Transgressing Boundaries

Social Reform, Theology, and the Demarcations between Science and Religion

In: Aries

This editorial argues for a methodological move away from dichotomous constellations toward a concept of entangled history. Although the study of esotericism seeks to highlight the cultural importance of its subject, its leading approaches are reiterating the very polemical dichotomies that led to its marginalization. This can be seen as the grand paradox of the study of esotericism. Therefore it is necessary to transgress both disciplinary and geographical boundaries and understand “esotericism” as a deeply entangled element of complex global discourses about “religion,” “science,” and “politics.” This opens up new opportunities for the study of esotericism to not only better comprehend the emergence of “esotericism” as an integral part of “Western” culture, but also to contribute to an understanding of the emergence of “Western” identity in general.

  • 1

    Hanegraaff‘Textbooks’198–199; cf. Hanegraaff Western Esotericism 1–17.

  • 5

    HanegraaffEsotericism221; cf. Hanegraaff Western Esotericism 13–14.

  • 7

    StuckradEsoterik9–23; cf. Stuckrad ‘Western Esotericism’ 88–92. Central to this approach is the notion of European “religious pluralism” that is mainly based on the works of Hans G. Kippenberg Burkhard Gladigow and Christoph Auffarth. Also cf. Stuckrad ‘Discursive Study 1’ and Stuckrad ‘Discursive Study 2’.

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  • 8

    StuckradLocations51–54 200–204; cf. Stuckrad Scientification esp. 25–112. Von Stuckrad later demanded the overcoming of “binary” oppositions by referring to a “hybrid third” that moved between two polemical fronts: ibid. 19–20. In his conclusion he highlighted a “network”-oriented discursive model whose compatibility with the concept of the “third” appears to be unclear: ibid. 181.

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  • 10

    Bergunder‘What is Esotericism?’16–18.

  • 12

    Strube‘Neues Christentum’140–143; Strube ‘Socialist Religion’ and Strube ‘Revolution Illuminismus und Theosophie’.

  • 18

    Asprem‘Beyond the West’4–18.

  • 19

    Granholm‘Locating the West’18–22.

  • 20

    E.g. Bogdan & Djurdjevic‘Introduction’1–5. See also the recent History of Religions issue on “The Global Occult” which tries to establish a global history approach. See Green ‘The Global Occult’ 383 were “the occult” is defined as “an inherently bicultural and transcultural channel of religious creativity and connectivity.”

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  • 23

    Bergunder‘What is Esotericism?’20. A similar point was made by Granholm ‘Esoteric’.

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