method, synonymous with the experimental method of the sciences, for acquiring and developing human knowledge….The basic model of this procedure may be described as follows: (1) identify the problem at hand; (2) create a predictive explanation or explanatory hypothesis to explain the problem; (3) test your explanation or hypothesis against the problem for conclusive results….This experimental model of pragmatism operates throughout the experience of human knowledge.’ Arthur Franklin Stewart, Elements of Knowledge: Pragmatism, Logic, and Inquiry (Nashville & London: Vanderbilt University Press, 1993), x and 1-2. Later in this essay, we shall discuss in much more depth some of the scientific and epistemological views of C.S. Peirce.

8 The Will to Power was published after Nietzsche’s death by his sister Elizabeth. It is a collection of Nietzsche’s notes relating to his interpretation of the idea of what he called the ‘will to power,’ which is based very strongly upon the central thesis of the book The World as Will and Representation by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). According to Nietzsche, even science is an expression of the will to power. In the present essay, a distinction is made between science as a (largely) self-less enterprise and the faux science of scientism, the latter of which is a ‘sciency’ façade created for purely selfish motives. Nietzsche recommended certain forms of ‘will to power’ over others, specifically the human capacity to ‘self-overcome.’ We shall address this idea as it has manifested in some non-Western philosophical/religious traditions towards the end of this essay. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale (New York, New York: Vintage Books, a division of Random House, 1968).

9 There is, as Aristotle notes, a wisdom that belongs to artists, defined as individuals who know their particular craft well, which surpasses the wisdom of the common person of experience about any particular art. This kind of wisdom, however, should not be taken to be equivalent to science in the Enlightenment sense. For, as Aristotle notes in Metaphysics, the nature of the various ‘arts’ (crafts) is to produce something. That ‘something,’ however, as Plato noted in Republic about the productions of poets, may be in discord with theoretical truth, the latter of which is the primary objective of Enlightenment science. In writing on ‘art’ in Metaphysics, Aristotle states, ‘But yet we think that knowledge and understanding belong to art rather than to experience, and we suppose artists to be wiser than men of experience…; and this because the former know the cause, but the latter do not. For men of experience know that the thing is so, but do not know why, while the others know the “why” and the cause.’ Metaphysics I: 1: 24-30, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, Volume Two, ed. by Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984, Sixth Printing, with corrections, 1995). In this quotation, Aristotle is making the point that ‘the master-workers in each craft…know in a truer sense and are wiser than the manual workers, because they know the causes of the things that are done.’ Metaphysics I: 1: 30-32. This amounts to the observation that the ‘master-worker’ understands his craft whereas the laborer does not. The ‘sciency’ science of scientism that I have described above is a form of ‘art’ in the sense of craft. However, it is, primarily, the ‘art’/craft of deception, and this is what makes it incongruent with the spirit of Enlightenment science. The basic point is that art is, in general, as Aristotle calls it, ‘productive science,’ whereas pursuits such as biology, chemistry, and physics are what he terms ‘theoretical sciences.’ The purpose, he notes, of the former kind of ‘science’ is to produce something—to ‘make a product.’ The purpose of the later, i.e., the ‘theoretical sciences,’ is to purely know/understand a given subject. Science in the Enlightenment sense strives to be, in its essence, a ‘theoretical science’ (in the Aristotelian sense); ‘science’ in the scientism sense that I describe above is merely a craft, an art.

10 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 419.

11 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 419.

12 Karl R. Popper, Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 185.

13 Metaphysics I: 1: 1, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, Volume Two.

14 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 430.

15 Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (New York, New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2004), 111.

16 Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, 107.

17 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 421.

18 Posterior Analytics I: 33: 30-35, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, Volume One, ed. by Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984, Sixth Printing, with corrections, 1995).

19 The ideas of both ‘science’ and ‘understanding’ as employed here have their precedents in the works of Aristotle. In his article ‘Philosophy of Science,’ R. J. Hankinson states, for example, that ‘knowledge proper…[for Aristotle] consists of understanding, episteme, and understanding involves science. Indeed episteme (as a concrete noun) can mean, in Aristotle’s terminology, a science: an organized body of systematically arranged information.’ R. J. Hankinson, ‘Philosophy of Science,’ in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, ed. by Jonathan Barnes (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 109-139, 109.

20 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘F.R.L First Rule of Logic,’ Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, 1899, 1.135,

21 Eliade states in The Myth of the Eternal Return that ‘premodern or “traditional” societies include both the world usually known as “primitive” and the ancient cultures of Asia, Europe, and America.’ In Rites and Symbols of Initiation, Eliade states that premodern societies are ‘those that lasted in Western Europe to the end of the Middle Ages, and in the rest of the world to World War I.’ Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, trans. by Willard R. Task (New York, New York: Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1954), 3 and Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth, trans. by Willard R. Trask (Putnam, Connecticut: Spring Publications, 1994 [originally published in 1958]), 18.

22 As traditional science has taken many forms in the various historical traditional/archaic societies, we may speak of the one underlying general ‘method,’ or approach, to metaphysical ‘realization’ or the many methods that are variations on this. We shall discuss the idea of ‘realization’ later in this essay.

23 As I state in my book The Serpent Symbol in Tradition, ‘Both authors [Guénon and Eliade] completely agree…that the traditional/archaic paradigm is essentially meta-physical. “Nature,” or the physical world, is considered to be in traditional/archaic, or “primitive,” societies, a “manifestation” or “creation” of a “higher” meta-physical Reality. As Eliade argues repeatedly, “‘primitive’ ontology has a Platonic structure.”’ Charles William Dailey, The Serpent Symbol in Tradition: A Study of Traditional Serpent and Dragon Symbolism, Based in Part Upon the Concepts and Observations of René Guénon, Mircea Eliade, and Various Other Relevant Researchers (London: Arktos Media, Ltd., 2022), 60.

24 Arthur Franklin Stewart, Elements of Knowledge, x.

25 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ Popular Science Monthly 12 (November 1877), 1-15, in Pragmatism: A Reader, ed. by Louis Menand (New York, New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 1997), 15.

26 Noam Chomsky (b. 1928) is an American philosopher, cognitive scientist, and linguist who is perhaps best known for his decades-long criticism of American imperialism and his idea that governments use covert methods to, as he calls it, ‘manufacture consent’ among their populations for their only apparently democratically enacted initiatives.

27 The Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) is best known for founding the analytical school of psychology and proposing the existence of the ‘archetypes of the collective unconscious.’ ‘Individuation,’ for Jung, is the process by which individuals fulfill their natural telos (their psychological, not merely biological, ‘purpose’) by means of actualizing their unique potential. Jung was greatly influenced on this subject by the works of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

28 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ 13.

29 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ 20-21.

30 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ 16-18.

31 Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits trans. by R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

32 Aristotle, Posterior Analytics 99b20 ff., taken from W.T. Jones, The Classical Mind: A History of Western Philosophy Volume I, Second Edition (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), 252-53. (My emphasis)

33 The idea that science is only a tool that may be used to elaborate on and quantify intuitions or fundamental insights about the nature of reality, but never to uniquely provide such intuitions or fundamental insights, may be compared to one idea of what the discipline of Logic is. In the article ‘Aristotle’s Logic’ in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it is stated that ‘The ancient commentators grouped together several of Aristotle’s treatises under the title Organon (“instrument”) and regarded them as comprising his logical works….In fact, the title Organon reflects a much later controversy about whether logic is a part of philosophy (as the Stoics maintained) or merely a tool used by philosophy (as the later Peripatetics thought); calling the logical works “The Instrument” is a way of taking sides on this point.’ Aristotle’s Logic (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) online.

34 René Guénon, The Multiple States of the Being, ed. by Samuel D. Fohr, trans. by Henry D. Fohr (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001 [originally published in 1932 as Les États multiples de l’être]), 21.

35 René Guénon, Symbols of Sacred Science, ed. Samuel D. Fohr, trans. by Henry D. Fohr (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001 [originally published in 1962 as Symboles fondamentaux de la science sacrée]), 2.

36 René Guénon, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, trans. by Marco Pallis (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001 [originally published in 1921 by Les Éditions de la Maisnie]), 162-63. More fully, Guénon states that ‘what is expressed in India by the Sanskrit word darshana…denotes nothing more or less than “sight” or “point of view”, for the principal meaning of the verbal root drish, from which it is derived, is “to see.” The darshanas are really therefore “points of view” within the doctrine, and not, as most orientalists imagine, competing or conflicting philosophical systems; insofar as these points of view are strictly orthodox, they naturally cannot enter either into conflict or into contradiction with one another.’

37 René Guénon, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, 76-77.

38 Many written manifestations of Hinduism, as well as of Buddhism, make a distinction between multiple levels or layers of personhood. The mind does not constitute the deepest or most ‘individualizing’ of these layers. For example, the Hindu holy text The Bhagavad Gita states, ‘The senses are higher than the body, the mind higher than the senses; above the mind is the intellect, and above the intellect is the Atman.’ The Bhagavad Gita, trans. by Eknath Easwaran (Tomales, California: Nilgiri Press, a division of The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 2009), 3:42, 109. This perspective is also pervasive in the Hindu Upanisads, a historically earlier expression of the orthodox doctrines of what is now generally called ‘Hinduism.’ As Ramakrishna Puligandla states in Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy, ‘Thus the Upanisads teach that man in his true being is Atman (Brahman, ultimate reality), which is infinite, eternal and immortal. But in his ignorance, man identifies himself with finite and perishable things such as his body, mind, ego….[A]s the Upanisads teach, man’s inmost Self (Atman) is Brahman, and, as Buddhism teaches, every man is Buddha, only he should know that to be the case.’ In the same book, Puligandla relates that in the orthodox Samkhya darshana, ‘Mahat [intellect] is the basis of all our intellectual modes. It is thus the faculty by which we discriminate, deliberate, judge, and make decisions. It is by mahat that we distinguish between the subject and object, self and non-self, experiencer and experienced….Sensations and impressions arise as a result of contacts between the sense-organs and objects. The manas [mind] analyzes the sensations and impressions into various forms and passes them on to the mahat.’ Ramakrishna Puligandla, Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy (New Delphi: D.K. Printworld Ltd., 1994 [originally published in New York in 1975]), 9, 12, 125, and 132. We shall return to the concept of Brahman later in this essay.

39 See, for examples, Republic, Phaedo, and Euthyphro.

40 René Guénon, Man & His Becoming According to the Vedanta, trans. by Richard C. Nicholson (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001 [originally published in 1925 as L’Homme et son devenir selon le Vedanta]), 9.

41 Found in Paul Chacornac, The Simple Life of René Guénon (Hillsdale, New York: Sophia Perennis, 2001), 23-24, from ‘Gnosis and the Spiritual Schools,’ Miscellanea, pt. 3, chap. 6.

42 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ 21.

43 In the medieval European historical manifestation (‘expression’) of Tradition, the eminently real (‘ultimate’) cause of all things is the completely spiritual (metaphysical) reality called ‘God.’ Although physical objects and processes may be called causes, they are only such in a secondary sense because they are all, themselves, dependent upon (i.e., caused by) ‘God.’ The medieval Aristotelian philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) states in his Summa Theologica, for example, ‘It is…clear that the same effect is ascribed to a natural cause and to God, not as though part were effected by God and part by the natural agent: but the whole effect proceeds from each, yet in different ways: just as the whole of the one same effect is ascribed to the instrument, and again the whole is ascribed to the principal agent.’ Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, ed. by A.C. Pegis, in Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas (New York, New York: Random House, 1945), Part I, Question 1, Article 8. Although Aquinas refers in this quotation to two kinds of causes for any event, a natural cause and a metaphysical cause (i.e., God), it is the difference between, respectively, a merely material cause and an efficient and/or ‘final’ cause. The ‘final cause’ is always, in the Aristotelian-Thomistic synthesis, the ‘highest,’ ‘ultimate,’ cause. Saint Thomas Aquinas is best known for his synthesis of Aristotle’s philosophy and the Christian dogma into a broadly comprehensive worldview or ‘system’ that was adopted by the Catholic Church as their primary means of defending the Christian faith on a philosophical and rhetorical level. Aquinas’s great accomplishment retains this role to the present day.

44 It is fairly well known these days that, just after the time of Peirce, certain discoveries in physics began to draw into question the old Newtonian idea of a separate ‘objective’ reality that may be observed and studied without being interfered with. The origination and development of quantum theory in the early part of the twentieth century, especially the discoveries of Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrodinger, showed that what we think of as a ‘physical reality’ that is separate from (human) consciousness is, in fact, a simplistic, and ultimately false, projection which is inconsistent with the observed ‘behavior’ of that reality at subatomic levels. It was such discoveries that, among many other things, led to the later dramatic cynicism and rootlessness of Existentialism, postmodern philosophy, and the scientism that I discuss in this essay.

45 The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) argued in his book The Critique of Pure Reason that human perception of ‘the world’ is always and irrevocably colored by a number of ‘categories’ of the mind. Kant’s categories precondition all human experience, making it impossible, he argued, for humans to experience reality as it is ‘in itself.’ The ‘thing-in-itself,’ or noumenon, can never be experienced or known by humans in any direct manner, merely posited. Only phenomena, according to Kant, can be experienced. This theoretical axiom put Kant’s philosophy into direction contradiction with previous Western European metaphysics. It is, more relevantly to our purposes here, also in diametric opposition to the multitudinous evidence for metaphysical ‘realization’ that has been transmitted by the sages of various ‘traditional’ cultures and recorded in holy texts from around the world.

46 Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science, second edition, ed. by Gary Hatfield (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

47 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 85.

48 The Yoga of Power is a study of ‘two Hindu movements—Tantrism and Shaktism—both of which emphasize a path of action as well as mastery over secret energies latent in the body. Tracing the influence of these movements on the Hindu tradition from the fourth century onward, Evola focuses on the perilous practices of the Tantric school known as Vamachara—the “Way of the Left Hand”—which uses human passions and the power of Nature to conquer the world of the senses.’ Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power: Tantra, Shakti, and the Secret Way (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1992), back of book description.

49 Evola and Guénon, both, adhered to the ancient Hindu conception of various ‘ages’ of man. In The King of the World, for example, Guénon refers to the Hindu ‘dark age’ that is called the ‘Kali-Yuga.’ He states there that, ‘The Manvantara, or era of a Manu, also called Maha-Yuga, comprises four Yugas or secondary periods: the Krita-Yuga…, the Treta-Yuga, the Dvapara-Yuga, and the Kali-Yuga, which are identified respectively with the “age of gold”, the “age of silver”, the “age of bronze”, and the “age of iron” of Greco-Roman antiquity. In the succession of these periods there is a kind of progressive materialization resulting from the gradual distancing from the Principle that necessarily accompanies the development of the cyclical manifestation in the corporeal world, starting from the “primordial state”.’ René Guénon, The King of the World, ed. Samuel D. Fohr, trans. Henry D. Fohr (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001 [originally published in 1958 as Le Roi du Monde]), 49. The ‘Principle’ that is referred to in this quotation by Guénon is his generic name for the absolute metaphysical reality called Brahman in Hinduism.

50 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 12-13.

51 ‘Migration’ is Guénon’s term for what is popularly called ‘reincarnation.’ There is a difference in meaning in the two terms, however, as the later term always refers to migration into a corporeal body. For Guénon, there are also forms of non-corporeal ‘migration.’

52 An avatara is a physical ‘vehicle’ for the divine/metaphysical absolute in Hindu tradition. In Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth could (from a Hindu perspective) be considered an avatara of—that is, a physical and temporal expression of—the Hebrew ‘Lord God,’ Yahweh.

53 ‘Krishna, the master of yoga, revealed to Arjuna his most exalted, lordly form. ….There, within the body of the God of gods, Arjuna saw all the manifold forms of the universe united as one. Filled with amazement, his hair standing on end in ecstasy, he bowed before the Lord with joined palms and spoke these words. O Lord, I see within your body all the gods and every living creature. I see Brahma, the Creator, seated on a lotus….You are the Lord of all Creation, and the cosmos is your body….You are the supreme, changeless Reality, the one thing to be known.’ The Bhagavad Gita, trans. by Eknath Easwaran, 11:9, 13-18. Even after having interacted with Krishna throughout much of the Bhagavad Gita, it is only by means of this event of ‘intellectual intuition’ that Arjuna ‘realizes’ the true nature of what he took to be merely his human charioteer. This ‘realization’ is sudden and direct, and is not based upon empirical experience or rational thinking.

54 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 13. (My emphasis)

55 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 13.

56 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 13-14. (My emphasis)

57 Among others, a broader conception of the idea of science may also be seen in the German Wissenschaft, which, as the translator of several of Nietzsche’s works Walter Kaufmann notes, ‘does not bring to mind only—perhaps not even primarily—the natural sciences but any serious, disciplined, rigorous quest for knowledge.’ From the ‘Translator’s Introduction’ to The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche, 5.

58Sadhana’ is ‘derived from the root sadh, which means exerting will power, effort, training, or activity in the hope of achieving a given result.’ Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 11.

59 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 16.

60 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 14. (My emphasis)

61 Metaphysics XI: 2: 10-12; 25-26, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, Volume Two.

62 Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, trans. by Willard R. Trask (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009 [originally published in 1958 by Bollingen Foundation Inc.]), 94, 90, and 77.

63 Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 74 and 84. Purusha (‘Self’) in the Samkhya darshana is virtually equivalent to the Atman (‘Self’) in the Vedanta. Both are ‘orthodox’ schools of Hinduism, that is, as Guénon states, merely different ‘“points of view” within the doctrine.’

64 ‘Ontological modality’ here refers to a ‘mode (or “way”) of being’ of ‘the being’ that is ‘inaccessible’ to nearly all non-‘traditionally’ trained individuals.

65 Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 94-95. (My bolding)

66 Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 95. Patanjali (c. 300-500 CE) is the author of the Yoga Sutras, a collection of aphorisms written in Sanskrit on the practice, as well as the theory, of yoga.

67 The literal meaning of the term yoga.

68 Julius Evola, The Yoga of Power, 14.

69 Charles Sanders Peirce, ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ 21.

70 In Symbols of Sacred Science, for example, Guénon states, ‘[i]t is the loss or the forgetting of true intellectuality that has made possible two errors which, although seemingly opposed, are in reality correlative and complementary: rationalism and sentimentalism. From the moment all purely intellectual knowledge came to be denied or ignored, as has been the case since Descartes, the logical end was positivism and agnosticism, with the attendant “scientistic” aberrations on the one hand, and on the other all those contemporary theories which, not content with what reason can produce, set out after something else, but do so in the direction of sentiment and instinct, that is, beneath reason and not above it.’ René Guénon, Symbols of Sacred Science, 1-2.

71 René Guénon, Symbols of Sacred Science, 2.

72 We refer here to a kind of discipline that is of a magnitude of order greater than the discipline required for academic study, although the latter does have its merits.

73 This is an idea that the great English scientist Isaac Newton, in particular, was much interested in. Newton considered the universe itself to be a great riddle for humans to ‘solve.’

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[…] discussion of Charles William Dailey’s latest article on Science and Tradition. Some Traditionalist Arktos authors discuss the West’s loss of spirituality and symbolism, […]

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