Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Colonialism, and the Philosophia Perennis

How to Cite

Jason D. Fuller. (2022). Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Colonialism, and the Philosophia Perennis: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 16(2), 123–139. Retrieved from


Although it probably first appeared in the work of the Vatican librarian Agostino Steucho (De Perenni Philosophia, ca. 1540), the term philosophia perennis did not achieve scholarly attention until Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz picked up the idea in 1714.1 Following the lead of Steucho, a Roman Catholic theologian who had used the term to highlight philosophical continuities between pre-Christian philosophers and the Catholic tradition, Leibniz used the term “perennial” in a pluralistic sense to refer to the temporal persistence and spatial ubiquity of certain philosophical viewpoints concerning the Absolute and human nature across time and space. For Leibniz, the search for truth in the philosophical systems of the world would help thinkers to “draw the gold from the dross, the diamond
from its mine, the light from the shadows; and this would be in effect a kind of perennial philosophy.”2 In a letter to Remond de Montmort in 1714 Leibniz spoke approvingly of even the “Orientals, who have beautiful and grand ideas of the Deity.”

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