Hammer Olav - Claiming knowledge


Author : Hammer Olav
Title : Claiming knowledge Strategies of epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age
Year : 2004

Link download : Hammer_Olav_-_Claiming_knowledge.zip

Preface. This study is concerned with a rarely studied sector of the history of religions: certain currents of modern or post-Enlightenment Western esotericism. Such currents have played a considerable role in the intellectual history of the West. They continue to hold great fascination for millions of people throughout Europe and North America. Nevertheless, they have been largely neglected by scholars. One could think of several reasons for defying the canons of good taste in the history of religions. In itself, the dearth of scholarly studies in a field that affects and interests so many in the lay public makes the need for scholarly investigation particularly felt. It is something of an oddity that prominent religious innovators such as Alice Bailey or Helen Schucman and their respective doctrines have been slighted by historians of religion. The point of departure of the present study, however, also lies in a second direction. My decision to investigate contemporary forms of esotericism is due to a more overarching interest in the challenges and paradoxes inherent in religious faith and religious innovation in a modern, post-Enlightenment setting. This interest has motivated the restriction to certain contemporary or near-contemporary esoteric positions, i.e. those formulated during the period from 1875 to 1999.1 There is a common tendency, probably inherited from the Enlightenment and strengthened in the early days of anthropology, to adopt an exclusivist and elitist view of Western intellectual development. According to this view, the development of science, of technology and of rationalist philosophies are part of a dynamic modernity, whereas folk religion in various guises, occult and esoteric currents, new religious movements and idealist beliefs form a kind of cultural arrière-guarde, stagnant survivals of magical thinking or reflexes of pre-scientific speculation. ...

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