Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Reign of Quantity

Portrait of Rene Geunon

Quality? It is one of the ten categories of substance. In short, and despite the opinions of all types of labelizors of products and services such as ISO thingamajig, it seems that quality cannot be measured. In this respect it is often opposed to quantity, which is also one of the ten categories of substance, but which, it, is measurable. Thus, friendship/love pertains eminently to quality, for how much could love weigh, or measure in height, width or depth?

Following the great traditions of the world, we are presently under the reign of quantity, 4th and last era say the Hindus for example, age of Iron which they call Kali Yuga, but which is often cited elsewhere, including by JC. In effect, efficiency rules far and wide, and we even try to measure quality, thus love. For this reason we prefer our feelings and emotions, which even if they are equally not easily measurable, are nevertheless perceived and experienced in an immanent and immediate fashion, whereas love is in the last analysis what remains when there is no emotion left, even if obviously love and emotion don't exclude one another. Yet we decree: no emotion, no love.

In this regard, the modern day westerner resembles the Greek barbarian of whom the Ancients said he destroys that which he doesn't understand. In effect, here we stand as Barbarians, mistaking truth with certainty (certainty being most often what is scientifically demonstrated), in other words we negate what we do not understand or cannot demonstrate. This is symptomatic of the tyranny of the reign of quantity. In this respect, Rene Geunon's Book "Signs of Our Times: A Critical Appraisal of The Reign of Quantity", written in the 1950's, is quasi-prophetic.


  1. On a more mundane level: one could argue that the current wave of obesity is another sympton of the tyranny of quantity: people prefer to eat themselves to death than miss out on quantity... Dark times indeed...


  2. Indeed... In a north American restaurant, for example, you sometimes wonder if quantity has precedence quality. :)

  3. oh wow. well put. you too, harvey. excellent post. i'm stumbling it.

  4. It has been years since I read Geunon's great book. I lost my copy of it and I almost forgotten how good a writer he really was. We are still barbarians, except that we are now barbarians with atomic weapons! One of our writers, Phillip K. Dick called the world a "Black Iron Prison." This, of course, is as you say the Kali Yuga and only the great unquantifiable we call "Love" can open the prison gates and melt the iron bars. The question is this: Will this be possible only for individuals or is it possible for mankind given enough time?