According to McGrath, though the esoteric schools represent a diverse set of theories and practices, they are nonetheless “united by a common enemy: the desacralization of nature (material nature, human nature, cosmological nature) by techno-science and capitalist consumerism.” He argues that critiques of esotericism as “regressive,” “anti-modern,” and “anti-scientific” are misguided. Although esotericism shares modernity’s “impulse toward human amelioration through science,” it seeks this amelioration through an alternative conception of the human-cosmos relation: “Western esoteric nature-philosophy refuses to follow mainstream natural science and split mind from matter, spirit from animal, finite from infinite…Esoteric modernity is a road not taken in the history of science…a modern approach to nature which was openly rejected in the seventeenth century because it did not grant us the calculative control which techno-science demanded of the Western mind.” Mircea Eliade points to the “victorious offensive against the imagination” initiated during the Reformation and Counterreformation as the defining historical crisis that led a then germinal modernity away from the esoteric Renaissance vision of an ensouled cosmos and toward the disenchanted, techno-scientific modernity of today.
The above passage comes from Matthew David Seagall’s dissertation proposal. I’m excited for the real thing.
Painting above by George Boorujy