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Magic, Mystery, and Science: The Occult in Western Civilization

Magic, Mystery, and Science: The Occult in Western Civilization
Author: Danny Ethus Burton - David A. Grandy
ISBN 13: 9780253216564
ISBN 10: 253216567
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication Date: 2003-12-04
Format: Paperback
Pages: 390
List Price: $28.00

"[P.D. Ouspensky's] yearning for a transcendent, timeless reality — one that cancels out physical disintegration and death — figures into science at some fundamental level.

Einstein found solace in his theory of relativity, which suggested to him that events are ever-present in the space-time continuum. When his friend Michele Besso passed on shortly before his own death, he wrote: 'For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one.'" — from Magic, Mystery, and Science

The triumph of science would appear to have routed all other explanations of reality. No longer does astrology or alchemy or magic have the power to explain the world to us. Yet at one time each of these systems of belief, like religion, helped shed light on what was dark to our understanding. Nor have the occult arts disappeared. We humans have a need for mystery and a sense of the infinite.

Magic, Mystery, and Science presents the occult as a "third stream" of belief, as important to the shaping of Western civilization as Greek rationalism or Judeo-Christianity. The occult seeks explanations in a world that is living and intelligent — quite unlike the one supposed by science. By taking these beliefs seriously, while keeping an eye on science, this book aims to capture some of the power of the occult. Readers will discover that the occult has a long history that reaches back to Babylonia and ancient Egypt. It proceeds alongside, and frequently mingles with, religion and science. From the Egyptian Book of the Dead to New Age beliefs, from Plato to Adolf Hitler, occult ways of knowing have been used — and hideously abused — to explain a world that still tempts us with the knowledge of its dark secrets.

Library Journal

In the past, humankind looked to the occult for answers to the world's mysteries, whereas today we usually look to science. But even in a world full of science, people embrace the New Age movement, UFOs, and alien abductions. Burton (history & political science, Univ. of North Alabama) and Grandy (philosophy, Brigham Young Univ.) here look at the impact of the occult throughout history and consider its possible impact on our future. They see the occult as on par with Greek rationalism and Judeo-Christianity in shaping our beliefs, both past and present, from ancient Egypt onward. The authors explore the entire world of magic, including numerology, the cabala, alchemy, astrology, demons, witches, New Age, ESP, Gnosticism, and more. They look beyond our scientific age to see a future where the occult will play a part in bringing about a more holistic universe. An altogether fascinating work, this book takes a serious and intriguing look at the secret world of the past and the human search for the infinite. Recommended for all academic and most public libraries.-Mary E. Jones, Los Angeles P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.