Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recommended books.

This idea of giving a list of must reads books has been doing the round on many blogs. I thought I might as well give it a go.

There are so many important books though that I thought I'd make a split between the 10 must read books that are directly decentralist, localist, distributist or regionalist or very close and those 10 who set the scene and background for my traditionalist, Christian decentralism. Of course though there is bound to be some overlap, in particular the background list is unlikely to include any books directly contrary to the ethos of the decentralist/regionalist one.

Oh and I thought I'd rule out any scriptural works from the Bible to the Tao Te Ching, in my opinion the scriptures of the orthodox traditions are worthy reads by definition(though the right background and mindset is always required of course.) as well as other pre-reformation works(which rules out the best works but deciding upon the key ancient and medieval works, particularly if you include those outside the Western tradition, would be a task I'm not worthy of and would necessarily take away from majesty of these works.).

The first five of the top ten background works on religion, politics and society post-1500:

1. Logic and Transcendence by Frithjof Schuon, this is one of the greatest works of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. It elucidates key planks of Philosophia Perennialis and sets forth the reality of the divine, the role of faith, the Intellect and reason and the spiritual life. It is an excellent aid to understanding the transcendent unity of the orthodox traditions, the importance of following a particular tradition and the basis for an understanding of metaphysics truth which is the ground of all truth including politcial and social truth. Schuon's essential works are also key readings.

2. The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the times by Rene Guenon. Guenon is another key perennialist thinker and this work represents not just an excellent presentation of that philosophy but an extremely detailed attack on key areas of modernism and the modern world using principles derived from the Perennial tradition. Jacob Needleman has described Guenon's work thus:

“Many of Guenon’s books . . . are such potent and detailed metaphysical attacks on the downward drift of Western civilization as to make all other contemporary critiques seem half-hearted by comparison.”

He helps to show the correct attitude man should have to God, the universe, nature and his fellow man and how the modern world is getting it so very wrong and hence it is an excellent foundation for sound politics.

3. Reflections on the revolution in France by Edmund Burke. The foundational text, in many ways, of modern conservatism. It contains many of the key components of conservatism, at least in embryio.

4. The Conservative mind, from Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk. This epic work charts almost two centuries of conservative thought, particularly the more romantic and traditionalist strains, including such key figures as Burke, John Adams, John Randolph of Roanoke, Disraeli and John Henry Newman. Kirk ably shows the insight of these figures and draws out the similarities of their thought into a cohesive and all-ranging, but adaptive and non-rigid, whole.

5. Ideas have Consequences by Richard Weaver. This work is a reiteration of Platonism in a modern context, showing the importance of ideas, hierarchy, distinction and idealism in a balanced and healthy society and political opinion. Another excellent foundational text for dealing with man, the universe and society.

To be continued.....


Anonymous said...


If you are interested in the state of the Traditionalist/Perennialist School
in the English-speaking world
—the followers of René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy,
and especially Frithjof Schuon—
you may also be interested in:

in Metaphysic, Path and Lore,
With a Response to the Traditionalist/Perennialist School

by Charles Upton

Findings embraces a defense of Traditionalist principles,
a number of metaphysical meditations based upon them,
as well as an attempt to throw light on how the School has changed
—radically in some respects—
since Schuon's death.
It ends with a succinct definition of "Classical Traditionalism/Perennialism"—
a useful point of reference
by which the changes in 21st century Perennialism can be tracked.

Sophia Perennis, 2010;
310 pp Perfect Bound; ISBN 1597310964


Available through

Also available through

Westcountryman said...

You spew forth mischaracterisation after strawman in a discussion you started by highjacking a discussion. I'm not here to educate you, or even really to debate you. I'm only here to show I'm not in the least bit bothered or perplexed, in terms of my own views, by your comments. Therefore I don't see I need more detail than I have given. If you want to learn something then pay attention to my points about your one-dimensional view of the various positions on Unity and so forth (and do something to remedy this by learning more about the topics concerned). If you don't want to learn then so be it. As I said the only reason I has replied to your contrived and silly hatch job, that you clearly have been bursting to unleash since you made sure to highjack the discussion, was to show you your attacks are not troubling to me in terms of my actual beliefs. Otherwise I wouldn't have even bothered to reply.

I didn't treat the creed as a placeholder. That is yet another borderline dishonest strawman and mischaracterisation. I said the creed is partial because it is in human language. Other than that I suggested the Christian revelation was a reflection of total truth in human language, perhaps with peculiar emphasises and nuances. This is a long way from treating the creed as a placeholder and means that I fully accept the Christian revelation and tradition and thereby am fully able to practice my Christian faith. I see nothing in your comments to suggest otherwise, and of course your attack on this score fails unless the strawman of me treating Christian revelation as something highly equivocal and unnecessary, a 'placeholder', has any force.

You haven't of course dealt with any problems with your position, such as the existence of other faiths, the temporal and geographical restraints on the Christian revelation, the problems with too precise, discursive, and elaborate a doctrinal theology, and so forth. I believe that it makes no difference to someone's faith if they accept my perspective as their own. I'm certainly not out to convert traditional Christians to my own position. All that said, in terms of discussions like this, it doesn't mean you simply have to prove I hold certain opinions at odds with, say, the Greek Fathers. You also have to prove the Fathers, or whoever, and not me, were right.

I suggested the way you made sure to highjack the discussion to perennialism was silly, not the idea I have been influenced by it. I notice that you have not only failed at all times to really draw a distinction between the Platonic and the Perennialist aspects of my thought, but you also failed to give any substantial reply to my discussion of my views of the Christian revelation and tradition. And of course you have given not the least bit of evidence you have anything but the most passing acquittance with the Perennialist school, hence you treat the aspects of revelation mentioned as if they were completely invented by the Perennialists and weren't, for example, basically just expansions of Platonic ideas.

Now, if you are actually interested in my position and can put aside your gross misunderstanding and misrepresentations, as well as blorderline dishonest attacks then I would consider a proper discussion, here or elsewhere.

Westcountryman said...

So, if you're interested in my actual position on Christian doctrine and revelation, I'll outline it in brief but succinct terms, then this is it:

I believe Christianity is a Revelation from God. I believe it reflects total truth in the imperfect medium of human language, society, and forms. That it does so as a living, holistic, quasi-absolute and exhaustive form. That whatever criticisms I may have on the over discursive, precise, and elaborate formulation of certain doctrinal formulations (coupled with, paradoxically, vagueness, such as on the exact nature of the Trinity), whatever other perspectives I hold, I'm certain I view them as far more than 'placeholders'. They are part of the Revelation of Christ, containing his truth. Whatever secondary limitations they may have, this fact eclipses them, particularly in terms of one's spiritual journey within the Christian tradition. This tradition I love very much, it is my tradition, whatever aspersions you may wish to cast on my loyalty to it.

You may still have criticisms of my position, but I think you should be able to still grasp that my position is far more nuanced and, indeed, far more acceptable than treating the creed like a placeholder.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT an attempt to reignite a conversation that you wanted to abandon on Feser's blog. I can respect that. There are no expectations that you will respond to this--and I certainly won't.

I thought that I'd leave this link, since you asked for proof and I thought that this would be something to start with that also explains the thinking of the Orthodox and the Church Fathers on the matter.