Peter Burke, the social history of knowledge, and “agnotology” – notes on a lecture

It’s been a busy spring so far, and unfortunately not much time for keeping this blog running. In an attempt to get started again I will give a brief report on Professor Peter Burke’s visit to Amsterdam last week, and particularly one lecture (out of two) he gave on that occasion.


Lux in Tenebris: ESSWE conference program published

This summer (6-10 July) the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism organises its third biannual conference, in Szeged, Hungary. The program, which is starting to take shape, promises four very interesting days in this historic city of southern Hungary. Among the plenary speakers are world-leading scholars in their fields, including Michael J. B. Allen (Renaissance studies), and Moshe Idel (Jewish thought / Jewish mysticism). More about the plenary speakers here. Scholars and students with an interest in anything esoteric, whether ancient, medieval, early modern or modern are also bound to find many intriguing titles among the eighty or so papers that have been accepted for panel sessions.

As membership secretary of the ESSWE I can also inform that pre-registrations for the conference are about to start. For information about the event, questions regarding payment,  registration, etc., you can check the official conference website, the ESSWE site (which lists anticipated costs, among other things), or  drop me an email.

Published in: on February 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm  Comments (6)  
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Breaking the silence – and some news

Summer time has been upon me and Heterodoxology has been dead silent for a while. Unfortunately, when I look at the pile of things to do these coming months I fear it may stay that way. This is nevertheless an honest attempt at getting things rolling again. I’ll just kick off with some whimsically chosen (perhaps relevant) news:


Searching for pictures of Comte on the internet again, are we?

Today this blog has existed for four months. It has grown steadily since the first post, with a marked increase in June.

One of the interesting things with writing about relatively separate things – from Mesmerism to 19th century scientism to eugenics in Norway to lectures on alchemy to Goetic ritual magic – is keeping a track on what’s being read, and from where. In the beginning I wasn’t very surprised to find that ritual magic, and things to do with Aleister Crowley tended to generate more hits.

I was a bit more surprised when the short piece on Comte’s religion of humanity started to sprint away from the other posts. It is currently the most visited one – and that with almost five times as many hits as #2.

Variations on “Auguste Comte” are the three most used search words to find Heterodoxology. Further down the list we find phrases such as “fotos de auguste comte”, “pictures of auguste comte”, and “imagenes de comte”. My humour has always tended towards the silly, but I find it a little amusing.

But my favorite searches are still “how to become possessed by demons”, and “are there any real angelic languages?” I am afraid whoever came for answers to those must have navigated away rather disappointed.

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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Plato the Pythagorean – a possible revolution in Plato research?

I must admit to feeling a sceptical gut reaction when I first read about J. B. Kennedy’s brand new article on Pythagorean number theories being embedded in the structure of Plato’s dialogues – a possible key to his unwritten doctrine. I first read about it in The Guardian‘s rather popularizing account. After doing some more searches, and finally checking  the original paper published in Apeiron, I am happy to say it looks much more solid than one first expects when hearing something along the lines of “lone scholar x cracking codes in the works of legendary intellectual hero y“.


Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm  Comments (5)  
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New Journal: Preternature

This had escaped me, but it seems that the Journal for the Academic Study of Magic has been discontinued and replaced by a new project: Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural. It sounds promising. The new journal is housed at Pennsylvania State University, but like its predecessor it’s published from Oxford, UK.  They are currently accepting submissions and book review requests.

According to the website, the new journal is:


“Alchemy: Between Science and Religion” – a workshop

On 24 June the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) will organize a one-day workshop on alchemy in Amsterdam. Some of the top experts of alchemy will present papers, including Professor Lawrence Principe of John Hopkins University. Although the main focus is on alchemy and its ambiguous relation to early modern natural philosophy and religion, the workshop is intended for graduate and postgraduate students working with themes related to esotericism more generally. Since it coincides with the board meeting of the ESSWE, virtually all the leading scholars of western esotericism will be present, including Antoine Faivre, Wouter Hanegraaff, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Boaz Huss, Mark Sedgwick, and Gyorgy Szonyi. They will all happily engage in discussions with students and young researchers.

In short: A great opportunity if you’re doing an MA or PhD in this area, and can make it to Amsterdam in June. Another notable perk: It’s free. For more details, check out the announcement, which I also post in its entirety below.