Claiming Knowledge

Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age

This volume deals with the transformation of religious creativity in the late modern West. Its point of departure is a set of esoteric beliefs, from Theosophy to the New Age. It shows how these traditions have adapted to the cultural givens of each successive epoch.
The claims of each movement have been buttressed by drawing on various structural characteristics of late modernity. The advance of science has resulted in attempts to claim scientific status for religious beliefs. Globalization has given rise to massive loans from other cultures, but also to various strategies to radically reinterpret foreign elements. Individualism has led to an increasing reliance on experience as a source of legitimacy.
The analytical tools applied to understanding religious modernization shed light on changes that are fundamentally reshaping many religious traditions.

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Biographical Note

Olav Hammer, Ph.D. (2000) in History of Religions, Lund (Sweden), is Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. He has published extensively, mainly in Swedish, on the New Age and on contemporary Western esotericism.

'Claiming Knowledge propose une analyse fort pertinente des modalités de la construction du savoir religieux dans la modernité. Ce livre est une contribution importante à l’histore de l’ésotérisme occidental en particulier et des productions religieuses de la modernité en général.' David A. Palmer, Justificatif, 2004. ' Hammer has done a great service with his careful analysis of an understudied phenomenon in contemporary religion: the New Age. This book is a treasure of research into the roots and development of modern esotericism…offers new insight…strong book, which certainly deserves a place in the stacks of academic libraries.' T.A. Forsthoefel, Choice, 2001.

All those interested in modern culture, intellectual history, the history of religions and theology, as well as an educated readership with an interest in esotericism and New Age thought.

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