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‚Höheres‘ Wissen aus Asien: Buddhismus als innovative Intellektuellenreligion zwischen Okkultismus, Esoterik, Philosophie und Literatur

DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Uni Siegen Uni Freiburg Humboldt Berlin Uni Fribourg Uni Basel Uni Strasbourg IGPP


DFG Research Project


Occult phenomena at the intersections of science, media history, and cultural transfer (1770-1970)




'Higher' Knowlegde from Asia: Buddhism as an Innovative Religion for Intellectuals between Occultism, Esotericism, Philosophy, and Literature.

Director: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mohn


Over the course of the second half of the 19th century up to the time of National Socialism, an intellectually accentuated network of 'non-hegemonial' religious orientations was being formed within the 'religious field' (Pierre Bourdieu) of 'European religious history', which on the one hand was affected by an intensive reception of Asian forms of religion, especially of different Buddhist traditions, and on the other hand brought about a dense medial network of structures for distribution and marketing (of print media like books, journals to grey literature) as well as lectures and presentations (personal media). The network covering India, America and continental Europe, later also China and Japan, was globally connected by means of this medial exchange of knowledge. These forms of knowledge and their contents, the discourses and societal links, and the exact structure of the network, which extended deeply into theosophical circles, occult societies and other religious, in part esoteric movements, are not known in detail. There is a lack of research in religious sciences about the forms of its organisational structures, the specific manners of reception of religion, the concepts of religion and the respective transformations of religion as well as the connection to other non-hegemonial, but also to the hegemonial structures of each particular contemporary religious field. Although it is a quantitatively small section of the whole religious field, it is nevertheless one which stands for a discontinuity in relation to the established organisation of the denominational Christian religions and an innovative knowledge within modern European cultural history.

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