Traditional Studies

The word 'Tradition' is used in the sense suggested by T.S. Eliot in his 'Tradition and the Individual Talent' in The Sacred Wood (1920). Although Eliot wrote about poetry, the idea can be applied to much art and science up to the seventeenth century. Traditional structures are evident in many of the primary sources cited, such as Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy and Dante's Divine Comedy. They are also evident in the works of Shakespeare and even survive, practically unnoticed, in today's nursery rhymes, etc. (See S. Shapin, 'Proverbial Economies: how an understanding of some linguistic and social features of common sense can throw light upon more prestigious bodies of knowledge, science for example', Social Studies in Science, 31, 5, 2001, 731-69.).

Traditional structures have been marginalised in the West over the past three hundred years and the principles that underlie them are now largely forgotten. (See I. Jenkins, 'Postulate of an Impoverished Reality', The Journal of Philosophy, 39, 20, 1942, 533-47.) A selection of recent works on tradition is recommended.


H. Bortoft, The Wholeness of Nature; Goethe's way of science, Floris, Edinburgh, 1996.

T. Burckhardt, Alchemy, tr. W. Stoddart, Stuart and Watkins, London, 1967.

T. Burckhardt, Sacred Art in East and West, tr. Lord Northbourne, Perennial, Bedfont, 1967.

T. Burckhardt, Mirror of the Intellect, tr. W. Stoddart, Quinta Essentia, Cambridge, 1987.

A.K. Coomaraswamy, Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, Dover, New York, 1956.

A.K. Coomaraswamy, The Transformation of Nature in Art, Dover, New York, 1956.

A.K. Coomaraswamy, Selected Papers, ed. R. Lipsey, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1977.

A.K. Coomaraswamy, What is Civilisation?, Golgonooza, Ipswich, 1989.

A.K. Coomaraswamy, Guardians of the Sun-Door, ed. R. Strom, Fons Vitae, Louisville, 2004.

F.M. Cornford, Principium Sapientiae, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1952.

J.S. Cutsinger, Advice to the Serious Seeker, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1997.

P. Dronke, Fabula, Explorations into the uses of myth in medieval Platonism, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1974.

M. Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible, tr. S. Corrin, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1978.

E. Gilson, The Philosophy of St Bonaventure, Sheed and Ward, London, 1938.

R. Guenon, The Grand Triad, tr. P. Kingsley, Quinta Essentia, Cambridge, 1991.

R. Guenon, Fundamanetal Symbols, Quinta Essentia, Cambridge, 1995.

R. Guenon, The Esoterism of Dante, Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale, 2004.

E. Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery, tr. R.F.C. Hull, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1953.

P. Kingsley, Ancient Philosophy, Mystery and Magic, Clarendon, Oxford, 1995.

P. Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, Duckworth, London, 2001.

C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995.

M. Lings, Symbol and Archetype, Quinta Essentia, Cambridge, 1991.

M. Lings, The Secret of Shakespeare, Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, 1984.

S.H. Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1989.

S.H. Nasr, Man and Nature, Mandala, London, 1990.

S.H. Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996.

W.N. Perry, Treasury of Traditional Wisdom, Quinta Essentia, Cambridge, 1971.

F. Schuon, The Transcendent Unity of Religions, Faber and Faber, London, 1953.

F. Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, Faber and Faber, London, 1954.

F. Schuon, Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism, World Wisdom, Bloomington, 1986.

W. Smith, The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology, Foundation for Traditional Studies, Oakton, 2003.

W. Smith, The Quantum Enigma, Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale, 2005.

H. Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilisation, Bollingen Foundation, New York, 1962.