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Esotericism and Criticism: A Platonic Response to Arthur Versluis

The establishment of Western esotericism as a field of academic research since the 1990s has been accompanied by a good deal of theoretical and methodological debate. However, because scholars are understandably passionate about their work, such discussions always run the risk of degenerating into negative polemics and personal invectives, and our young field has certainly had its share of those. It is a fact of human psychology that if opinions that we personally cherish are being criticized by others, nothing is easier than to experience such criticism as a personal attack. Once this happens, most of us find it hard to keep listening accurately to what our opponents are trying to say – it is all too easy to begin imagining them as “enemies” rather than as colleagues whose opinions and commitments just happen to be different from our own and who might have something to say that we do not yet see. On the following pages I will be discussing a strong example which seems representative …

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