Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Organisation and Finances

The world’s first centre for the academic study of Western esotericism

Background history of the HHP Centre

The Centre for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (Dutch: “Geschiedenis van de Hermetische Filosofie en verwante stromingen”) was founded in 1999 as a new subdepartment (“leerstoelgroep”) at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam.

The idea and the initiative for this innovative venture came from Mrs. Drs. R. Basten. She had been interested in Hermetic philosophy and its historical development for many years, but during her own philosophy studies at the University of Amsterdam, she had discovered to her disappointment that no such subject was being taught. Given the existence of the renowned Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam, which contained the world’s most complete collection of Hermetic source materials and a wealth of related documents, the continuing lack of a teaching curriculum and academic research program in this field was all the more surprising.

Mrs. Basten therefore decided to provide the financial means that would make it possible for the University of Amsterdam to fill this hiatus. Her generous donation was made to an independent Foundation newly created to this end, which signed an agreement with the University. This enabled the University of Amsterdam to create a new subdepartment and appoint the necessary staff. The agreement between the Foundation and the University stipulates that the HHP research and teaching programs will be “independent of any worldview”, thus ensuring the professional detachment and intellectual independence that is essential to academic research. Likewise, all appointments take place under the full responsibility of the University of Amsterdam.  The HHP Centre is now part of the department for “History, European Studies and Religious Studies” of the Faculty of Humanities, and participates in the teaching program of Religious Studies.

For more detailed information about the process through which the HHP Centre was created, see Roelof van den Broek’s contribution to the 2009 anniversary volume that can be downloaded elsewhere on this website.


Want to know more about the development of our Centre and its organizational structure? Feel free to browse the official annual reports of HHP since its inception in 1999 to the present.