Introduction

Authored by: Christopher Partridge

The Occult World

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415695961
eBook ISBN: 9781315745916
Adobe ISBN: 9781317596769

10.4324/9781315745916.intro

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Abstract

Throughout Western history, from late antiquity to the present, there have been a number of related theological and philosophical currents that have been rejected as profane within some religious cultures and as regressive or irrational within certain secular discourses. However, following the rediscovery of ancient texts during the Renaissance, which led to the scholarly revival of occult subjects in the West, not only did aspects of these intellectual and spiritual currents become widely accepted, but they have been deceptively influential within the history of ideas. Moreover, as a result of the erosion of Christianity’s hegemonic position in Western societies, the modern turn to the self, and the questioning of deference to traditional authorities, many of the ‘fields of discourse’ (Stuckrad, 2005: 7) generated by the ‘occult sciences’ have survived into late-modernity. Not only that, but, having experienced a significant revival in the nineteenth century, they have been subsequently adopted and developed in ways that can hardly be ignored by contemporary scholarship. ‘The occult’, broadly defined, haunts the twenty-first century imagination, permeates popular culture, and contributes to new spiritual trajectories.

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