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on May 2, 1999
Nowadays, when the East is mentioned, and more specifically, the traditional East, immediately rise almost insurmountable barriers, such the differences of mental physiognomy that characterizes the modern westerners and the orientals. Few know that, only six centuries ago, the Occident had much more points in common that divergences, in relation to the East, because both had ther respective civilizations developed from similar priciples, that is, both respected the natural hierarchy that orders everything, from the highest, that is, the spiritual, until the lowest, the material. René Guénon, in this exemplary book, written with extreme clarity, provides us a "radiography" of the modern Occident and its roots, as no other contemporary author had ever accomplished. In the first part of the work, Guénon, shows the modern western civilization as truly monstrous, because it is the only one that grew exclusively in a material sense; he brings to the light the philosophical deformations, from Renascence, that constituted the roots of this type of "development and progress", words so in fashion and at the same time, so insignificant. The author approaches the limits of the modern science and the most spread prejudices against the East. In the second part are examined the frustrated attempts of approach between the East and the West, as well as how such an objective could be reached through an agreement on certain principles. Guénon approaches the role that the constitution of an elite would carry out in such agreement. The reading of this work provides us with a vision of the whole roots of the modern world, whith a span and a depth rarely found in any other author in any time, turning possible a rigorous evaluation of what represents, in catastrophic terms, the growing global hegemony of the modern western mentality par excellence, that is, the North American mentality. The Institute René Guénon of Traditional Studies ([...]) since many years gives a basic course "The Oriental Sight" entirely based in René Guénon's masterly work, whose entrance door can be "East and West". It is also recommended, as a complementation the this reading, "The Crisis of the Modern World", of the same author. Luiz Pontual IRGET.
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on March 21, 2013
In the 1920s when Guénon composed this long treatise, the question of the duality of "East and West" was a common one in European intellectual circles. The divisions may be harder to see today, but at that time, the West -- Western Europe and America -- had discovered a number of "civilizations" in the East, and Orientalists had recognized the existence of complex societies in these civilizations, but with the exception of Japan, none of them rose to the challenge of European imperialism. The question as posed at the time was, why did Eastern civilizations form in a different way than the nation-states of Western and Eastern Europe? For a member of the Perennial School this question has an easy answer, and indeed Guénon probably chose to discuss this topic because it was easy for him to answer. As an overview of metaphysics it is not terrible so I will not give it a low rating.

However, this turns out to be not the best topic for Guénon to demonstrate his expertise. Being tied up with the West's imperial ambitions, "East and West" necessarily includes some geopolitics, and the Metaphysician demonstrates a very poor grasp of this topic, including the infamous "puppets" passage (72-76) which Schuon harshly criticized in Rene Guénon: Some Observations. Here the terms "Eastern" and "Western" are employed for a permanent symbolism, but Guénon does not explain this anywhere, which leaves his image of the symbolic "true Easterner" open to being slandered as a gross generalization or even a prejudice. He does not seem to realize he is employing symbolic terms, and indeed he calumnies real Easterners (the Japanese are slandered as half-Malay and not truly "yellow", whatever that means).

It is possible that when Guénon wrote this essay he was not aware he was employing symbolic language, a topic he grasps to a remarkable extent in the far better book The King of the World . Devoted readers may find some enlightening perspectives in this treatise, but I strongly recommend that most readers look to The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times as a far, far better overview of his proposed opposition between traditional metaphysics and modernity.
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on April 8, 1999
Hoje em dia, quando se fala de Oriente, e mais especificamente, do Oriente tradicional, imediatamente se erguem barreiras quase intransponíveis, tal a diferença da `fisionomia mental' que caracteriza os ocidentais modernos e os orientais. Poucos sabem que, há apenas seis séculos, o Ocidente tinha muito mais pontos em comum que divergentes, em relação ao Oriente, pois um e outro tinham suas respectivas civilizações desenvolvidas a partir de princípios semelhantes, isto é, ambos respeitavam a hierarquia natural que ordena todas as coisas, desde o mais elevado, isto é, o espiritual , até o mais baixo, o material. René Guénon, neste livro magistral, escrito com extrema clareza, nos proporciona uma `radiografia' do Ocidente moderno e suas raízes, como jamais qualquer outro autor contemporâneo havia realizado. Na primeira parte da obra, Guénon , mostra a civilização ocidental moderna como verdadeiramente monstruosa, pois é a única que se desenvolveu num sentido exclusivamente material ; traz à luz as deformações filosóficas, desde a Renascença, que constituíram as raízes deste tipo de "desenvolvimento e progresso", termos tão em moda e ao mesmo tempo, tão insignificantes. O autor aborda os limites da ciência moderna e os preconceitos mais difundidos contra o Oriente. Na segunda parte, são examinadas as tentativas frustradas de aproximação entre o Oriente e Ocidente assim como em que termos tal objetivo poderia ser alcançado, isto é, através de um acordo sobre determinados princípios. Guénon aborda o papel que a constituição de uma elite desempenharia em tal hipótese. A leitura desta obra nos proporciona uma visão de conjunto das raízes do mundo moderno cuja envergadura e profundidade raramente se encontra em qualquer outro autor em qualquer tempo, tornando possível uma avaliação rigorosa do que representa, em termos catastróficos, a crescente hegemonia mundial da mentalidade ocidental moderna por excelência, isto é, a mentalidade norte-americana. O Instituto René Guénon de Estudos Tradicionais ( [...] ) há vários anos vem lecionando seu curso básico "Olhar Oriental" inteiramente fundamentado na obra magistral de René Guénon, cuja porta de entrada pode muito bem ser "Oriente e Ocidente". É recomendada também, como complementação a esta leitura, "A Crise do Mundo Moderno", do mesmo autor.
Luiz Pontual IRGET.
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