Nested in Tradition




In the market place, for practical reasons, innumerable qualitative distinctions which are of vital importance for man and society are suppressed; they are not allowed to surface. 

Thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in 'The Market’. Everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable. 

To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. Not surprisingly, therefore, if economic thinking pervades the whole of society, even simple non-economic values like beauty, health, or cleanliness can survive only if they prove to be ‘economic'.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 37




We know too much about ecology today to have any excuse for the many abuses that are currently going on in the management of the land, in the management of animals, in food storage, food processing, and in heedless urbanisation. 

If we permit them, this is not due to poverty, as if we could not afford to stop them; it is due to the fact that, as a society, we have no firm basis of belief in any meta-economic values, and when there is no such belief the economic calculus takes over. 

This is quite inevitable. How could it be otherwise? Nature, it has been said, abhors a vacuum, and when the available ‘spiritual space' is not filled by some higher motivation, then it will necessarily be filled by something lower - by the small, mean, calculating attitude to life which is rationalised in the economic calculus. 

I have no doubt that a callous attitude to the land and to the animals thereon is connected with, and symptomatic of, a great many other attitudes, such as those producing a fanaticism of rapid change and a fascination with novelties - technical, organisational, chemical, biological, and so forth - which insists on their application long before their long-term consequences are even remotely understood. 

In the simple question of how we treat the land, next to people our most precious resource, our entire way of life is involved, and before our policies with regard to the land will really be changed, there will have to be a great deal of philosophical, not to say religious, change. 

It is not a question of what we can afford but of what we choose to spend our money on. If we could return to a generous recognition of meta-economic values, our landscapes would become healthy and beautiful again and our people would regain the dignity of man, who knows himself as higher than the animal but never forgets that noblesse oblige

[E.F. Schumacher] 
Small is Beautiful, p. 96




In every traditional civilisation, as there has often been occasion to point out, every human activity of whatever kind is always regarded as derived essentially from principles. This is conspicuously true for the sciences, and it is no less true for the arts and the crafts, and there is in addition a close connection between them all […]

By this attachment to principles human activity could be said to be as it were 'transformed', and instead of being limited to what it is in itself, namely, a mere external manifestation (and the profane point of view consists in this and nothing else), it is integrated with the tradition, and constitutes for those who carry it out an effective means of participation in the tradition, and this is as much as to say that it takes on a truly ‘sacred' and 'ritual’ character. 

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 56




Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

Traditional values are to be 'debunked' and mankind to be cut out into some fresh shape at the will (which must, by hypothesis, be an arbitrary will) of some few lucky people in one lucky generation which has learned how to do it. 

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p.426




Almost all commentators on Machiavelli say that his principal innovation, and the essence of his method, was to “divorce politics from ethics.”

Thereby he broke sharply with the Aristotelian tradition which had dominated medieval political thought. His method, they grant, freed politics to become more scientific and objective in its study of human behavior; but it was most dangerous because, through it, politics was released from “control” by ethical conceptions of what is right and good.

Machiavelli divorced politics from ethics only in the same sense that every science must divorce itself from ethics. Scientific descriptions and theories must be based upon the facts, the evidence, not upon the supposed demands of some ethical system […]

Machiavelli divorced politics from a certain kind of ethics - namely, from a transcendental, otherworldly, and, it may be added, very rotten ethics. But he did so in order to bring politics and ethics more closely into line, and to locate both of them firmly in the real world of space and time and history, which is the only world about which we can know anything.

Machiavelli is as ethical a political writer as Dante. The difference is that Machiavelli's ethics are much better.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p. 35




The same structure has been preserved in all so-called syncopated jazz. These syncopations are like delays that tend to liberate energy or generate an impulse: a technique used in African rites to induce possession of the dancers by certain entities, the Orisha of the Yoruba or the Loa of the Voodoo of Haiti, who took over their personalities and "rode” them.

This ecstatic potential still exists in jazz. But even here there is a process of dissociation, of abstract development of rhythmic forms separated from the whole to which they originally belonged.

Thus, given the desacralization of the environment and the nonexistence of any institutional framework or corresponding ritual tradition, any suitable atmosphere or appropriate attitude, one cannot expect the specific effects of authentic African music with its evocative function; the effect always remains a diffuse and formless possession, primitive and collective in character.

This is very apparent in the latest forms, such as the music of the socalled beat groups. Here the obsessive reiteration of a rhythm prevails (similar to the use of the African tom-tom), causing paroxysmal contortions of the body and inarticulate screams in the performers, while the mass of the listeners joins in, hysterically shrieking and throwing themselves around, creating a collective climate similar to that of the possessions of savage ritual and certain Dervish sects, or the Macumba and the Negro religious revivals.

Here we are no longer concerned with the specific compensation that one can find in syncopated dance music as the popular counterpart and extension of the extremes reached, but not maintained, by modern symphonic music; we are concerned with the semi-ecstatic and hysterical beginnings of a formless, convoluted escapism, empty of content, a beginning and end in itself.

Hence, it is completely inappropriate when some compare it to certain frenetic, collective, ancient rites, because the latter always had a sacred background.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 164-5




With drugs we have a situation similar to that of syncopated music. Both were often transpositions onto the profane and “physical” plane of means that were originally used to open one up to the suprasensible in initiation rites or similar experiences.

Just as dances to modern syncopated music derive from ecstatic Negro dance, the various drugs used today and created in laboratories correspond to drugs that were often used for "sacred" ends in primitive populations, according to ancient traditions. This is even true for tobacco; strong extracts of tobacco were used to prepare young Native Americans in their withdrawal from profane life to obtain "signs” and visions.

A similar claim can be made for alcohol, within certain limits; we are aware of the tradition centered on “sacred beverages," as in the use of alcohol in Dionysian and similar rituals. For example, alcoholic beverages were not prohibited in ancient Taoism: on the contrary, they were considered "life essences” inducing an intoxication that, like dance, could lead to a “magical state of grace,” sought by the so-called real men.

In addition, the extracts of coca, mescal, peyote, and other narcotics have been, and often still are, used in the rituals of secret societies of Central and South America.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p.167
 



Art in a traditional and organic civilization never occupied the central spiritual position that the period of humanist and bourgeois culture accorded to it.

Before the modern era, when art had a true, higher meaning, this was thanks to its preexisting contents, superior and prior to it, neither revealed nor "created” by it as art.

These contents gave meaning to life and could exist, manifest, and act even in the virtual absence of what is called art, in works that sometimes might seem “barbaric” to the aesthete and the humanist who have no sense of the elementary and primordial.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 156
 



If I continued the discussion of modern science and its technical applications, it would be easy to highlight this process of increasing autonomy, a process neither checked nor restrained by any higher limits or guidance: hence one often has the impression that technical-scientific development takes man in hand and faces him with difficult, unexpected situations full of unknowns.

I need not dwell on the specialized fragmentation, the lack of a higher and unifying principle of modern knowledge, as it is quite evident. These are the consequences of one of the dogmas of progressive thought, the unassailable "freedom of science” and of scientific research, which is a simple, euphemistic way to indicate and legitimize the development of one activity dissociated from the whole.

That “freedom” is not unlike the "freedom of culture” celebrated as a victory, with which the active processes of dissolution likewise manifest in an inorganic civilization (as opposed to what Vico recognized as proper to all the “heroic periods” of preceding civilizations).

One of the most typical expressions of the “neutralization” of such a culture is the antithesis between culture and politics: pure art and pure culture are supposed to have nothing to do with politics. In the direction of literary liberalism and humanism, separation has often turned into overt opposition.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 151
 



Since these different supposed conflicts concern different areas of life and thought, they clearly involve different conceptions of what science itself is - different conceptions of why it is excellent and of what it is trying to achieve […] And these various conceptions cannot help having a social meaning.

To take sides for or against various elements in society in these various wars is inevitably to choose a particular notion of that society. To oppose some particular current ideology is to espouse and express a different one - an alternative idea of life as a whole, a distinctive view of what is important in it.

Such opposition cannot just be something internal to science. It is not 'value-free'.

Asking for more science and less of some thing else is itself a social and political move. This move can be quite legitimate but it must not be mistaken for a part of a pure mysteriously objective science which stands outside society.

Past changes should surely make us think carefully about why we are now inclined to think of particular attitudes as demands of science.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p. 66-7
 



The trouble is that terms such as consciousness and experience belong in a different category to those of physical science, a category which is deliberately kept out of science just because, in terms of our whole thought, it has a more general application.

Words like these become appropriate when we have moved right away from the specialised scientific angle to another wider and more basic one, namely, the angle from which we normally look at the world when we remember clearly - instead of deliberately forgetting - that we, and many others, are sentient beings within it.

Of course this wider point of view is not hostile to science. It is the background framework within which the sciences arise. The scientific point of view is itself an abstraction from it. The scientific angle is the one from which we attend only to certain carefully selected abstractions which are meant to be the same for all observers.

When we move away from that specialised angle to the wider, everyday point of view we are not being ‘subjective' in the sense of being partial. Instead we are being objective - i.e. realistic - about subjectivity, about the hard fact that we are sentient beings, for whom sentience is a central factor in the world and sets most of the problems that we have to deal with.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.140
 



We know that innovation does occur among Pintupi, even in the norms. The Dreaming has been constantly revised and elaborated through dreams, strange encounters, and mystical experiences, but innovation took place in the idiom of The Dreaming itself.

Even in revising, Pintupi seem to perpetually search for the precedent outside themselves that accounts for current arrangements, although objectification is understood to exist prior to the event.

What is most important is that acceptance of these norms built a relationship among those who shared the Law: they became "one country, one Dreaming." In this way, the Law objectified a form of association that linked people through space.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.267
 



[...] it seems to me a truth about living, that if a society sticks too much to the same and what is known, it fossilizes [...]

[...] an active and working tradition [...] is the only way in which you can innovate. Traditions don’t fossilize things. They are the current in which you can go on to produce new things, which are coherent with what you know from the past. Not just random ideas that have no context.

[Iain McGilchrist]
'EP 154 Iain McGilchrist on The Matter With Things', The Jim Rutt Show, Youtube
 



The encyclopaedic, the genealogical, and the Thomistic tradition-constituted standpoints confront one another not only as rival moral theories but also as projects for constructing rival moral narratives.

Is there any way that one of these rivals might prevail over the others?

One possible answer was supplied by Dante: that moral narrative prevails [...] which is able to include its rivals within itself, not only to retell their stories as episodes within its own story, but to tell the story of the telling of their stories as such episodes.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, p.80-81
 



Descartes broke with tradition, made a clean sweep and undertook to start afresh, finding out everything by himself.

This kind of arrogance became the ‘style’ of European philosophy. 'Every modern philosopher,' as Maritain remarks, 'is a Cartesian in the sense that he looks upon himself as starting off in the absolute, and as having the mission of bringing men a new conception of the world.'

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.18



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