I am at a lower intermediate level when it comes to philosophy, having started by studying Hindu philosophy and the Traditional School of René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon and their ilk. I mainly focused on Metaphysics to begin with but I'm now starting to study Epistemology, particularly that of people like Kant, as well as some of the rationalists; it may be a mistake jumping in at the deep end!

I'm now trying to understand the Traditionalist School's stance on epistomology, and how it ties in with (or rejects) Rationalism. They seem to espouse generally anti-empiricist and anti-rationalist viewpoints, or at least are against rationalism as the exclusive way to truth, but I'm trying to find a passage that outlines in detail their Epistemological stance and the reason for their rejection of Rationalism.

Can someone with an understanding of the Traditionalist School point me in the right direction?

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    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 22:47

1 Answer 1


I would say that contrary to your impression by studying Kant you are returning from the depths of Hindu philosophy to the shallow end. This is because Kant had no fundamental theory. I would call it a retrograde step.

The epistemology of advaita is quite simple. Either we know something or we do not, while 'knowing' as a phenomenon would be fundamental. It rejects empiricism where this is defined as (theory-laden and doubtful) data derived from the physical senses or mind, but endorses empiricism where it includes direct experience. It encourages rational thinking but does not see it as producing any more than relative (thus uncertain) knowledge.

I'm not sure it is a good idea to speak of these things in terms of Rationalism' and 'Traditionalism'. The advaita philosophy is ancient and rational and (with the above proviso) empirical. The term 'non-duality' is precise and unambiguous, but the meaning of 'traditionalism' and 'rationalism' may vary quite widely.

Also, if by Traditionalism you mean non-dualism then this is not a 'school' in the usual sense. It is a bunch of people who all agree who can be lumped under the heading 'Perennial philosophy'. The 'Traditionlist School' is a small subgroup of philosophers who endorsed the Perennial view.

Are you asking for references and relevant texts? I cannot provide any without being clearer about what you're after, but will do if you add a few words to clarify this.

  • Thanks Peter, by Traditionalist School I refer to the 20th century writers including René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon; Julius Evola is probably a bad example because he's a bit of an outlier. I will consider editing my question to narrow things down.
    – Charlie
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 13:08

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