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Some remarks about the introduction of Freemasonry in Academic fields

By Alain de Keghel & Bruno Pinchard, 31 August 2016

Published with courtesy of Alain de Keghel


  • 1. FM is not present in the main stream of the international research in Human Sciences. FM is only accepted as a matter of fact for historical inquiries. Unfortunaltely, even these kinds of resarch, basically scientific, are suspected to be under the influence of « masonic power ». The theory of plot is very active in these circles which are radically opposed to any form of initiatic brotherhood. They believe to have to fight against the power of superstition. This conception of Enlightement is very simplistic, but they are persuaded to continue the kantian war against « Schwärmerei ».


  • 2. If we turn our attention towards the Loge and the Brethren, the situation is not much better. For the average Brother, research in FM seems to be an useless waste of time, far from the practice of rituals, and, eventually, from personal improvement. History doesn’t seem to fit with our technological world. If Esotericism is exciting for some Masons, it becomes soon too much sophisticated and very far from common sense. Philosophy is generally respected, rarely for good reasons: no basis, no dialectics, no books.


  • 3. This is why, at a first glance, there is not a great expectation for a renewed knowledge in FM. For sure, there are great scholars in Europe today about Gnosis and Western esotericism. Antoine Faivre, for example, has succeeded to introduce in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris a teaching about History of Esotericism in Western world and Vouter J. Hanegraff in Amsterdam address as well this purpose. There are also great schools of humanistic studies, supported by well-known Institutions, as Warburg Institute in London, Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, Istituto del Rinascimento in Florence. But they are not so powerful. The Center of Humanistic studies created by Ernesto Grassi in München and directed a long time by Stefan Otto, is now closed and the Warburg Institute in London is actually threatened. Often, students prefer more pragmatic studies. Even in Faculties of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Plato, Aristotle, Tommaso d’Aquino, Leibniz are not at the very centre of attention.


  • 4. It is a beautiful purpose to change this situation. We, Masons, have surely today the intellectual maturity and the academic means to produce a new effect, useful for Masonic respectability in a secular world, important fort the improvement of knowledge, successful for values of Enlightment in present time.


  • 5. After the first experiences in Innsbruck, Heidelberg, Leiden and Sheffield, we may imagine to set up an European Institute, perhaps in the German speaking area which may be more attentive to this problem. It could defend the definition of FM produced by Joseph de Maistre in his youth: « La Science de l’homme par excellence1. » The central fonction of the project would be to reconstruct the cultural ground of any Masonic edification. This ground comes from Renaissance through the memory of Humanism in Antiquity, from Illuminist traditions and esoteric speculations, also from the diverse forms of fight for emancipation until today. Based on this background of our civilisation, we need today to explore more deeply this reality to go back to our rituals and ceremonies with new eyes. That is why such a “center of research” would find its right place in the academic field of « cultural studies ». In the run of time one could then reasonably expect hope to obtain the Phd agreement.


  • 6. We need to find one University being ready to defend this original project, to propose money to provide all the modern means to work and communicate, to buy books and computers, and to develop secretary’s office. At a period of time of severe contraction of budgets it is not so easy to find even in the greatest Universities. Only a courageous one, accepting this new kind of opportunity and being ready to be exposed to critics would respond to expectations. First of all it supposes to be hosted in a space which assures a complete liberty of thinking, far for any kind of interests or ideological influences.


  • 7. If it appears to be too soon today to propose right away a full time employment, the Institute could start first with Visiting professors. Keeping anyway however a greater ambition in mind, it would be necessary to provide one all the guarantees about salary, social protection, retirement as usual in academic careers. The risks exists that the project fails suddenly, especially if we are not able to propose Doctoral issues, post-doc positions and so on. Our only opportunity today is to assure a teaching in “laicity/secularism” because of the challenges our societies are facing. One day, students having visiting the institute could find a job just because they benefited of this skill. This is the social aspect of our action.


  • 8. The Institute would of course have the vocation to become a school. Important research activity is one way responding to such an ambition. We would have to produce publications of an high academic level, to claim other colleagues to participate to seminaries, without any kind of Masonic exclusivity, to be present in international workshops about humanism, crisis of religions, universalism etc. The centre needs also to develop its own fame and will then attract students.


  • 9. The Rector of the University shall clearly definite the Directors responsibilities including their relationships with the Academic Council and with the own Council of the Institute accordingly with the classic patterns of these kind of institutions. But we have to consider building a new system. There is no previous model of this kind taking in account so many languages and so diverse administrative rules. It is a huge challenge and we have to keep in mind that it will require time, money and patience.


1 « Les Frères les plus avants de notre Régime pensent qu’il y a de fortes raisons de croire que la vraie Maçonnerie n’est que la Science de l’homme par excellence, c’est-à-dire la connaissance de son origine et de destination. », Mémoire au Duc de Brunswick, Les Mystères antiques. Dans la Recherche de la vérité, Malebranche avait utilisé une formule semblable pour définir sa philosophie : « De toutes les sciences humaines, la science de l’homme est la plus digne de l’homme. Cependant cette science n’est pas la plus cultivée, ni la plus achevée que nous ayons : Le commun des hommes la néglige entièrement. », Préface, coll. La Pléiade, p. 13.


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