Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 19, 2012 - Religion
2 Reviews
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.

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Review: Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture

User Review  - Samuel Brown - Goodreads

Extremely useful overview of the historiography of Western esotericism from Renaissance to the present day. I would recommend this as the first book after a simple introduction (like Goodrick-Clarke's ... Read full review

Review: Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture

User Review  - Robert Priddle - Goodreads

Could not be more timely. Update: In response to a negative comment. Just because my review is short does not make it useless. When I say that this text could not be more timely I mean that this is ... Read full review

About the author (2012)

Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), and a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences. Alongside numerous articles, he is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (1996, 1998); Lodovico Lazzarelli (14471500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (2005, with Ruud M. Bouthoorn) and Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven (2007). He has also co-edited seven collective volumes, including the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (2005) and Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (2011, with Jeffrey J. Kripal). His latest work is Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (2012).

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