Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:42 pm

Wyrmfang wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:23 am
If I try to find a common meaning behind these different meanings, the only one that comes to mind is the opposition of "eso" (hidden and inner) and "exo" (public and open).
This pretty much the same conclusion I have come.
Kavi wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:10 pm
By the way, what do you think, Is it usually esoteric - the inner or hidden which defines which is "ex"cluded - exoteric or other way around or both or does it even matter?
Or am I just jerking around here with definitions? :D
Yes! you are jerking around with definitions, but that's always interesting thing to do. It seems that often people see esoteric being somehow "better" or more advanced than exoteric. Thus it often goes that people thinking their knowledge is esoteric defines what is esoteric, and what is not included there, but is "just an exoteric knowledge".
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kavi » Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:14 am

Antoine Faivre discusses in the next chapter about the sixth meaning of esotericism as a historical current.
Western, according to Faivre stands for "West", for Christian culture which has been, according to Faivres words, "visited" by muslim and jewish traditions.
Faivre gives an example of "jewish kabbalah" not belonging to western esotericism, but on the other hand "christian kabbalah" does.
Faivre sees this as a methodological and claims not to take or imply any judgmental positions on this.

Western esotericism can be defined, according to Faivre into different historical currents:

Late antiquity and Middle Ages:

1. Alexandrian Hermetism (Second and third century of our era)
2. Christian Gnosticism; neo-pythagoreanism, alchemy, speculative astrology

Modern period:
3. Neo-Alexandrian Hermetism (Renaissance)
4. Christian Kabbalah (Renaissance)
5. Philosophia Occulta; Paraclesian current and its derivates (Renaissance)
6. Rosicrucianism different variants, Christian Theosophy, Illuminism as a part of romantic Naturphilosophie, occultist current from mid 1800-1900.

Faivre gives out that there is representatives thinking of of "western esotericism" which extends these fields of currents from antiquity to modern era, making it broad in meaning.
Faivre then cites that the other representatives think in restricting meaning of "modern western esotericism". Limiting it to start from the renaissance period.

According to Faivre three following ares of discourse "Perennial philosophy", "the automatization of extra-theological discourse in the subject of cosmology" and "Revelation from within revelation" constitute the aspect of "nascent" modernity, especially the first two.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Cerastes » Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:25 pm

Kavi wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:10 pm
I don't have a degree on comparative religion studies, but I have a hint that when the word "esoteric" is used, it usually means hidden and inner.
By the way, what do you think, Is it usually esoteric - the inner or hidden which defines which is "ex"cluded - exoteric or other way around or both or does it even matter?
Hm, I don’t think exoteric knowledge defines esoteric knowledge or vice versa. Esoteric knowledge may become exoteric at some point due to various influences. It is propably more like a process. A lot of todays hidden knowlegde was not always hidden and maybe it is just hiding behind a high mountain of other information we receive nowedays.
With this definition (inner/hidden) it’s a little bit oxymoronic to publish a book about esoteric knowledge because by writing something down it is turned from the inside to the outside and by publishing it is not hidden anymore.
Kenazis wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:42 pm
Yes! you are jerking around with definitions, but that's always interesting thing to do. It seems that often people see esoteric being somehow "better" or more advanced than exoteric. Thus it often goes that people thinking their knowledge is esoteric defines what is esoteric, and what is not included there, but is "just an exoteric knowledge".
There is a tendency for people to long for secret knowledge that nobody else knows. The words “secret” and “hidden” have become almost like a marketing tool. If you want someone to klick on your online article you just have to use the word “secret” in the title and people will read it, regardless how stupid it is. This tendency actively lowers the quality of information because it is not about gaining knowledge or finding out the truth anymore, it's about feeling special. That goes for "esoteric" knowledge too. I became very sceptical about that word since it is used inflationary.

At least for me, secret or hidden knowledge is knowledge that a person really has to work on and I don’t mean the kind of work one can do solely with his internet explorer.
“Granny Weatherwax was not lost. She wasn't the kind of person who ever became lost. It was just that, at the moment, while she knew exactly where SHE was, she didn't know the position of anywhere else.”
(Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters)
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:15 pm

Fra Kavi, what pages you read? Wyrmfang's part was pages 1-5.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kavi » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:11 pm

Unfortunately I cannot open the book right now, but I'd guess I read pages 6-10 (or until ninth page).
If I remember right, the chapter is called: "Sixth meaning: esotericism as a historical current" or something like that.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Wyrmfang » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:00 pm

Red Bird wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:25 pm
Kavi wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:10 pm
I don't have a degree on comparative religion studies, but I have a hint that when the word "esoteric" is used, it usually means hidden and inner.
By the way, what do you think, Is it usually esoteric - the inner or hidden which defines which is "ex"cluded - exoteric or other way around or both or does it even matter?
Hm, I don’t think exoteric knowledge defines esoteric knowledge or vice versa. Esoteric knowledge may become exoteric at some point due to various influences. It is propably more like a process. A lot of todays hidden knowlegde was not always hidden and maybe it is just hiding behind a high mountain of other information we receive nowedays.
With this definition (inner/hidden) it’s a little bit oxymoronic to publish a book about esoteric knowledge because by writing something down it is turned from the inside to the outside and by publishing it is not hidden anymore.
If I read Faivre (and Kavi) correctly, these are two quite distinct questions. The claim is that esoteric should be defined against exoteric, which is quite compatible with the fact that the actual content of esoteric and exoteric changes in history all the time. It is the traditionalists who seem to understand the esoteric as unchanging "perennial philosophy".

However, I came to think that because esoteric can always turn into exoteric (unless we take the traditionalist presupposition seriously), one meaning of esoteric could be that it is not any factual recognizable content that is truly esoteric but the practical skill in varying between the "esoteric" and the "exoteric". Now I had a wild idea that this way I could possibly conceive an alchemic continuum not only to Schelling and Jung but even to Derrida (Jiva, do you get what I mean? :D)
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Wyrmfang » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:02 pm

Red Bird wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:25 pm
Kavi wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:10 pm
I don't have a degree on comparative religion studies, but I have a hint that when the word "esoteric" is used, it usually means hidden and inner.
By the way, what do you think, Is it usually esoteric - the inner or hidden which defines which is "ex"cluded - exoteric or other way around or both or does it even matter?
Hm, I don’t think exoteric knowledge defines esoteric knowledge or vice versa. Esoteric knowledge may become exoteric at some point due to various influences. It is propably more like a process. A lot of todays hidden knowlegde was not always hidden and maybe it is just hiding behind a high mountain of other information we receive nowedays.
With this definition (inner/hidden) it’s a little bit oxymoronic to publish a book about esoteric knowledge because by writing something down it is turned from the inside to the outside and by publishing it is not hidden anymore.
If I read Faivre (and Kavi) correctly, these are two quite distinct questions. The claim is that esoteric should be defined against exoteric, which is quite compatible with the fact that the actual content of esoteric and exoteric changes in history all the time. It is the traditionalists who seem to understand the esoteric as unchanging "perennial philosophy".

However, I came to think that because esoteric can always turn into exoteric (unless we take the traditionalist presupposition seriously), one meaning of esoteric could be that it is not any factual recognizable content that is truly esoteric but the practical skill in varying between the "esoteric" and the "exoteric". Now I had a wild idea that this way I could possibly conceive an alchemic continuum not only to Schelling and Jung but even to Derrida (Jiva, do you get what I mean? :D)
Kenazis wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:15 pm
Fra Kavi, what pages you read? Wyrmfang's part was pages 1-5.
The idea is to read one chapter at the time, but in some cases it might be reasonable to read more. The schedule is also flexible, but it is advisable to inform beforehand if one cannot read the chapter within the week.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:34 pm

III – From the Religionist and Universal Approach to the Historico-Critical Approach, pages 8-11

When esotericism is understood in the sixth sense (esotericism as a Group of Specific Historical Currents) along comes the history-critical mode of approach. Faivre points out that there’s also another mode that is followed by many authors who study the history of “esotericism”.

1. Mode – History-Critical Approach
2. Mode (has three different “angles”)
a. Religionist
b. Universalist
c. Mixture of religionist and universalist

Religionist - you must be member of the religion/tradition/spiritual movement to really understand and properly study it.

Universalist – postulates the existence of “universalist esotericism”. So called “true” nature of things is matter of discovering them.

Mixture of religionist and universalist – principally represented by Perennialist Current.

Examples of religionist scholars: Robert Amadou (L’occultisem. Esquisse d’un monde vivant, 1950), Gerhard Wehr (Esoterisches Christentum, 1975 and 1995).

Example of universalist scholar: Pierre Riffard (L’ésoterisme: Qu’est-ce que l’ésotérisme? Anthologie de l’ésotérisme, 1990).

Riffard has proposed that the existence on “universal esotericism” is composed on following eight variables.

1) The impersonality of the authors
2) The opposition between profane and the initiates
3) The subtle
4) Correspondences
5) Numbers
6) The occult sciences
7) The occult arts
8) Initiation

Faivre divides the historians studying esotericism (in the sixth sense, mode 1 - history-critical approach) in two categories: those who study currents or certain authors, and those who intent to study esotericism as a whole. Latter group Faivre calls “generalists”, former “nongeneralists”.

Frances Yates’ book “Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition” published in 1964, Faivre states to be important as preparing the way of academical esotericism studies (as understood in the sixth sense).
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Wyrmfang » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:08 pm

IV A New Manner of Constructing the Object, pp. 11-15

First Faivre repeats the basic point of the previous chapter: earlier scholars of esotericism have first coined an "ideal type" and then interpreted empirical phenomena to fit in to it. By contrast, Faivre wants to adopt a purely empirical and historical approach, that is, to first study phenomena and then find commonalities in them. However, it is not entirely clear to me, how great is the difference between Faivre and earlier scholars in this respect; after all, to study "esotericism" is already to attribute some a priori interpretations to the phenomena which are studied, not even to mention the choice of the phenomena which are studied.

However, in line with his earlier work Access to Western Esotericism, Faivre claims to have found four principal and two secondary characteristics that constitute the typical traits of "Modern Western Esotericism": (1) The idea of universal correspondences, (2) The idea of living nature, (3) The role of mediations and of the imagination, (4) The experience of transmutation, and (5) concordance ("deeper truth" behind different, even oppository expressions) & (6) transmission (meaning basically "initiation").

Faivre takes up the critique of Wouter Hanegraaff, that his construction does not take into account the importance of movements such as pietism of the 17th century and the secularization of esotericism in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to Faivre, these critiques are not decisive, and some of his followers have indeed developed the idea forward.

Next Faivre takes up his conception of esotericism as a "form of thought"; a contingent historical product that can share characteristics with other forms of thought such as the scientific or the theological. As Faivre notes, the relationship with science has been especially complex. According to Faivre, understanding esotericism as a form of thought gives it the needed flexibility compared to understanding it as a system of particular explicit beliefs, and it is also better suited for multidisciplinary study.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:11 pm

Frater Kavi? I've been waiting. What's up?
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