Prof. Lawrence presenting at International Conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism

July 19 to July 22, 2012

James Lawrence, Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies will be presenting at the Fourth Annual International Conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism, and the conference theme this year is Esotericism, Religion, and Culture. The title of his talk is "Neo-Cartesian and Hermetic Fusion in Swedenborg's 'Science of Correspondences.'"

Conference to be held at University of California, Davis.

Excerpt from paper:

 Esoteric correspondence theory reaches a certain zenith in Swedenborg’s high modern “science of correspondences,” his signature contribution to Western esotericism. A close study of his sources during the critical period when he shaped his theory of correspondence reveals that, contrary to the claims of some others, Swedenborg’s earlier interest in and engagement with kabbalist and hermetic sources took a distant backseat to contemporary neo-Cartesian interlocutors. Swedenborg, in joining the quest to penetrate the Cartesian tension between res extensa and res cogitans, engaged Spinoza, Malebranche, Newton, Locke, Leibniz, and Wolff in disciplined speculation upon how the natural and spiritual realms are [inter]related. When his dramatic spiritualistic turn in 1745 pointed his focus solely toward sacred philology and a science of correspondences for reading sacred scripture, it was the Swede of all the neo-Cartesians who produced the most thorough theoretical integration of the two realms. Intriguingly, however, his new Theory of Everything carried forward striking theosophic elements of hermetic and kabbalist thought. By identifying specific lines of inquiry in ontology and sacred philology, this case study helps to clarify how early modern hermeticism shaped questions—and answers—at the dawn of modern philosophy.