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

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

Postby Kavi » Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:35 pm

Kenazis wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:11 pm
Frater Kavi? I've been waiting. What's up?
Khhrm... yes let's get going. My bad!
I have left here question marks in case some of you might disagree or point out the lack of my comprehension.

V: State of Research and Institutionalization pp.15-19:

Faivre lists recent events and changes in the field of study of esotericism.
He mentions so called "generalists" and their contribution on this field.
Firstly Faivre writes of contributor Wouter J. Hanegraff and his work (New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (1996). )Faivre recognizes Hanegraff's importance as a generalist.

Faivre compares Hanegraff to Marco Pasi. Eventhough of being defined in "occultist current", in Faivre's opinion he manages to treat magic and occultism appropriately under the western esotericism.

Generally speaking, this chapter felt more as a historical and bibliographical and very difficult to translate into a memoir.
Faivre mentions many many other authors and researchers but instead of referring each of them I decide not to.

From here on Faivre tells a more historical situation of research. For example how the name History of Christian Esotericism in France was changed later in the 1979 to History of Esoteric and Mystical Currents in the Modern and Contemporary Europe and after this in the 2002 the word "Mystical" was dropped out of chair title.
Faivre opens an outlook on Amsterdam and its study of Esotericism as well as how things are or were in UK, Germany and USA.

Lastly I could mention the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism which was founded in 2002.
ESSWE brings different kind of research across the world to exchange ideas and research and has held already two conferences.



VI: Past and Present Obstacles to the Recognition of this specific field pp. 19-22:

After the periods of marginalization this field has started to have some increasing recognition.
But there are still obstacles that slow down this recognition.

So what are the obstacles?

Faivre points out four obstacles:
1. Existence of approaches of religionist/universalist character. (Check the III part of introduction)

2. Confusionism. Meaning that the definition of esotericism gets blurred and you get to use it as an adjective for anything (portmanteau) covering fantasy, imaginary etc. "That's esoteric".
Faivre cites Artistic works associated with an aura of mystery and this feels to me to be the same not only on resesearch field but in arts and music as well. You'd have heavy metal unicorns, fantastical warriors and magic next to each other. Nowadays we have Occult rock for example.

3.Dogma of superior religion dictates what becomes marginalized and inferior. (?)
Esotericism is thought as a mere marginal heresy besides other heresies seen from the point of dogma of Catholic Christianity.

4. Composition of Academic specialities in the History of Religion.
If this discipline (History of Religion) have not accepted the specialities in the past the Gnosticism of Late Antiquity, Jewish kabbalah, Muslim theosophies or even Christian mysticism. Then how could it even recognize Western Esotericism?
Faivre points out that using blank term "mysticism" can be understood as the portmanteau mentioned in the obstacle two.
In Faivre's opinion this is one of the reasons of delay in the Research.

Because this field was never integrated into disciple of History of Religion, it found its way in the rationalist discourse, but soon it was to discarded by newer form or rationalist current as a disturbing the belief of religion emancipating out of science.
Nowadays Western Esotericism is found under the umbrella of New Age or New Religious Movements. Thus from sociological point of view media and public authorities call these religious esoteric circles as "sects".

Faivre writes:
This gives rise to the idea that no grounds exist to consider Western esotericism as a specific field of research, because it never does more than relate to objects with which these scholars are already preoccupied.
In other words, does this mean that there is some kind of hegemony going on?
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:16 am

Now I'll take my time. Very busy with everything right now, but I'll post my part before saturday.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:31 pm

pages 25-28
ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL SOURCES OF THE MODERN WESTERN ESOTERIC CURRENTS

As the chapter title reveals, Faivre presents the sources of the modern western esoteric currents. The sources from first eleven centuries according to Faivre, that he has categorised here as “Alexandrian Hermetism”, “Other Non-Christian Currents” and “In Christian Thought of the First Eleven Centuries”.

Alexandrian Hermetism

Homogenous mass of texts written in Greek and in the area of Alexandria are known as Hermetica. These text are from several centuries and deal variety of topics like alchemy, astrology, cosmology, theurgy and philosophy of nature. Corpus Hermeticum that includes seventeen short treatises is the most famous of all the texts of Hermetica. There’s no unified doctrine found in Hermetica, even the treatises included in Corpus Hermeticum have contradictions between them (texts are not written by one author).

Other Non-Christian Currents

Alexandrian Hermetism can be categorized as non-christian current, but there’s four other non-christian currents that Faivre sees worth to mention.

a) Neo-Pythagoreanism
b) Stoicism
c) Neoplatonism
d) Medieval Kabbalah

In Christian Thought of the First Eleven Centuries

There are still debates for was there ever “Christian esotericism”, secret teachings that Jesus teach just for his disciples and was these secrets essentially Jewish. Clement of Alexandria emphasized the importance of Gnosis (knowledge) that transcends faith. Origen emphasized the constant effort to interpret the Holy Scriptures to move beyond faith and achieve gnosis. And then there’s of course the many different schools of Gnosticism. Later, or closer to us in history there’s Pseudo—Dionysius in the sixth century, then Maximus the Confessor one century later, and in the ninth century the Irish monk Johannes Scottus Eriugena.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Wyrmfang » Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:32 pm

I was planning to write this before our half-year meeting but it got delayed, and well, after the meeting it got delayed a little more :D Let´s try to keep up the schedule.

In Medieval Thought (pp. 28-31)

1. Aspects of theology
Beginning from the 12th century, nature began to be seen in the light of analogies, which, according to Faivre, was a result of the influence of the Arabic world. Later in the 13th century Franciscan reinforced this tendency. Up to the year 1300 when most essential Arabic texts had been translated into Latin, the influence of the Aristotelian Moslim thinker Averroes became dominant. Aristotelian secondary causes were theologized, which problematized the relationship between nature and metaphysics. According to Faivre, this would favor later in the Renaissance esoteric currents in the proper sense.

2. "Sums" and universal syntheses
Some of the Medieval sums (not those of Aquinas) form great philosophical systems which have a synthesizing function. Especially Nicholas of Cusa was a forerunner of Renaissance Hermetism in proposing the fundamental unity of all religions and world system in which "infinitely great coincides with the infinitely small".

3. Hermetism, astrology, and alchemy
Astrology and alchemy were not yet very prominent, as the focus of the time was in the divine and not in the study of nature. Many works were translations from Arab studies, especially alchemy was reintroduced to Europe from the Islamic Spain. Two most important alchemical works of the 13th century were Turba Philosophorum, which had Arab origin, and Roger Bacon´s Opus tertium. After the 13th century alchemical literature began to increase until the 17th century.

I have to say that, in my view, Faivre is somehow a very difficult writer (or then it´s translator´s fault). The ideas presented are not that complex and there is not overly much data, but still I have to read most sentences many times and it´s difficult to get the main points in simple form.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:31 am

Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:32 pm
I have to say that, in my view, Faivre is somehow a very difficult writer (or then it´s translator´s fault). The ideas presented are not that complex and there is not overly much data, but still I have to read most sentences many times and it´s difficult to get the main points in simple form.
Same feelings here. It migth be the original french-style that's translated into English. As everybody sees from what i've written, I have also problem to get the main points from the text and put them in simple form.
"In darkness let me dwell, The ground shall sorrow be..."
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kavi » Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:02 pm

Kenazis wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:31 am
Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:32 pm
I have to say that, in my view, Faivre is somehow a very difficult writer (or then it´s translator´s fault). The ideas presented are not that complex and there is not overly much data, but still I have to read most sentences many times and it´s difficult to get the main points in simple form.
Same feelings here. It migth be the original french-style that's translated into English. As everybody sees from what i've written, I have also problem to get the main points from the text and put them in simple form.
Yes! I thought about the text as well and it seems that somehow there is no good optional words in English to translate from French, maybe due to historical reasons. English language itself has many French/Latin words adopted and there simply isn't any other words to use... or maybe the translation just isn't that good at all.
I have yet again held and slowed down our reading pace and progression, but I will write the next chapter within this week!
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kavi » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:17 pm

So I have no internet as usb port refuses to connect and the one week extended to two weeks.

I will copy my text from computer:

III. Initiating Quests and Arts pp. 31 - 33

1. Jewish Kabbalah

This part briefly unfolds Jewish Kabbalah and it's kabbalistic writings such as Sepher Yetzirah and Sepher-ha Zohar.
Jewish Kabbalah had influence on Latin world during renaissance and from there on.
During 12th century Kabbalah included concept of Bahir which holds double connotation: Eastern meaning gnosis and a form of neoplatonism.
Also Faivre introduces us to idea of kabbalah and how Hebrew letters are seen to represent the multitude of God.
Notable people Faivre states include Moses of Leon and Abraham Abulafia.

2. Chivalry and Initiatic Societies
Here again Faivre briefly introduces us to Freemasonry and idea of that.
Shortly put, how masons were searching and finding secrets of God through geometry.
It is said that these secrets and the art was inherited when first masons built churches.
Myth of Templars are discussed.
And order called Brethren of the free spirit is briefly introduced and discussed as well. This was new thing for me.

3. The Arts
Third part is about the arts. The Arts meaning esotericism including for example astrology and how it was integrated in the society.
Faivre gives us an example of playing cards.
Example of Epic of King Arthur and Holy Grail appears as well.
Interestingly Faivre gives us an insight that "thematic range" of Grail story appeared in the 19th century. If this is true and correct, it seems that these myths and stories somehow take always new forms and find different kind of ways that they are expressed. Possibly in the context of narrative?
Also somehow the cultural heritage tends not to disappear but merely get stacked.
Faivre continues to state that Temple of Solomon and Heavenly Jerusalem have been in the stories for centuries.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:37 pm

Faivre
pages 35-39
ESOTERICISM IN THE HEART OF THE RENAISSANCE AND THE FLAMES OF THE BAROQUE

1. A Discovery of Humanism: Philosophia Perennis

a. Re-emergence and Success of the Corpus Hermeticum

Common assumption of Corpus Hermeticum (Latin translation of Corpus Hermeticum published in 1471) was that these treatises and its “author” Hermes Trismegistus belonged to period very remote, that of Moses. These teachings was seen as expression of philosophia perennis.

In 1614, famous philologist Isaac Casaubon demonstrated that these treatises were much newer origin, from no earlier than from first centuries of our era (Casaubon was not however only or first to present this notion). Some lost interest in this text after this, some ignored it and continued with their theories.

b. Christian Kabbalah

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola developed Christian hermeneutics from the methods of Jewish Kabbalah which was used to find hidden discoveries from the sacred texts. Mirandola’s Conclusiones (1486) marked the beginning of this “Christian Kabbalah current”. So, it was not the interpretation of Kabbalah/Kabbalistic texts through Christian philosophy, but using kabbalistic method to Christian texts.

Mirandola even said that “no science proves the divinity of Christ better than Kabbalah and magic.”

After this came Agrippa’s De Occulta philosophia (1486-1535), Guillaume Postel’s annotated translation of Zohar (1553) and first Latin translation of Sepher Yetzirah, Robert Fludd’s Summum Bonum (1629) and Knorr von Rosenroth’s Cabala denudate (1677-1684).

c. Homo Universalis: Activity, Dignity, and Synthesis

"In darkness let me dwell, The ground shall sorrow be..."
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Wyrmfang » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:14 am

II. The Germanic Contribution: Nature Philosophy and Theosophy (pp. 39-46)

1. Paracelsism

Lutheranism usually diminished the influence of Neoplatonism, Hermetism and the Kabbalah in the Germanic countries. However, "a magical vision of nature" was widely present with Paracelsus as its most visible proponent. Paracelsus opposed the emanation theory of Neoplatonists, and understood nature as founded directly on divine omnipotence. However, together with Neoplatonists, Paracelsus had a qualitative conception of time, in which each being has its own "rhytm". Even though he didn´t practice alchemy, Paracelsus also made an extensive use of chemical terminology. Paracelsus was not a very popular figure among priests, because he favored experimental method compared to the tradition, intended to "democritize" medicine and highlighted everyone´s personal responsibility in contrast to the doctrine of pre-determination. However, he became a highly influential figure not only in esotericism but in the rise of natural sciences.

2. Jacob Boehme and the Theosophical Current

In Germany a peculiar current Christian theosophy was taking place. Its distinctive characteristics were the conception of God-humanity-nature triangle, direct access to the divine by supersensory vision, and highlighting the meaning of myths. Boehme was the most important representative of this movement. Boehme coined the idea of the ground of God which precedes his actual orderly existence, and which I have become familiar with Schelling. The ground of God consists in blind will, which gives rise to the actual reality be desiring the image of the potential world in the "divine mirror" Sophia.

3. The First Rosy-Cross

Also the first appearance of the Rosy-Cross took place in the 17th century Germany. It began from an anonymous manifesto which lamented the spiritual situation of the Europe and highlighted "spiritual science" instead of mere church doctrine. Together with two other texts, a myth of a brotherhood was created, which greatly influenced the actual development of initiatic orders later in the century.
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Re: Reading circle (Antoine Faivre:Western Esotericism - A Concise History)

Postby Kenazis » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:59 am

Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:14 am
Lutheranism usually diminished the influence of Neoplatonism, Hermetism and the Kabbalah in the Germanic countries.
From time to time this effect of Lutheranism unveils itself to me. While it was very good to “clean the Christianity from “non-Christian” magical thinking, it often seems that the baby was tossed out with the bathwater. And I think here in Finland (being “Lutheran country”) we see both the good and bad effects of this Martin Luther’s mission.
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