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Religious Revolutionaries and Spiritualism in Germany around 1848

In: Aries
Author: Daniel Cyranka1
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With a strong focus on Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck (1776–1858), erstwhile president of the German Academy of the Natural Scientists Leopoldina, as it was then known, this article inquires into the connections between his political involvements in the German revolutionary Vormärz (pre-March) era and in the 1848 revolutions, in the movements spearheaded by the German Catholics (Deutschkatholiken) and the Protestant Friends (Lichtfreunde) as well as in the debates carried out during this period on science and scientificity. Beyond a discussion of these associations that scholarship has addressed, the article explores the role of spiritism or spiritualism within these contexts. In light of that, Nees’ reception of the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910) is examined with respect to the prevalence of continuities and discontinuities between Nees’ scientific work, his political and religious activities and his intellectual preoccupation with visions and the notion of divination.

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