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Dec 9, 2013

Egil Asprem winner NGG dissertation award


It is our pleasure to announce Dr. Egil Asprem as the first winner of the Gerardus van der Leeuw PhD Dissertation Award. The selection committee unanimously agreed that his PhD dissertation, entitled The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900–1939, makes a substantial contribution to the study of religion by combining innovative research, sound analysis of original material, a critical approach to established theories, and clarity in formulation and style. The Dissertation Award includes a prize of € 650,- (partially sponsored by the Van Baaren Stichting). In addition, a session will be dedicated to some of the key concepts of Dr. Asprem's dissertation at the 2014 joint NGG/EASR/IAHR Conference in Groningen, at the occasion of which the award will be officially launched. His session will focus on "Science, Religion and Disenchantment in the Modern World."

 

Abstract: The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900–1939.


Asprem's dissertation presents a new take on the disenchantment thesis associated with Max Weber in view of a methodological focus on problem-history (Problemgeschichte). It proposes that we abandon the notion of “the disenchantment of the world” as a socio-historical process that progressively unfolds through Western history, and instead conceptualize disenchantment as an intellectual problem that has been experienced under certain historical conditions and met by a number of different solutions. This opens up a broad field of inquiry that connects the histories of science, religion, philosophy, and esotericism, as an analogous “problem of disenchantment” (related to the intelligibility of nature, the relation of facts to values, and the conflict between transcendence and immanence) is confronted synchronously across different intellectual and cultural fields. The dissertation draws on a rich and diverse set of sources, comprising the history of natural sciences in the early 20th century, the development of psychical research and parapsychology, and influential esoteric currents coming out of late-19th century occultism.

 

 

Egil Asprem

(b. 1984) is a Norwegian scholar of religion and Western esotericism. After studying philosophy and religious studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) he migrated to the University of Amsterdam, where he received his MA and his doctorate with the Center for the History of Hermetic Philsophy and Related Currents. Asprem is currently a postdoctoral scholar at University of California, Santa Barbara.