Wouter J. Hanegraaff Quotes

What I'm advocating is an anti-eclectic historiography.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast Interview, 01:04:00)
The entire narrative of western culture has to change.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, 01:08:05)
Next to the search for spiritual salvation and knowledge of divine realities, Western esotericism involves the study of nature and its hidden or secret laws and dynamics.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 2, 2013)
The history of Renaissance esotericism is dominated by a core group of influential intellectuals, surrounded by much larger networks of lesser thinkers who adopted their ideas and developed them further.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 2, 2013)
It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Western esotericism is concerned solely with such higher or absolute knowledge of the soul and its spiritual salvation, to the exclusion of more conventional goals or modes of knowledge.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 5, 2013)
Basically the ultimate ambition of western esotericism as I see it, is much more than studying a bunch of weird currents that we have forgotten and that we don't know about, we're also doing that which is a great lot of fun, but the bigger ambition is to change the whole narrative of western culture.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, 01:06:30)
It is hardly an accident that the stronger the element of radical dualism, and the more seriously it is translated into a comprehensive worldview or metaphysical doctrine, the greater the chance that it may lead to militant activism and result in violent conflicts between ‘sectarian’ movements and the ‘powers of this world’.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 4, 2013)
During the period of the Renaissance, a range of creative and influential thinkers took up the task of synthesizing ancient ‘pagan’ learning and religious speculation with Christian thought, along with the newly discovered Jewish kabbalah. In so doing, they created what has been called the ‘basic referential corpus’ of Western esotericism.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 2, 2013)
Ideas do not exist in a social vacuum, as topics of polite and disinterested conversation among disembodied intellects. On the contrary: in intellectual or religious history we are dealing with flesh-and-blood people who care deeply, often passionately, about defending their own convictions and criticizing or attacking those of others.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 3, 2013)
The sober truth is that all the available labels tend to create misleading images of what the field is all about. A neutral and generally accepted terminology simply does not exist; and if one were to try and remedy this situation by inventing a new label from scratch, this would not help because nobody would recognize it as pertaining to the field in question.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 1, 2013)
As already noted in the introduction to this chapter, Western esotericism does not necessarily entail a simple rejection of ‘reason’ and ‘faith’, or of their characteristic procedures for finding answers and discovering truth: usually, its representatives state simply that these approaches have their limitations, and only knowledge of the ‘gnosis’ type leads us as far as the truth itself.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 5, 2013)
After all, or so it can be argued, it is only after the eighteenth century that esotericism or the occult began to emerge as a social phenomenon in its own right. Before that time it had been just an intellectual tradition manifested in learned and popular writings; but only now did it take the form of actual organizations and social networks that began to compete with the established churches on a pluralistic ‘market’ of religion.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 1: Module 2, 2013)
In one way or another, all historical currents that fall within the purview of Western esotericism are concerned with asking and answering questions about the nature of the world, its relation to the divine and the role of humanity in between. Strict philosophical argumentation can be part of such discussions; but the underlying motivation is primarily religious, in the sense of a deep concern with the true meaning of life and the ultimate spiritual destiny of human beings in the universe.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 4, 2013)
How do we find answers about the true nature of the world, spiritual or divine realities, the meaning of our lives or our destiny after death? Should we just believe what traditional authorities – churches, theologians, sacred scriptures – tell us about such matters? Should we not rather try to find out by ourselves, using the evidence of our senses and our rational faculties? Or are such traditional avenues to knowledge insufficient when it comes to answering the deepest and most essential questions about the mystery of existence? If so, are there other ways?
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 5, 2013)
It is indisputable that these are very important dimensions of western culture that we don't know about, because we have discarded them since the 19th century and we have acted as if they didn't exist, and if we do that we end up with a very one-sided false distorted view of western culture, because we no longer recognize these currents when we encounter them, and when we encounter them and we don't know what to do with them, because we don't have a scholarly literature that has analyzed them and understand what they are saying. So what we are doing, we are discarding and marginalizing them.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Secret History of Western Esotericism Podcast, 01:04:00)
As already suggested above, the role that alterations of consciousness have played in esoteric contexts (not to mention other ones) has been overlooked to an extent that is truly surprising. This hiatus will not be filled unless scholars in the field are willing to combine expertise in such domains as anthropology, psychology, neurobiology or cognitive studies, with precise textual study of the source materials of Western esotericism. Once again, it is only on a radical interdisciplinary foundation that we can hope to begin understanding crucial aspects of its history within the wider context of Western culture as a whole.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed - Chapter 5, 2013)

Relevant Pages

Western Esotericism



Wouter J. Hanegraaff Biography

Wouter J. Hanegraaff portrait

Born: 1961

Wouter J. Hanegraaff is a Dutch scholar. He is best known for his prominent role in the studies of Western Esotericism. He is currently a professor and teacher at the University of Amsterdam.

Notable Works

Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (2013)

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