News in the blog roll

When I got around to buy the heterodoxology.com domain earlier this year, the idea was to start some renovations of the site. Now, finally, one small step: updating the blog roll. Some inactive old blogs have been removed, and a few new, heterodoxologically relevant ones have been added.

First, the additions: Invocatio is a fairly frequently updated and well informed blog (mostly) about Western esotericism. It is run by Sarah Veale in Toronto, and well worth checking out, among other things for its weekly “Myseria Misc. Maxima” installments. Religion Dispatches is perhaps the leading blog/online magazine for research on religion and contemporary debates about religion, and should have been added long ago. To keep up to date on what happens in the modern pagan communities as well as the occulture surrounding it, Jason Pritzl-Waters’  The Wild Hunt is a must-read. For all lovers of dusty old books I have added the bibliophile blog 8vO. Finally, to satisfy a twin appetite for science fiction and historiography, Mark Novak’s wonderful Paleofuture  blog is now available in the blog roll. It is a great resource for exploring the history of futures past.

Out goes a few blogs that have become inactive (Grimoires, Heteropraxis, Knokkelklang, Dodologist, SNASWE Blog), or turned out to be heterodoxologically less relevant (The Necromancer). More additions are likely to follow.

 

Creative Commons License This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Blind Spots of Disenchantment (3/3)

The third and last part of my paper on the “Blind Spots of Disenchantment” focuses on the somewhat neglected concept of Weber’s 1918 “Wissenschaft als Beruf” paper: “the intellectual sacrifice”. It looks particularly at the Scottish Gifford Lectures’ attempt to promote a new “natural theology”, and suggests that this whole attempt defies Weber’s emphasis that science and religion are being/ought to be kept apart in a disenchanted modern world. It also includes the complete bibliography for all three parts.

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Giants’ Shoulders #29: Esoteric Science Special

Athanasius Kircher's museum

Heterodoxology is proud to present the twenty-ninth installment of your favourite History of Science Blog Carnival: The Giant’s Shoulders. This time featuring an Esoteric Science Special, dedicated to all those esoteric pursuits of superior knowledge; a celebration of all strange, alien, and counterintuitive methods that have been attempted to dissect, read, or tame nature’s secrets, from renaissance natural philosophy to present-day Grand Unified Theories – from the cleverly inventive, through the hopelessly megalomaniac, to the simply misguided.

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“Emic historiography of science” – a possibly useful term

It’s been silent here for a while. My excuse is a lot of traveling and lecturing over the past month. In trying to get back to blogging, I’ll give some thoughts on a concept I’ve been thinking about in connection with one of the lectures in Trondheim a few weeks ago: “emic historiography of science”.

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Esotericism, Religion and Science in Toronto – report on the IAHR (part 1)

As shamelessly advertised on this blog before, there were several esotericism-and-science-related things happening at this years quinquennial world congress of the International Association of the History of Religion (IAHR) in Toronto. There was a three-session panel on esotericism, organized by my colleague Marco Pasi, and a two-session panel on science, religion and the arts in the early 20th century (under the title Seduced by Science), organised by my colleague Tessel Bauduin and myself. Having had more than a week now to overcome what was only a minor jet lag after all, it is time for a short report on events.

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Neurosurgical nonsense and the historical method

The brain of God, or just another Rorschach effect?

Some will have noticed the recent revival of speculation about the anatomical knowledge of Michelangelo. The blog at Scientific American reported on “findings” published in Neurosurgery this May. The authors, Tamago and Suk, claimed to reveal detailed anatomical sketches of a human brain and nervous system hidden in the “Separation of Light and Darkness” fresco in the Sixtine Chapel.

Rather exceptional, since these anatomical details were officially not known until 360 years later. The cutting-age anatomy of the day was that of Vesalius – very impressive, but hardly taught to modern-day neurosurgeons.

This unfortunate piece of Scientific American-backed high-publicity nonsense has been thoroughly debunked by Darin over at PACH (here, here, and here). In addition to clarifying some of the serious historical errors of fact in the SA piece, he has some very readable reflections on the utter disregard for the historical method, and the typical fallacies encountered (a little too often) when scientists try their hands at history of science. Go read it. (The PACH blog will now duly be added to the blog roll).

Naturalistic Spiritualisms

Spiritualism was a symptomatic cultural trend of the Victorian period. For decades mediums captivated the worker, the bourgeois, the nobleman, the socialist utopian, the Christian apostate, and people from virtually any and all professions, with their table rappings, levitating furniture, full-form materializations, and messages from beyond the grave. When a message was coming through, whether from the ghost of Benjamin Franklin, the archangel Gabriel, or the sitter’s aunt Nelly, the spirit medium provided the goods. But despite this caricature, which no doubt does full justice to much of the movement, spiritualism also became a heated battleground for deeply natural-philosophic questions: what is Nature, how does she operate, and what can we know about her? Where are the boundaries of the natural to be drawn?

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Some notes on scientism

The word “scientism” gets tossed around a lot in critical public debates about science’s place in society. Usually it is used derogatorily to dismiss a trend in using science which the user of the word doesn’t like. Used in this way, it is a rhetorical label without much analytic content. But it may also be turned into a useful category for analyzing historical data.

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The Divided Lands of Mesmeria

As part of a course I am teaching together with Dr. Marco Pasi we have spent the last three weeks discussing the significance of Mesmerism and animal magnetism in the overlapping contexts of Enlightenment science and esotericism. It is an interesting topic in many respects. For starters, the status of Mesmerism is not uncontroversial in esotericism studies. Why?

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