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Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Lecture by Wouter Hanegraaff: Altered States of Knowledge

The title for this lecture is taken from Wouter’s recent book Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical imagination: Altered States of Knowledge in Late Antiquity (Cambridge University Pres 2022). The basic claim in the lecture is that all our claims of knowledge ultimately depend on – i.e. are conditioned and constrained by – specific states of consciousness. For instance, while scholarly research requires focused concentration in a sober state, the pursuit of gnōsis (salvational knowledge) that was central to Hermetic spirituality required entirely different states. If all our claims of “knowledge” are ultimately state-specific, this has far-reaching implications for what the study of religion and spirituality can and cannot achieve.

Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Among many other publications, he is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden 1996/Albany 1998); Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (Cambridge 2012); and Hermetic Spirituality and the Historical Imagination: Altered States of Knowledge in Late Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, forthc. 2022).

The lecture will be held on Monday 13 February 2023. For further information, write to: g.a. wiegers@uva.nl