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Religion after Religion [Paperback]

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Item Number 151154  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.85"
Weight:   1.23 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 5, 1999
Publisher   Princeton University Press
ISBN  0691005400  
EAN  9780691005409  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

By the end of World War II, religion appeared to be on the decline throughout the United States and Europe. Recent world events had cast doubt on the relevance of religious belief, and modernizing trends made religious rituals look out of place. It was in this atmosphere that the careers of Scholem, Eliade, and Corbin--the twentieth century's legendary scholars in the respective fields of Judaism, History of Religions, and Islam--converged and ultimately revolutionized how people thought about religion. Between 1949 and 1978, all three lectured to Carl Jung's famous Eranos circle in Ascona, Switzerland, where each in his own way came to identify the symbolism of mystical experience as a central element of his monotheistic tradition. In this, the first book ever to compare the paths taken by these thinkers, Steven Wasserstrom explores how they overturned traditional approaches to studying religion by de-emphasizing law, ritual, and social history and by extolling the role of myth and mysticism. The most controversial aspect of their theory of religion, Wasserstrom argues, is that it minimized the binding character of moral law associated with monotheism.

The author focuses on the lectures delivered by Scholem, Eliade, and Corbin to the Eranos participants, but also shows how these scholars generated broader interest in their ideas through radio talks, poetry, novels, short stories, autobiographies, and interviews. He analyzes their conception of religion from a broadly integrated, comparative perspective, sets their distinctive thinking into historical and intellectual context, and interprets the striking success of their approaches.

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More About Steven M. Wasserstrom

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Wasserstrom is the Moe and Izetta Tonkon Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and the Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Steven M. Wasserstrom currently resides in Portland, in the state of Oregon.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Windbag in need of a point  Apr 22, 2008
Eranos was characterised by thinkers who got to the point and made one. If the author of this work was similarly inclined, this book might be worth a read.

Instead, what we find is a distinctly un-Eranos-like fog of unrelated tid bits, cobbled together with a claim that it's some kind intellectual history. Despite considerably familiarity with the three Eranos thinkers in question, I wasn't able to see the point and suspect the author doesn't really have one, except perhaps Eranos was interesting, these thinkers were amazing, but he doesn't really "get" their theses.

The experience is made worse by a startlingly low standard of editing. The mouthy style constantly distracts, large quotations in French go untranslated, and, despite an excess of footnotes (half a page per page of text), hundreds of quotes cite no source.

If there is a religion after religion, it may be best practiced by engaging with the Eranos scholars in a less encumbered environment, such as that once found beside a lake in Swizterland.
Religion after Religion  Sep 26, 2005
The subject is extremely interesting: three of the most prestigious scholars -- Scholem, Eliade and Corbin -- three friends belonging to the Eranos group, dedicated to the study of esoterism: the inner contents of religious experience, that which is not usually visible. The book, however, is poorly written and very poorly organized; that, added to the total lack of editing (surprising in an academic press like Princeton), make reading it a frequently frustrating experience.
A Remarkable Work of Scholarly Synthesis  Jan 11, 2002
Steven Wasserstrom's brilliant and fascinating book is a marvellous study of three of the most brilliant and fascinating twentieth-century scholars of religion. All too often, readers are unaware of the human, idiosyncratic elements that inevitably shape the perspective of writers in various fields of the humanities. Dr. Wasserstrom gives us an objective view of these elements, and brings a new sense of depth to the background that contributed to the interests and, ultimately, to the published work of Corbin, Eliade, and Scholem.
An overview of three Eranos scholars  Aug 22, 2000
This book analyzes three of the amazing group of Eranos scholars who gathered annually in Ascona, Switzerland to explore new horizons in overt revolt against the petrified academic stance in view of everything that doesn't carry the benediction of natural sciences. These three scholars are Gerschom Scholem, the foremost scholar of Jewish mysticism and Kabalah, Henry Corbin, a leading specialist in Iranian Sufism and Shiism/Ismailism and Mircea Eliade, a generalist researcher of world religions and mythologies. What distinguishes all these men from the typical academic stance is the way they all inverted the assumptions of cold and disinterested schoarship, into whose purview mysticism does not enter but as a phenomenon peripheral to orthodox religions, by placing mysticism in the very core of their scholarship. This inversion also demarcates their anti-academic stance. These three men were especially remarkable in that their scholarship, especially in the case of Corbin and Scholem as exemplified in their translation or recuperation of inaccessible or difficult texts, towered by the standards of traditional academia, as such flying on its face downtreading its pride. The book is not long enough to treat every aspect of the lives of these men, which task has been done individually for each. The primary objective here is to thematize the common denominators that molded the perspectives of these men, who also were close friends that saw themselves as brothers in arms against materialism, social sciences, almost all the ingrained presumptions of modern mentality, modernism, the myth of eternal progress, and the modern academia as presiding over the theology ensouling this essentially soulless fallen state. Some common denominators are Heidegger's existential phenomenology, various Western esoteric currents, especially German romanticism as in Hamann, and Martinism, Rene Guenon's traditionalism, and his Italian disciple Julius Evola, coincidentia oppositorum as shaping their worldview, antinomianism of an almost Kierkegaardian type, the rise of Schelling against Kant in Jewish Weimar thought as giving the impetus to the intellectual currents of the time, and maybe most importantly an accurate understanding of "symbol", which should by no means be confused with allegory, and which denotes a revelation of an irreducible Ur-phenomenon in a form particular to a subject. The experience of the symbol is inextricably entwined with reintegration and totalization of being, which marks the essence of their esotericism. The book can be regarded as a good introduction to how to understand the interrelationships and influences between these great men and their time, since one should not forget that Eranos is a product of the aura surrounding the world war, even though these men were blatantly opposed to a notion of rectilinear temporality. The indices and bibliographies provide invaluable information for further study.

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