History of Art and Rejected Knowledge: From the Hermetic Tradition to the 21st Century. Essays
For the duration of the history of art, esoteric sciences, magic and alchemy – and also physiognomics, the theory of temperaments and affects and other paradoxical tendencies in European thought – existed alongside the scientific study and artistic comprehension of reality. The nineteenth century introduced a series of esoteric practices which attempted to bring together irrational and scientific means of interpreting the world, such as theosophy. In dedicating this collection of essays to sciences which have fallen out of the purview of contemporary art history we wished to place the accent on problems art history research and examine whether or not the contemporary academic can use esoteric sciences not simply to supplement their historical research with interesting details but to develop the methodological tools at their disposal through research into the interaction between art and rejected knowledge. Which qualities of the art of the New Time does the optic of magic, alchemy, physiognomics and mesmerism allow us to see? Can we revitalise the methodology of art history by using these sciences? Can the idea of renovatio, which lies at the root of esoteric sciences, aid the renewal of the contemporary study of art?
The article deals with the history of scientific approaches to the question of the existence of hermetic tradition. The author examines the theories of F. Yates, Eranos cirlce, A. Versluis, I. P. Culianu.