At the end of the 20th century, statements about the crisis state of the generally recognized scientific system of views on the process of cognition became more frequent. Specifically, they boiled down to the call to form a new paradigm of knowledge based on the search for a compromise between its scientific and religious directions, including esotericism. This situation is essentially the result of the manifestation of the basic laws of dialectics in the field of epistemology and has certain historical conditioning, of which the French physicist Louis de Broglie said: "The history of science shows that the progress of science was constantly hampered by the tyrannical influence of certain concepts when they began to be treated as dogmas. For this reason, it is necessary to periodically conduct in-depth research on principles that have been adopted without discussion."
We know it is well that in ancient times there was no division into scientific and religious knowledge. Science was born in the bowels of religious schools and gradually split off from them, which gave grounds to characterize it as a “runaway daughter of religion.” We believe it they finally completed the process of the formation of science as a system of knowledge in the 16th-17th centuries. However, the beginning of this process goes back centuries and is directly related to the fierce struggle of various religious schools and directions. Of particular note is the struggle of monotheists with paganism and its reminiscence manifestations, which in the Middle Ages were identified as sorcery, witchcraft, and magic.
The hunt for servants of the devil (the witches’ trials, the burning of witches, - according to only the surviving protocols, over nine and a half million people were burned at the bonfires of the Holy Inquisition), which lasted about five centuries, stimulated the emergence of secret sciences and scientific magic, which, emphasizing its difference from folk magic made it possible to avoid accusations of witchcraft. It was in the sphere of the secret sciences, the leading places among which occupied theurgy, astrology, and alchemy, as well as sacred Kabbalah, where a natural scientific approach to cognition originated and formed, which originally (XVI century) was called natural magic, in the depths of which physics developed, chemistry and other sciences as well.
The triumph of science, marked by the publication in the 18th century of the Encyclopaedia, or Explanatory Dictionary of Sciences, Arts and Crafts (35 volumes), was simultaneously accompanied by the introduction into the public consciousness of the concept of “The Age of Enlightenment” and a pejorative attitude towards magic. Since natural magic represented a body of knowledge about the magical powers of things in nature, including a variety of views and interpretations of natural phenomena, the formation of natural scientific knowledge required the definition of criteria for distinguishing genuine scientific knowledge from other areas of epistemology.
The chief criterion for distinguishing scientific knowledge is the requirement of reproducibility (preferably in the laboratory) as evidence of the reliability of scientific facts. According to this requirement, scientific knowledge must be independent of the subject who received it. Another important feature of science is following the principle known as Occam’s razor (XIV century), according to which concepts that are not reducible to intuitive and experienced knowledge should be removed from science. Verbatim it sounds like this: “Do not multiply with no need the number of existing entities.” Accordingly, all knowledge that does not meet the requirements of “scientific” we consider mystical.
Despite the important progressive role of scientific knowledge, modern social practice gives reason to doubt its exceptional superiority. Increasingly, there are examples of operating in solving traditional practical problems with phenomena inaccessible to modern scientific knowledge. So, for example, Rossiyskaya Gazeta highlighted the Japanese experience in selecting personnel for work with the help of psychics. It also reported that in Japan there are about 200 thousand clairvoyants united in their union. And in England, 20 thousand psychics have joined the trade union. In former Czechoslovakia, psychics also had official recognition.
Modern Russian practice also gives many examples of advertising services of various organizations and individuals offering the use of transcendental and other esoteric technologies both in business and in personal life. At the same time, there is teaching everyone the basics of esotericism. Fierce discussions about this phenomenon and the fierce resistance of representatives of traditional academic science accompanied the booming interest towards extrasensory technologies in the late 70s and 80s of the last century. They expressed diametrically opposite points of view; they attempted to explain the phenomenon of psychics from the standpoint of traditional views upon various physical processes.
However, the result was mostly negative. And although the range of practical application of various extrasensory technologies is very wide and diverse, their use for medical purposes has become a subject of special attention. A significant event in overcoming resistance in the first place to the medical use of extrasensory was the famous television shows of A. Kashpirovsky and A. Chumak. And although their effectiveness was debatable, and they soon discontinued the sessions, the spread of esoteric services went out of control and took on a grandiose scale.
Since supply and demand are in a dialectical relationship, the scale of advertising of occult, witchcraft, and magic services gives reason to believe that in practice people use them in a much larger volume than we can assume based on speculative impressions. And since this situation stably maintains for many years, we can conclude that cases of effective achievement of the desired result are not so rare. Otherwise, the business in magic services would not have developed so extensively.
So, as of mid-2017, the number of practicing healers reached 900 thousand people. According to rough estimates, the income of the occultists every month is from 3 to 40 thousand dollars. This income forms from revenue made thanks to customer service, selling books, amulets, and other items, telephone consultations, and hoaxes as well. In Moscow alone, about one hundred thousand people “work” in the market of occult services. These are sorcerers, their assistants, and helpers, actors and security guards, props masters, and agents that lure customers.
Approximate price list for magic services:
The popularity of religious-mystical traditions is also evidenced by the publication of articles of relevant content not only in specialized magazines but also in scientific collections, as well as the constant growth of public interest in mystical knowledge and religious rites. This is most clearly manifested in the behavior of politicians to maintain their popularity: public participation in prayers, a blessing by church hierarchs when taking important posts in the state administrative system, etc. This shows the existence of a conflict between official science and the needs of society, which readily accepts religious-mystical rituals, including those widely disseminated by modern parapsychologists.
Thus, the analysis of modernity gives reason to talk about the phenomenon of “renaissance of esotericism”. A dilemma of interpreting this phenomenon arises: whether to consider the situation as a return to the earlier rejected, or is it a manifestation of the dialectical spiral of “negation of negation”, an impulse to the further development of the worldview, including epistemology and ontology. Knowledge development is driven by the needs of the practice. In the early stages of the development of mankind, knowledge about the surrounding world was not enough. Therefore, practical needs forced people to apply the technology of the secret sciences, to contact the unknown which gave rise to the deification of this unknown, for example, fire.
With the expansion and accumulation of the field of knowledge, man sought to limit practical activity within the unknown. However, as the world’s population grows, and its needs expand, this is not enough. Therefore, the problem arises of practical interaction with the unknown which, ultimately, leads to its cognition. This process is uneven and obeys the dialectical law of the negation of negation. Therefore, the craving for magic and sorcery is periodically replaced by their denial, which is then replaced by the desire for their revival. If, however, to fear and shun the unknown, then it will be impossible to understand it. Only contact and practical interaction with the unknown can give impetus to the next step of expanding the domain of the known. This is the dialectic of cognition.
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