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  A definition of the Perennial Philosophy Back to the List of Slideshows
    
The term philosophia perennis ("perennial philosophy") was apparently first used during the Renaissance. Christian thinkers had become familiar with the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and other "pagan" philosophers and realized that great truths had been expressed in non-Christian places and times. They used the term philosophia perennis to indicate the wisdom that was timeless, accessible to pre-Christian sages as well as to themselves.

The word perennis has been accepted by contemporary expositors of the Perennial Philosophy as being very well suited to express its timeless and perpetual nature. This wisdom, or philosophy, is timeless because the truths it expresses were the same in ancient times as they are in any present moment, and they will be immutable, unchanged in any future time. Perennial truths exist on their own terms, and do not depend for their reality on the specific labels or terms given to them by this or that religion or thinker.

Some have suggested that adding the adjective "universal" to "perennial" might assist in pointing out that these truths are not only unbounded by time, but that they are also unbounded by spatial limitations: they are recognized and manifested everywhere, in every different place and tradition, even though the way they are expressed in the diverse religions will naturally differ. Perennialists take this universal character to be understood, and so the term Perennial Philosophy has been thought sufficient.
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