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.