Who is Frithjof Schuon?June 25, 2021
Frithjof Schuon, along with Rene Guenon and Ananda Coomaraswamy, is the founder of the traditionalism movement, metaphysician, painter, poet, writer and Sufi leader. He is a religious figure who has more than 20 books written over 50 years, translated into many world languages apart from his original language, French, discussed and still debated in academic and non-academic circles.
Frithjof Schuon (18 June 1907 – 5 May 1998), one of the leading figures of traditional metaphysics, who was born in Basel of German parents and received his first education in German and later education in French, was a metaphysician, poet and painter. He was interested in Islam in Paris, learned Arabic and went to Algeria and Egypt. He came into contact with and studied the lifestyles and art styles of the American Plains Indians (the Sioux and Crow tribes) in the 1950s and 60s, and died in Bloomington (1998).
Schuon used this perspective to explain the traditionalist or perennialist perspective, the principles of which the French metaphysician René Guénon put forward, and to understand the traditions in different cultures and geographies. Accordingly, in Ancient Greek, Hindu, Native traditions and religions such as monotheistic Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there is an ancient, universal way of knowing (or wisdom), which is expressed in relation to an esoteric dimension apart from the outward forms, and a set of principles on which this knowledge is based. Despite being in the Islamic and Sufi tradition, Schuon, as a metaphysician, tries to identify these universal principles in various religions and cultures in his works and to understand the existing differences and accidentalities in the light of these universals. Schuon uses the center and circle symbolism expressed in Islamic mysticism (Sufi) and other traditions to make sense of various traditional forms of religion and spirituality. As this symbolism indicates, in addition to the uniqueness of the center, traditions at the distance of different points on the circle that finally reaches that center, in order to re-penetrate the meaning of tradition in today’s modern world based on the opposition of religion and tradition, it is not an intellectual (lore) way of thinking that expresses the modern mind. should be reconsidered and reinterpreted. However, this interpretation or, to put it in today’s philosophical language, the way of reading should not be in any way on the level of modern thought, but should be done without separating any of its elements from each other and that that tradition will be evaluated as a whole, and should not lead to any syncretism (combinationism) or eclecticism (electivism) between different traditions. The existence of tradition as it is is due to a Divine will that transcends the human level. For this reason, new forms of spirituality or religion differ from authentic religions and traditions because they are purely human in their origins and goals.
According to Frithjof Schuon, “Really, everything has been said before, but much more is necessary for everything to be understood by everyone at all times. That is to say, there can be no such thing as presenting “new truths”. In this age, what is necessary is to provide some with new keys, so that they may rediscover the truths written with an eternal inscription in the essence of the soul. These keys are different from the old ones, more related to thought, but not better than them.”
In the same context, the author states in his work Formes et substance dans les religions: “In fact, everything has been said before, and very well; but it is always necessary to say them again. In saying them, always do what has been done, that is, thinking. It is necessary to express the truths that are not in the ego, but in the transcendent essence of the human mind, which are in the transcendent essence of the human mind. The human mind is a whole. Therefore, it is basically at a level that can comprehend the absolute and then the relative, depending on the absolute. To comprehend the absolute means to comprehend the relative, and then It means grasping the roots of the relative in the absolute and the reflections of the absolute in the relative. All metaphysics, all cosmology, in the final analysis, reveal the situation of the absolute and relative being complementary to each other, which is unique to the Universal “Maya” and, accordingly, depends on the substance of the mind itself.”
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM) Who is he?