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Arthur Melzer on the History, Analysis, and Significance of Esotericism (Part I)

Arthur Melzer is the author of the landmark book Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing (University of Chicago Press, 2014). A chapter of the book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Esoteric Reading,” on techniques and devices used in esoteric writing, was republished in the May 2015 issue of EJW. The conversation, however, takes up Melzer’s entire book. The conversation is long and covers most of the important ideas of the book, and is divided into two parts.

Part I (stream embedded above): Melzer provides an introduction to esotericism and its history, and devotes much time to explaining four motives or forms of esoteric writing: defensive, protective, pedagogical, and political.

Part II (link to page with stream): Melzer tells more of the history of esoteric writing, and the awareness of it; he discusses our blindness and hostility to esotericism, Leo Strauss’s thought, the big interpretations of society, philosophy, and politics that esotericism figures into, and, finally, a beginner’s guide to techniques and devices used in esoteric writing.

Download MP3 of Part I
Download MP3 of Part II
Download combined MP3 (Parts I and II)