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Roots of the Human Condition
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Roots of the Human Condition
Roots of the Human Condition
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Price:  $17.95

ISBN:  0-941532-37-2
Book Size:  5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
# of Pages:  152
Language:  English: New Translation

Roots of the Human Condition deals with the fundamental principles of universal and perennial metaphysics and their application on the level of spiritual and moral life. Simply put, this book reveals many answers to those seekers questing for knowledge of what lies behind the reality of our world and, more particularly, our own human souls. The book is divided into three sections: Principles and Roots, Fundamental Perspective, and Moral and Spiritual Dimensions. Roots of the Human Condition contains an introduction by Patrick Laude.
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Detailed Description of Roots of the Human Condition

Roots of the Human Condition deals with the fundamental principles of universal and perennial metaphysics and their application on the level of spiritual and moral life. Simply put, this book reveals many answers to those seekers questing for knowledge of what lies behind the reality of our world and, more particularly, our own human souls. The book is divided into three sections: Principles and Roots, Fundamental Perspective, and Moral and Spiritual Dimensions. Roots of the Human Condition contains an introduction by Patrick Laude.

Thus, the reader is provided with an intellectual method—in the truest sense—with which to view the profound questions of existence, then is shown how authentic esoterism approaches the spiritual realization of these truths, and finally is immersed in compelling considerations of human virtue, the almost alchemical result of realizing those truths.

Schuon writes that people often seek certitude through phenomena of the external world, while instead we should be seeking it in our very being. This is where his books have been leading readers for generations, to a strong certitude of the realities and purpose of the world and of our own existence. In this, and indeed in all his books, Schuon leads readers to insights on the roots of the human condition, precisely.

Schuon’s writings appeal to philosophers, students of comparative religion, and to spiritual seekers, among others. Roots of the Human Condition offers each of these an opportunity to be guided through some of the profoundest human questions by one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century.

About the Author(s)

Frithjof Schuon

Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998) is best known as the foremost spokesman of the “Traditionalist” or “Perennialist” school and as a philosopher in the metaphysical current of Shankara and Plato. He wrote more than two dozen books on metaphysical, spiritual, artistic, and ethnic themes and was a regular contributor to journals on comparative religion in both Europe and America. Schuon’s writings have been consistently featured and reviewed in a wide range of scholarly and philosophical publications around the world, respected by both scholars and spiritual authorities. Besides his prose writings, Schuon was also a prolific poet (see a listing of Schuon's poetry books) and a gifted painter of images that always portrayed the beauty and power of the divine, and the nobility and virtue of primordial humanity.

World Wisdom features a series titled "The Writings of Frithjof Schuon", which includes many new editions of classic books by Schuon in new translations and with additional materials. Our online Library contains many articles and poems written by Frithjof Schuon, allowing readers to see a representative sample of his remarkable body of work.

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Patrick Laude

Patrick Laude is a writer, editor, professor, and researcher in the fields of language, literature, symbolism, and mysticism. He is a professor at Georgetown University, currently at their School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Laude's writings have been published in the US and Europe in numerous journals. Dr. Laude's extensive contributions to World Wisdom include:

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Reviews of Roots of the Human Condition

"In reading Schuon I have the impression that I am going along parallel to him, and once in a while I will get a glimpse of what he means in terms of my own tradition and experience. I think that he has exactly the right view. I appreciate him more and more. I am grateful for the chance to be in contact with people like him."
Thomas Merton (from a letter to Marco Pallis published in Merton's The Hidden Ground of Love

"The man is a living wonder; intellectually a propos religion, equally in depth and breadth, the paragon of our time. I know of no living thinker who begins to rival him."
—Huston Smith, University of California, Berkeley

"Frithjof Schuon's work has meant so much to me, and he has influenced my music perhaps more than anyone in recent years. Anyone, indeed, who is an artist concerned with the sacred should read him. One could say that my works of the last five years or more have been dedicated to, and inspired by, the very same truths expounded by Frithjof Schuon. I am eternally grateful to him."
Sir John Tavener, composer and author

"The highest praise that I can offer concerning the writings of Frithjof Schuon is that they are worthy of their subject matter — the teaching of the great spiritual traditions. Whether one's views are supported or challenged by these writings, any serious person will feel grateful to be confronted by such a generously discerning intellect and to witness the emergence of authentic contemplative thought in this darkening time."
—Jacob Needleman, San Francisco State University

Table of Contents for Roots of the Human Condition

  • Preface

  • Part One:  Principles and Roots
  • On Intelligence
  • The Veil of Isis
  • Problems of Space and Time
  • Mahâshakti
  • The Enigma of Diversified Subjectivity
  • Traces of Being, Proofs of God
  • Saving Dimensions

    Part Two:  Fundamental Perspectives
  • Man in the Face of the Sovereign Good
  • Outline of the Christian Message
  • Outline of the Islamic Message
  • Pillars of Wisdom
  • The Twofold Discernment

    Part Three:  Moral and Spiritual Dimensions
  • Cosmic Shadows and Serenity
  • Virtue and Way
  • On Love

  • Excerpts from Roots of the Human Condition

    The following excerpt is taken from the beginning of the first chapter of
    Roots of the Human Condition:

    On Intelligence

           Intelligence is the perception of a reality, and a fortiori the perception of the Real as such. It is ipso facto discernment between the Real and the unreal—or the less real—first in the principial, absolute or "vertical" sense, and then in the existential, relative or "horizontal" sense. More specifically, the "horizontal" or cosmic dimension is the domain of reason and of the temptation of rationalism, whereas the "vertical" or metacosmic dimension is that of the intellect, of intellection and of unitive contemplation. And let us recall that among all earthly creatures man alone possesses a vertical posture, which indicates the "vertical" potentiality of the spirit and thereby man's reason for being.(1)
           It is necessary to distinguish in the human spirit between functions and aptitudes: in the first category, which is the more fundamental, we shall distinguish between discrimination and contemplation,(2) and then between analysis and synthesis;(3) in the second category, we shall distinguish between an intelligence that is theoretical and another that is practical,(4) and then between one that is spontaneous and another that is reactive, or again between an intelligence that is constructive and another that is critical.(5) From an entirely different standpoint, it is necessary to distinguish between a cognitive faculty that is merely potential, another that is virtual and a third that is effective: the first pertains to all men, thus also to the most limited; the second concerns men who are uninformed but capable of learning; the third coincides with knowledge.

    *     *

           It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a "brilliant" intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively "horizontal," hence lacking all awareness of "vertical" relationships; however, the definition "intelligence" still applies, because there is still a discernment between something essential and something secondary, or between a cause and an effect. A decisive factor in the phenomenon of "intelligent error" is plainly the intervention of an extra intellectual element, such as sentimentality or passion; the exclusivism of "horizontality" creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill. It should be noted that "horizontality" is not always the negation of the supernatural; it may also be the case of a believer whose intellectual intuition remains latent, this being precisely what constitutes the "obscure merit of faith"; in such a case one may, without absurdity, speak of devotional and moral "verticality."
           Transformist evolutionism offers a patent example of "horizontality" in the domain of the natural sciences, owing to the fact that it puts a biological evolution of "ascending" degrees in place of a cosmogonic emanation of "descending" degrees.(6) Similarly, modern philosophers —mutatis mutandis—replace metaphysical causality with "physical" and empirical causalities, which no doubt demands intelligence, but one that is purely cerebral.
           It is a paradoxical fact that an understanding which is equal to "vertical" truths does not always guarantee the integrity of "horizontal" intelligence or of the corresponding moral qualities; in such cases we are presented either with a unilateral development of speculative gifts to the detriment of operative gifts, or with an anomaly comprising a kind of scission of personality; but these are contingencies having nothing absolute about them in the face of the miracle of the intellect and of the truth. Nevertheless, metaphysical intelligence is integral and efficient only on condition that the speculative and operative dimensions be kept in balance.

    1.  We must note in this context that the vertical position is also met with in certain aquatic birds, which is explained by the readily paradoxical play of Universal Possibility. In a less rigorous sense, verticality could even be attributed to all birds, in which case it would have to be recalled that birds in general manifest, hence symbolize, celestial states, although certain species, on the contrary, have a malefic yet still "supernatural" signification, by virtue of the symbolism of wings.

    2.  Or "conception" and "assimilation," the first function being active and as it were masculine, and the second, passive and feminine.

    3.  In Shingon Buddhism, one of the two fundamental diagrams (mandara, from mandala) represents the Universe with respect to analysis or unfolding, whereas the other suggests synthesis or the root; all of which shows that the functions of the human spirit lend themselves to the most important spiritual applications.

    4.  Or, abstract and concrete. Both of these terms, however, present the inconvenience of being improperly used: too often, one terms "abstract" that which pertains to the principial or universal order, and "concrete" all that is phenomenal; as if God were an abstraction, and as if only phenomena were realities. In the Scholastic dispute over universals, the whole question was that of knowing what was meant by a "universal," or of knowing in what manner a principial or archetypal reality was envisaged.

    5.  There are other modes, such as presence of mind, cleverness, cunning, but these are of an inferior level and moreover are met with in the animal kingdom as well.

    6.  We understand the term "emanation" in the Platonic sense: the starting point remains transcendent, hence unaffected, whereas in deist or naturalist emanationism the cause pertains to the same ontological order as the effect.

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