Words and the Usage of Symbols

An Excerpt of the article by René Guénon: Word and Symbol

(in Symboles de la Science sacrée, 1st publ. 1926)

”Fundamentally, every expression, every formulation, whatever it may be, is a symbol of the thought which it expresses outwardly. In this sense, language itself is nothing other than symbolism. There can be no opposition, therefore, between the use of words and the use of figurative symbols; rather these two modes of expression should be complementary to one another…”

”(If one wishes to speak of superiority and not only difference, the superiority of the symbol) will lie with synthetic* symbolism which opens the way to truly unlimited conceptual possibilities. Language, on the contrary, fraught as it is with more definite and less supple meanings , always sets more or less narrow limits for the understanding.”

”Symbolism is equally good for all, because it helps everyone to understand the truth in question more or less completely and more or less profoundly, each according to the nature of his intellectual possibilities. It is thus that the highest truths, which would not be communicable or transmissible by any other means, can be communicated up to a certain point when they are, so to speak, incorporated in symbols which will hide them from many, no doubt, but which will manifest them in all their splendor to the eyes of those who can see.”

*synthetic: condensed, abstract

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