Against Perennial Philosophy

If the New Right or AltRight is to become the intellectual and spiritual vanguard of the Indo-European world, we archeo-futurists must recognize that the very idea of Sophia Perennis – which can be traced to Medieval Iran – is fundamentally anti-philosophical, and that the likes of Evola and Guenon were terribly wrong to legitimate Islam.

Recently the think tank of the Iranian Renaissance organization to which I belong asked me to give a presentation on whether, or to what extent, anything worthy of the name “Philosophy” transpired in Iran during the so-called ‘Islamic Golden Age.’ Although talks within the think tank are usually confidential and despite the particularly controversial content of this presentation, originally entitled “Where is the Iranian Hegel?”, the moderator of our sessions apparently considered it so educational that the decision was made to post it publicly. Since the cat is more or less out of the bag on this, I see no harm in sharing with you a heavily redacted portion of this presentation that has profound significance for the ideological structure of the New Right or AltRight movement.

You see, in the course of preparing for this presentation, something that I had long suspected came into crystal clear focus for me: “Perennial Philosophy” is not Philosophy at all. In fact, it is fundamentally anti-philosophical. In particular, the attempt on the part of traditionalist thinkers such as Julius Evola and René Guénon to claim that there is an Islamic Philosophy that is one expression of the Sophia Perennis is neither historically grounded nor conceptually sound. To the extent that there was ever anything approaching Philosophy within an Islamic context, its epicenter would have been Greater Iran. Although principle texts were forcibly written in Arabic, under the dominion of the Caliphate, nearly all of the thinkers of this so-called ‘Golden Age’ were Persians – in other words, ethnic Aryans. What becomes clear when you take a closer look at this period is the extent to which the Islamic conquest straightjacketed the once promising Indo-European genius of Iran.

Although Christianity was overall destructive of European civilization, and cause for a retardation of European science and culture, there are two major structural factors that make Christianity different from Islam in a way that allowed for a kind of Reformation that created the atmosphere where a Hegel and Nietzsche were possible, a kind of Reformation that did not and cannot ever take place in Islam.

First, there is the internal incoherence of the Gospels and their incompatibility with key parts of the Old Testament. These books were written over the course of hundreds of years by tens of different authors, and the resulting contradictions in turn required an even larger group of people to constantly engage in different interpretations of the scripture in an effort to make some sense out of it. This makes Christianity much more flexible than Islam, the scripture of which was composed by only one man, is relatively more internally consistent, and claims not to be amenable to any change whatsoever.

Second, this man, namely Muhammad, was also the founder of a political state and the Quran is in essence a legal constitution. By comparison, in the Gospels we see an emphasis on the separation of Church and State as well as the rejection of the use of force to propagate the message of Christ. Of course, in actual fact many Christians did subsequently use force to spread their faith, but at least those in the Reformation who insisted on personal conscience had both Christ’s pacifism and his secularism to lean on in order to oppose the politics of the Catholic Church.

The fact that Islamic scripture is relatively internally consistent, at least with respect to law, that it is repeatedly and explicitly made clear nothing in the Quran can change, that the Quran establishes a form of government and renders separation of religion from state impossible, that the Quran justifies Jihad and that Muhammad himself used force to spread the religion – all of these factors make a Reformation of the kind that took place in Europe impossible within a Muslim country.

Let me give you two examples of the straightjacket that Islam put on Iranian thinkers in the period of the so-called ‘Islamic Golden Age.’ The first is the duplicitous relationship that Abu Rayhan Biruni had to the culture of India, and the second is the way in which Islam forced Abu Ali Sina (Avicenna) to waste his tremendous intellect with his hypocrisy.

Biruni’s most famous work, more renowned than any of his scientific writings, is his book Tahqiq ma li’l-hind (Researches on India). This work offers us a masterful exposition of Indian thought on the nature of the cosmos and the human psyche, for example Patanjali, which Biruni takes pains to distinguish from crass popular forms of the Hindu religion. He discusses in detail, and with an objective scholarly attitude, subjects that would be considered heretical from an Islamic standpoint, such as the theory of reincarnation. He even explicitly targets bigoted Muslim misconceptions about the Sanskrit spiritual and intellectual tradition. When he engages in a comparison of the Hindu and ancient Greek worldviews, it becomes clear that this man whose native language is Persian, and who is writing in Arabic, is capable of carefully reading texts in ancient Greek as well as Sanskrit. We are looking at an Indo-European savant who could in principle have resumed the historic role of the Persians in drawing from both Western and Eastern ways of thinking to arrive at new insights that would broaden the intellectual horizon of all of humanity. If the Renaissance and Enlightenment had happened in Iran, it would truly have resulted in a universal civilization rather than a modern Western civilization dominating the rest of the planet.

But Biruni could not have helped to bring that about. Why? Because his researches on India and much of the rest of his work was done under the patronage of the Turkic-Mongol Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznah, a genocidal Islamic fundamentalist who invaded India in order to destroy Hindu temples and impose Islam by force on that territory that we now know as Pakistan. Biruni essentially got away with doing some good research on India in the course of Sultan Mahmud’s campaign of conquest, which had exactly the opposite aim as the one that we can discern in between the lines of Tahqiq ma li’l-hind.

Abu Ali Sina (born 370 Hijri, 980 Miladi) was an extraordinarily energetic polymath who produced more than two hundred works before his death at the age of 57. Most of these were written during a 15 year period of rare peace and quiet in Isfahan, which was an exception in his otherwise troubled life of perpetual persecution and dislocation. Interestingly, with respect to what I just remarked about Biruni, Ibn Sina’s productive Isfahan period was brought to an end by an attack on the city by Mahmud of Ghaznah’s son, Masud. It is quite possible that if Ibn Sina had been able to think freely the quantity of his writings would have been matched by a quality and caliber of thought equal to that of the greatest European philosophers.

Unfortunately, instead, Islamic oppression turns him into a consummate hypocrite. Towards the end of his life Sina writes a book called Mantiq al-mashriqiyyin where he disowns all of his earlier philosophical work (all of his thought that goes beyond the scope of practically-oriented science and technology). He claims that the peripatetic outlook of his philosophical writings were an exoteric façade that he was forced to erect in order to protect himself from “people devoid of understanding who considered the depth of thought as innovation (bid’ah) and the opposition to common opinion as sin…” Presumably such people included some of the Muslim potentates who withdrew their patronage once they discovered his true views, forcing him to spend much of his life as a refugee.

What is even worse is that the one final work in which Sina exposes his true philosophy, meant only for a spiritual elite, wound up being almost completely destroyed. We do not have a single intact copy of the book. What few tantalizing fragments remain from the Introduction to Mantiq al-mashriqiyyin include Sina’s claim that the views he sets forth in this work are based on his study of ancient Persian philosophy. In other words, he is Suhrawardi’s direct predecessor in the attempt to somehow resurrect the pre-Islamic wisdom religion of Iran in the form of a Hekmat al-Eshraq (Oriental Theosophy). Of course, I do not need to remind you that Suhrawardi was executed as a heretic by the Muslim authorities.

In light of the fact that we have almost nothing left of Mantiq al-mashriqiyyin, Sina’s confession that what is written in, for example, Kitab al-shifa consists of Aristotelian or Neo-Platonic platitudes meant for “commoners” is really a disaster. It makes it impossible to estimate the strength of Sina’s thought by comparison to a mind like that of Hegel. In the Kitab al-shifa Sina claims that evil is always only a privation, that there is no positive force of evil, and that necessary evils are incidental to the overall rational design of the almighty creator of man and the Cosmos. This argument, which is too twisted to rehash in detail right now, runs counter to the very core of ancient Iranian thought and it is also illogical on its own terms.

It does not help Sina that at the end of his life he admits that this was one of the many lies out of which he wove his philosophy, because without the Mantiq al-mashriqiyyin we do not know what he truly thought about such matters. In Fi Maqaamaat al-aarifin Sina destroys any hope we have of attributing a serious political philosophy to him, because he claims that the legitimacy of the legislator whose law and order are needed for social stability comes from divine signs that the Lord gives in order to manifest his power and demand our obedience to his prophet and vice-regent. So Sina legitimates the very Islamic rule that he, in the end, admits oppressed and victimized him.

Of the major thinkers from the period of the zenith of science and knowledge in Iran after the Islamic conquest, Zakariya Razi and Omar Khayyam are the two who rejected Islam. Consequently, one might be inclined to see them as the true “philosophers” of the period. However, Razi and Khayyam do not develop any new philosophical concepts or express any unprecedented insights into the nature of reality or the structure of society. Their philosophical thought is on the level of followers of the Stoic or Epicurean schools in the Roman Empire, both in terms of form and in terms of content. It is true that both men contributed significantly to the advancement of scientific knowledge, but this is not the same thing as being a philosopher.

Most of the work produced by professional so-called ‘philosophers’ in academia today is not philosophy at all. Philosophy is a kind of thinking that upholds the unity of the sciences, including political science and aesthetics. Scientific theories and discoveries may be the product of philosophical thought, insofar as that thought establishes new fundamental frameworks for seeking and organizing knowledge, but the philosopher must question basic assumptions in a way that is not necessary for scientists and inventors. Philosophy is fundamental thinking on the nature of Truth, Beauty, and Justice.

The person who actually comes closest to being a genuine philosopher in Iran during the period in question is Abu Nasr Farabi (257 Hejri, 870 Miladi). Like Plato and Aristotle, and also like Hegel, Farabi’s thought extends from ontology and epistemology to ethics, political theory, and aesthetics. However, the work of Farabi also clearly demonstrates how far Iran remained from producing a thinker like Hegel and why that is the case. In his Kitab al-burhan (a commentary on Aristotle’s Analytica Posteriora) we see that Farabi has a first-rate logical mind, capable of the most hair-splitting analysis and careful reasoning. Yet in his Kitab al-jam ‘bayn ra’yay al-hakimayn, Aflatun al-ilahi wa Aristu he tries to assert that there are no significant differences between Plato and Aristotle, and that any merely apparent differences in their thinking have to do with their different ways of life and styles of writing. I do not say he makes an argument for this because no argument can ever be made for such a preposterous position. Then in Mabadi’ ara’ ahl al-madinat al-fadilah, which I believe was Ayatollah Khomeini’s favorite book, Farabi adopts the political theory of the ideal state from Plato’s Republic and has the audacity to claim that Muhammad and the Imams are essentially what Plato meant by the ideal philosopher-kings.

The same problem lies at the basis of these two very embarrassing expositions. Farabi cannot tolerate intellectual tension on fundamental questions. For him, if Plato and Aristotle did not think the same things on the same matters of ultimate importance, this would be an indictment of human reason as such. The reality is that not only does Aristotle argue against Plato repeatedly, on matters both metaphysical and political, but Plato uses the method of his dramatic dialogues to constantly argue against himself. He chooses Socrates as a mouthpiece because he understands that the philosophical life is a life of fundamental questioning, and only on account of this can it lead to discoveries. The most famous saying of Socrates is “Wisdom begins in wonder,” whereas regarding the attainment of knowledge Farabi says, “If he encounters this meaning, he rests at it, feels peace with it, and enjoys the removal in him of the harm of wonder and ignorance.”

Someone who considers wonder a harm does not understand the first thing about Philosophy. For Farabi knowledge is cumulative. Plato and Aristotle together attained it, and so they cannot be in any fundamental disagreement. If they were, it would mean that both ignorance and wonder persist in even the most powerful minds precisely because knowledge is not cumulative and discovery is an ongoing process. Since Farabi is well aware of the essential connection between ontology or epistemology and political theory, this incompleteness and mutability of knowledge would mean not only intellectual unrest but also a threat to the long-term peace and stability of society. Someone might arrive at a different understanding of nature, including human nature, that could for example be reflected in a new political theory that produces something like the French Revolution.

That possibility unconsciously terrifies Farabi, whereas it was very clear to Plato (who he claims to revere so much). Socrates was martyred as a revolutionary political dissident, and Plato is almost killed himself for experimenting with an ideal state in Syracuse. Even Aristotle, who is relatively more conservative, had to exile himself from Athens because as he put it, he did not want to make the Athenians responsible for murdering two philosophers. Aristotle ran a think tank that would experiment with different constitutions for different city-states whose leaders would privately come to him for advisement. By contrast, Farabi has a mind like that of a Chinese Confucian. He treats Plato and Aristotle as if they are Confucius. This is also why he can so perversely equate the philosopher-king with an Imam.

For Farabi knowledge is fixed and handed-down all tidied-up, like a divine revelation. As far as I am concerned, there is no native Chinese philosophy. There might be some Buddhist philosophy which took place in China after Iranian missionaries such as Bodhidharma brought Mahayana Buddhism there through the Silk Route. But neither the Confucian nor even the Taoist sages or wise men can be considered philosophers. You know that the Chinese have this saying, “May you live in interesting times,” which they consider a curse. It is for this reason that I worry if the Chinese are left as the only bulwark against Islam, the Caliphate may dominate the world because the Asian mentality – which the Turks and Mongols shared – is actually very much in accord with Islam. Farabi has this mentality. He wants to sit at the foot of silk robed sages and receive Wisdom. This is also similar to the mentality of guru-worship in India, but the analogy to Confucianism is more appropriate because Hindu gurus usually did not speak on politics.

The precondition for producing a Hegel or Nietzsche is centuries of dialectical tension, a conflict of fundamental standpoints that plays itself out in both scientific and political revolutions that are as productive as they are destructive. The closest conditions approximating this in the history of Iran were during the Sassanian period, where we witnessed a conflict between at least four different worldviews: Manichaeism, Orthodox Zoroastrianism, Mazdakism, and Sassanian Court Platonism (which had Zurvanite elements). I have noticed that the tendency in the Iranian Renaissance movement is to conflate the court Platonism of Khosrow Anushirawan with orthodox Zoroastrianism and then dismiss Mani and Mazdak’s revolutionary doctrines as totally degenerate. I imagine that if European thinkers of the New Right or AltRight were to advance their own interpretation of Sassanian Iran they would arrive at the same conclusion, especially those who are Traditionalist rather than Archeo-Futurist. But it is important to remember that Mani was at first endorsed by Shapur the Great and that Mazdak received the support of Kavad I.

We know that each of these movements had extensive scriptures produced over a very long period of time. Mazdakism survived past the Islamic conquest in the form of the Khorramdin and Qarmatian. Manichaeism spread all the way from northwestern China to Bulgaria and the South of France. In Europe, in its Bogomil and Cathar forms it was such a potent social force that it catalyzed the Holy Inquisition of the Catholic Church in response to it. If we were to charitably suppose that the fragments of these movements that survived both Sassanian state persecution and the Islamic and Mongol conquests are a pale shadow of what they were in terms of their sophistication and depth of reflection, then we can postulate that if the culture of Sassanian Iran had continued for another century or two, it might have yielded a thinker like Hegel.

Such a man could have analyzed the dynamics of the evolution of consciousness, in hindsight, understanding the Mazdakite revolution as a stage in the self-correcting development of reason, and he could have reflected on the metaphysical shift from Zoroastrian cosmology to a Manichean or Neo-Platonist cosmology. As far as I am aware, no other non-Western culture besides Iran ever had the kind of open conflict between fundamental intellectual and spiritual standpoints that we see in the late Sassanian period. These were the birth pangs of an Enlightenment.

When one dismisses Mani and Mazdak as aberrations from some falsely idealized Khosravani wisdom and virtue, and then attributes Shapur and Khosrow’s eclectic interest in Neo-Platonism to the orthodox Zoroastrian Mobeds who were probably nervous on account of it, one is tidying-up the intellectual, spiritual, and social conditions of the Sassanian period in a way that denies that an Iranian Hegel was ever even a possibility. An example of this kind of tidying-up is the reconstruction of Sassanian so-called ‘Philosophy’ that we see in two works by Ibn Miskawayh, a thinker from Rayy who was born in 932 into a family that had only recently converted from Zoroastrianism to Islam. His book Javidan-Kherad or “The Perennial Philosophy” claims to preserve a Sassanian book of wise sayings and judgments by Hushang Shah, as well as the sayings of Kasra Qobad, a letter from Bozorgmehr to Kasra, and “words of wisdom” from Anushiravan.

Indeed, there are many fine (nikou) words of wisdom here, in the sense of sayings of a sage that the Chinese might neatly wrap up inside a fortune cookie. Some of them are more insightful than others that must be considered platitudes of the kind you would find in a 19th century European handbook on morals and proper etiquette. Even the most profound and penetrating of these sayings are not connected to each other by any systematic thought process that could, on account of its principles and logical structure, enter into a fundamental conflict with a rival system. One would be hard pressed to find anything in here that a person might die for or that might drive him to kill another. Compare this to the zeal of the Manicheans and the martyrdom of around a hundred thousand Mazdakites at the hands of Khosrow I. Whoever that Khosrow was, or for that matter whoever Kavad was that he had the audacity to back a revolutionary as radical as Mazdak, the intellectual force of these Sassanian period personages is not captured by Javidan Kherad.

Actually, the problem is not any specific error on the part of Ibn Miskawayh but the very idea of Javidan Kherad or “Perennial Philosophy”, which Mohammad Reza Shah resurrected and institutionalized in the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy. This was the institute in Pahlavi period Iran where Henry Corbin collaborated with the likes of Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Its pariah was Peter Lamborn Wilson (a.k.a. Hakim Bey). If a society believes that there is an eternal, unchanging Wisdom that can be definitively attained by a person living within the present time, and that another intelligent person need only to study under such a sage to have this knowledge imparted to him, then that society will never see the kind of scientific and political revolutions that are catalyzed by genuine philosophers and that are also preconditions for a Hegel who tries to understand what is at work in these revolutions. If I were to believe that Ibn Miskawayh’s Javidan Kherad adequately represents the intellectual life of Sassanian Iran, then an Iranian Hegel was never possible and I would even have to wonder whether the reason that Heraclitus did not accept Darius’ invitation to become the Court Philosopher of Iran is not for the reason I have repeatedly suggested in interviews with Iranian Renaissance leaders, but because Heraclitus knew that in the Court of Iran he would have to become Confucius.

That is the last thing he could ever have become, since dialectical opposition and generative conflict is the very heart and soul of Heraclitus’ thought. Nietzsche and Heidegger idolize him for this, and without this mode of thinking on his part, there would never have been a Plato. Aristotle tells us that Plato belonged to the school of Heraclitus in his youth and that what he learned there remained the foundation for all of his future work. What he learned was not some piece of information, it was not a cumulative addition to his knowledge. He learned how to think beneath and beyond any assumptions, whether cosmological or sociopolitical. This is extremely dangerous, not only because you might be killed for expressing what emerges from such thinking, but even more so because it brings you face to face with an abyss both within yourself and around you. The revolutionary transition from one framework of knowledge to another, and the revaluation of fundamental principles, requires an intellectual equivalent of Pahlavani and Javanmardi (Chivalric Heroism) that began with Zarathustra and that you do not see outside of the Indo-European world.

I have noticed that even within the Iranian Renaissance movement there are people who try to read the Gathas of Zarathustra as if they are the Analects of Confucius. This is to completely miss what it is about Zarathustra that makes him totally incomparable to Confucius. Nietzsche does far more justice to Zarathustra than those who try to use the Gathas to increase their knowledge, as if by increments. He fundamentally grasps the spirit of the man and claims that were that man alive today he would teach almost exactly the opposite of everything that he taught in his own time and place. This is an exaggeration on Nietzsche’s part, but his essential insight is absolutely right. Nietzsche grasps the form of Zarathustra’s thought and the ethos of this personality, an epitome of the “Promethean” or “Faustian” spirit characteristic of the Aryan genius long before Aeschylus’ Prometheus or Goethe’s Faust.

This mentality has a genetic basis. You do not find it in Asians, Arabs, Africans, and other non-Aryan peoples. After 1945 in the Western world it became politically correct to claim that “race” is a social construction that does not correspond to any biological reality. This is essentially a Marxist view. In the last five years, advances in gene sequencing technology and new archeological finds have destroyed this left-wing myth of human racial equality. It turns out that there were multiple co-existing Hominid species, which were vastly unequal in significant respects such as their cognitive abilities. So-called Homo Sapiens did not neatly and cleanly follow these extinct species in evolutionary history. Rather, different groups of Hominids that are now extinct mated with certain populations of Homo Sapiens and not with others. For example, many Europeans have Neanderthal genes but no Africans do. Many Africans and South Indians have genes from an extinct Hominid called the Denosovan, but no Europeans have Denosovan genes. Racial difference is real, and it matters. That Africans have an average IQ of around 75 whereas whites have an average IQ of around 100, and Africans who have mixed with whites (for example in North America or South Africa) have an average IQ of around 85 has to do not with education or social conditioning, but with different genetic inheritances from extinct Hominid species.

Before the Arab, Turkic, and Mongol conquests of Iran, in other words up to the end of the Sassanian period, the majority of Iranians were genetically identical to Europeans. Although some Persians and Kurds mixed with local non-Aryan Elamites and Assyrians, this was more than compensated for by repeated southward mass migrations of northern Iranian tribes such as the Scythians and Sarmatians, who looked – and thought – like Germans.

So if we ask why Iran never produced a Hegel after the Arab invasion, we have to remember that Hegel was German and not Greek. By Hegel’s time, the vast majority of Greeks had long since lost the genetic characteristics that they had in the time of Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, and all of those other geniuses that they produced in ancient times. They had already begun to lose that genetic character during the late Roman Empire, as had the Italians themselves.

I have little doubt about two things: Firstly, if Germanic barbarians had not invaded the Roman Empire from the north around the time that Christianity was destroying the intellectual life of Rome, there would never have been a Renaissance or Enlightenment in Europe. This took place in Northern Italy, France, and Germany, all territories where the vast majority of the population are genetically Aryan. These movements did not take place in Sicily, and that is significant because hundreds of years earlier – in the time of Pythagoras and Plato, Sicily was actually one of the most intellectually sophisticated parts of Europe. By Hegel’s time, however, Sicily had essentially become Arab despite remaining Christian. Without the barbarian invasions from the north, Italians today would be like the Christian Lebanese and Syrians or essentially like the majority of today’s orthodox Greeks. I also have little doubt that if Central Asia had still been Scythian during the period of the so-called ‘Islamic Golden Age’, and instead of the Turkic and Mongol invasions of people from the Asian race, Iran had been invaded by Scythians – not only would the Caliphate have been defeated, we would have seen the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution take place in Iran instead of Europe.

The Arab-Muslim invasion was bad, but once this was compounded by the genocidal Turkic and Mongol conquests of Iran, a demographic shift took place that deprived Iran of the genetic basis for the production of a Hegel, Nietzsche, or Heidegger. Such men are less than one in a million, even in a genetically pure Aryan population. But their thinking goes on to impact millions in the broader intellectual culture of their nation. Now, I’m not saying that for this reason Iran will never produce thinkers on this level again. With the emerging technologies of embryo selection and genetic engineering, it would be possible, with the right leadership and government planning, to restore the pre-Arab and pre-Mongol genetic character of the majority of the Iranian population within only one or two generations. I’m sorry to have to suggest that this might be necessary in order to Make Iran Great Again.

On the bright side, Islam is according to its own claim the third and final of the Abrahamic revelations. So if the fact that it cannot be reformed also means that once Iranians are fed up with it they will reject the religion in its entirety, then in a sense Iran has the potential to suddenly leap ahead of Europe. The Abrahamic religions are a three-stage project and Europe is only now being prepared to move from stage two to stage three. The prospect of an Islamic conquest of Europe over the next twenty years is very real and it would destroy what is left of the West. Iran, on the other hand, has been almost completely immunized against Islam. Indeed, unlike in the case of a post-Reformation European thinker like Hegel, for there to be a figure comparable to Hegel in Iran, that person would have to unequivocally reject Islam and preferably not by ignoring it but by intellectually destroying it. Otherwise the person cannot really even be considered a “philosopher.”

The Iranian Renaissance will only succeed, for the benefit of both Iran and Europe, if it can produce thinkers that make revolutionary scientific and sociopolitical breakthroughs. That is not going to happen with Confucian style readings of the Gathas of Zarathustra or the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. We have to think from out of the heroic Aryan spirit of Zarathustra and produce a future history that will be more mythic than anything Ferdowsi could have conceived. Our greatest enemy in this venture is not Islam, but the Traditionalist mentality of Javidan Kherad or “Perennial Philosophy” that cannot tolerate fundamental uncertainty and honest intellectual conflict. This Javidan Kherad, which Leibniz imported into the West and Guénon later elaborated and used to legitimate Islam, has its origins in a false reconstruction of Sassanian culture on the basis of an Islamic-Mongol mentality that is truly going to be the death of us if we do not have the courage to free ourselves from it. If there is going to be an Iranian Hegel first we need another Mani, we need another Mazdak, even if we also need another Khosrow, and we need this violently productive intellectual conflict within a few years from now. How is that possible? If even one man has the courage to be all three, to divide himself and think against himself, as Plato did, beginning from out of a wondrous recognition of radical incompleteness.

Jason Reza Jorjani
Jason Reza Jorjani, PhD, is an Iranian-American and native New Yorker of Persian and northern European descent. After receiving his BA and MA at New York University, he completed his doctorate in Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Jorjani currently teaches courses on Science, Technology, and Society (STS) and the history of Iran as a full-time faculty member at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a professional member of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) and also works with the Iranian Renaissance, an organization dedicated to bringing about a cultural revolution in Greater Iran on the basis of the pre-Islamic Persian heritage. His first book, Prometheus and Atlas, was published by Arktos in 2016 and went on to win the Book Award from the Parapsychological Association. has done numerous interviews, and delivered invited international lectures, on various subjects.


  • Altogether harmful post, regarding the present need of orientation. Those who know, have been aware for some time, that Arktos Media has allied itsef with some weird individuals. It’s clear just from reading the editorials of their publications. As for Jason Reza Jorjani, this native New Yorker doesn’t inspire much trust by his mere visage (see, for example, Evola’s guidelines for an order, selection of members). Quite the contrary, we have to deal here with a typical product of the environment in which he grew up, with subversive ambitions towards the culture of his father’s origin. I pick from his article: “generative conflict, universal civilisation, an epitome of the “Promethean” or “Faustian” spirit characteristic of the Aryan genius”. This man has to be marked for what he is – it is a man possessed by the superstition of progress, himself a product of modernism and globalism, from whom we have no hope to expect some salvific theory or remedy for the Western man. For this man, it is a disturbing problem, that a traditional society “will never see the kind of scientific and political revolutions” we went through. He himself is confused and while we don’t learn to identify and refuse such cripples, at least those who act as alternative media and some kind of info-resistance, there is no rescue here.

  • An extremely interesting piece, Dr. Jorjani. Your thesis bears careful pondering indeed.

    Permit me—in the very spirit of questioning your essay so intransigently embraces—to briefly sketch a counter-argument. You say:

    “If a society believes that there is an eternal, unchanging Wisdom that can be definitively attained by a person living within the present time, and that another intelligent person need only to study under such a sage to have this knowledge imparted to him, then that society will never see the kind of scientific and political revolutions that are catalyzed by genuine philosophers and that are also preconditions for a Hegel who tries to understand what is at work in these revolutions.”

    But is it really desirable for society as society to “see the kind of scientific and political revolutions” that the West has seen in the past five hundred years? Has it really led us to so fine an end?

    You indicate the extremely dangerous, extremely destabilizing element in “learning how to think beneath and beyond any assumptions.” It seems to me that such danger and destabilization can be confronted only by select individuals prepared for it by nature and education. Opening it then to the entire social realm, attempting to found a society on that very premise—as if anything at all can be founded on such a premise, other than philosophy itself—seems to me to radicalize the danger, and to guarantee a social “order” which, so far from being an order, is in constant flux. But as it is, in our day and hour, a mere hope against hope that men of the rank of Hegel or Nietzsche will control the changes of that flux, sooner or later such change will become irrepressible and unstoppable; and because this flux is governed, not by the select few, but by the perfectly unphilosophical masses, it will, far from tending toward the heights, rather drift like the dregs toward the lowest common denominator. No Faust, nor certainly Prometheus, can come of such a movement; but we will have to count ourselves exceptionally blessed if we produce even a Confucius or an Avicenna.

    Your argument against the idea of “Islamic Philosophy” seems to me not only sound, but even necessary, given that the very expression “Islamic Philosophy” is a contradiction in terms. This is much different, however, from a critique of “Perennial Philosophy” as such, the uses of which idea should, it seems to me, not be underestimated.

  • “If even one man has the courage to be all three, to divide himself and
    think against himself, as Plato did, beginning from out of a wondrous
    recognition of radical incompleteness.” And in your very first sentence claiming Iran as the home of well judging from your other writing everything.

    Man, you talk a bunch of shit.

  • Is this possible a pre Arab, Turko Mongol genetic basis for most if not all Iranians as for me im admixed and suffer from this mistake, ive been born with.
    Hopefully it is i wont be alive till then, but as a cultural or average Iranian i have relatives who do bear this Iranian genetic look, thought and mentality.

  • I respectfully disagree with the author but I encourage everyone who reads this article to consult the website:

    There you will find a wealth of previous information that will help one to understand the perennial tradition in a deep and profound way. And you can make your own mind up after sifting through much of the material presented beautifully there.

    I respectfully disagree that the “perennial philosophy” is at fault here. It is a poorly understood abstraction to many, and yet it stands as the saving grace of civilization. I believe it is the abandonment of “true” perennial philosophy that has resulted in our civilization becoming mired in an epistemological crisis.

    It is easy to take abstractions and repurpose then to suit one’s ideals, agendas, or purposes. But “perennial philosophy” transcends many dialectics and it is, by its very nature, not such an ideology or thing that can be put into a box or labeled as such. It is certainly not an Iranian tradition, but goes back into the pre-socratics and is embodied by Plato.

    Anyone who does is perhaps missing the more profound aspects of the tradition, for to describe it is a task beyond words itself; however, I think it is safe to suggest it is akin to an actual approach to truth and wisdom itself.

    Be careful with words. Words refer to things as signs and signals and pointers; and often the the thing we are pointing at is described by a word such as “love.” If you ruminate about love alone, you can see this as s higher order abstraction, but something thatvis nebertheless real. I have often said, when I was younger, that “love” is among the few transcendental experiences a human can experience.

    As I mature, I think there are more, and my assumptions of reality and knowkedge have often been obstructed by just that: assumptions, dogma, artificial constructions or dialectics.

    While there may be various people or books “said” to be of the perennial school, no such label can ever be applied and no man exists as a pope of such a tradition for the perennial tradition is both the highest expression of individualism while also being the highest conception for social interaction. Many can try to articulate it, but is a journey in the end, and also a form of higher consciousness to be earned through a quest for beauty, truth, wisdom and a sincere curiosity and devotion to understanding; thus to tender it as a concept, it must be discovered by a faculty of knowing that is beyond the rational; that is, it may be contemplated in a manner by a consciousness raised in sympathetic harmony with it.

    But if one attempts to articulate the true breadth and scope of the ocean, no single drop of water would suffice.

    Reason, while a sophisticated tool for many purposes, brings with it unique limitations, which is shy a mystical component has always been conjoine with this “perennial tradition”.

    The Perennial Tradition can be lost the very moment one tries to capture it, define it, and put it into a box for any agenda or label.

    Just as the word “culture” is a small word. But can entail so very much, so to does this “tradition” encompass things both incredibly simple and yet just above the rational faculty of the average person. The act of “gnosis” has overtones on that a gnostic understanding of reality is an understanding found through earnest seeking, but it is not the same knowledge one can squire from reading an article or hearing about gnosis. Gnosis might be likened to a process, but it more a “certain kind of knowing”.

    Of it sounds enigmatic or difficult to pen down, that’s because it is, in such a format as this.

    Think of the word, “meditation”, and you can even hear a person explain what it is and what it does, but only a person who earnestly meditates for a period and experiences the results will truly understand what words can only dance around, for it would be like trying to color a picture with the krayon of “no-color”.

    If one is aligned with natural law, or on a path of devotion, truth, and wisdom; when one embraces higher art forms such as great music, film, and other elevating acts of beauty and excellence one’s mind becomes more tuned in to ever higher modes of consciousness.

    Or when one abandons the nihilistic materialism of our age and instead ignites his or her inner diamon within to fulfill life in its highest and most noble form, then one can also be attempting to follow in the footsteps in the perennial tradition.

    But don’t ask me: To thine own self be true.

    It is rare to even hear people describe that phrase, “Perennial Tradition”, and yet to find it discussed in the pejorative is surprising.

    This is why perennial tradition can help steer individuals and cultures back to a state confirming with natural law, reality, justice, and truth.

    In the perennial tradition, the truth being indicated is much more profound realm experienced in s higher state of cognition, but it also encompasses many ideals, virtues, and expresses a part as old as time.

    Words and reasoned argument are to be discussed in a healthy dialectic, but just remember how limiting our words are, particularly if we do not share mutual definitions, assumptions, understandings, etc.

    So when describing a tradition, movement, it is a challenge, but to describe an even more challenging and mystical abstraction, much of which is esoteric and to be experienced, we must be careful.

    Seek for your self.

    So I advise people to truly learn about the perennial tradition as you might discover for yourself the greater truths and wisdom represented by those meek words.

    In all ages, and in all cultures, there will be division, devolution of higher consciousness into lower, as well as the misinterpretation of knowkedge and reality itself. Noble ideals and institutions can be subverted or infiltrated, and virtue can be made a vice by sophistry in the hands of intelligent men. The way out of darkness is through light, and while many can debate the concept of the “perennial tradition”, who is to say that one man’s definition or understanding of that concept can be upon defining it, creating a dead orthodoxy void of meaning.

    If people want to really understand the Perennial Tradition, I highly recommend readers to consult the following amazing website:

    I am not the creator of the site, nor have anything to do with it, but I think anyone who spends time on that site, particularly on the spiritual and philosophical sections, will truly find a better comprehension of what this perennial tradition is. And the site has many wonderful pages, to be experienced itself.

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