Ritið 1/17

Ritið 1/17 - 2017

Benedikt Hjartarson: “Induction of alien knowledge”. On the Scientistic Esotericism of Helgi Pjeturss

Scholars have traditionally seen a fundamental rupture in the oeuvre of Helgi Pjeturss around 1910, as he breaks off his promising career as a natural scientist and turns toward esotericism and cosmological speculation. Yet, a closer look at Pjeturss’ oeuvre reveals a continuity that can be traced from the first biological essays to his descriptions of a universe inhabited by alien beings and governed by invisible forces. The article deals with the intriguing questions about the relationship of scientism and spiritual currents in cultural modernity aroused by Nýall, Pjeturss’ first key work on cosmology, published in three volumes in 1919–1922, which was intended to lead humanity into a new epistemological order where religion and science would merge in a mode of higher knowledge. The focus is on the work’s claim to scientific knowledge and its links to ether physics and theories of evolution, which are now forgotten but which played an important role in popular discussions of science in the early 20th century.

Keywords: esotericism, Helgi Pjeturss, history of science, ether theories, theories of evolution

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