The Traditionalism dealt with on this website is an early twentieth-century
French philosophy that gave rise to an important worldwide movement.
The contemporary Traditionalist philosophy was first developed in Paris
by René Guénon (1886-1951) in a number of books published
over the ten years following the end of the First World War, but its origins
can be traced to the sixteenth century.
The earliest Traditionalist organizations were established before the
Second World War. The movement divided in 1948-50 after a split between
Guénon and one of his most important followers, the Swiss Sufi
shaykh Frithjof Schuon (1907-98). Guénon died in Cairo in 1951.
Traditionalism was developed in different directions by Schuon and by
two other followers of Guénon, the political Traditionalist Baron
Julius Evola (1896/8-1974), and the scholar Mircea Eliade (1907-86). Over
the second half of the twentieth century, Schuon's Sufi order remained
secret, but grew in influence in Europe and America, and in Iran under
Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1933- ). Mircea Eliade's "soft" Traditionalism
had a far-reaching influence in American academia, but the connection
to Guénon's Traditionalism went unnoticed. In Italy, the postwar
writings of Julius Evola inspired various terrorist groups, but few outsiders
made any connection between Evola and Guénon.
Traditionalism remains important today, in and beyond the West. The
1960s brought renewed interest in Europe and America, and Alexander Dugin
(1962- ) has made Traditionalism central to the extreme right in post-Soviet
Russian politics. Traditionalism is also of growing importance in the
* Read a short article, "Western Sufism and Traditionalism"
* Discover the new (2004) history of the Traditionalist movement, Against
the Modern World
* Go to Resources