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In my article on Dugin in the first issue of the Heidegger Review I pointed to Dugin's admiration for the French esoteric philosopher, René Guénon. Without knowing that I was quoting from a  footnote in the present book, I had Dugin saying:

""My views, my worldview, are indebted to the philosophy of Heidegger only slightly less than to the ideas of Guénon." (p.29)

He goes on to warn us:

"A comparison of Heidegger and Guénon must not be carried out too hastily. We must thoroughly master Guénon and Heidegger separately. And then - only then! - should we interpret where they overlap (and where they differ). Interpreting one by using the other is erroneous ...'

In his 'The Multiple States of Being' (Les états multiples de l'Être - the published English translation is titled rather oddly I think: 'The Multiple States of the [my emphasis - PB] Being') Guénon identifies Being with manifestation as Heidegger sometimes, usually giving an account of Greek thoughts on the matter, identifies Being with presence. (10) But manifestation, like presence (both terms, incidentally that imply a consciousness to which the manifestation is manifest or the presence is present) both have to become manifest or present. The manifestation emerges out of non-manifestation. And after a while it ceases to be manifest. So being, understood as manifestation or presence, emerges out of and returns to non-being. The possibility of being exists in non-being. Consequently, in Guénon's account, non-being is superior to being 'if by that we mean that what it includes goes beyond the extension of being and that it contains in principle being itself.' (11)

(10) eg in Martin Heidegger: The Essence of truth - On Plato's cave allegory and Theaetetus, translated by Ted Sadler, London and New York, Bloomsbury, 2014, p.113, discussion beginning: 'We know, however, or to put it more carefully, we should now reflect in a more penetrating way upon this fact, that the Greeks understood the being of beings as presence ...' The book comes from lectures delivered in 1931-2.

(11) René Guénon: Les états multiples de l'être, Paris (Les editions Véga) 1947, p.31

On the face of it this view that non-being includes all the possibilities of being contradicts Parmenides' assertion that 'non-being' is not a proper object of philosophical reflection ('you may not know what-is-not - there is no end to it -/Nor may you tell of it'). Or does it? Parmenides also says that 'being' is not susceptible to change:

On this way there are very many signs
Indicating that what-is is unborn and imperishable,
Entire, alone of its kind, unshaken, and complete.
It was not once nor will it be, since it is now, all together,
Single, and continuous. For what birth could you seek for it?
How and from what did it grow? Neither will I allow you to say
Or to think that it grew from what-is-not, for that it is not
Cannot be spoken or thought. Also, what need could have impelled it
To arise later or sooner, if it sprang from an origin in nothing?
And so it should either entirely be, or not be at all.
Nor ever will the power of trust allow that from what-is
It becomes something other than itself. That is why Justice has not freed it,
Relaxing the grip of her fetters, either to be born or to perish;
No, she holds it fast. The decision on these matters depends on this:
It is or it is not. And it has been decided, as was necessary,
To leave the one way unthought and nameless, as no real way,
And that the other truly is a way and is truth-bearing.
And how could what-is be hereafter? How could it have been?
If it came to be, it is not, and likewise if it will be some time in the future

(12) Robin Waterfield, ed and trans: The First Philosophers - The Presocratics and the Sophists. Oxford, Oxford World's Classics, 2000, pp.58-9. By coincidence Waterfield, whose translation of Parmenides I am using, has also written a study of Guénon, René Guénon and the future of the West, Crucible, 1987.

Clearly he cannot be identifying 'being' with 'manifestation' or 'presence'. It would seem that Parmenides (despite his rather strange insistence that being is bounded, that 'mighty Necessity/Holds it in the bonds of a limit which restrains it all about' - p.60) means something much closer to Guénon's 'metaphysical infinite' - a union of the manifest and the non-manifest.

Parmenides' poem has come down to us in fragments but it is generally assumed that it was divided into two parts. The first celebrates what is - the proper material for philosophical reflection - Being, described as an undifferentiated, unchanging unity. The second celebrates what is not - the illusion that is not the proper material for philosophical reflection, more or less the world as we experience it with all its variety and comings and goings of this and that, described, it should be said, with great gusto if we can judge by the fragments or descriptions of other writers that have come down to us, but nonetheless introduced with these words (at least in Waterfield's version):

Here I end what I have to tell you of trustworthy arguments
And thinking about reality. From this point onward, learn
Mortal beliefs, listening to words which, though composed, will be lies ...

The image of an Absolute Reality, here called Being, that is an unchanging Unity, surrounded, so to speak, by an illusory flux, here called non-being (though Heidegger I should perhaps say, considering the two parts of Parmenides' poem, introduces a third category between being and non-being, of seeming or 'opinion' - Greek doxa) surely bears some resemblance to the broad outline of Hindu thinking with its perceived world understood as an illusory 'veil of Maya' and a uniform ultimate reality that vulgar Western commentators misinterpret as Nothingness, but which can also be understood as a fulness. Although practising as a Muslim, Guénon claimed to base most of his teaching on elements within the Hindu tradition. Heidegger disdains a normal chronological 'history of philosophy' approach but it has often occurred to me that had 'Platonism' (without raising the question of how much that has to do with Plato) run its course through the 'old Academy' to 'Middle Platonism' and 'Neo-Platonism', we could have ended up with something very similar to Hinduism - a huge variety of gods establishing a sacred cosmos emanating from and returning to an essential Unity. Heidegger sees Christianity as a continuation of 'Platonism' but I would tend to argue, though I don't wish to pursue it here, that Christianity actually cut that process off. There is no ontological continuity between the Creator God of Christianity and the created world - the Christian God is not the Absolute Unity of Plotinus. The process of breaking that line of development was quite deliberate and occurred in the disputes over the teachings of Origen and, most particularly, of the Christian gnostics.

I am jumping ahead of myself but the point is worth making here because it can easily be argued that the continuation of the Platonist tradition within Christianity - especially Western Christianity - is precisely the 'esoteric' tradition that Guénon is trying to uncover. And indeed that this ontological continuity between the diverse manifestations we encounter in the world and an original Absolute Unity, stretches back well before Plato (Plato himself - perhaps the most mischievous, playful figure in the history of philosophy - may well be regarded as a blip along the road). It can take in Parmenides and Hesiod and even older traditions, most obviously the Egyptian. (13) But if there is a continuity between Parmenides' 'being' and Guénon's 'metaphysical infinity', how do things stand with Heidegger, especially given his scorn for 'Platonism' ('the attempt to interpret Plato with the help of some sort of Platonism is certain perdition. For it is like trying to "explain" the fresh leaf of the tree by means of the foliage fallen on the ground' (14))?

(13) See eg Jeremy Naydler: Plato, Shamanism and ancient Egypt, Oxford, Abzu Press, 2005. Accessible at

(14) Martin Heidegger: Parmenides, translated by André Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz, Bloomington and Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1998 (pbk ed), p.97.

Guénon's metaphysical infinity is made up of being - meaning what is manifest - and non-being - meaning what is non-manifest, ie what has been manifested but is no longer, what will be manifest but is not yet, as well as what could be manifest but never will be. Parmenides' Being, assuming I have understood it correctly, is the sum total of everything that ever was, is, or will be, with 'non-being' understood as the fragments of being that are manifest at any given moment, all too apt for distracting the philosopher/sage/sophist/poet from the quest for true being.