Hermes Trismegistus and Hermeticism: The humanist project to understand nature.

Hermes Trismegistus and Hermeticism: The humanist project to understand nature.

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Hermes Trismegistus was an Egyptian sage. He is the custodian of wisdom, learning, and literature.

He is known as “Thrice-Greatest” due to his immense learning and rank as Philosopher, Priest, and King. The ancient Greeks considered him the Egyptian God Thoth.

His teachings deal with astrology, education, ritual, and medicine.

He is the author of the Hermetic Corpus. These are the sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism. These mystical texts describe how, through self-knowledge, a person can ascend to the divine.

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Hermeticism is the esoteric tradition based primarily upon writings of thrice-great Hermes. His writings have greatly influenced the Western intellectual tradition and provided crucial inspiration during both the Renaissance and the Reformation.

The tradition traces its origin to a doctrine that affirms a single, true theology that is present in all religions, and God gave that to humanity in antiquity.

Many thinkers considered Hermes Trismegistus to be a wise pagan prophet who foresaw the coming of Christianity.

The Divine Pymander is an account of creation reminiscent of Genesis. It anticipates the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition. The Pymander means guide or shepherd of men.

The most influential philosophers and writers in the Western tradition consider the

Hermetic writings as presaging Christianity. These include Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella, Sir Thomas Browne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Hermeticism’s importance today arises from its connection with the development of science from the middle ages through the Renaissance. The prominence that Hermeticism gives to influencing or controlling nature led many scientists to look to alchemy and astrology, which tested aspects of nature through experimentation.

Hermeticism supported the humanist project to understand nature and that nature would reveal itself through inquiry and experiment.

It was these practical aspects of Hermetic writings and teachings that attracted the attention of early scientists. Isaac Newton placed tremendous faith in the concept of a pure, ancient doctrine. He studied esoteric philosophy vigorously to hone his understanding of the physical world.

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