Rejected Knowledge Reconsidered: Some Methodological Notes on Esotericism and Marginality [chapter]

2020 New Approaches to the Study of Esotericism  
The notion that esotericism is a form of rejected knowledge has come back in style since the publication of Wouter J. Hanegraaff's Esotericism and the Academy in 2012. The association of esotericism with heterodoxy, deviance, opposition, and marginalization is itself old news: it has been a standard trope in insider discourses at least since the nineteenth century, and has also featured in earlier scholarly approaches to the field. In its strictest formulation, the new rejected knowledge model
more » ... ed knowledge model differs from these earlier approaches in important ways. Its central claim is that the historiographical category of "esotericism" emerged from heresiological writings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which for the first time imagined a diverse set of "heterodoxies" that we now associate with the category as "related currents." However, I will argue that the new rejected knowledge model also comes in an inflated version, in which the distinction between the historiographic concept ("esotericism") and its subject matter becomes blurred. The strict version represents an important contribution to the conceptual history of "esotericism." The inflated version, by contrast, introduces a host of problems that range from how groups and individuals are represented, to how we analyze and explain the data, to how esotericism is legitimized as a relevant field of study in the academy.
doi:10.1163/9789004446458_008 fatcat:ecxxopi2orc35hkfnnpn6edbum