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Wouter J. Hanegraaff: Esotericism and the Academy – Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture

Esotericism and the Academy

Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture

Wouter J. Hanegraaff, University of Amsterdam

Hardback

ISBN:9780521196215

Cambridge University Press

Publication date:January 2012

478pages

4 tables

Dimensions: 228 x 152 mm

Weight: 0.88kg

Academics tend to look on ‘esoteric’, ‘occult’ or ‘magical’ beliefs with contempt, but are usually ignorant about the religious and philosophical traditions to which these terms refer, or their relevance to intellectual history. Wouter Hanegraaff tells the neglected story of how intellectuals since the Renaissance have tried to come to terms with a cluster of ‘pagan’ ideas from late antiquity that challenged the foundations of biblical religion and Greek rationality. Expelled from the academy on the basis of Protestant and Enlightenment polemics, these traditions have come to be perceived as the Other by which academics define their identity to the present day. Hanegraaff grounds his discussion in a meticulous study of primary and secondary sources, taking the reader on an exciting intellectual voyage from the fifteenth century to the present day and asking what implications the forgotten history of exclusion has for established textbook narratives of religion, philosophy and science.

Table of Contents

Introduction: hic sunt dracones

1. The history of truth: recovering ancient wisdom

2. The history of error: exorcizing Paganism

3. The error of history: imagining the Occult

4. The truth of history: entering the Academy

Conclusions: restoring memory.

Features

The argument is presented as a historical narrative, taking the reader on an intellectual voyage from the early Renaissance to the present day

Discusses currents of thought which have played an important role in intellectual history, but have never before been sufficiently identified

Demonstrates patterns of intellectual prejudice that have distorted views of the history of religion, philosophy and science

see:

http://www.cambridge.org/se/knowledge/isbn/item6577534/?site_locale=sv_SE

Wouter Jacobus Hanegraaff (born 1961) is full professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is also President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE).  

(Above info thanks to Wikipedia Hanegraaff page)

CONTEMPORARY ESOTERICISM: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY

SWEDEN  

AUGUST 27-29, 2012

 

Keynote Speakers

Wouter J. Hanegraaff,

Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam

Christopher Partridge, Religious Studies, Lancaster University

Kocku von Stuckrad, Study of Religion, Groningen University

Deadline for Abstracts: March 30, 2012

Submit your abstract (approx. 200 words) along with a brief academic CV (approx 1 page) to: ContEso2012@gmail.com

The academic study of Western esotericism has blossomed in recent years; University departments and MA programs have been established, book series and journals launched, academic societies founded, and several international conferences and panels are organized every year. There is, however, still a major gap in scholarship on esotericism: very little research exists on contemporary phenomena. While some present-day phenomena related to esotericism, such as ‘New Age spiritualities’ and (neo)paganism, have been the focus of scholars in other fields, scholars working in the field of esotericism have largely neglected such developments. With a focus on early modern phenomena, scholarship in the field of Western esotericism has been predominantly historiographical in its approach, with a common reluctance to incorporate social scientific approaches. In recent years, however, serious attempts have been made to develop sociological approaches to the study of the esoteric/occult which are both compatible with historical approaches and forgo the biased presumptions of yesteryear. A fundamental challenge for the study of contemporary esoteric phenomena is that it is not sufficient to simply transpose theories, definitions and methodologies developed for the study of e.g. Renaissance magic to later manifestations of the esoteric. Studying contemporary phenomena poses intriguing possibilities, such as the opportunity to study esotericism in lived contexts, which unavoidably also introduce new problems. In general, several theoretical and methodological concerns need to be addressed if a proper study of contemporary esotericism is to succeed.

Suggested Topics

The primary aim of this conference is to place contemporary phenomena on the agenda of the study of esotericism. Thus we welcome papers dealing with contemporary and recent developments in “classic” esoteric currents – e.g. within Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and ritual magical currents – as well as esoteric developments of particular relevance today – e.g. Chaos Magick, Satanism, and (neo)paganism. We also strongly encourage papers dealing with theoretical and methodological issues that are particularly pertinent to the study of contemporary esotericism, as well as papers dealing with the societal, cultural, political, religious etc. contexts of esotericism today. This can include discussions on the role played by the esoteric in modern politics (e.g. the new right), grassroots activism (e.g. deep ecology and the animal rights movement), science (e.g. parapsychology, neurotheology, “New Age physics”), healthcare (e.g. alternative medicine), popular culture (both entertainment media and in broader contexts such as kitsch, consumer, and fan culture), and modern interactive communications media (e.g. mediatization and the effects of changing modes of mediation), as well as the simultaneous influence of these and other fields on esoteric notions, beliefs, and practices. General theoretical discussion on the potential usefulness of sociological terms and concepts such as globalization, secularization, and the post-secular in the study of contemporary esotericism is also encouraged. The conference should function as an interdisciplinary meeting place where scholars from a multitude of disciplines and with different approaches and perspectives can come together to learn from each other.

Additional information

The conference is arranged in conjunction with the 2012 EASR conference, also arranged in Stockholm, Sweden (at Södertörn University, August 23-26). Panels on esotericism, both historical and contemporary, are planned for the EASR as well, thus providing the opportunity to engage in extended discussion on these subjects, and of course lessening travel expenses.

More detailed information, including conference fee, will be made available at a later stage.

Conference organizers

Egil Asprem, PhD Research Fellow, Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam

Kennet Granholm, Assistant Professor, History of Religions, Stockholm University

Forthcoming volume on Contemporary Esotericism

The conference will function as the launching party for Contemporary Esotericism, the first volume specifically dedicated to the study of esotericism in the present day. The volume is published by Equinox Publishing and includes eighteen articles by well-established scholars as well as innovative younger researchers in the field. For more information, see the publisher’s webpage.


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