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 Islamic world.


Learn more:

* Read a short article, "Western Sufism and Traditionalism"
* Discover the new (2004) history of the Traditionalist movement, Against the Modern World
* Go to Resources was established June 19, 2000.
This page was last revised July 20, 2006 .
Comments © Mark Sedgwick, 1998, 2000-2006