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Thread: Frithjof Schuon on the Meaning of Race

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    Frithjof Schuon on the Meaning of Race

    “Caste takes precedence over race because spirit has priority over form; race is a form while caste is a spirit... It is not possible, however, to hold that race is something devoid of meaning apart from physical characteristics, for, if it is true that formal constraints have nothing absolute about them, forms must nonetheless have their own sufficient reason; if races are not castes, they must all the same correspond to human differences of another order, rather as differences of style may express equivalence in the spiritual order while also marking divergences of mode…”

    “In order to understand the meaning of races, one must first of all realize that they are derived from fundamental aspects of humanity and not from something fortuitous in nature. If racism is something to be rejected, so is anti-racism which errs in the opposite direction by attributing racial difference to merely accidental causes and which seeks to reduce to nothing these differences by talking about inter-racial blood-groups, or in other words by mixing up things situated on different levels. Moreover, that the isolation of a race may have contributed to its elaboration certainly does not mean that this race can be explained in terms of its isolation alone, nor that the isolation was fortuitous and thus something which might not have happened…”

    “A certain ‘segregation’ of white and black people would be neither ill-judged nor unjust if it were not unilateral, that is to say, if it were conceived in the interest of both races and without prejudice of superiority; for it is clear that to abolish ‘segregation’ altogether means increasingly the probability of racial mixtures and vowing one’s own race, whether it be white or black, to a kind of disappearance…”

    “Certain traits, which a white man tends to take for signs of inferiority, actually mark either a less mental—though not less spiritual—disposition than that of the average European or else a greater racial vitality. Here we must draw attention to the error of regarding prognathism, relatively low forehead or thick lips, as belonging to an obviously inferior type… As for the forehead, its height or cranial volume denotes—if it denotes anything, which depends on a variety of factors—by no means always an intellectual quality, but more often a capacity which is solely creative or even merely inventive, a capacity which may, by luciferian deviation, become a veritable hypertrophy of the mind—a specific propensity to ‘thinking,’ but not at all to ‘knowledge…’”

    “According to a common error there exists an Italian, a German and a Russian “type” and so forth; in reality, there is within each people a series of types, very divergent and of unequal importance, but all characteristic of that people; then there are types which can also be found among other peoples of the same race and, finally, one or more psychological types that are superimposed on these.”

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    “In one respect the metaphysical reason for races is that differences cannot be merely qualitative as in the case of castes; differences can and must also arise “horizontally,” from the point of view simply of modes and not of essences. There cannot only be differences between light and darkness, there must also be differences in color.

    If each caste is in some way to be found in the other castes, the same thing can be said of races, for the same reasons and apart from any question of racial admixtures. But besides castes and races there are also four temperaments, which Galen relates to the four sensible elements, and the astrological types, which are related to the planets of our system. All these types or possibilities are present in the human substance and form the individual determining him in many different ways: to know the aspects of man is one way of better knowing oneself.”

    "Races exist and we cannot ignore them… The modern movement towards uniformity, which causes the world to become smaller and smaller, seems able to attenuate racial differences, at any rate at the mental level and without speaking of ethnic mixtures. In this there is nothing surprising if one reflects that this standardizing civilization is at the opposite pole from any higher synthesis, based as it is solely on man’s earthly needs; human animality provides in principle a rather facile ground for mutual understanding and favors the breaking down of traditional civilizations under auspices of a quantitative and spiritually inoperative ‘culture.’ But the fact of thus depending on what gives mankind a ‘low level solidarity’ presupposes the detaching of the masses, who are intellectually passive and unconscious, from the elites who legitimately represent them and in consequence also incarnate both the tradition, insofar as it is adapted to a given race, and the genius of that race in the most lofty sense.”

    “Let us take the opportunity to insert here, along side these considerations about races and not unconnected with them, some remarks on the opposition—true or false—between West and East. First of all, there is in both cases an inner opposition between the sacred patrimony and whatever actively or passively moves away from that patrimony; this shows that the distinction between East and West is not absolute, that there is a ‘Western East’ as there was—and perhaps still is in certain frameworks—an ‘Eastern West,’ as at Mount Athos or in some other relatively isolated phenomenon. In considering the East we must thus start by differentiating—if we are to avoid inextricable contradictions—between Orientals who owe nothing, or almost nothing, to the West and have every right and reason to resist it, and those who on the contrary owe, or imagine they owe, everything to it, but who also too readily spend their time in enumerating the colonialist crimes of Europe, as though Europeans were the only men to have conquered countries and exploited peoples. The blind haste with which westernized Orientals of every political color press on with the westernizing of the East proves beyond all question how thoroughly they themselves are convinced of the superiority of modern Western civilization, that very civilization which engendered colonialism as also the cult of machines and Marxism. Now there are few things so absurd as the anti-Westernism of those who are themselves westernized. A choice must be made: either that civilization is worthy of adoption, in which case Europeans are supermen to whom unbounded gratitude is owed, or else Europeans are malefactors deserving contempt and then they and their civilization fall together and there is no reason for imitating them. But in practice the West is being completely and whole-heartedly imitated even in the most pointless of its caprices; far from limiting themselves to modern armaments for purposes of legitimate defense or to an equipment of economic tools capable of meeting the situations created by an overpopulation that is itself partly due to the biological crimes of modern science, Eastern nations adopt the very soul of the antitraditional West to the point of seeking in the ‘science of religions,’ in psychoanalysis and even in surrealism the keys to the age-old wisdom of the East. In a word, they believe in the superiority of the West but reproach Westerners for having believed in it.”

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    Anyway to get the full text? I've been delving into the perennial tradition school for a few months now, i'm really interested to see what their full position to the problem is.

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    You should purchase Castes and Races by Schuon.

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