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Western Esotericism and the Science of Religions

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The term “esotericism” refers here to the modern esoteric currents in the West (15th to 20th centuries), i.e. to a diverse group of works, authors, trends, which possess an “air de famille” and which must be studied as a part of the history of religions because of the specific form it has acquired in the West from the Renaissance on. This field is comprised of currents like: alchemy (its philosophical and/or “spiritual” aspects); the philosophia occulta; Christian Kabbalah; Paracelsianism and the Naturphilosophie in its wake; theosophy (Jacob Boehme and his followers, up to and including the Theosophical Society); Rosicrucianism of the 17th century and the subsequent similarly-oriented initiatic societies; and hermetism, i.e. the reception of the Greek Hermetica in modern times.

Affiliations: 1: École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sciences Religieuses) Sorbonne 45 rue des Écoles F-75005 Paris; 2: Religions Studies Program San Jose State University One Washington Square San Jose, California 95192, USA


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