The Influence of the Conceptual Development of Nature in Western Civilisation on the Perennial Philosophy

Sharifah Hajar Almahdaly, University of Technology Malaysia (UTM)


The inquiry on nature has long been the subject of philosophical exposition since the time of the Greeks. Nature was considered by them as inanimate and material, thus leading to the corruption of the understanding of being in relation to nature in the West. This gave rise to the disenchantment of nature through a secularising philosophical programme which appropriated key concepts divested from its truth to construct a secular worldview. This worldview is such that it rejected any form of nonempirical or metaphysical reality in nature. In response to this conflict in the West, there are those who take the position of a perennialist in reference to the philosophia perennis (literally “eternal wisdom”), who believe in the rediscovery of the sense of the sacred through revival of the “tradition” inherent in every religion of the pre-modern age. The perennial aspect is an eternal, universal and permanent underlying spiritual method that comprehends nature which was claimed to be derived from various religions and traditions. This paper is meant to illustrate the traces of secular framework in the perennial philosophy. The discussions are divided into two sections. The first section will look into the transference of meanings of nature by following the main problems that befit the West: the problems of order, God and finally man. The second section will situate the perennialists within the conceptual development of nature in Western civilisation by classifying and comparing particular characteristics of the proponents of the erennial philosophy with others that used the same name to appropriate them in the postmodern movement to reclaim the meaning of nature. The latter section also offers a brief overview of their concept of genuine cosmologies in every tradition as a means to revive the sense of the sacred. 


Disenchantment, re-enchantment, nature, cosmology, tradition, sacred, secularisation, philosophy, order, god, man, perennial philosophy.

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