Laboratories of Faith: Mesmerism, Spiritism, and Occultism in Modern France

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9780801445620: Laboratories of Faith: Mesmerism, Spiritism, and Occultism in Modern France

At a fascinating moment in French intellectual history, an interest in matters occult was not equivalent to a rejection of scientific thought; participants in séances and magic rituals were seekers after experimental data as well as spiritual truth. A young astronomy student wrote of his quest: "I am not in the presence or under the influence of any evil spirit: I study Spiritism as I study mathematics." He did not see himself as an ecstatic visionary but rather as a sober observer. For him, the darkened room of occult practice was as much laboratory as church.

In an evocative history of alternative religious practices in France in the second half of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, John Warne Monroe tells the interconnected stories of three movements―Mesmerism, Spiritism, and Occultism. Adherents of these groups, Monroe reveals, attempted to "modernize" faith by providing empirical support for metaphysical concepts. Instead of trusting theological speculation about the nature of the soul, these believers attempted to gather tangible evidence through Mesmeric experiments, séances, and ceremonial magic. While few French people were active Mesmerists, Spiritists, or Occultists, large segments of the educated general public were familiar with these movements and often regarded them as fascinating expressions of the "modern condition," a notable contrast to the Catholicism and secular materialism that prevailed in their culture.

Featuring eerie spirit photographs, amusing Daumier lithographs, and a posthumous autograph from Voltaire, as well as extensive documentary evidence, Laboratories of Faith gives readers a sense of what being in a séance or a secret-society ritual might actually have felt like and why these feelings attracted participants. While they never achieved the transformation of human consciousness for which they strove, these thinkers and believers nevertheless pioneered a way of "being religious" that has become an enduring part of the Western cultural vocabulary.

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From the Back Cover:

"This is a deeply humane book. John Warne Monroe takes us into the occult world of first-rate mediums, for-profit somnambulists, sober scientists, bored aesthetes, earnest seekers, clueless dupes, shrill moralists, tireless self-promoters, and blatant crooks. He introduces them to us without a hint of mockery or condescension. In fact, he writes about them in ways that make us see them as entirely familiar and utterly human."--Raymond Jonas, Giovanni and Amne Costigan Professor of History, University of Washington

"This is a superb book, thoughtfully conceived, richly documented, and elegantly written. It builds on an existing tradition of revisionist scholarship regarding the religious history of modern France, but it approaches the questions raised by that scholarship with a new depth and imagination. John Warne Monroe offers an original and suggestive account of the nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century roots of New Age religion. Beyond that, he also calls into question the view of French cultural history of that era as marked by the triumph of a militantly secular republic and with it a materialist and anticlerical intellectual vision."--Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz

About the Author:

John Warne Monroe is Assistant Professor of History at Iowa State University. He is the winner of Yale University's Theron Rockwell Field Prize.

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Monroe, John Warne
Editorial: Cornell University Press 12/20/2007 (2007)
ISBN 10: 0801445620 ISBN 13: 9780801445620
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Descripción Cornell University Press 12/20/2007, 2007. Hardback or Cased Book. Estado de conservación: New. Laboratories of Faith: Mesmerism, Spiritism, and Occultism in Modern France. Book. Nº de ref. de la librería BBS-9780801445620

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John Warne Monroe
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Descripción Cornell University Press, 2007. HRD. Estado de conservación: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days.THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Nº de ref. de la librería IP-9780801445620

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John Warne Monroe
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Descripción Cornell University Press, United States, 2008. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. At a fascinating moment in French intellectual history, an interest in matters occult was not equivalent to a rejection of scientific thought; participants in seances and magic rituals were seekers after experimental data as well as spiritual truth. A young astronomy student wrote of his quest: I am not in the presence or under the influence of any evil spirit: I study Spiritism as I study mathematics. He did not see himself as an ecstatic visionary but rather as a sober observer. For him, the darkened room of occult practice was as much laboratory as church. In an evocative history of alternative religious practices in France in the second half of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, John Warne Monroe tells the interconnected stories of three movements--Mesmerism, Spiritism, and Occultism. Adherents of these groups, Monroe reveals, attempted to modernize faith by providing empirical support for metaphysical concepts. Instead of trusting theological speculation about the nature of the soul, these believers attempted to gather tangible evidence through Mesmeric experiments, seances, and ceremonial magic. While few French people were active Mesmerists, Spiritists, or Occultists, large segments of the educated general public were familiar with these movements and often regarded them as fascinating expressions of the modern condition, a notable contrast to the Catholicism and secular materialism that prevailed in their culture. Featuring eerie spirit photographs, amusing Daumier lithographs, and a posthumous autograph from Voltaire, as well as extensive documentary evidence, Laboratories of Faith gives readers a sense of what being in a seance or a secret-society ritual might actually have felt like and why these feelings attracted participants. While they never achieved the transformation of human consciousness for which they strove, these thinkers and believers nevertheless pioneered a way of being religious that has become an enduring part of the Western cultural vocabulary. Nº de ref. de la librería AAZ9780801445620

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John Warne Monroe
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Descripción Cornell University Press, United States, 2008. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. At a fascinating moment in French intellectual history, an interest in matters occult was not equivalent to a rejection of scientific thought; participants in seances and magic rituals were seekers after experimental data as well as spiritual truth. A young astronomy student wrote of his quest: I am not in the presence or under the influence of any evil spirit: I study Spiritism as I study mathematics. He did not see himself as an ecstatic visionary but rather as a sober observer. For him, the darkened room of occult practice was as much laboratory as church. In an evocative history of alternative religious practices in France in the second half of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, John Warne Monroe tells the interconnected stories of three movements--Mesmerism, Spiritism, and Occultism. Adherents of these groups, Monroe reveals, attempted to modernize faith by providing empirical support for metaphysical concepts. Instead of trusting theological speculation about the nature of the soul, these believers attempted to gather tangible evidence through Mesmeric experiments, seances, and ceremonial magic. While few French people were active Mesmerists, Spiritists, or Occultists, large segments of the educated general public were familiar with these movements and often regarded them as fascinating expressions of the modern condition, a notable contrast to the Catholicism and secular materialism that prevailed in their culture. Featuring eerie spirit photographs, amusing Daumier lithographs, and a posthumous autograph from Voltaire, as well as extensive documentary evidence, Laboratories of Faith gives readers a sense of what being in a seance or a secret-society ritual might actually have felt like and why these feelings attracted participants. While they never achieved the transformation of human consciousness for which they strove, these thinkers and believers nevertheless pioneered a way of being religious that has become an enduring part of the Western cultural vocabulary. Nº de ref. de la librería AAZ9780801445620

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Monroe, John Warne
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Descripción Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2008. Cloth. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. First Edition. 8vo. Nº de ref. de la librería 219621

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Monroe, John Warne
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