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Staudenmaierian epistemology

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  • ted.wrinch
    Der Staudi has recently declared that he is not a positivist or materialist but, similarly for his claim to take the spiritual in history seriously , we
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2011
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      Der Staudi has recently declared that he is 'not a positivist or materialist' but, similarly for his claim to take the 'spiritual in history seriously', we have to ask whether there is any evidence for this claim and whether, in fact, there maybe more evidence for its contrary. I think it's easy to find evidence that Der Staudi is very much an (unacknowledged perhaps) positivist. It would be possible to look at his epistemological statements of assent over on WC and find evidence for it there but perhaps an even simpler way of seeing it is to take a look at the status of the epistemology of the two writers who he most frequently approvingly quotes on this topic. These are the two continental writers Olaf Hammer and Wouter Hanegraaf. Julia Iwersen in her 'The Epistemological Foundations of Esoteric Thought and Practice' (http://www.asanas.org.uk/files/003Iwersen.pdf) has briefly provided an assessment of the thought of these two writers and she describes both as being 'deeply indebted to positivism':

      "In the course of this approach, I argue explicitly against the positivist interpretation of esoteric knowledge presented by Olav Hammer in his monograph Claiming Knowledge (2001), and also against the notion of the purely `empirical' study of esotericism suggested by Wouter Hanegraaff in his article "Empirical Method in the Study of Esotericism" (1995)."

      and:

      "So-called "empirical" versus "metaempirical" (Hanegraaff 1995) – or "analytical" versus "hermeneutical" (Hammer 2001:XV n3) – examinations of esotericism appear to have completely ignored the fact that critical thought itself relies on questionable assumptions, which are centred mainly in the postulation of a self-sustainable subject that is able to cut itself off from its surroundings and perceive them as `empirical facts'. The meaning of the world which is thus constituted by these `facts' is either carried out of perception into the realm of the Kantian `thing-in-itself' or, for positivists, does not exist at all and we are supposed to do without any meanings and are left with meaningless `facts'.

      The consequences of this kind of worldview have been mentioned by me and are confirmed by Iwersen:

      "Since esoteric ways of gaining, shaping, and expressing insight do not fit `objective' demands formulated by an exclusively positivist understanding of knowledge, several thousand years of intellectual history appear to Olav Hammer not even as a sequence of dark ages, but rather as a block of mental gloom."

      This is the same view expressed by Roger the rat recently over on WC. She continues:

      "The deficiencies of a positivist approach cannot be deflected by Wouter Hanegraaff's attempt to introduce an "empirical method" to the study of esoteric ideas. Hanegraaff attempts to overcome the reductionism essential to positivism by offering yet another presumably `neutral' scholarly viewpoint, which concedes that there might be a meta-empirical reality, but declares it to be inaccessible for research"

      …

      "Attempts to be `objective' about esotericism typically end up by dismissing its premises, which is also true for the harsh confrontation of an etic to an emic interpretation, claimed as the only suitable method by both Hanegraaff and Hammer."

      It seems clear that neither of these authors is sympathetic to spiritual thought and Der Staudi's half decade of endorsement of their writings can only put him in the category of fellow traveller with the positivists and someone hostile to a spiritual worldview.

      T.

      Ted Wrinch
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